1. By these two writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India six students of G.T. Patil College, Nandurbar, challenge the decisions of the Poona University, respondent herein, whereby their performance at the fourth semester examination held in April 1981 from the Nandurbar centre was cancelled and they were further debarred from appearing at any examination till June 1982. A prayer is also made to direct the University to declare their results of the fourth semester examination as well as of the sixth semester at which examination they had appeared in April 1982 under an interim injunction which was issued in their favour by the Nandurbar civil Court.
2. The petitioner in writ petition No. 3469 of 1982 is one Miss Hansa Babulal Dave, a student of commerce. In the other petition viz. writ petition No. 3669 of 1982 there are five petitioners, namely, Balkrishna Patkar, Navin Patel, Shyamsing Raghuwanshi, Miss Archana Puranik and Chandulal Choudhary, all of whom belong to the science discipline.
3. The undisputed material facts are these: All the six petitioners were regular students of G.T. Patil College, Nandurbar. In April 1981 they appeared for the fourth semester examinations. At these examinations copying and other malpractices had been resorted to by candidates from Nandurbar centre on a very large scale. Professors P.N. Kulkarni and D.G. Nerlekar of Pune and professor B.A. Patil of Nandurbar were the senior supervisors appointed by the University to conduct these examinations at Nandurbar with the assistance of local junior supervisors. On April 18, 1981 professors Kulkarni and Nerlekar submitted a detailed report to the University complaining about the mass copying and other unfair means practised by the candidates. They inter alia recommended the discontinuance of Nandurbar centre for some years and also urged the authorities to take strict action against errant students.
4. The matter was considered by the Unfair Means Committee chaired by professor Navalgundkar in the third week of May 1981. They made a recommendation to the Executive Council for discontinuance of the Nandurbar centre for three years and to take disciplinary action against the delinquents. This recommendation was approved by the Executive Council by its resolution dated May 23, 1981.
5. Here it may be stated that before the above decisions were taken, answer scripts of all those candidates who had appeared from Nandurbar centre were sent to the Central Assessment Committee for assessment. It was found by this committee that 74 out of the total of 663 candidates who had appeared from the centre had not indulged in any unfair means; so the results of these candidates were declared in June-July 1981 in due course, whereas the results of the rest of the candidates, including the six petitioners, were withheld pending further action. The petitioners were, however, allowed to keep their terms for the fifth semester from June 1981 onwards. They also appeared at the fifth semester examination held in October 1981 and all of them passed the same. On or about November 12, 1981, the petitioners received separate individual notices from the University, informing them that they were reported to have indulged in misconduct and as such they should appear before the Unfair Means Committee to give their explanations, if any. It will be useful to reproduce here verbatim the text of the common form in which these notices were issued:
The meeting of the Enquiry Committee is to be held on November 21, 1981 at 2 p. in. at Law College, Molegaon. (Different venues were given to different candidates).
The report has been received about your misconduct in the examination stated above from the Senior supervisor/ Examiner, If you desire to tell or explain you may attend the said day's meeting in time at your costs.
If you do not attend the meeting, it will be presumed that you have nothing to say about the said complaint and then the Committee will after perusal of the concerned papers, take the decision, please note.
Asstt. Chancellor (Exam.) RCO Division- 3.
6. All the petitioners except Miss Hansa Dave appeared before the committee on November 21,1981 at Dhule. Professor Navalgundkar and Mrs. Pushpa Hirey were members of this committee. Miss Hansa Dave appeared before the same committee on January 4, 1982 at Dodaiche. As to what exactly transpired at these meetings, there are different versions of the two sides, and we shall refer to the details while dealing with the question concerned. Suffice it to say at the moment that the petitioners' focal grievance is that they were not apprised of the charges against them and as such they had no opportunity to present their cases adequately.
7. To continue the thread further, on April 1, 1982 the University issued letters to all the six petitioners informing them that their performance for the April 1981 semester had been cancelled, and that they were debarred from appearing at any examination up to June 1982. Immediately within a couple of days of receiving these notices, petitioners Balkrishna Patkar and one Sanjay Marathe filed Regular Civil Suit No. 54 of 1982 in the Court of the Civil Judge, Junior Division, Nandurbar, in a representative capacity under Order 1 Rule 8 of Civil Procedure Code, for an injunction restraining the University from giving effect to their aforesaid letter and also for an injunction enjoining upon them to admit them to the examinations for the sixth semester that were to commence on April 6, 1982. The learned Judge issued an ad interim injunction on April 5, itself, directing the University to allow all the students to appear to the ensuing examinations. Accordingly all the six petitioners have appeared at these examination held in April 1982.
8. The University resisted the suit on various grounds, inter alia, contending that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit in view of the provisions of Section 88 of the Poona University Act, 1974 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'). As the learned Judge declined to decide the objection as a preliminary issue, the University filed writ petition No. 1417 of 1982 in this Court. By his judgment dated September 7, 1982 our brother Jahagirdar J. upheld the contention of the University that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction in absence of effective allegations of mala fides in the plaint. Jahagirdar J. also vacated the ad-interim injunction which the Nandurbar Court had granted in favour of the plaintiffs on April 5, 1982.
9. Eventually the petitioners have filed the present petitions in this Court in November/December 1982. The substance of their challenge is as follows:
(i) The decision of the University cancelling their performance for April 1981 examination and further debarring them from appearing at any examination till June 1982 was vitiated by non-observance of principles of natural justice.
(ii) The decision is further vitiated by malice in fact on the part of the University, In this connection it is averred that one Jondhale, who was admittedly principal of the Nandurbar College upto August 1979 and thereafter again after a break of six months or so, from March 1980 to March 1981, was a man of immoral character and had indulged in various objectionable activities in the administration of the institution. This Jondhale and one professor N.C. Joshi, who is Director of Science Institute at Pune, and also a member of the Executive Council of the University, were fast friends. The petitioners' say is that they had taken active part in removal of Jondhale from the post of principal. Indeed, two professors of Nandurbar College had field a suit in the civil Court, Nandurbar, challenging the appointment of Jondhale as principal. This suit came to be decreed on March 16, 1981 and it appears that from that day Jondhale ceased to work as principal. The petitioners' grievance is that N.C. Joshi wielded great influence with the Executive Council, the Unfair Means Committee and the Examination Procedure Committee and in order to oblige his friend Jondhale, Joshi maneuvered to get disciplinary action initiated against the present petitioners and other students who were opposed to Jondhale. It is also averred that the members of the Unfair Means Committee in reaching the conclusion about the delinquency of these students, were biased by the report of the senior supervisors dated April 18, 1981. As the University acted out of actual bias against the petitioners, their decision dated April 1, 1982 is void.
(iii) In view of the said report of the two senior supervisors that the examination system had altogether collapsed, and that there was resort to unfair means on a large scale, it was obligatory on the University to cancel the examinations of April 1981 altogether under Section 24(xxodii) of the Act. The University did not take this action, to oblige the 74 students who were supporters of Jondhale. Their cases were cleared and results declared in June-July 1981. In the circumstances, the omission on the part of the University to cancel the Examinations as a whole is illegal.
(iv) At the stage of arguments the petitioners' Counsel Dalvi raised a contention that the failure of the University to cancel the examinations, by itself amounts to malice in law (if not in fact) and this circumstance per se vitiates the impugned decision.
(v) The impugned letters dated April 1, 1982 are vitiated because they were issued without obtaining the okay of the Executive Council, as is required under law.
10. On behalf of the University affidavits have been filed by Shri Bapat (their Assistant Registrar in charge of examinations), professor Naval-gundkar, (Chairman of the Unfair Means Committee) and professor Kulkarni (who was one of the senior supervisors and also a member of the Central Assessment Committee). They have traversed all the grounds taken up by the petitioners. The pith of their defence is that the principles of natural justice have been duly followed in substance in the enquiries held against the petitioners. It is also averred by them that as the present case was an unusual one, involving large scale copying, the principles of natural justice need not have been applied with the same rigour as in normal cases of stray copying. The plea of laches was also taken but not pressed seriously. It was also urged that the petitioners should have approached the Chancellor under Section 77 of the Act, instead of invoking the writ jurisdiction of this Court.
11. The preliminary objections on the grounds of laches and availability of equally efficacious remedy need not detain us for long. It will be seen that after the decision of Jahagirdar J. in September 1982, the petitioners approached this Court within a period of just a couple of months or so. Naturally they would have required some time to collect and collate all the relevant materials and file the petitions. The delay, if any, will not justify summary rejection of the petitions, which undeniably raise questions of general importance. It is also idle to say that the remedy provided under Section 77 is an equally efficacious remedy as a writ petition. We are not impressed by either of the preliminary objections and proceed to consider the substantial questions which arise on merits.
12. We shall start with the question about the alleged non-observance of principles of natural justice in the conduct of the enquiries, as we are satisfied that the petitioners are entitled to succeed on it. In support of his submission that in inquiries against students where copying is resorted to on a mass or large scale, law does not insist that the principles of natural justice need be applied with the same rigour as in normal cases of stray copying, Shri Bhonsale, learned Counsel for the University, relies on a ruling of the Supreme Court reported in The Bihar School Examination Board v. Subhas Chandra Sinha : 3SCR963 . What is held by the Supreme Court in this case is that opportunity to present their individual cases need not be given to all students, where the University cancels the examination as a whole on the ground of large scale or mass copying. We do not find any warrant in the ruling for the proposition propounded by the learned Counsel before us, that the principles of natural justice could be diluted where the aforesaid course is not adopted by the University, but instead disciplinary action is initiated against errant students. On the other hand there are express observations in para. 14 of the judgment to the effect that if any particular person was to be proceeded against, he must have a proper chance to defend himself and the necessity of giving an opportunity was not obviated, even though the number of persons proceeded against was large, (emphasis is ours) (here indicated in italics-Ed.). It is to be appreciated that the final decision in a disciplinary matter may not only affect a students' academic career, but also visit him with far more serious civil and penal consequences, such as loss of reputation and character, and even criminal prosecution for forgery etc. in proper cases. We are satisfied that the mere circumstance that the number of delinquents is large will not justify the dilution of the operation of the principles of natural justice, so far as such individual is concerned.
13. Now what precisely the authority concerned must comply with, in order to meet the minimal requirements of the principles of natural justice will depend on the facts of each case. We were informed that at present there are no ordinances or regulations framed by the University to regulate the initiation and subsequent modalities of disciplinary proceedings. Perhaps suitable provisions could be made by the University by framing proper ordinances etc. in accordance with law. Our attention was invited to a Division Bench ruling of the Orissa High Court reported in Brajendra Maharana v. The Utkal University : AIR1976Ori25 , Here the two learned Judges after a detailed review of all the relevant rulings on the subject have summarised the principles succinctly in para, 8 of the judgment. Shall we say with respect that we agree with the propositions, as recapitulated by the learned Judges? We could do no better than reproduce them verbatim.
(1) The enquiry before the domestic tribunals in the matter of adoption of unfair means by examinees is of a quasi-judicial character and has to be undertaken in accordance with the principles of natural justice.
(2) The essential principles of natural justice that are to be followed by an authority dealing with a case of the present nature are as follows:
(a) The person affected shall be apprised of the charges of unfair means.
(b) He must be given an opportunity to make a representation and 'to explain the circumstances appearing against him; and
(c) The authority conducting the proceedings must not be biased and should act in good faith.
(3) Rules of natural justice not being embodied rules, it is open to the authority concerned to evolve its own procedure for acquainting the person concerned with the charges and the material on which they are founded, and also for affording him an opportunity of explaining those charges. The procedure will necessarily vary with the facts, circumstances and nature of the case, constitution of the authority dealing with it and the rules under which it functions.
(4) A delinquent-examinee can ask for more information and details with regard to the material or evidence which is sought to be used against him. If he does not ask for further information, he cannot make a grievance out of it, unless it is shown that any prejudice has been caused on account of the procedure adopted.
(5) Enquiries conducted by quasi-judicial tribunal cannot be equated to the trials in ordinary courts of law.
(6) Where direct evidence of adoption of unfair means is not available, the question will have to be considered in the light of probabilities and circumstantial evidence.
(7) In dealing with the validity of the orders passed by the University authorities the High Court does not sit in appeal over the decision of the authority concerned. Its jurisdiction is limited. If the order in question is not supported by any evidence at all the High Court may interfere; but the conclusion that the impugned order is not supported by evidence must be reached after considering the question as to whether probabilities and circumstantial evidence do not justify that conclusion.
(8) It is primarily for the University authorities to come to a decision after taking into consideration the explanations submitted by the delinquent examinees and other circumstances. High Court would not ordinarily interfere with the decision if it is based upon relevant considerations and is arrived at after affording adequate opportunity to the candidates concerned.
14. It is thus clear that the essential minimal requirements of the principles of natural justice that must be complied with by the University, in the present case are as indicated in the paragraph above, namely, (a) the person affected shall be apprised of the charges of unfair means, (b) he must be given an opportunity to make a representation and to explain the circumstances appearing against him; and (c) the authority conducting the proceedings must not be biased and should act in good faith.
15. We now proceed to examine in the light of the guidelines stated above, whether the University has complied with the minimal requirements of the principles of natural justice in the present case. We have already set out at length in para. 4 supra the text of the show cause notice that was issued to the petitioners in November 1981. It will be seen that not even a broad indication of the category of the unfair means, much less details thereof, is given in this notice. Needless to say that unfair means can take various shapes and when you charge some one simply with having practised unfair means or to quote the terminology of the notice, 'misconduct in the examination' - he is quite at sea and unable to know what precise charge he is required to meet. Coming to what exactly transpired at the meetings of the petitioners with the members of the Unfair Means Committee, we are again of the view that even on these occasions the students were not properly or adequately apprised of the charges against them. As the learned Counsel of the University has fairly stated that the University is willing to hold fresh enquiries against the petitioners, after apprising them of the particulars of the charges and giving them an opportunity to present their cases adequately, we will not go into all the details of what transpired at the aforesaid meetings, but just sketchily indicate them.
16. So far as petitioner Hansa Dave is concerned, her case is that she was not even told as to from which candidate she had copied and in what subjects. It appears from the petition of the other five students that petitioner Balkrishna was not told anything beyond that he had resorted to copying. The other petitioners, namely, Navin Patel, Shyamsing Raghuwanshi, Miss Archana Puranik and Chandulal Choudhary were put just cryptic questions, vaguely indicating that they had copied down from the scripts of particular candidates (described by their seat numbers). However, on their emphatic denial that they had indulged in copying, no further particulars were supplied to them, in spite of their repeated demands for the same. Indeed, what Bapat and professor Navalgundkar have to say in their affidavits in this regard, itself shows that the petitioners were not apprised, in any case adequately, of the charges against them. According to Bapat, each candidate was told about the incident of the copying on large scale and was asked what he had to say about it. He further states that there was no question of giving any formal charge-sheet to the students. Professor Navalgundkar, who was one of the members of the Unfair Means Committee, has also nothing more useful to add on the point. In para. 7 of his affidavit he says.
the procedure followed by the Committee was thus whenever a, candidate appeared before the Committee lie was asked to give his explanation regarding the incident of large scale copying, and he was further asked that since it is found out from the papers that he has copied he should say whatever he wanted to say.
Needless to say that this cannot, even by applying the most liberal standards, amount to apprising a student of the requisite details of the charge against him. The stereotyped record prepared by the Committee which was shown to us, does not indicate the charge even in its outline, much less the fact that incriminating materials were made available to the delinquents. The record only manifests that the petitioners had pleaded not guilty. Without dilating further, we hold that none of the petitioners was apprised of the charge against him, nor was he or she given adequate opportunity to present his or her case. The impugned decision of the University will, therefore, have to be quashed for total non-observance of principles of natural justice.
17. Next we take up the question whether the University or the Unfair Means Committee bore any actual malice against the petitioners. We are not impressed by the submissions of the petitioners in this regard that Jondhale and Professor N.C. Joshi wielded great influence with the Executive Council or other material Committees of the University, or that the impugned decision is a result of any maneuvering on their part. Since the petitioners are succeeding on their main ground already dealt with, we shall be brief in stating our reasons. So far as Jondhale is concerned, it may be noted that as early as in January 1981, the University had set up Mudgal Commission to look into the allegations against him and the college management. On the report of this Commission, the University has conveyed its strong displeasure to the management over the irresponsible conduct of Jondhale. Here we may pause to note that this decision was taken by the University inspite of Joshi's opposition in his capacity as a member of the Executive Council. So far as the suit for removal of Jondhale is concerned, it is worth noting that the University was not impleaded as a party to it. The litigation was between the professors on the one side, and on the other side, Jondhale, the college management, and its chairman. There is not even a remote indication in the judgment that the University had any soft corner for Jondhale. Then it cannot be forgotten that Jondhale had to vacate his post in the middle of March 1981 in consequence of the judgment of the Nandurbar Civil Court. This was about three weeks before the examinations started in the first week of April 1981. There is also no material to hold that the 74 students who were cleared by the Central Assessment Committee and whose results were declared in June-July 1981, were supporters of Jondhale. In particular the petitioners have made reference to Bhalchandra Patel, Ramesh Sharma and one other student, whose names figure in the list of suspected trouble shooters, annexed to the senior supervisors' report dated April 18, 1981. It appears that the 74 students referred to above include these three students also. Bapat has affirmed in his affidavit that these three students were cleared, because the Control Assessment Committee had on examining their answer scripts found that they had not indulged in copying. It is true that the report of the senior supervisors or the accompanying list of suspected trouble shooters were not sent to the members of the Central Assessment Committee. In our opinion, the University acted rightly in adopting this course, to avoid the possibility of the members of the Committee being biased against any particular student or students. It is difficult to accept the petitioners' allegation that the aforesaid three students were proteges of Jondhale. On the other hand, there have been placed on record two letters written in April and May 1980 by some students including those three, urging the Chairman of the Managing Committee of the college, to appoint the successor of Jondhale early, and promptly publish the report of the enquiry (presumably held by Mudgal Commission) as these boys apprehended that interested parties were trying to in scale back Jondhale as principal. If at all necessary, the finding will have to be that the three students were hostile to Jondhale.
18. The petitioners' allegations based on Joshi's conduct stand on no firmer ground. As the facts are, this Joshi was just one of the 21 members of the Executive Council. The affidavit filed on behalf of the University show that he was not a member of the Unfair Means Committee or the University Examinations (Procedure) Committee, who appoint senior supervisors. In the premises it is idle to suggest that Joshi wielded any influence with the members of these committees. All doubt is set at rest by a single significant circumstance that this Joshi was prosecuted by the University as early as in 1978 for serious offences, such as punishable under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code. A regular complaint appears to have been lodged by the University against him in this regard with the Lonawala Police. Inspite of Joshi's opposition, as we have already indicated above, Mudgal Commission's recommendations were accepted and approved by the University. The Executive Council also approved of the recommendations of the Unfair Means Committee to discontinue Nandurbar centre for three years, after overruling Joshi's objection. We need not labour further on other minor details concerning Joshi's role. Suffice it to say there is absolutely no material on the record to show that he wielded any influence with the University or any of its Committees, so as to enable him to persuade or pressurise them to pass the impugned orders out of personal bias against any of the petitioners or other errants.
19. We also find it difficult to appreciate the merit in the submission of the learned Counsel for the petitioners that an inference of bias should be drawn against the Unfair Means Committee, because the senior supervisors' report was placed before them, which, according to him, ought not to have been done. Needless to say that the senior supervisors had submitted the report for some positive corrective action being taken and if there was nothing invidious in this object, we fail to see how the Unfair Means Committee could have been able to take proper action, without perusing the report. There was nothing serious in the Unfair Means Committee's perusing the report and we have no hesitation in finally concluding that neither the University nor any of its authorities concerned with the matter, acted mala fide out of factual bias.
20. This takes us to the next submission of the petitioners that it was obligatory on the Executive Council to cancel the examinations altogether under Section 24(xxodii) of the Act and that their failure to take this action will per se amount to malice in law, thereby vitiating the impugned orders. So far as the first branch of the submission is concerned, we are inclined to agree that it would have been the best practical course for the University to cancel the examination as a whole. On going through the report of the senior supervisors dated April 18, 1981, it is evident that the students had indulged not only in mass copying, but also in hooliganism in and outside the examination centre. It appears that the senior supervisors found themselves helpless and were at the mercy of culprits, who enjoyed co-operation of the non-teaching staff of the college, like clerks, peons etc. It was unfortunate that inspite of an express and prompt request by the senior supervisors for police help, it did not come forth right till the end of the examinations. Indeed, professor Kulkarni was compelled to go to another town by name Dhon-daicha in order to contact the Registrar of the University on telephone, inasmuch as he apprehended danger to his personal safety in telephoning from Nandurbar. The principal of the college, Deshpande was equally helpless. The supervisors' report shows that the situation had reached such a sorry pass that the non-teaching staff of the college had the daring to come to the examination centre at mid-night, where answer scripts were stacked in un-sealed bundles. The supervisors have expressed an apprehension that these people might have tampered with the scripts. It is not disputed that under Section 24.(xxxiii) of the Act, the Executive Council, inter alia, has the power to cancel the examination in part or whole. We do feel that the best course in the situation obtaining was to cancel the examination at Nandurbar centre as a whole.
21. However, this inference of ours does not clear the pitch for the petitioners. What we have to see is whether the cancellation of the examination was the only course left open to the University and further whether because the University have failed to take this action, an inference of malice in law must be drawn against them. In our judgment, to enable the Court to draw such an inference, the petitioners will have to show that in the given situation, the University were under a legal imperative obligation to cancel the examination as a whole. The petitioners' learned Advocate stressed that the failure on the part of the University to take this step was an arbitrary or capricious exercise of discretion, which a reasonable man would never have done in the given circumstances. We cannot make ourselves bold to endorse such an extreme view. As the facts go, as many as 74 candidates were found not to have indulged in any malpractices and eventually their results have already been declared. We have also held above that the University did not take this decision in respect of these students out of any oblique motive to favour them or to give raw treatment to the other students including the petitioners. After every thing is said and done, the fact remains that quite a few students appearing from the Nandurbar centre had not taken part in copying or practised any other unfair means. Even in their report dated April 18, 1981 the senior supervisors, who have made about half-a-dozen of recommendations on other aspects, did not suggest wholesale cancellation of examinations. In the premises if the University did not act to cancel the examinations altogether, we think no fault can be found with their decision to take individual disciplinary action against the delinquents. There is thus no justification to hold that the conduct of the University amounts to malice in law, if not in fact.
22. The petitioners' next submission is that the impugned orders are void because of the additional ground that the Executive Council have not okayed them, as required by the provisions of the Act. The University's reply is that before the impugned letters were issued to the petitioners on April 1, 1982, the Chancellor had okayed the decisions on March 28, and that the Executive Council subsequently ratified them in May 1982, We refrain from recording a firm finding on this issue, because of lack of positive and adequate materials on the record before us. The question also loses its sting, in view of the fact that we are quashing the orders on the ground of non-observance of principles of natural justice.
23. Shri Dalvi's last submission is that if the report of the senior supervisors is given due consideration and weight, it will be futile for the University to hold fresh disciplinary proceedings against the petitioners. In this regard, he drew our attention to the part of the report where it is stated that bundles of answer scripts were being stacked in unsealed condition, and that the local staff used to visit the place at night. The senior supervisors, as the report goes, were at a loss to know what these people used to do with the bundles during their nocturnal visits to the examination centre. Shri Dalvi points out that the possibility that the scripts of certain students might have been tampered with or even replaced, cannot be ruled out. According to him in the premises to hold fresh enquiries will be more or less an exercise in futility. We have given our anxious thought to this submission. However, it seems to us that these aspects can be appropriately raised by the petitioners before the University. We have no reason to think that the University will not give due consideration to them. Indeed, if the University in fairness to the petitioners and other students, are disposed to agree with Shri Dalvi's aforesaid submission, it will be entirely within their power to drop further proceeding altogether. It is not for us to guide the University in this regard, and we can depend on their sagacious exercise of discretion, in the best interests of the students as well as the administration.
24. In the result the main challenge to the impugned orders dated April 1, 1982 succeeds. The petitioners also pray that the University be directed to declare their results of the examinations held in April 1981 and April 1982. We are afraid this relief cannot be granted on the strength of the findings we have reached. The proper course to be adopted eventually will depend on the action which the University decides to take, and the final result of the disciplinary proceedings, if initiated against the petitioners. We would, therefore decline to grant these reliefs at this stage, being premature.
25. Shri Dalvi has expressed an apprehension that the bar on the petitioners appearing in any examination till June 1982 (under the impugned orders) may be construed as invalidating their performance at the October 1981 examination for the fifth semester. Shri Bhonsale for the University clarifies that this was not the intendment or effect of the orders passed by the University on April 1 1982 which had only prospective operation. According to him, if any petitioners have appeared for the fifth semester, in October 1981, their performance at that examination will be treated as valid for all purposes.
26. The result is that both petitions partially succeed. The decisions of the University conveyed to the petitioners by letters dated April 1, 1982, cancelling their performance for their fourth semester examination held in April 1981 and further debarring them from appearing at examinations upto June 1982, are quashed and set aside. The rule is made absolute accordingly. The petitioners' Counsel presses for the costs. We would have been inclined to grant them costs, but for their persistence in pressing unsustainable allegations of bias against the University, and clouding the real issue by bringing in the conduct of Jondhale and N.C. Joshi. In the circumstances, costs will be borne by the respective parties, as incurred.