Skip to content


Blaise Louis and ors. Vs. the Nagpur University, Nagpur and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Civil Appln. No. 607 of 1972
Judge
Reported inAIR1973Bom5; ILR1973Bom1172; 1972MhLJ879
ActsNagpur University Act, 1964 - Sections 4, 8, 20(1) and 22(2); Constitution of India - Articles 14 and 226
AppellantBlaise Louis and ors.
RespondentThe Nagpur University, Nagpur and anr.
Appellant AdvocateS.G. Kukday, ;V.P. Kukday and ;R.R. Deshpande, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateA.S. Bobde, ;R.B. Pendharkar and ;H.W. Dhabe, Advs.
Excerpt:
a) the case debated on the power of the executive council of the university under the provisions of the nagpur university act (22 of 1964) - it was held that the council had the power to conduct an enquiry into the examination and to cancel them under section 20 of the act and such power was independent from the power of the chancellor ; b) it was ruled that executive council of the university had the powers to cancel the examination under the nagpur university act (22 of 1964) and the academic council had no such powers under section 22(2) of the act and was not concerned with the conduct of examinations ; c) the case debated on whether the petitioner could challenge the entire decision of the executive council of the university - it was held that the petitioner could challenge the.....chandurkar, j.1. this petition filed by some students challenging the decision of the executive council of the nagpur university cancelling certain examinations has brought to light the enormous proportions i which the malady of mass copying has seriously affected the recent examinations held by the nagpur university and the failure of university authorities to conduct the examination held by it in an atmosphere which is normally necessary to enable the examinees to put in their performance on the basis of which their academic standards could be judged. the undergraduate examinations for several courses were held by the university from 30th march to 6th may 1972 and the post graduate examinations were held from 11th april to 29th april, 1972. these examinations were held at several.....
Judgment:

Chandurkar, J.

1. This petition filed by some students challenging the decision of the Executive Council of the Nagpur University cancelling certain examinations has brought to light the enormous proportions I which the malady of mass copying has seriously affected the recent examinations held by the Nagpur University and the failure of University Authorities to conduct the examination held by it in an atmosphere which is normally necessary to enable the examinees to put in their performance on the basis of which their academic standards could be judged. The undergraduate examinations for several courses were held by the University from 30th March to 6th May 1972 and the post graduate examinations were held from 11th April to 29th April, 1972. These examinations were held at several centres. The petition is concerned with the examinations which took place at the St.Francis de Sales College Centre. Hislop College Centre Nagpur Mahavidyalaya Center. Dr. Ambedkar College Centre G.S.College of Commerce Centre and the University Library Building Centre. The petitioners Nos. 1 and 2 had appeared at the B.Sc. Part 1 Examination at the petitioner No.3 was a candidate for the M.A. Part II Examination in Public Administration which was held at the University Library Building Centre; the petitioner No. 4 appeared at the B.Sc. Final Examination held at the Hislop College Centre; and the petitioner No.5 appeared at the M.A. Part I Examination in Economics at the Nagpur Mahavidyalaya Centre. The petitioners Nos. 6 and 7 admittedly did not appear for any examination. The petitioner No.6 claims to be the President of the Youth Welfare Organisation at Nagpur and the petitioner No. 7 claims to be the Secretary of the University Students' Union at Nagpur. It was not disputed before us that since none of these last two petitioners had appeared at any examination, they could not validly make any grievance against any decision of the University cancelling any examination.

2. It is now necessary to refer to the action of the Executive Council of the Nagpur University which is challenged in this petition. It appears that the University Authorities had taken the view that the examinations held at several Centres were vitiated as a result of copying on a mass scale resorted to by the examinees and therefore an Enquiry Committee consisting of three members of the Executive Council to go into this question was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor of the University. This Committee went into the reports of the several examiners the different officers-in-charge of the centres where the examinations were conducted, and the reports of the invigilators about the manner in which the examinations were conducted or the way in which the students behaved at different centres. This was the main material apart from the fact that information from independent sources was also sought to be made use of on which it appears that the Committee came to certain conclusions. The report of the Committee to which we shall make reference later was placed before the Executive Council at its meeting held on 24th May 1972. On considering the report of the Committee as also other data such as the results of the various examination centres and the reports of the values/examiners in different subjects and also the reports of the officers-in-charge of the various examination centres. the Executive Council came to a considered conclusion that unfair means and copying on a mass scale were adopted at some written (theory) examinations held at some centres and that the conduct of the examinations at these centres was not normal. The centres and the examinations in respect of which this decision was arrived at by the Executive Council were as follows :

Centre. Examinations :1. Hislop College (i) First B.Sc.(ii) Final B.Sc.(iii) Final B.A.(iv) B.Com. Part III2. Dr.Ambedkar College of Arts. Commerce and Science (i) First B.Sc.(ii) Final B.Sc.(iii) Final B.A.(iv) B.Com. Part II.3. St.Francis de Sales' Colleges (i) First B.Sc.(ii) First B.Sc.4. G.S.College of Commerce and Economics. (i) B.Com. Part Ii.

3. The Executive Council then passed the following resolution which is the subject-matter of challenge in this petition :

'In order to eradicate the evil of these malpractices from the University Examinations and in order to protect the interests of those students who are likely to be adversely affected in their further educational and professional career on account of the malpractices adopted at the aforesaid centres ; and in order to protect the academic atmosphere in the University the Executive Council hereby cancels the examinations stated against centres hereinbefore.

The Executive Council further resolves that the re-examinations (theory) in respect of the centres and the examinations referred to above would be held and conducted by the Nagpur University commencing from 22nd June 1972, the programme where of including the centres at which such examinations should be held would be notified shortly in due course of time. This re-examination shall be restricted only to those examinees who had appeared at the above said centres during March-April-May 1972. The Executive Council further resolves that further scrutiny in respect of the post-graduate examinations in the faculties of Arts. Social Sciences and Commerce and Examination in the Faculty of law held at Different Centres be made by the Committee already appointed which will furnish its report to the Executive Council at the earliest. Action in respect of those examinations would be considered and announced by the Executive Counsel after due consideration of such report as may be received from the said Committee ... ... ... ... ...

The Executive Council hereby further resolves that the results in respect of Examinations (except those under scrutiny and of First B.Sc. Final B.Sc. Final B.A. and B.Com Part II in respect of centres mentioned hereinbefore) shall be announced as scheduled.'

The Executive Council took the view that this drastic action became necessary in order to eradicate the evil of the malpractices from the University Examinations and in order to protect the interests of those students who are likely to be adversely affected in their further educational and professional career on account of the malpractices adopted at the aforesaid centres and also to protect the academic atmosphere in the University. The result was that the examinees who had appeared at the examinations specified in the resolution of the Executive Council were to appear at the re-examination which was to commence from to-day. Consequently the Executive Council also recommended to the Vice-Chancellor that the commencement of the academic session 1972-73 which was to commence on 20th June 1972 should be further postponed and that there should also be a further postponement of the last date of admission of the students to professional courses.

4. The Executive Council further discussed the question of the conduct of the post-graduate examinations held in April and May 1972 at its adjourned meeting held on 26th May 1972. The meeting was however further adjourned and was held the next day. At this meeting held on 27th May 1972 the Executive Council considered the general reports from the officers-in-charge of the post-graduate examination centres the reports of the invigilators and valuers and also the reports from independent sources. Some statistical information which was available about the performance of examinees was also considered and on a consideration of this material the Executive Council felt satisfied that an atmosphere of terror tension and roudyism and outside anti-social elements, resulting in disturbed conditions had prevailed in certain centres at Nagpur. The Executive Council also felt satisfied that the examinees at these centres took advantage of disturbed conditions and they had used unfair means on a large scale. The result was a further cancellation of certain post-graduate examinations at certain centres. The examinations and the names of the centres in respect of which this resolution was to operate are shown below :

Examination Centre.(I) M.A.Part I (All subjects) 1. University Library Building2. Nagpur Mahavidyalaya.3. Hislop College.(ii) M.A.Part II (All subjects) 1. University Library Building.2. Hislop College.(iii) M.Com., Part I 1. G.S.College of Commerce.2. University Library Building.(iv) M.Com., Part II 1. G.S.College of Commerce.

The Executive Council also decided that the re-examination of the affected students will also be held from 22nd June 1972 that is from today and the re-examination will be restricted to theory papers only.

5. These two decisions taken by the Executive Council are now sought to be challenged by the petitioners in this petition. We shall go to the detailed nature of the challenge on behalf of the petitioners to the decisions of the Executive Council a little later but at this stage it is necessary to mention that out of the six centres the examinations held at which have now been cancelled there is no petition by any student appearing at the Dr.Ambedkar College Centre or the G.S.College of Commerce Centre. The petition as it is framed seeks to make a general challenge to the entire decision of the Executive Council. It cannot however be forgotten that this is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and unless the petitioners are in a position to show that they are in any way directly affected by the resolution of the Executive Council it will not be possible for them to challenge that decision within the scope of the petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. The challenge which really survives there fore is only in respect of the examinations at which the petitioners Nos.1 to 5 had appeared and which stood cancelled by the impugned decisions of the Executive Council. Thus the arguments in the petition had been restricted only to the decisions of the Executive Council in so far as they had the effect of canceling the B.Sc. Part I examination at the St.Francis de Sales' College Centre. M.A.Part II examination in Public Administration at the University Library Building Centre. B.Sc. Final Examination at the Hislop College Centre and M.A.Part I examination in Economics at the Nagpur Mahavidyalaya Centre.

6. The first contention which is raised by Shri Kukday learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners is that the Executive Council has neither the power to make any inquiry with regard to the conduct of examinations nor has it the power to cancel the examinations already held by the University. Such a power according to the learned counsel vests solely in the Chancellor of the University by virtue of the provisions of Section 8 of the Nagpur University Act 1963 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The learned counsel contends that in the instant case the Chancellor has not ordered any inquiry, nor has he given any directions to the Executive Council to cancel the examinations and, therefore the decisions of the Executive Council cancelling certain examinations are entirely without jurisdiction and are liable to be quashed. Reliance is placed by the learned counsel on Section 8 which is as follows :

'8. (1) The Chancellor shall have the right to cause an inspection to be made by such person or persons as he may direct of the University. Its buildings, laboratories, libraries, museums, workshops and equipment of any institution college or hostel maintained or recognised by or affiliated to the University of the teaching and other work conducted by the University and of the conduct of examinations held by the University and to cause an enquiry to be made in respect of any matter connected with the University. The Chancellor shall in every case give notice to the University of his intention to cause an inspection or inquiry to be made and the University shall be entitled to be represented thereat.

(2) The Chancellor shall communicate to the Court and to the Executive Council his view with reference to the result of such inspection or inquiry and the Court and the Executive Council thereon advise the University on the action to be taken.

(3) The Executive Council shall support to the Chancellor such action if any as it has taken or may propose to take upon the result of the inspection or inquiry. Such report shall be submitted with the opinion of the Court thereon and within such time as the Chancellor may direct.

(4) Where Executive Council does not within a reasonable time take action to the satisfaction of the Chancellor the Chancellor may after considering any explanation furnished or representation made by the Executive Council issue such directions as he may thick fit and the Executive Council shall comply with such directions.'

(underline is ours).

7. The learned counsel then referred to the provisions of Section 20 of the Act which deals with the powers and duties of the Executive Council. The relevant portion of that section is reproduced below :

'20. (1) Subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by or under this Act the Executive Council shall exercise the following powers and perform the following duties namely : -

* * * * * * * * * * (xxii) to appoint examiners to fix their remuneration and to arrange for the conduct of and for publishing the results of the University examinations and other tests.

* * * * * * * * * * (xxix) to exercise all powers of the University not otherwise provided for in the Act or the Statutes and all other powers which are requisite to give effect to the provisions of this Act or the Statutes.'

The contention of the learned counsel is that the power or the duty of the Executive Council in the matter of conducting the examinations is subject to the provisions of Section 8, and since there is an express provision made in that section giving a specific power to the Chancellor to make an enquiry and to issue necessary directions to the Executive Council in the matter of the conduct of examinations held by the University and there is no express power anywhere in the Act enabling the Executive Council to cancel the examinations unless the Chancellor directs the Executive Council to cancel the examinations unless the Chancellor directs the Executive Council the Executive Council has no jurisdiction to cancel the examinations already held. This argument is met by Mr.Bobde, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents by making a twofold submission. It is first contended that on a general principle it must be held that where there is a power to hold an examination there is a power to cancel that examination. The other limb of the argument is that clause (xxix) of sub-section (1) of Section 20 of the Act must be so construed as to enable the Executive Council to cancel the examinations held by it in certain circumstances where it is necessary to do so in order to give effect either to the provisions of the Act or of the Statutes. In support of the first submission he has placed reliance on the decision of the Supreme Court in Bihar School Examination Board v. Subhas Chandra Sinha, : [1970]3SCR963 . The facts of that case were that candidates at the Secondary School Examination held by the Bihar School Examination Board had appeared at certain centres. The results of the examinations held at various centres were declared but the results of the examination at Hanswadidh centre were not released. The Board had cancelled the examination at that centre and the reason given was that unfair means were practised on a large scale at this centre. This decision was challenged by some students on several grounds by a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. It appears that the decision to cancel the examination was based on certain reports of the tabulators of that centre who reported that the percentage of successful examinees was as high as 80% whereas the average at the Arrah Dalipur centres was only 50%. The matter was referred to the Unfair Means Committee of the Board and the Committee asked the moderators to look into all the answer books where the percentage was 80% or more. The moderators reported unfair means on a mass scale and therefore the Chairman of the Board passed an order cancelling the Board passed an order cancelling the examination in all subjects at the Hanswadth centre allowing the examinees to re-appear at the Supplementary Examination in September 1969 without payment of any fresh fees. The Patna High Court took the view that the high percentages did give rise to a suspicion that unfair means were practised and that the Board was justified in investigating in the case. The High Court however held that the examinees were not given a chance to show cause and the materials on which the Chairman of the Board passed his order were not disclosed to the examinees and consequently the Board had failed to act according to the principles of natural justice and the action either of the Chair man or of the Board could not be sustained. The order of the Board was therefore quashed and the publication of the results which were withheld was ordered. The Bihar School Examination Board filed an appeal against this judgment before the Supreme Court. One of the Challenges made to the legality of the order cancelling the examination was that the Board alone and not the Chairman could cancel the examinations. The Supreme Court referred to Section 9 (3) of the Bihar School Examinations Board Act, and held that under Section 9 (3) in an emergency the powers of the Chairman were conterminous with those of the Board and he could therefore take action himself and later report it to the Board. The Supreme Court took the view :

'In this case action was taken by the Chairman and he reported it to the Board which fully endorsed it. Therefore the cancellation of the examinations at Hanswadih Centre must be treated as an order of the Board and cannot therefore be challenged on the ground that it was incompetently made.'

We are unable to see what assistance the learned Counsel for the respondents can draw from these observations. We do not find ourselves persuaded to hold that this decision can be treated as an authority for the proposition that the power to hold an examination must also imply the power to cancel the examination.

8. Having considered the matter in detail we are however inclined to take the view that so far as the provisions of the Nagpur University Act, 1963 are concerned. In order to spell out a power to cancel an examination it is not necessary to take recourse to any general principle of law because we find that the action taken by the Executive Council is squarely within its power under clause (xxix) of sub-section (1) of Section 20 of the Act. It is now necessary to refer to certain other provisions of the Act. Section 4 of the Act deals with the powers of the University. It provides that the University shall have the powers enumerated in that section and perform also the duties enumerated therein. One of the important powers and the duties of the University is specified in C. (10) of Section 4. The relevant part of Section 4 is as follows :

'4. Subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by or under the provisions of this Act, the University shall have the following powers and perform the following duties namely : -

(10) to hold examinations (including the University Entrance Examination) and confer degrees diplomas, certificates and other academic distinctions on persons who -

(a) have pursued approved courses of study in the University or in a affiliated college or in a recognized institution unless exempted therefrom in the manner prescribed by the statutes. Ordinances and Regulations and have passed the examinations prescribed by the University, or

(b) have carried on research under conditions prescribed by the Ordinances and Regulations'.

The scheme of the Act appears to be that the powers and duties of the different bodies which constitute the University have been enumerated. The Act has also vested the Chancellor with powers which appear to be in the nature of supervisory jurisdiction. The two main bodies of the University namely the Executive Council and the Academic Council function independently within their allocated spheres. The power given to the Chancellor under Section 8 is in our view a totally independent power in his capacity as the Chancellor of the University. For the proper exercise of the supervisory jurisdiction under Section 8 the Chancellor has no doubt been vested with the power to order an inquiry in respect of any matter connected with the University. The power is of the widest amplitude because such inquiry could be made in respect of any matter connected with the University but if in respect of any matter the Chancellor is not pleased to order an inquiry that does not affect the power of the Executive Council to take a decision in a matter which falls within its powers and duties under Section 4 of the Act. It is no doubt true that conduct of examinations held by the University would be a matter covered by Section 8 (1) of the Act but it is difficult for us to appreciate the contention that in the matter of cancellation of any examination the initiative must come from the Chancellor alone in the sense that it is he alone who must order an inquiry or that it is he alone who must order the cancellation of an examination or examinations. The only effect of sub sections (2) and (3) of S. 8 is that where the Chancellor has tendered some advice to the University on the action to be taken in respect of any particular matter the Executive Council has to report to the Chancellor whether it has taken any action and if so what Sub-section (4) gives the Chancellor a further power to give certain directions to the Executive Council in case the Chancellor is not satisfied with any action of the Executive Council with regard to which the advice has been tendered or if it does not take any action within a reasonable time to the satisfaction of the Chancellor.

9. It is now necessary to consider the effect of the provisions of C. (xxix) of sub-section (1) of S. 20 of the Act. The working of Clause (xxix) shows that be exercised in order to give effect to the provisions of the Act or the Statutes is vested in the Executive Council. We have already pointed out above that one of the important powers and the duties which the University is required to exercise and perform under the Act is to hold examinations and to confer degrees. The conditions which are required to be satisfied before degrees can be conferred are expressly stated in sub-clause (a) of Clause (10) of Section 4. A decree is to be conferred on a person who has not only pursued approved courses of study in the University or an affiliated college or in a recognized institution, unless exempted therefrom in the manner prescribed by the Statues. Ordinances and Regulations but that person must also have passed the examination prescribed by the University. A condition precedent which must therefore be satisfied before a decree is conferred on a particular person is that he must have passed the examination prescribed by the University. The colleges affiliated to the University and the University itself impart instructions in particular course attendance at which qualifies a student to appear at an examination and to obtain a degree in that particular faculty. A matter of fact except where a degree is conferred on the basis of a thesis the whole object of the University career of a student is to qualify himself of r degree which the University is in a position to confer on him by passing an examination. It is obligatory therefore on the University to hold examinations and it cannot be disputed that the examinations held must be examinations in the real sense of the term. It is well known that an examinations in the nature of a test which a student has to pass before he can claim a student has to pass before he can claim to be qualified to obtain any particular degree or distinction. As observed by the Supreme Court in Bihar School Examination Board. : [1970]3SCR963 (cit. sup) the essence of the Examinations is that the worth of every person is appraised with any assistance from an outside source. If for certain reasons the process of examining the student is vitiated or for certain reasons it is not possible to evaluate the academic merit of the student in spite of the fact that the ritual of the examination has been gone through it would not be possible to say that on the basis of such an examination the student could claim that he should be declared to have been qualified for obtaining the degree which under Section 4,. the University has the power to confer. In other words in a case where the whole process of examination is vitiated for any reason whatsoever. It is impossible to evaluate correctly the academic merit of the student and it then becomes obligatory on the University to evaluate the academic merits of the student again and the only process by which this can be done is to cancel the vitiated process of examination and to repeat the process by holding a re-examination. This may happen for several reasons. It may not be possible for the University to declare the results of the examination for several reasons. e.g. a contingency may arise where the answer books of the students might have got destroyed before valuation on account of some accident for which neither the University nor the students are responsible. Then there is nothing in the possession of the University on the basis of which the evaluation for the purpose of deciding whether a student is qualified for obtaining a degree can be made and any attempt on anybody's part to insist that the University even under such circumstances must grant a degree would amount to asking the University to act in breach of the provisions of Clause (10) of Section 4 of the Act. Thus, if the University is to give effect to the provisions relating to the conferral of degrees, it must have the power in a given case to hold a re examination. It our view, the University will be positively failing in its duty if a re-examination is not ordered where it is not in a position to effectively evaluate the merit of the students for the purpose of conferral of degrees. On a reading of the provisions of Section 20 we are unable to see how the performance of the duty under Section 4 (10) and the exercise of the power to examine a student again in a case where re-examination become necessary can in any way be affected by the provisions of Section 8. This is an entirely independent power which flows from Section 20 itself and there is nothing either in Section 20 or in Section 8 on the basis of which we could accept the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the initiative in this matter must come from the Chancellor alone and not from the Executive Council.

10. This takes us then to the second contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the matter of re-examination is a matter with which the Academic Council of the University is also concerned, and since at no stage the Academic Council had discussed this question, the decisions of the Executive Council are liable to the quashed. It is not possible for us to accept this contention. It is no doubt true that Section 22 (1) of the Act provides that the Academic Council shall have the control and general regulation of, and be responsible for, the maintenance of the standards of teaching and examinations within the University. What is contended by the learned counsel for the petitioners is that under Clause (ix) of sub-section (2) of S. 22 the duty of making Regulations regarding the examinations of the University, and the conditions on which students shall be admitted to such examinations is that of the Academic Council and, therefore, the matter of cancellation of an examination must also fall within the sphere of the powers of the Academic Council. It is difficult to accept this argument in the face of the express provisions in Clause (xxii) of sub-section (1) of S. 20 where the power and duty to arrange for the conduct of, and for publishing the results of, the University examinations and other tests are expressly given to the Executive Council. The Academic Council under Section 22 (2) is concerned only with making Regulations which have nothing to do with the actual conduct of the examinations.

11. The next submission of the learned counsel for the petitioners is that the decisions of the Executive Council are discriminatory inasmuch as only certain centres. Without any rational basis or reason, have been chosen for the purpose of cancellation of the examination. It is also contended that the proper course which the University should have adopted was that they should have detected individual acts of resort to unfair means and that as a result of the decisions of the Executive Council the students who indulged in using unfair means stand exonerated from punishment while innocent students who had not taken resort to unfair means have to appear for a re-examination. This argument results from a misapprehension of the nature of the action taken by the Executive Council. the University Authorities are not charging any particular person with using unfair means but the inquiry was directed into the conduct of the examinations as a whole which, if found to be vitiated by use of unfair means on a large scale, the examinations of all the students, whether they did or did not use unfair means, were liable to be cancelled. This would no doubt result in hardship to some honest students but in the very nature of the circumstances it would not be possible to find out which of the students used and did not use unfair means.

12. It is also difficult to see how the petitioners could make any grievance on the ground of discrimination. the University has produced before us not only the original report of the Enquiry committee which was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor to make an inquiry into the conduct of the University examinations but the several reports which were perused by the Committee for the purposes of ascertaining at which of the several centres the examinations have been vitiated as a result of use of unfair means, have been made available to us. Initially the reports of the examiners, the officers-in-charge and the invigilators were not filed with return by the University but copies of those reports were submitted to us for our perusal. The explanation was that these reports were made in confidence and that the University had given an assurance that the names of the persons making the reports would not be disclosed in the interests of those persons. This is quite understandable in view of the tense situation and the agitation which has resulted from the decision of the Executive Council. However, when those reports were placed before us, each one of the documents which we looked at was shown to the learned counsel for the petitioners and we make it expressly clear that every document which we have perused and considered was shown to the learned counsel for the petitioners. In this case the enquiry was not directed at ascertaining the individual cases of use of unfair means but the larger question before the University was as to in what centres the examinations as a whole were vitiated on account of mass copying resorted to by the examinees. It is quite likely that on the material before the Enquiry Committee and the Executive Council it may not be possible to conclude that there was mass copying at all examination centres. The petitioners are not alleging any mala fides on the part of the University Authorities. It is not alleged that for any ulterior reason or motive the centres at which the examinations have been cancelled were deliberately chosen by either the Enquiry committee or the Executive council. If such allegations are not made merely because the University Authorities have been able to pinpoint the evil of mass copying only at certain centres and have taken action in respect of those centres and could not take action against other centres for want of proper material, we fail to see how a charge of discrimination could be validly made against the University Authorities.

13. With the assistance of the learned counsel for the petitioners and for the University, we have ourselves tried to find out whether the conclusion to which the Enquiry Committee and the Executive Council have reached was based on material on which any reasonable person would reach such a conclusion. We cannot forget that this is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution in which this Court is not entitled to sit in appeal over the decisions of autonomous bodies like the University on matters in the academic field which under the Act is exclusively the field of the University, and if we are satisfied that the decision is supported by evidence, it will not be possible for us to interfere with the decisions of the Executive Council. The Committee had gone in detail into the reports of the officers-in-charge and the examiners and had also made a comparative study of the percentage of successful candidates in different subjects from other centres and from the centres in question. These comparative statements are also produced before us and we are satisfied that the Enquiry Committee and the Executive Council have reached a correct conclusion. We have ourselves looked at the answer books; we have looked at the original reports of the invigilators; and we have also looked at the original reports of the officers-in-charge of the four centres to which the petition is now restricted. We shall briefly refer to the material which has been produced before us and which was before the Enquiry Committee and the Executive Council in respect of the examinations at which the petitioners Nos. 1 to 5 had appeared.

14. The petitioners Nos. 1 and 2 had appeared at the B.Sc., Part I Examination from the St.Francis de Sales' College. The petitioner No. 1 is a student against whom the University has no doubt been unable to show anything wrong in her performance at the examination. She claimed that she passed her Senior Cambridge Examination in the first division and passed the Pre-University Examination of the Madras University in the first division securing 72% marks. The petitioner No. 1 has produced before us a certificate of the Madras University which clearly shows that she has passed the whole examination in the first division with distinction in Chemistry. It is unfortunate that she is a victim of the circumstances in which she has found herself. So far as this centre is concerned, the Enquiry Committee had before it the report of the officer-in-charge of that centre. That report in our view, is speaking eloquently. Without making any reference to names, we may observe that we find from this report that so far as that centre was concerned there is a clear statement that it was very difficult to control copying and groups of students several of whom did not belong to the college, were coming in organised gangs to the college campus, especially on the days when there were important examinations in science. It was also stated that when some students went to the lavatory they would try and contact with these students in cars and scooters to bring answers. It appears that this officer-in-charge found himself helpless because, according to him senior teachers did not accept invigilation and the police did not want actual confrontation with the students. The committee also found that the examiners had expressed their opinion that there was a possibility of mass copying at the St.Francis de Sales' College. The Committee has made a reference to what is written in his answer book by one of the candidates himself. He had written about his 'frustrating and nauseating experience' when he found that copying was going on in the examination hall. We had sent for this answer book and we are satisfied that one of the examinees himself had created intrinsic evidence with regard to the state of affairs at that particular centre.

15. So far as the petitioner No. 3 is concerned he had appeared at the M. A. Part II Examination in Public Administration. The University has produced so much material before us that it is impossible to find fault with the view which the Executive Council or the Enquiry Committee has taken. The reports of certain invigilators speak of the vandalism and rowdyism which prevailed when the post-graduate examinations were going on at the University Library Building Centre. These reports were also shown to the learned counsel for the petitioners, though we do not propose to refer to the names of those invigilators. According to one invigilator the incidence of copying at the M. A. Examination in Public Administration (Final) was on a large scale. According to him, outsiders used to enter the examination hall take possession of the answer books and carbon copies or cyclostyled copies or answers were made available to the candidates. The report of another invigilator states that there was mass copying at the M. A. Part II Examination in Public Administration where students were seated in Room No. 32. To quote his own words 'there was almost cent per cent copying' and the students freely used books and copying material. This is also supported by the report of the officer-in-charge at the University Library Building Centre who reported that 'the general atmosphere at the centre at the time of the public Administration papers was one of lawlessness and disorder' and some students actually instigated the other students to copy saying that they would take care of the invigilator.

16. So far as the Hislop College is concerned, probably there is the maximum material and it must be said in fairness to the learned counsel for the petitioners that it was impossible for him to challenge the data which the University has produced. For the purposes of completeness, however, we may state that in several papers the results are astounding. In the B.Com. Part II paper, while the results of some other centres do not go above 50% the results from the Hislop College were cent per cent. For the First B. Sc. Botany paper II they were 94 per cent; for the First B. Sc., Mathematics Paper II, they were 97 per cent., and the several facts which were relied upon by the Enquiry Committee are supported by the material which is produced by the University. We are in a position to say that so far as the statements of fact are concerned no charge of incorrectness could be made against the Enquiry Committee's report.

17. The only other centre with which we are concerned is the Nagpur Mahavidyalaya Centre. The Enquiry Committee had found that the score of performance for the M. A. Part I examination is Sociology was very high because normally it did not exceed 50%. The charge which is filed at page 105 of the Paper-book shows that in M. A. Part I in Sociology Papers II & III the results were 92.5 and 90.5 per cent respectively. For Paper II. 160 students had appeared and 148 had passed and for Paper III, 157 had appeared and 142 had passed. There also the examiners have expressed the possibility of use of unfair means. The Committee also took the view that even in that centre there were conditions of lawlessness and absence of discipline and there was absence of proper atmosphere for a fair examination there. The petitioner No. 5 had appeared for the M. A. Part I examination in Economics, we have a report of an examiner who examined the answer books from four other centres and the results varied between 21% and 44%. The result of M. A. Paper II, Economics, Group I, which this examiner has examined from the Nagpur Mahavidyalaya Centre, so far as the college students are concerned, was 76% 83 had appeared and 63 had passed. It was also noticed that as compared with the general average of 49% 76% was a very high figure and a similarity of answers was also noticeable in the answer books. We have already pointed out above that so far as the two other centres, namely Dr. Ambedhkar College and the G. S. College of Commerce are concerned, there could not be any challenge because none of the students have come forth but even there the material is overwhelming on the basis of which the Executive Council could well come to the conclusion that there was mass copying. We are, therefore, satisfied in this case that there was enough material before the Enquiry Committee and the Executive Council on the basis of which the Executive Council could have properly come to the conclusion which it has reached. We may also usefully refer to the further observations of the Supreme Court in the Bihar School Examination Board's case (cit. sup):

'If there is sufficient material on which it can be demonstrated that the university was right in its conclusion that the examination ought to be cancelled then academic standards require that the university's appreciation of the problem must be respected:.

Indeed, we are fully satisfied that the conclusion reached by the Executive Council could be the only one possible in this case. It is true that the decision of the Executive Council is not directed at any particular individual student but it is likely to inflict undue hardships on some honest students who may not have indulged in the use of unfair means. But it is obvious that it would not have been possible for the University to pick and choose students who had not taken resort to unfair means because in the very nature of the circumstances such picking up would be impossible on the material that would be available in such a case. It appears to us that cancellation of examinations was the only course which was open to the University.

18. We cannot, however part with this case without observing that the difficulty in which the University has found itself is at least partly of its own making. There is material to show that at least in the case of one centre from time to time information was being given to the University with regard to the difficulties in the conduct of examination (see document No. 3 marked (x) in the compilation). It is too much to believe that mass copying on such a large scale which is now found to have taken place in the six centres by the Executive Council could have gone unnoticed day after day by the University Authorities who had visited the several centres when the examinations were being conducted. It is unfortunate that adequate drastic steps at the material time were not taken to restore a proper atmosphere at the examination centres. Probably, if some prompt steps had been taken at the material time, the calamity which has now befallen innocent students and the difficulties which the University is now facing would have been avoided. This does not, however, affect our conclusion reached, earlier. In the view which we have taken the petition must fail and is dismissed. We however, make no order as to costs.

19. One gentleman by name D. Y. Hingnikar, whose misfortune according to himself, was that he happened to appear for the B. Com. Part Ii examination from the G. S. College of Commerce Centre, has appeared before us and has filed an application that some relief should be given to him. According to him, he has not indulged in any unfair means and he has filed before us a certificate signed by two invigilators to say that he had not indulged in any unfair means in the examination during the time when these two invigilators were invigilating. We are unable to give any relief to this applicant assuming for the time being that he has not indulged in any unfair means. The decision of the Executive Council must stand as a whole and we are, therefore, unable to entertain the application of the applicant. The application is rejected.

20. The petitioners' counsel asked for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, Leave refused.

21. Petition dismissed.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //