By Funnisha Garg
In early 2017, I purchased an online course from NUJS with the mindset to further my career. NUJS’ online courses had a reputation to not only provide vast corporate knowledge but also inculcate professionalism in a student.
But sadly, they themselves were not able to keep up with professionalism. Without any explanation, they stopped evaluating our assignments and refused to award us certificates.
Many of us are waiting for our certificates for months. Our emails to the registrar and VC remain unanswered. Our calls are not picked up.
NUJS notified that they are suspending the new enrolment but I don’t see how it should affect the students who were already enrolled in the courses.
I have come to the conclusion that there is no way left other than knocking the doors of courts for justice.
Many individuals have filed cases in various courts so far. The counsel of the university could not answer any questions in the court, but only stated that the university is ready to refund the complainant.
This is unfortunate. The university is trying to sweep the matter under the carpet by paying off one or two students who have the wherewithal to go to the court.
They know that all 3000 students affected by this move will not be able to afford to go to courts and file writ petitions. The few who will can be easily paid off.
NUJS has taken our money, which, put together, runs into several crores. They had the minimum responsibility to finish our courses and award certificates and at least give certificates to those who already finished their courses.
It has failed to do so, and is not even willing to offer an explanation as to why it is not doing so.
My strategy in face of this bureaucratic insensitivity and oppression is to take the legal route. I am filing a consumer case in the local district court. It costs only Rs 200 as court fee. I do not need a lawyer to represent myself in a consumer court, as consumers are allowed to appear and present their case in person.
I am asking for a direction to the University to continue its services as promised, for which it has already received money. I will also ask for Rs. 1 lakh compensation for harassment and damage to my career this arbitrary action has caused.
If I file this case, I am quite sure now or later I will receive my certificate as well as compensation, as NUJS has no legal ground to stop our courses or refuse certificates. Legally, our case is very strong.
However, I know the process can take longer if I am the lone litigant. Maybe the university will appeal the order and drag it on.
There is power in numbers. Imagine, if even 100 students out of the 3000 affected students file consumer cases all over India, the university will not have any option to remain inactive.
It will have to resolve the issue, which it can do in a single day if they have the good intention to do so.
They have taken our silence for granted because we are not there in the NUJS campus. However, we are still lawyers and law students. If we cannot stand up for our own rights, then how will we do that for the people of India?
This is why, I am sharing the draft of the legal notice which can be sent to NUJS and a template for complaint as attachments, which can be filed in District Forum.
It will take a few hours of your time to do all these. But it will go a long way in securing your interests.
Here is what to do step-by-step:
1. Send a 7-day legal notice using the template below.
2. Provided university does not resume services, as is expected of them given our experience over last 5 months, we need to get into action.
3. Finalize the consumer complaint using the template provided below.
4. Go to the local consumer court in your district and file the case
5. Every district consumer forum has a registry – go there, pay Rs 200 and file the complaint printed in normal white paper (A4 size).
Make sure you take the petition, your invoices, the copy of the notice you sent, a print of out of the course page from onlinecourses.nujs.edu website, if you have written any mails to the university requesting resuming of service, then a copy of those emails – all of that needs to be included along with the petition.
6. Wherever you see the word advocate in the form, just write ‘party in person’.
7. Once you have submitted the consumer complaint, you are done. Now the court will notify the university.
8. Send a copy of your complaint by email to Chief Justice of India and Chancellor of NUJS, Chief Minister of Bengal Mamata Banerjee, law minister of India Ravi Shankar Prasad and law minister of West Bengal Moloy Ghatak, Kalyan Banerjee, Senior Advocate and MP. I am also mentioning the email ids of some of the EC members of NUJS I found online, keep them copied too.
I hope they will understand the gravity of the situation and take appropriate action.
Here are their email ids: Moloy Ghatak: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ravi Shankar Prasad: email@example.com; Mamata Banerjee: firstname.lastname@example.org; Kalyan Banerjee: email@example.com, Supreme Court: firstname.lastname@example.org; NUJS faculty members: email@example.com, NUJS treasurer: firstname.lastname@example.org; Bibek Chowdhury: email@example.com
What to expect after this:
The university has two choices. One is to not contest as it is hard to find lawyers and pay them to contest cases in different parts of the country. In that case you will get an ex parte order.
If it appoints a lawyer to represent itself, you simply go and explain to the judge how you enrolled in the course, how the course was continuing, and how all of a sudden NUJS stopped issuing certificates and evaluating assignments.
If enough people file consumer cases, the University will have no choice but to take those legal actions that it is anyway required to take, and Executive Council members will understand how the VC has put the students and the university itself in jeopardy, without any authorization from the EC of NUJS.
Let’s hope for the best. Unlike NUJS regular students we are not in the campus, so we cannot protest in the campus.
However, if we engage in this simple exercise of our consumer rights, it will be an example for all Indians to see.
You can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.