Published: 11th December 2017
Saveetha Law School shut after massive student protests over 'dodgy' accreditation issue
From being monitored by CCTV cameras to having their medical certificates shot down as 'fake', when they heard that the college's affiliation with the Bar Council was invalid, protests broke out
For the last three days, about 300 students have been protesting against the Saveetha School of Law management over the affiliation of the College to the Bar Council of India. Students from the previous batch had informed the current students that they had not been able to register with the Bar Council of India because the college was allegedly not affiliated or certified. There was no violence, but the college was shut down and students were asked to leave the hostels by 6 pm. The college also put up a detailed statement rebutting most of the students' claims — which is a departure from the stance taken by most colleges.
The students had previously taken up the issue with the management a few months ago but were assured that there was no problem. However, the students recently learnt that the College's affiliation to the Bar Council was only till 2014-2015 but repeated queries only brought them confusing answers, "Some said they were seeking affiliation, some said they weren't affiliated anymore, some said in a week they will get the affiliation. Despite protesting for three days not even one member of the management has tried to give us any kind of clarity," a student said. A few alumni had also joined them and told Edexlive that they had trouble in getting registered with the Bar Council in Tamil Nadu.
Are they accredited, aren't they accredited?
Incidentally, the official list of colleges under the Bar Council of India issued in 2017 does mention that Saveetha's affiliation is only valid will 2014-2015 but it is interesting to note that several other prominent colleges also don't seem to be valid till the current year. The students are now in a fix and don't know if their five-year degree is going to hold any good in the future, "If we are not able to register with the Bar Council and we cannot practice, what is the point?" asked a student who is a topper in her class and is completely distraught at the developments. In their statement, the college said that they had approval for BA-BLL and BBA-BLL courses, for which they were paying the annual affiliation fee year after year.
Laundry list of complaints
But the affiliation is not the only reason the students are protesting, the students seem to have a long list of complaints against the management. The students are unhappy with the new Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) which has shortened their semester from six months to three months, which also means that they have to pay fees twice as often as before. Another complaint the students said they have is the unnecessarily strict policy regarding attendance. Apparently, the College refuses to accept medical certificates, "This year especially many students had dengue but the College refused to accept certificates and keep saying they are false documents. We will then have to pay condonation fees but still will not be allowed to write all the papers," a student complained.
Accredited Much? Screenshot from the Bar Council of India's website
Hello, 15k for a re-eval?
One of their biggest issues with the college is that students are being asked to pay 15,000 rupees if they choose to reevaluate their papers and they are only allowed to apply for re-evaluation twice in five years of study. The students have also raised objections to CCTV cameras being installed inside the classrooms, "It is a classroom, we have teachers to keep an eye on us. Why do we need cameras? It makes us students feel very conscious and distracts us from our work too," a student said. The college, of course, says that the UGC and the university allow them to have CCTV cams and so it shouldn't bother the students.
The law students are quite upset that their parents have been unnecessarily dragged into the issue and asked by the management to advise their children to back out of the protests. But several parents are also in support of the cause, "The management is playing with the futures of so many children. Will people stop and listen only if a student decides to take an extreme step?" The students said that they were going to continue protesting all of Monday night as well, till they hear from the management.