1. These three petitions givrise to common questions of facts and law and therefore, they are disposed of by the following common order.
2. Petitioners were admitted to the S. T. J. Polytechnic, Harapanahalli, for the academic year 1980-81. The course to which they were admitted was the Diploma Course in Engineering. The Polytechnic by its Principal, is the 1st respondent, Director of Technical Education, and the State of Karnataka, are the 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively. Petitioners were admitted to the Polytechnic in Sept 1980. They paid the prescribed fee for the terms during the academic year. Subsequently, they have also paid the examination fee for the 1st year examination to be held on 29-4-1981 and on dates thereafter. Second respondent, on 6-4-1981, addressed a communication to the 1st respondent -Principal of the Polytechnic, informing him that certain candidates, whose names were listed in the Annexure, to the said letter were not eligible to register their application for the annual 1981 Examination conducted by the Board of Technical Education. At serial 3, 4 and 5 of the Annexure, petitioners' names are found, and the reason for holding them as not qualified for taking the first year examination held by the Board is that they have passed SSLC Examination with General Mathematics instead of Composite Mathematics. Aggrieved by the same the petitioners moved this Court on 7-5-1981, during the summer vacation. The learned Vacation Judge, issued rule and also interim direction directing respondents to admit the students to both theory and practical examination. But, it appears that was not brought to the notice of the learned Judge that theory examination by that time were over and in accordance with the directions given by the Court, the students were permitted to take only the practical examinations. The next effect is whether the students were qualified or not they have not passed all the examinations which they were required to pass in the 1st year course, held by the Board. The prayer in these writ petitions is to quash the letter of 6th April, 1981, issued by the Secretary, Board of Technical Education (second respondent) and also direct by a writ of mandamus respondents 1 and 2 to admit the petitioners for the 1st year examination in Diploma Course for the year 1980-91 and further direct them to admit the petitioners to the 2nd year class in Diploma Course and allow them to take the examinations in the remaining papers when supplementary examinations, will be held in October for the 1st year.
3. The grounds urged in support of the prayer are that Annexure-A, the letter of the 2nd respondent dated 6th April, 1981, was illegal and opposed to the principles of natural justice and also an the ground of equitable estoppel as respondents cannot refuse to admit the petitioners to the 1st year diploma examination, after having admitted them to the Course.
4. Before dealing with the grounds urged it is necessary to slate a few facts, which are brought to my notice by the counsel on both sides. Both in Andhra Pradesh and the State of Karnataka, the scheme of SSLC Examination prior to 1977 was different than what it is since 1977-78. Similar position obtains probably in other neighbouring States of Karnataka. In the year 1975, for the same Diploma Course in Engineering, in the Polytechnics, the qualification prescribed was a pass in SSLC with Science and Mathematics as optionals. Alternative qualifications were then prescribed and it is unnecessary to notice the same as they have no relevance to the facts of the case of the petitioners. Students from outside the State, who had passed equivalent examinations were also eligible to apply prior to 1977, In so far as Andhra Pradesh, from which petitioners have obtained SSLC Certificate is concerned, as pass in SSLC/HSC/Matriculation or its equivalent Examination in one attempt securing not less than 45% marks in Mathematics (Elementary and Optionals), General Science and Social Studies', was sufficient qualification. However, with the introduction of the new scheme of SSLC in the Karnataka State and probably in other neighbouring States in May, 1977, the 2nd respondent issued a circular, drawing attention to the new qualifications prescribed for the Course, particularly with reference to candidates who had passed SSLC from outside the State. It is seen from that circular, a copy of which has been produced by learned High Court Government Pleader; 'A candidate who has passed SSLC or equivalent from outside the State and who wishes to seek admission to Diploma Courses in Engineering / Technology in the Polytechnics in Karnataka State, has to produce an eligibility certificate issued by the Director of Technical Education or Secretary/Chairman of the Board of Technical Examination of the appropriate State as the case may be to the effect that with the SSLC Qualification possessed by him he is eligible to seek admission to Diploma Course in Engineering/Technology in the State in which he has acquired SSLC Qualification for which courses he seeks admission in this State. It is submitted on all sides that the petitioners, when they applied for admission in the academic year 1980-81, did not possess this qualification or eligibility.
5. But, Sri Radhakrishna, the learned counsel for the petitioners has strenuously contended that since the admission was granted to the petitioners by the Principal of the lst respondent Polytechnic, it is not now open to the Board to question their admission, as they have already paid the term fees and put in the terms for the first year. It is difficult to accede to this contention. The 2nd respondent or the Board of Technical Education in Karnataka cannot be held responsible for the mistake that has been committed by the lst respondent-Principal of the Polytechnic, which is a private institution not controlled by the Government. If the Principal admitted the petitioners, contrary to the express instructions given about insisting upon the certificate from the concerned authority in Andhra Pradesh -about their adequate qualifications to enter a similar course in Andhra Pradesh itself, he was not justified in giving the students admission. If at all the petitioners have a grievance, it could be only against the Principal, who has not only defied the circular issued by the 2nd respondent-Director of Technical Education, but has misled the students. Unfortunately, the Principal though served has not chosen to enter appearance and be represented in these proceedings therefore, no assistance has come from that quarters as to the background in which the petitioners came to be admitted to the Diploma Course. Mr. Radhakrishna has fairly conceded that even as the scheme in polytechnics exists now in Andhra Pradesh today, the petitioners are not qualified to study in that course. What he has, however, stressed is that the cancellation or refusal to permit them to take the examinations conducted by the Board has visited upon the petitioners civil consequences without giving them proper opportunity of being heard and therefore, violative of the rules of natural justice, and such being the case, the 2nd respondent's order must be set aside. Prima facie, the argument looks attractive and appealing and one may believe that such a thing has happened. But on a second look, at the facts of the case, as I have already pointed out the relationship of the petitioners students is essentially with the 1st respondent-Polytechnic as students of that institution. If they have been admitted to that institution, without possessing sufficient qualification, 2nd respondent-Director of Technical Education, who conducts the examination under the authority vested in the Board, will be justified in withholding permission for such unqualified students to take the examination. Examinations are held not only for the lst respondent-Polytechnic but for the benefit of students of all the polytechnics which are covered by the scheme of examinations of the Board of Technical Education in Karnataka. When applications are received by the Board for issue of hall tickets for the examinations through the respective colleges all that is required of the Board is that they should examine the application of each candidate and if the Board is' satisfied that he is entitled to be admitted to the examination, the Board shall issue the hall ticket, enabling such a student to take the examinations. if the Board discovers that a student from the very inception is not qualified, and the college had made a mistake of granting admission. it has the inherent right to withhold the hall-ticket without affording an opportunity before such , action is taken. It, is now well settled by certain decisions of the American and English Courts, as well as the Courts in India that in certain matters the authority concerned, can visit civil consequence, Say for instance for want of time to give opportunity of being' heard depending on what in law is required to be prevented and after such civil consequence is imposed, may give a hearing. In such an event the rules of natural justice would have been complied with. Therefore, the order impugned, i.e., the letter of 6th April, 1981, cannot. be held to be bad in itself. However, the Court is now bound to issue, a direction to the 2nd respondent, to hold an enquiry post facto to justify the inclusion of the names of the petitioners in the annexure to the circular of 6-4-1981, in order to ascertain whether the petitioners satisfied the qualifications prescribed before they were admitted to the lst respondent' Polytechnic. He shall cause a notice to be issued to the petitioners in this behalf and complete the enquiry within two months from the date of receipt of ! his order by him. I am aware that this is a futile exercise as admittedly the petitioners are not qualified. It will be open to the petitioners to appear before the 2nd respondent-Director of Technical Education, in response to his notice or choose to act in any other manner as advised including obtaining the return of their SSLC certificates and any other certificates which they have produced at the time of their admission to the 1st respondent polytechnic and join some other course of their choice to which they are qualified,
6. 1 have already observed earlier that the argument of equitable estoppel does not in this case arise in so far as the 2nd and third respondents are concerned as they held out nothing to the Petitioners which caused them to place themselves at a disadvantage. Any error that has been committed has to be laid at the doors of the 1st respondent, Principal of the Polytechnic.
7. In the light of the above, the rule Issued earlier is discharged. Petitions are dismissed, subject to the observations made in the order.
8. There shall be, no order, as to costs.
9. Petitions dismissed