Many of them are now working in important positions in both government and private sectors.
Many former students of the prestigious National Law Institute University (NLIU), Bhopal, who are now settled across India and other countries, have been asked to report to the university and “explain” the alleged discrepancies in the marks that were typed by the university administration in the mark-sheet. The mark-sheet has been found to be different from the marks that the students really got during the internal exams. According to officials, around 100 students, across batches, have been called to present their case before the university till now and more will be called soon.
Many of these students are now working in important and influential positions in the government and in the private sector. The alumni network of NLIU, among others, boasts of several wards of sitting and retired judges and high profile bureaucrats. Ever since its inception 20 years ago in 1998, close to 100 students graduate every year from the university. The exercise being carried out by the NLIU is a part of the probe that is being done by the university after it was revealed that some students were awarded degrees despite failing in multiple subjects.
As a result, a two-member committee, consisting of additional chief secretary, higher education and principal secretary of law and legislative affairs, MP government, was constituted to probe the allegations in November 2017. The committee had recommended a judicial probe after it found that a university staff was allegedly involved in manipulating the results. The said staff was later suspended.
Justice Abhay Gohil, a former judge of the Madhya Pradesh High court who is doing the inquiry, told this reporter that inquiry was still going on and is likely to be completed within three months. “The inquiry is still going and we are doing it very seriously as the career of students and the reputation of the university in involved. We are trying to find persons who are responsible for doing these manipulations. The manipulations were done in the mark-sheets, award list and tabulation chart. Right now the number of students whose mark-sheets were manipulated cannot be ascertained as the inquiry is going on. I had done the first inquiry to ascertain whether any staff was responsible in this manipulation. We found that the mark-sheets of 16 students were manipulated. The particular staff has been suspended while the decision regarding the 16 students will be taken shortly. I am doing another inquiry to find out if more students are involved. There are lots of things to look into, as a student has to complete 15 trimesters (5-6 papers in each trimester) in NLIU, so a lot of records need to be scrutinised and it will take at-least two to three months more,” he said.
He denied reports in the media that around 8,000 students of the university have been asked to report to the university registrar and explain the discrepancies in their mark-sheets.
The Sunday Guardian also spoke to two professors at NLIU who said that, as is the practice in other universities, teachers in NLIU too had the prerogative to give a few grace marks to students.
“As per the tradition and norms in other universities, since the inception of NLIU in 1998, the teachers have been giving 2-4 marks as grace marks to save students from trouble, since many were from outside of Madhya Pradesh, that they would have to endure to come to Bhopal during vacations to appear for repeat exams. This cannot be termed as a malpractise. These extra marks (grace marks) were awarded at the time of preparing the mark-sheets and naturally the number on the final mark-sheets and that on the tabulation sheet would be different because of this. This does not constitute irregularity. In very few cases (less than 20 students), it was found that the grace marks were given beyond the norm , and action has been taken,” one of them said.
NLIU registrar Girijabala Singh told this reporter that the inquiry was being conducted to see whether other students were also involved in the falsification of the mark-sheets. “The process is going on. There is a mandate of the Supreme Court that the degrees of the lawyers should be verified. We are verifying the degrees awarded to the students from the very first batch of 1998. If some discrepancy is found in the award list and the tabulation chart, then we are giving opportunities to the students to come forward and explain their case and then only we will place it before the general council to ascertain what kind of decision should be taken,” she said.
“It is clear that some problems existed from the administrative side, which, as soon as it was discovered, was rectified. However, to summon former students, some of whom might have appeared in the exams 14-15 years ago, and ask them to explain the discrepancies in their mark-sheets, is not fair. The mark sheet was prepared by our staff, not the students. Many of the students are now well settled in their respective fields and some of them are holding constitutional and gazetted posts. To assume that every student, many of whom gave multiple repeat exams and then passed, must have indulged in malpractice, is wrong. We have been receiving anxious calls from our former students,” said a senior staff of the university.