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Teachers oppose plan to hive off CU law wing

Almost all teachers at Calcutta University’s law department have adopted a resolution opposing a state government proposal to turn the 153-year-old department into a university.

The faculty members have written to President Pranab Mukherjee, an alumnus of the department, governor M.K. Narayanan, chief minister Mamata Banerjee, higher education minister Bratya Basu and Calcutta University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das, protesting the move to dissociate the department from the university.

“The institution (CU) has produced great legal luminaries.... The institution can also boast of giving the country its first President Dr Rajendra Prasad. The institution has its own glorious history and rich heritage which makes it a heritage law faculty of the country. The department of law should remain an integral part of the university,” the resolution says.

The Mamata government has been toying with a plan to start a law university — on the lines of the West Bengal University of Technology and the West Bengal University of Health Sciences, both set up by the erstwhile Left Front government.

The state higher education department has recently written to CU, asking it to prepare a detailed report for upgrading the law department — housed on the Hazra Road campus of the university and popularly known as Hazra Law College — into a university.

According to the plan, the 20-odd law colleges in the state will come under the new university.

All engineering colleges in the state are under the tech university and the medical colleges under the health university.

A senior official in the higher education department said the proposal for setting up a law university was still in its preliminary stage.

CU vice-chancellor Das said he had received a letter from the higher education department, asking for a report on upgrading the law department to university. “We will be in a position to comment on the matter only after we discuss it at the syndicate (one of the two highest policy-making bodies of the university, the other being the senate).”

Teachers at the law department, however, feel that setting up the law university would rob CU of one more of its courses.

Calcutta University was debarred from teaching courses in engineering, management and medical sciences after the formation of the health and tech universities.

“Multidisciplinary studies suffered when the university lost its engineering and medical faculties. The institute will suffer more if the law department is now taken away,” said a senior professor at CU.

A section of teachers, however, also fears that members of the law faculty would lose their job if the department is detached from CU.

“We are not opposed to the proposal of setting up a law university. Nor are we against any attempt at upgrading the department’s facilities. But we are strongly opposed to any move aimed at dissociating the department from the university. The department has been an integral part of the university since 1857,” said a senior teacher at the law department.

The law department, earlier housed in the Hardinge building on Calcutta University’s College Street campus, now stands on land gifted by lawyer and philanthropist Tarak Nath Palit (1831-1914).

The department organises a number of endowment lectures, including Tagore Law Lecture, Sir Ashutosh Law Lecture, Manmoth Nath Memorial Lecture and Ibrahim Salevai Lecture. “The terms and condition of the endowments will be violated if the law department gets separated from Calcutta University,” said a teacher