Monday, 30th October 2017

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Curious cash case of law varsity

State unwilling to pay Rs 42cr, classes under threat as central building agency mulls arbitration

  • Published 7.04.17
The NUSRL campus in Kanke near capital Ranchi

The National University of Study and Research in Law (NUSRL), where students are taught to fight injustice, is in dire need of justice.

The state government is reluctant to pay in full a central agency that was roped in for construction of the campus in Kanke on the outskirts of Ranchi seven years ago, prompting the agency to mull arbitration in the matter, which can stall classes and ruin the academic ambience for 650 students.

According to varsity officials, Rs 85 crore was spent on building construction work at NUSRL. In March 2012, the state paid Central Public Works Department (CPWD) - a Union government-owned authority in charge of public sector works - Rs 50 crore in three instalments.

"The balance amount wasn't paid despite umpteen requests to the then HRD department (now, higher, technical education and skill development department). An interest of Rs 7 crore has accumulated over the years, taking the total amount due to Rs 42 crore. Several meetings have been held (with the government), but in vain. Officials of CPWD are threatening to go to arbitration (third party settlement) to recover the amount," said an NUSRL official.

University vice chancellor B.C. Nirmal said during a meeting with higher education minister Neera Yadav two months ago, her department secretary Ajay Kumar Singh had informed that a committee headed by chief secretary Rajbala Verma was looking into the matter.

"But, we are yet to be told if and when the funds will be released. If the case snowballs (goes to arbitration), we may not be in a position to run the institute," Nirmal said.

When this correspondent called higher and technical education secretary Singh on Thursday, he maintained that it was wrong to always blame the state government.

"The state paid Rs 50 crore and gave 63.76 acres of land for NUSRL. We expect the university to generate funds from other sources such as Bar Council of India and industrial houses (under corporate social responsibility), which are mentioned in the NUSRL Act, 2010," Singh said.

Vice chancellor Nirmal countered the possibility, saying it was difficult to raise funds without further development of the university.

"To fetch grants, we need to first convert NUSRL into a world-class institute. For that we need an auditorium, a bigger library and accommodation for our 35 teaching and 70 non-teaching staff on the campus. In 2014, we had tried roping in agencies to fund these projects, but response was nil," Nirmal said.

The NUSRL was established by a legislative act by the State of Jharkhand. The fourteenth national law university of India was formally inaugurated on April 26, 2010, by then chief justice of Jharkhand High Court and Supreme Court judge-designate Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra.

The high court chief justice is NUSRL's ex-officio chancellor while the state government is its patron-in-chief. The campus boasts an academic block comprising the administrative wing and a small library; two hostels for boys and girls, each having a capacity of 300; and a common mess.

Should the state pay the CPWD without delay? Tell