1. This Writ Petition is disposed of at the stage of preliminary hearing after notices to the respondents and after giving opportunity to the Bangalore University to file its statement of objections which has been filed.
2. This is the second round litigation by the petitioner. He approached this Court with Writ Petition No. 7297 of 1984 seeking a mandamus from this Court directing respondent Bangalore University to grant him a B.E. Degree Certificate in Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) as he had passed the required examination only in the 4th year of the course in the University and the results of which had accordingly, been announced. It is seen from the facts noticed by this Court in the aforementioned Writ Petition that he was compelled to approach the Court in view of the University rectifying an error said to have been committed by it in the academic year 1977-78 by wrongly declaring him to have passed in a subject in which he had not actually passed. What is not disputed is, the petitioner had appeared in the subsequent semester examinations and passed the course at which point of time they wanted to effect the rectification of the earlier error committed by it. This Court without examining the merits of the contentions of the petitioner disposed of the matter on the short question that the rectification, of the so called error having been done without notice to the petitioner was vitiated and therefore the University may do so only after due notice to the petitioner. On that view of the matter, a direction was issued to the University to issue the Bachelor Degree of Engineering Examination (Mechanicai) Certificate to the petitioner unless the University after due notice withdraws its result and communicates an order recording reasons for doing so. Thereafter, a show cause notice was issued on 25-1-1985 i.e. nearly seven years after the semester examination that was held in the year 1978. In the show cause notice, the following facts were set out 'While scrutinising the Marks Register in respect of IV Semester B.E. Examinations of January 1980, for issue of Duplicate and consolidated marks cards to Mr. I. P. Ravindra, student of Sri Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Tumkur, it was noticed that the Tabulator while tabulating the results of IV Semester Examinations had deducted 2 marks from 'Fluid Mechanics' Theory Paper and added 3 marks to the Theory paper of Machine Drawing II' and declared the results as pass in respect of that paper. So, in the process of gracing by oversight three marks were added to the subject 'Machine Drawing' instead of two marks as per rules and thereby showing that the student has scored 40 marks in 'Machine Drawing' whereas he has actually scored 39 marks only.
In the circumstances, the student is directed to show-cause as to why his results of IV Semester B.E., Examinations of January 1980 in the subject Machine Drawing II' should not be withdrawn and declare him fail in that subject, and ask him to appear and pass the said subject in the coming examination.'
3. The petitioner sent his explanation by a letter dt. 1st Feb. 1985. He, pointed out that he appeared for 4th Semester examination in January, 1980 and in that examination he had completed two subjects and in January 1981 he had completed the remaining subjects and completed the 4th Semester in 2nd class; in 1983 he completed the entire course and after passing the remaining semester examinations; in October 1984 he made an application for issue of a Degree Certificate. In that circumstance having failed to obtain any response from the University, he approached this Court with the Writ Petition to which I have already made a reference.
4. What he had pointed out was that he had no role to play in any mistake that the University had committed in the year 1977-78. He also said that he had committed no fault either and therefore the University did not have the power to reopen the case and direct him to appear for fresh examination in respect of which the error appears to have been committed. After receiving that reply by an order dated 12-2-1985, the University passed the following: -
'You have failed in the subject Machine Drawing II of 4th Semester B.E of January 1980 examination. Hence, your result of the said subject Machine Drawing R of the 4th Semester of January 1980 and consequently the result of the said examination is herewith withdrawn.'
There are two basic errors in the order. One is, it does not purport to withdraw the result of his final year performance on the basis of which alone the degree certificate is expected to be conferred if he has passed all the examinations which the course consisted of. The second fallacy is the total lack of power conferred on the University to pass the order or orders after the mistake is said to have been committed.
5. Mr. Mohandas N. Hegde has contended that no material is placed before this Court and even the mistake committed must demonstrably be proved. The bare assertion in, statement of objections and the various notices issued, much less, an allegation that the petitioner had committed any mistake but it was by one of the Tabulators was inadequate to penalise the petitioner. In that circumstance, he contended that the respondent-University must be prevented from exercising any incidental power, the University had in the matter of conducting of examination in accordance with the regulations governing the course. Indeed, the thrust of his argument is that in the absence of Rule, Regulation or Ordinance made to specifically cancel the performance in the examination of a particular student, the University cannot be permitted to exercise that power.
6. In the instant case that there has been a delay to the extent of causing great prejudice to the petitioner is obvious. It was in 1977-78 that the petitioner was declared to have passed in Machine Drawing Examination. Only in the year 1980, the University claimed to have discovered the mistake and no action was taken immediately, on discovering the mistake. The student was allowed to pass out of the University in that particular course. It is only when he demanded his Degree Certificate that the mistake has been sought to be rectified.
7. The learned Counsel for the petitioner has placed reliance on the decision of the Supreme Court reported in Shri Krishan v. The Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, : AIR1976SC376 . It is useful to extract the oft quoted portion at para. 6 of that judgment : -
'Once the candidate is allowed to take the examination, rightly or wrongly, then the statute which empowers the University to withdraw the candidature of the applicant has worked itself out and the candidate cannot be refused admission subsequently for any infirmity which should have been looked into before giving the candidate permission to appear.'
In Shri Krishan's case what clearly fell for consideration was whether the University had the legal authority to withdraw the certificate of a student who had been permitted to appear and pass the examination despite him having been short of attendance. The Court was of the view that despite the statute prohibiting the student from being admitted to the examination if he had not the required attendance in the class room, the power under the statute having been vested with the University could be exercised to rectify the mistake committed by it only before the examinations. I have no hesitation to apply the ratio of the decision in that case to the facts of the present case. As already noticed earlier, the petitioner was permitted to appear for the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th Semester examination before any action was even proposed by the University against the petitioner. It initiated action only on his demand of a B.E. Degree certificate approximately an year after he had passed the final year examination. In my opinion, it is wholly impermissible.
8. I would have no hesitation to concede the power to correct the mistake committed by the University in the matter of holding of examination for the various courses after announcement of results in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the University or is incidental thereto. But once the results have been announced, it must be corrected within a reasonable time so that the person who is affected by such correction is not adversely affected for no fault of his.
9. However Sri N. B. Bhat, learned counsel for the University, has placed reliance on the judgment of this Court in Writ Petns. Nos. 10746 & 10747/1984 (Date of Disposal 31-7-1984) rendered by Rama Jois, J. In that case, the petitioners were the students of 1st Year B.E. Examination of the Bangalore University. They had sought for a writ of mandamus from this court directing the respondents-University to allow them (petitioners) to continue their studies in the College. In other words, in accordance with the rules and regulations governing the study of the Engineering course in the University of Bangalore or a College affiliated to the University the students had no right to continue to attend the classes in the next higher classes if they failed in certain number of subjects (See Regulation 5(d) of the Bangalore University Regulations). It was in that circumstance, this Court came to the conclusion that as the correction had been effected after notice to the petitioners, they could not make a grievance of that. In other words, in that case, the question of acting within a reasonable time was never in doubt. But that is not the same as contending that an opportunity of being heard will cure all illegalities. It is not only necessary that the authority must show the source of its power clearly, but it must also show that that power has been exercised duly and properly. There is an inordinate delay. Persons who are likely to be affected adversely by such orders or such revision of result would have acquired rights which cannot be defeated by merely following the procedure of giving an opportunity.
10. In fact N. B. Bhat, learned counsel appearing for the University, placed reliance on S. 21 of the General Clauses Act to support the assertion that the University had ample power to correct the announcement of its results in a like manner by freshly notifying the correction. I do not think that General Clauses Act needs to be pressed into service. This Court in more than one case has held that power of holding of examination in accordance with the Rule, Regulation or Ordinance includes the power to properly conduct such examination or to, announce the results and modify the same if there is any inadvertence. An error committed by the University can be rectified either to the advantage of the student or disadvantage of the student but only if it is done properly and within a reasonable time. It was also contended for the University that the student who has failed should not be permitted to acquire any right and pass out the course. In the case disposed of by Rama Jois, J., in the aforementioned cases the discovery of mistake was as a result of discovery of tampering with the marks register. Such cases at least throw suspicion on the bona fides of candidate or the, student, if not conclusive proof of any evidence that the student had anything to do with the tampering But in the case of a mistake made by the University of which the student has no knowledge as evidenced from the earlier part of the show cause notice, it cannot be said that the power claimed by the University continues to be there after the student has passed his final year examination.
11. I have given due consideration to the standards in the University, but such standards to be maintained does not permit this Court to trample upon the rights which prejudicially affect the future of the petitioner. What is required to be done must be done with efficiency and competency. If that degree of competency is not in an authority as the University it only allows standards to fall. It cannot blame either the Court or the students.
12. I have in a number of cases concerning admissions to the Pre- University Course taken the same view as I have taken above. But any action to penalise by canceling admission to the Pre- University Courses on the ground that the student had not passed S.S.L.C. examination after he had taken the Pre-University examination. To allow at this point of time even if the Rules permitted any one including an authority like the University to take advantage of its own mistakes, negligence and delay would be to make travesty of justice.
13. For the reasons stated above, this Writ Petition succeeds. The impugned order at Annexure D is quashed. Consequently, a writ of mandamus be issued to the University to issue the degree certificate to which the petitioner is entitled to.
14. In the circumstances of the case, it is appropriate that the University bears the costs of the petition. Advocate's fee is fixed at Rs. 300/-.
15. Petition allowed.