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Satwant Singh Grewal Vs. the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Allahabad and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 624 of 1972
Judge
Reported inAIR1974All273
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226
AppellantSatwant Singh Grewal
RespondentThe Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Allahabad and ors.
Appellant AdvocateA. Mannan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK.S. Verma, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....committed - application moved on the ground that opportunity of being heard not given - report of enquiry committee not provided - held, service of show cause notice is not mandatory where evidence is present. - - this requirement was satisfied in the present case because the petitioner was informed of the substance of the charges levelled against him and given an opportunity to meet them. it may well be that if the matter was left to this court in appeal it might have come to a different conclusion on this circumstance but this court does not act as a court of appeal in proceedings arising out of article 226 of the constitution and, therefore, assess the evidence for itself and substitute its own conclusion to the conclusion of domestic tribunals howsoever erroneous it may appear to..........natural justice inasmuch as: (a) the petitioner was not supplied with a copy of the report of the enquiry committee;(b) he was not provided with reasonable time to answer the questionnaire;(c) no show cause notice before taking final decision was communicated to him; and 2. the finding of the enquiry subcommittee was not based on any evidence as no adverse conclusion about the use of unfair means could be reached on the solitary circumstance that there were identical spelling mistakes in the answer books of the petitioner and syed istifa ali.4. i am pf the opinion that there is no substance in the argument that the principles of natural justice were not complied. there was no rule under which he was entitled to receive a copy of the report of the enquiry sub-committee or a show cause.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Omprakash Trivedi, J.

1. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India has been filed by Satwant Singh Grewal. The petitioner's case is that he appeared in the High School Examination conducted by the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Allahabad in 1971 as a regular candidate, his roll number being 228928. The result was declared in July 1971 but the petitioner's result was withheld. The result of one Syed Istifa AH, who had also appeared in this examination from the same centre with roll No. 228934 was similarly withheld. In October, 1971 the petitioner received a communication from the Board of High School and. Intermediate Education, opposite party No. 1, requiring him to be present at the College on a fixed date and time to face an enquiry in connection with the withholding of his result. He went to the College on the appointed date and time. There a questionnare was handed over to the petitioner by the officials of opposite party No. 1 containing several questions. One of the questions in the questionnaire suggested that the answer book of the petitioner relating to English IInd paper in question No. 1 contained three spelling mistakes. The question related to translation of a piece from Hindi to English. The wrong spelling of three English words in the answers tallied with the wrong spellings of the same three words in answer to the same question in the copy book of Syed Istifa Ali. The petitioner answered the questionnaire denying the various allegations and imputations made against him. The petitioner maintains that no unfair means could be practised in answering the said paper by the petitioner and Syed Istifa Ali as their seats in the same room were placed at considerable distance which made it impossible. In February, 1972 the petitioner received a communication from opposite party No. 1 by which he was informed that the result of the examination taken by the petitioner in 1971 was cancelled and the petitioner was debarred from appearing in the examination for High School for the year 1972 (vide Annexure 2 of the writ petition). The petitioner prays for quashing the proceedings of the Enquiry Sub-Committee by a writ of certionari and also for mandamus commanding opposite parties 1 and 2 to declare the result of the petitioner for the year 1971. The validity of the decision of the Enquiry Sub-Committee and the Examinations Committee withholding the petitioner's result and its subsequent cancellation is challenged on the ground that the petitioner was not given reasonable opportunity to defend himself and there was non-observance of the principles of natural justice and secondly that the decision was based on no evidence.

2. The opposite parties in their counter-affidavit deny that there was any violation of the principles of natural justice and averred that the petitioner had committed spelling mistakes in respect of 'labour' which was written as lavour, 'throughout' which was written as 'thro out', he had written 'ridding' for 'riding' and 'growed' for 'grown.' Identical mistakes were noticed in answer to question No. 1 of the aforesaid paper in the answer book of Syed Istifa Ali whose roll number was 228934. The Examinations Committee had appointed a Sub-Committee for holding an enquiry and the Examinations Committee after giving opportunity to the petitioner to answer the questionnaire came to the conclusion that these two candidates had made use of unfair means from common source,

3. I have heard arguments of Sri A. Mannan and Sri K. S. Varma, Chief Standing Counsel. Following submissions were made by the petitioner's counsel in arguments:

1. There was breach of the principles of natural justice inasmuch as:

(a) the petitioner was not supplied with a copy of the report of the Enquiry Committee;

(b) he was not provided with reasonable time to answer the questionnaire;

(c) no show cause notice before taking final decision was communicated to him; and

2. The finding of the Enquiry Subcommittee was not based on any evidence as no adverse conclusion about the use of unfair means could be reached on the solitary circumstance that there were identical spelling mistakes in the answer books of the petitioner and Syed Istifa Ali.

4. I am pf the opinion that there is no substance in the argument that the principles of natural justice were not complied. There was no rule under which he was entitled to receive a copy of the report of the Enquiry Sub-Committee or a show cause notice after the finding of the Enquiry Sub-Committee. It was held by a Full Bench of this Court in Triambak Pati Tripathi v. Board of High School & Intermediate Education (AIR 1973 All 1 (FB)) that there was no violation of the principles of natural justice when the report of the spot enquiry committee was not given to the petitioner and the Examinations Committee used the material without disclosing it to him. The principles of natural justice do not require furnishing of a copy of the report to the candidate (see Suresh Koshy v University of Kerala, AIR 1969 SC 198 and Suresh Kumar v. Punjab University, AIR 1966 Punj 152). It was also observed in this Full Bench case that the rules of natural justice do not require, as do the provisions of Article 311 of the Constitution, the giving of an opportunity to show cause against the proposed punishment; they merely require the affording of an opportunity to explain or meet the charges, or allegations levelled against the person concerned. This requirement was satisfied in the present case because the petitioner was informed of the substance of the charges levelled against him and given an opportunity to meet them. There is no provision under which the petitioner could object to the fact that the answer to the questionnaire was demanded from him forthwith and not after a lapse of some time.

5. Turning now to the last and the most important submission, namely, that no conclusion about the use of unfair means could be reached against the petitioner on the basis of the single circumstance that identical spelling mistakes were noticed in his answer book and in that of Syed Istifa Ali, as observed by the Supreme Court in the case of Board of High School and Intermediate Education v. Bagleshwar Prasad, AIR 1966 SC 875, in dealing with the validity of the impugned orders passed by the Universities under Article 226 the High Court is not sitting in appeal over the decision of a domestic tribunal; its jurisdiction is limited and though it is true that if the impugned order is not supported by any evidence at all, the High Court would be justified to quash that order. But the conclusion that the impugned order is not supported by any evidence must be reached after considering the question as to whether probabilities and circumstantial evidence do not justify the said conclusion. They further observed in para 12 of the report that it would not be reasonable to import into these enquiries all considerations which govern criminal trials in ordinary Courts of law. It cannot be said in the present case, having regard to the questionnaire and para 7 of the counter-affidavit, that the decision of the Enquiry Committee was based on no evidence. The circumstance that three spelling mistakes of an identical nature were committed by the petitioner and another candidate may not in a criminal trial be considered as sufficient evidence to support a criminal charge. In other words, it may not in a criminal trial be regarded as a circumstance compatible only with the hypothesis of the petitioner using un-fair means, but as observed by the Supreme Court in the above case the considerations which govern criminal trials or the principles on which evidence is assessed in criminal trials cannot and could not be imported to such enquiries. The simple question -is whether on the basis of the aforesaid circumstance the conclusion of practice of unfair means by the petitioner and Syed Istifa Ali can be justified. In my opinion, it cannot be said that the decision arrived at by the Enquiry Committee could not justifiably be reached on this circumstance. It may well be that if the matter was left to this Court in appeal it might have come to a different conclusion on this circumstance but this Court does not act as a court of appeal in proceedings arising out of Article 226 of the Constitution and, therefore, assess the evidence for itself and substitute its own conclusion to the conclusion of domestic tribunals howsoever erroneous it may appear to be. The only other question is whether the decision can be said to be based on no evidence is whether the probabilities and circumstances could not justify that decision. To my mind, it cannot be said that the circumstance relied upon by the Enquiry Committee did not justify the use of unfair means by the petitioner and the other candidate. That being so, it cannot be found that the decision was based on no evidence. This Court cannot, therefore, interfere with the decision of the Enquiry Sub-Committee in the absence of breach of any principles of natural justice. II may be pointed out that in AIR 1966 SC 875 itself the result of respondents 1 and 2 before the Supreme Court was cancelled by the Board on the basis of the finding of the Enquiry Committee, on the solitary circumstance, as in the present case, that the respondent bad given wrong answers to question No. 4 in precisely the same form in which the said answers had been given by another candidate and in face of the fact that this was the only circumstance on which the decision rested their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed in para 12 of the report that the enquiry had been fair and the respondent had an opportunity of making his defence. They disapproved of the decision of the High Court in allowing the writ petition and in quashing the order of cancellation of the result.

6. For the aforesaid reasons there appears to be no ground for interference in the present petition. The petition, therefore, fails and is dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.


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