MASTER BALACHANDAR KRISHNAN
(I) . THE STATE OF KARNATAKA DEPARTMENT OF PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS AND LEGISLATION
(II). THE UNION OF INDIA, MINISTRY OF HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT, DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION
(III). THE BAR COUNCIL OF INDIA
(IV). THE NATIONAL LAW SCHOOL OF INDIA UNIVERSITY
‘NLSIU A Unique National Institution And Not A State University’: Karnataka High Court While Quashing 25% Domicile Reservation
While quashing the 25% domicile reservation introduced in the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, the High Court of Karnataka observed that NLISU was a “unique national institution and cannot be construed to be a State University”.
The Court held that the Karnataka State had only a limited role under the NLSIU Act,1986 and that the State Legislature had no power or authority to mandate that 25% horizontal reservation should be given to “Students of Karnataka”.
A division bench of Justices B V Nagarathna and Ravi V Hosmani noted that the State has no role in structuring the curricula or the academic programs nor any say in the manner in which funds are spent. The faculty or the staff are not paid out of the funds of the State. The Law School has received funds from various State Governments, including Karnataka (to the tune of Rs 50 lakh per year) as well as from other sources, such as the Bar Council of India, State Bar Councils and other sources.
Under the NLSIU Act, the State did not reserve or retain any role for itself in the matter of administration, management or control of the Law School.
Therefore, the Court held, that the NLSIU (Amendment) Act 2020, passed by the Karnataka Assembly last March, was ultra-vires the objects and purport of the Act as well as the character of the Law School as an autonomous and independent entity having an All India or national character.
Recognizing the fact that the Law School is an autonomous body, only its Executive Council can decide to provide any form of reservation and the State cannot impose it.
The Court noted that the Bar Council of India, BCI Trust and Society had a “significant and pervasive” role in the establishment and functioning of the Law School and that the State Government had only been a facilitator in granting the Law School the status of a ‘deemed university’ through the Act.
Notably, the Bar Council of India was one of the petitioners challenging the amendment.
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