Three national law universities (NLUs), planned to open in the state, will not take off this year due to functional delays in the higher and technical education department.
The universities, to be set up at Koradi near Nagpur, Shendra near Aurangabad, and Bhayander near Mumbai, were to be launched in 2014-15. The ones at Koradi and Shendra were to begin functioning from rented buildings and the one at Bhayander was to operate from the judicial academy there.
However, it emerges that the education department has not taken the necessary steps to appoint the vice-chancellor and statutory officers like registrar, exam controller and for finance & accounts for the three varsities.
The appointments are a must for the institutions to operate. Besides, the state is yet to register itself for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2014 through which it plans to admit students.
The state Cabinet had approved Rs125 crore for this project in January and the department took the ordinance route after the Maharashtra National Law University Bill 2013 could not be presented in the winter session.
The bill was presented in the interim budget session in February and the governor's approval came soon afterwards.
The three varsities, each having 100 seats, are to conduct a five-year dynamic course. Naturally, the aspirants are disappointed. "The minister keeps on announcing good things but nothing comes out of this. They should stop giving us false hopes," said a class 12 student.
The varsities were the dream project of Rajesh Tope, minister for higher and technical education. Maharashtra will be the only state to have three NLUs. Fourteen other states have one each.
A state official said, "We will be able to start the course only from the following year, that too if we register the NLUs by September." A professor pointed out that if the government failed to do this before the model code of conduct for the assembly elections comes into effect, another year would be wasted.
While admitting to the delay, the minister did not give the reasons for it. "The Maharashtra Law Universities Act 2013 was ready by February. However, the appointment of vice chancellors couldn't be done. The act mandates admission only through the CLAT and we could not register for it this year. We will soon take a call on whether we can conduct a CET for the first year."
When it was pointed out that the government is running short of time as the HSC results could be announced any time soon, and the admission for law courses start in June, Tope said, "I will discuss the issue with the chief minister tomorrow and let you know."