RGNUL protests: Resignation of Administrative Officer SP Singh comes to light after students file RTI

Meera Emmanuel September 1 2019
RGNUL

Administrative Officer of the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL), Patiala, Captain SP Singh has resigned from his post in the aftermath of the March 2019 student protests.

Following an inquiry filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, RGNUL students were able to obtain email correspondence which included Singh's resignation letter as well as intimation from Vice-Chancellor Paramjit S Jaswal that the resignation has been accepted. The resignation follows the conclusion of an independent inquiry conducted by Additional District and Sessions Judge Manjot Kaur into the alleged misconduct of the former Administrative Officer.

In a resignation letter addressed to RGNUL Chancellor and Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Krishna Murari, Singh states that he has been grossly misunderstood by students and that his conduct as a subordinate has been unblemished. Referring to the inquiry proceedings, Singh states that the students had taken him "in wrong sense" and that as a father figure, he should not indulge in proving himself right anymore. The resignation letter concludes,

"I request before your good self to Kindly allow me to resign from the post of administrative officer, however I pray good sense and wisdom be bestowed upon the students of our esteemed university and they should bring fame and glory to the institution with whom I have been associated for eight long years."

As per email records, this letter was forwarded by the Secretary to Chief Justice Murari (the University Chancellor) to Vice-Chancellor Jaswal, who responded stating,

"The resignation letter of Captain S. P. Singh is being accepted here with immediate effect. This is for the information of Your Lordship please."

The email correspondence, which has been viewed by Bar & Bench, dates back to June 12. Speaking to Bar & Bench on Saturday, Vice Chancellor Jaswal also confirmed that Singh's resignation was accepted by the University back in June.

However, the students were made aware of the resignation only recently, after the emails were accessed through RTI applications filed by them. While student representatives have welcomed Singh's resignation, they have registered their objection to the reluctance of the administration to disclose the same. In a student statement, it has been noted,

"We are saddened by the fact that neither Smt. Manjot Kaur nor the RGNUL authorities have bothered to furnish the order to us or our lawyers till date. This was the least we expected having been through turbulent times of going to the Patiala District & Sessions Court almost on a daily basis to give testimony against Capt. S.P. Singh (Retd.) in front of him and his lawyer (with cross- questioning lasting a few hours per student) even mere days before the exams commenced.

What is even more disgraceful is that the University did not even care to notify us of his resignation from the University. We only came to know about the same after we got an RTI filed against RGNUL from a third party..."

In March this year, the students carried out protests against administrative apathy to various issues. In particular, they had demanded the resignation of Administrative Officer Singh, alleging long-standing misogyny, casteism and general abuse of power on his part.

Whereas the immediate trigger for the protests was the suspension of six hostel inmates, the scope of the student movement expanded to highlight broader systemic issues.

A formal end to the protests came after the University administration acceded to four key demands by the student body. The deal was struck in a meeting mediated by Advocate General for Punjab, Atul Nanda. Of the four demands presented was an independent probe into the alleged misconduct of Singh by a judicial officer nominated by the University Chancellor.

During the consequent inquiry overseen by judicial officer Manjot Kaur, students were directed to present themselves on the witness stand. As per a student statement, the witnesses were also to be cross-examined by Singh's lawyer, prompting the student to engage Vaakya Legal as their legal counsel. Additionally, students also took to drafting a written complaint beforehand, to record the allegedly abusive reign of SP Singh as the Administrative Officer of RGNUL.

Judge Kaur is said to have reserved orders in the matter in May. However, the students state that till date, they are yet to receive a copy of the inquiry commission report, despite several requests including one addressed to the Chancellor.

While RTI inquiries have finally revealed the resignation of Singh, it is apprehended that efforts are being made to suppress the inquiry commission report as it may reflect badly on RGNUL. Speaking to Bar & Bench, the student body's legal counsel revealed that all available options in law would be pursued to obtain a copy of the inquiry commission report.

 Captain SP Singh could not be reached at the time of publishing the story.

[Read the Resignation Letter]

RGNUL - SP Singh Resignation Letter