In a shocking development, Livelaw reports that as of last month, Professor N.S.Gopalakrishnan has been removed as Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) Chair Professor at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) without any reason being disclosed.
As those in the IP community would know, Prof Gopalakrishnan is one of the foremost authorities and an internationally recognized expert in the field. One would be hard-pressed to convincingly argue that the Chair position would have even existed at CUSAT had Prof Gopalakrishnan not moved there from NLSIU. And it appears that the MHRD Chair coordinator on IP at NLU-Jodhput too has been victim to an arbitrary removal notice. On August 19th, Asst Prof Yogesh Pai received a one line notice that the Vice Chancellor of NLU-Jodhpur had announced his replacement with immediate effect, with no reason given. Two days later, he received his termination notice. Pai has clarified in a letter to the MHRD that he was given no reason for this termination.
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As per Livelaw’s report, a senior official in the MHRD had this to say regarding Prof Gopalakrishnan’s termination:
“We are shocked. He is an international expert. He has been helping the Ministry in various matters including policy making, international negotiations and legislative drafting. He has been helping other Ministries also on Intellectual Property law related issues. These Chairs are set up by the Central Government and they have been grooming these Professors, there should be continuity. It’s not like any other subject. If Universities according to their whims and fancies, go on removing the Chairs and Coordinators without informing the Central Government which has set up the Chairs, it would not help in policy making for which the Chairs were established.”
The official added, “Prof. Gopalakrishnan was removed in an arbitrary manner without informing us. We give the grants, salary and all other necessary expenditure for the Chair; they should show the courtesy to inform us in advance. The same thing has been done by National Law University, Jodhpur. They have removed Yogesh A Pai (who was the MHRD Chair Coordinator) without informing us. They are not supposed to do like this. We will take up the issue with the Universities directly; we are writing a strong letter to them. Either they will have to reinstate these people or we will remove the Chairs. We don’t want to give Chairs to those Universities who behave in such arbitrary manner.”
This is hardly the first time that higher ups in University administrations have made such arbitrary decisions and it is high time that such actions are resisted. Legal education in India has so much to be desired and yet certain administrative personnel believe they can treat universities as their personal fiefdom – rendering it even more difficult for the few who persevere through such difficulties. When even the most meritorious are facing such dangers, it is a clear and present sign of things having gone too far. It is high time that all those who are in a position to protest such actions, do so. It is good to see that the Ministry of HRD has said that they will take up the issue.
Prof Shamnad Basheer is organizing a protest petition regarding the above dismissals. For all those interested in signing up,
please contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] Please click here to go to the online petition. [Those who have already emailed us do not need to resubmit their signature].