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Domicile Reservations in National Law Universities

National law universities set up by state governments have remained “islands” for too long–elitist and distanced from the local communities in which they were located. Domicile reservations, favouring students who are from the state where such universities have been set up are one way of rectifying this trend. The elite resistance to this move has no basis in constitutional principles and reflects an unfounded fear of the “local.”

Recently, the Delhi High Court heard cases concerning the validity of domicile reservations in two different national law universities (NLUs) at the opposite ends of the country. On 29 June, the high court stayed the admission notification of the National Law University of Delhi (NLUD), which had reserved 50% of its seats in favour of students who had completed their education from an institution in Delhi (Balvinder Sangwan v State [GNCT] of Delhi 2020). The high court held that the move was not backed by the autho­rity of the law and, therefore, stayed the notification.

Days after this order was passed, another petition was moved in the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the domicile reservations in the admission to the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) located in Bengaluru (Singh 2020a). This was a legally questionable move since the Delhi High Court does not have territorial jurisdiction over either the NLSIU located in Bengaluru or the Karnataka government which had amended the National Law School of India Act, 1986 to provide for such domicile reservations. The Delhi High Court was disinclined to entertain the petition on the grounds that it had no territorial jurisdiction, but permitted the petitioner to withdraw the petition (Singh 2020b). The whole exercise seemed like a transparent attempt at forum shopping in the hope of getting a favourable order.

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Updated On : 24th Jul, 2020

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