1. The writ petitioner was a student, who appeared for the First B. A., and Second B. A., examination of Sri Venkateswara University in May, 1980. On the ground that he committed malpractices in the examination he was served by the University with a show cause notice. This was on 3-9-80. These charges of malpractices mainly relate to smuggling from outside of the examination hall an additional written answer sheet and insertion of the same in the answer book. In support of that charge, the show cause notice mentioned that this extra sheet contained a peculiar physical feature of being folded four times and bearing hand-writing which was markedly different from the handwriting in the original answer book. The show cause notice alleged that the quality of the answer found on the pages of the extra sheet was wholly different from and much superior to the quality of the answer in the original sheet. This show cause notice also alleged that Question No. 2 which had been answered in the original answer book was found answered once again in the additional answer sheet without the original answer being scored off. Basing upon this the University drew the inference of commission of malpractices by the petitioner. The petitioner was, therefore, called upon to explain and also show cause as to why he should not be debarred from appearing for the University Examinations and prosecuting his studies. To that show cause notice the petitioner gave a reply denying that he had inserted any additional sheet. While admitting that there was a difference in the handwriting in the main answer book and in the additional sheet the petitioner explained that the main answer book was written in haste, whereas the additional sheet was written in leisure coolly recollecting the essays he got by heart. That he came to the examination hall late and therefore worrying himself started writing in haste was the reason which the petitioner assigned in explanation for the differences in handwriting. The boy also said that as he came late to the examination hall he did not have the time to strike off the answer to question No. 2 which he had already written in the original answer book. It is significant that the petitioner did not deny the four-folds of the additional answer paper. On receipt of this explanation, the Syndicate considered the matter and communicated the following order:--
'It is hereby notified that the results of the following candidates who are foundguilty of resorting to unfairness at the University Examinations held during May/ June, 1980 are cancelled and they are further debarred from appearing at the University Examinations as noted against their names'.
2. It is argued by Mr. Panduranga Rao for the petitioner that there was no direct evidence to prove that the petitioner was guilty of any malpractices and the circumstantial evidence in this case was not conclusive and that in any case the punishment was excessive. He also argued that the University did not consider the explanation of the petitioner and that vitiated the order of the University. Each one of these submissions appear to me to deserve rejection. The fact that there was no direct evidence in this case was, in my opinion of no significance at all. Many a man was convicted of many a serious crime merely on circumstantial evidence. The question therefore is whether there is circumstantial evidence enough to hold the petitioner guilty of commission of malpractices. In this case, the University based its opinion upon the fact that the additional answer paper was folded four times and that there was a difference in the handwriting between the original answer sheet and the additional sheet and the quality of additional answer was superior to the original answer and the second question was answered twice over. The explanation given by the student that he came late and that he was in a worried state hardly fits into the framework of his innocence. If he were so worried, he could not have produced a better answer than the one in the original sheet. Further, the boy gave no explanation whatsoever about the additional sheet being foulded up four times. This fact can only be explained on the basis that it had been smuggled into the examination hall folded from outside, so that it may not be discovered by the invigilators. The University also based its opinion upon the fact that the quality of the answer in the additional sheet is much superior to the quality of the answer in the original sheet. A combined consideration of all these circumstances had led the University to hold that the boy was guilty of malpractices. It cannot be denied that the peculiar feature of most of the Indian Universities is their extensive examination-conducting andDegree-awarding activity. It must be therefore presumed that Sri Venkateswara University has necessary expertise in detecting these malpractices. I therefore cannot find fault with the finding of the University that the petitioner was guilty of malpractices. If I had been sitting in appeal which I am not, I would have no doubt held on the basis of the above material that the boy was clearly guilty of commission of malpractices. But as that is not the function of a Writ Court, I do not pass upon merits of this case. All that I need consider is the question whether a fair opportunity had been given to the petitioner and whether he had been treated squarely. I have no doubt the petitioner had a fair deal from the University. A show cause notice was given and explanation was obtained and considered. No personal illwill had been suggested in the writ petition against the University or anybody running or managing it. In the absence of any such allegations, I should presume that the University had acted bona fide and honestly. There was, as noted above, ample material before the University to come to the conclusion at which it had arrived. So long as there is evidence justifying the inference arrived at without there being any serious procedural irregularity, the possibility of this Court arriving at an alternative conclusion on a consideration of the same material can never form a ground for a Writ Court to interfere with an order of an educational institution. I regretfully note that standards of discipline and education presently obtaining in many Universities in our country leave a good lot to be desired. They are low and falling lower every day. The fall-out of these low standards of University education on liberal professions is proving to be nearly catastrophic. Graduates of Arts who have not heard of Hume, Kant, Mill, Marx and Russel are to be found in plenty. It is no wonder that some of our Universities have ceased to be centres of learning and have grown into battle-fields for warring Caste groups. By interposing the Authority of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, this Court should not, in my opinion, lower the already weakened authority of the University.
3. It is true that the final order passed by the Syndicate did not refer to each one of the points of explanation offered by the student. But this was a case where the thing spoke for itself and not much turned upon the explanation. The Syndicate isnot a Body trained in the art of writing judgments. The substance of the matter was that the University had considered the explanation, as it is evident from a reference made in its proceedings and held the boy guilty of malpractices. In the circumstances, the argument of the learned counsel that the petitioner's explanation had not been considered cannot be accepted.
4. Finally, the argument of excessive punishment remains to be considered. It is well settled law that it is beyond the competence of a Writ Court to go into the quantum of punishment. This argument should therefore be rejected for that reason alone. Even if it were open for this Court to go into that question and pass upon the appropriateness of the punishment, I confess my inability to persuade myself to hold that the petitioner was subjected to any excessive punishment. It must be admitted that notwithstanding the juris-prudential uncertainty hovering the theory of punishment, white-collar crimes must be dealt with much more severely than crimes of passion. A student who had resorted to malpractices in order to obtain a Degree would certainly not be a candidate worthy of University membership. To such a person I cannot but say values of academic life must have been wholly alien. Rustication in such cases cannot be called excess. In my opinion, he would deserve no lesser punishment. As Brutus said 'as fire drives out fire, so pity pity' -- Concern for the future of the youth and the University education must prevent the University from flinching from the stern path of its duty to protect the purity of academic life.
5. For all the above reasons, I dismiss this writ petition.