‘NLSIU A Unique National Institution And Not A State University’ : Karnataka HC While Quashing 25% Domicile Reservation [Read Judgment]

first_imgTop Stories’NLSIU A Unique National Institution And Not A State University’ : Karnataka HC While Quashing 25% Domicile Reservation [Read Judgment] LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK2 Oct 2020 2:26 AMShare This – xWhile quashing the 25% domicile reservation introduced in the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, the High Court of Karnataka observed that NLISU was a “unique national institution and cannot be construed to be a State University”.The Court held that the Karnataka State had only a limited role under the NLSIU Act,1986 and that the State Legislature had no power…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginWhile quashing the 25% domicile reservation introduced in the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, the High Court of Karnataka observed that NLISU was a “unique national institution and cannot be construed to be a State University”.The Court held that the Karnataka State had only a limited role under the NLSIU Act,1986 and that the State Legislature had no power or authority to mandate that 25% horizontal reservation should be given to “Students of Karnataka”.A division bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Ravi V Hosmani noted that the State has no role in structuring the curricula or the academic programs nor any say in the manner in which funds are spent. The faculty or the staff are not paid out of the funds of the State. The Law School has received funds from various State Governments, including Karnataka (to the tune of Rs 50 lakh per year) as well as from other sources, such as the Bar Council of India, State Bar Councils and other sources.Senior Advocate Uday Holla, NLSIU’s counsel, told the Court that it receives only a paltry maintenance grant of Rs 50 lakhs per year as opposed to Rs 380 lakhs for the year 2019-2020 and Rs 873 lakhs for the year 2020-21 granted to the Karnataka State Law University.”What distinguishes the Law School in question from other Law Schools is its diversity, its national or All India character with an international outlook. According to Professor N R Madhava Menon, it became the “Harvard of the East”. In fact, the Law School is the face of legal education in India internationally”, the Court observed.Under the NLSIU Act, the State did not reserve or retain any role for itself in the matter of administration, management or control of the Law School.Therefore, the Court held, that the NLSIU (Amendment) Act, 2020, passed by the Karnataka Assembly last March, was ultra-vires the objects and purport of the Act as well as the character of the Law School as an autonomous and independent entity having an All India or national character. Recognizing the fact that the Law School is an autonomous body, only its Executive Council can decide to provide any form of reservation and the State cannot impose it.The Court noted that the Bar Council of India, BCI Trust and Society had a “significant and pervasive” role in the establishment and functioning of the Law School and that the State Government had only been a facilitator in granting the Law School the status of a ‘deemed university’ through the Act.Notably, the Bar Council of India was one of the petitioners challenging the amendment.It was in March that the Karnataka State Assembly passed the National Law School Of India (Amendment) Act, 2020, which received the Karnataka Governor’s assent on April 27. As per this amendment, NLSIU should reserve horizontally twenty-five percent of seats for ‘students of Karnataka’. The amendment inserts the following proviso in Section 4 of the National Law School of India Act :- “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act and the regulations made thereunder, the school shall reserve horizontally twenty-five percent of seats for students of Karnataka.”As per the explanation of this section, “student of Karnataka” means a student who has studied in any one of the recognized educational institutions in the State for a period of not less than ten years preceding to the qualifying examination.” Amendment violates Articles 14, 15(1)The Court further held that the amendment was violative of the principle of equality and equal opportunities enshrined under Articles 14 and 15(1) of the Constitution.The Court noted that there was no case that there was an inadequate representation of Karnataka students in the Law School. It observed that it was not convinced that the object and the purpose of the reservation are valid.There is no scientific study that the reservation will promote the interest of the State. There is no data showing regional backwardness”Reservation is a means to an end, i.e for upliftment of beneficiaries of reservation so that there could be relaxation in the admission process for those who are in the need of reservation. But we find that the impugned reservation does not achieve such a purpose, rather it is discriminatory and does not seek to achieve any object or purpose in the instant case.Also, we do not find any other object sought to be achieved by the impugned amendment nor any mischief to be remedied by the same except permitting less meritorius students to gain admission in the Law School”, the Court stated.As regards the State’s contention that the reservation is intended to ensure that some of the students graduating from the Law School will remain in Karnataka, the HC observed :”Moreover, in today’s Indian economic ethos, where liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation is the triple mantra, particularly after the reforms in the economy post 1991, it is unfair to expect of Karnataka students to remain in and practice in Karnataka only. Their aspirations cannot be confined to Karnataka, when opportunities are available in other parts of India and overseas. They cannot be tied to this State alone, when avenues are available all over India as well as abroad for higher education or for professional work. Therefore, any horizontal reservation provided to students of Karnataka would not advance the State’s interest. There is no compulsion for students of Karnataka to remain in the State nor can such a promise be imposed on them for the purpose of fostering the impugned reservation as it would violate their freedom under Article 1991)(g) of the Constitution”.The Court also quashed the notification issued by the NLSIU giving 5% concession for cut-off marks for “Students from Karnataka”.The Court however did not interfere with the increase of seats in the NLSIU (from 80 to 120) but the revised seat matrix incorporating the impugned reservation was quashed.Senior Advocate K G Raghavan appeared for the petitioner Master Balachandar Krishnan, a law aspirant. Advocate C K Nandankumar appeared for the petitioners Satyajit Sarna and Nikhil Singhvi, parents of law aspirants.Bar Council of India was represented by Vikramjit Banerjee, Additional Solicitor General of India.Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi appeared for the State of Karnataka.Senior Advocate Uday Holla represented the NLSIU.Reports about previous hearing may be read here :Object Of NLSIU Domicile Reservation To Ensure That A Portion Of Students Stay Back To Serve The State : Karnataka AG Tells HCNLSIU Not A State University; Govt Funding ‘Very Minuscule’ : University Tells Karnataka HC’Domicile Reservation Goes Against Objective Of National Law School’: Bar Council Of India Tells Karnataka HC’It Will Only Help Students Of Elite Schools’: Karnataka HC Asks State To Clarify Who Will Benefit From NLSIU Domicile ReservationClick here to download the judgmentRead JudgmentSubscribe to LiveLaw, enjoy Ad free version and other unlimited features, just INR 599 Click here to Subscribe. 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