R.L. Gulati, J.
1. The petitioner Kusum Kumari was a student of Class X of Ganga Ram Bajaj Manila Intermediate College,Auraiya, Etawah. She had appeared in the High School Examinations held in 1972. The result of the examination was published on June 27, 1972. The petitioner's result was withheld and she was informed that she had been debarred from appearing in the examinations to be held in the year 1973, on the ground that she had used unfair means in answering first question of English second paper.
2. It appears that a complaint was received in the office of the first respondent, the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, U. P. Allahabad (hereinafter referred to as the 'Board') to the effect that the candidates appearing from Ganga Ram Bajaj Mahila Intermediate College, Auraiya Etawah had been using unfair means in the examinations. Accordingly, the examiners concerned were alerted to scrutinise the answer books and to report the suspected cases. The answer book of English second paper of the petitioner as well as of certain other candidates were placed before the Screening Committee appointed by the Examination Committee. The Screening Committee after examining the answer books reported that 46 candidates appeared to have used unfair means in answering question No. 1 of English second paper. A Sub-Enquiry Committee was constituted to make a spot enquiry and to submit its report to the Examination Committee. It was thereafter that it was decided to withhold the petitioner's result and also to debar her from appearing in the next examination.
3. The evidence found against thepetitioner as a result of the enquiry was that the petitioner's answer and the answer of two other candidates bore unusual similarity. There were some common spelling mistakes and mistakes of deciphering nature, for example, the petitioner had written 'brobe' for 'very' and 'money' for 'many', 'beround' for 'proud' etc. The allegation is that she had used unfair means in answering question No. 1 of the English Second paper. That question was a piece of translation from Hindi to English.
4. Now, the precise nature of the unfair means has not been specified. The obvious unfair means would be to copy the answer from the answer books of candidates sitting around the petitioner. The other two candidates whose answers are alleged to bear close similarity to the answer given by the petitioner were admittedly sitting in different rooms. Therefore, the petitioner could not possibly have copied out her answer from their answer books.
5. The next possibility was that she could have used a paper or a book which she might have carried in the examination hall. There is no evidence to that effect. I have looked through her answer book and I find that she has made numerous mistakes of grammar and spelling. Some of the wordsindeed are unintelligible. If she had taken the aid of a paper or a book which she carried in the examination hall, she possibly could not have made such mistakes. I asked the Standing Counsel as to what type of unfair means she was alleged to have used. He stated that according to the Examination Committee, there was a common source from which the answer of the petitioner and the two other candidates, whose answer books were also placed before me, emanated. I have looked through the answer of the other two candidates also. I find absolutely no similarity in their answers except that one or two spelling mistakes are common. That by itself is not enough to lead to the inference that the petitioner and the other two candidates had used some common source. In fact there is more dissimilarity in their answers as given in the answer books of the other two candidates i. e. 'A boy was very clever'. The petitioner instead of the word 'very' has written 'brobe'. If she had copied her answer from the same source, she could not have made this mistake which the other candidates had not made. The next sentence in the petitioner's answer book is
'He learnt the art of farmaring, weavering and the making the house.'
The corresponding sentences in the other two answer books are just unintelligible. The third sentence in the petitioner's answer book is
'His friend begain to praise. So he became very beround.'
She has spelled the words 'began' and 'proud' wrongly. This sentence in the answer book of one of the other two candidates is 'His companion begain to praise him to he became very proud.' Here the word 'began' has been wrongly spelled, but the word 'proud' has been correctly spelled. If the petitioner and the other two candidates had copied their answers from the same source, their answers would have been identical. As has been shown above, while the petitioner has used the word 'friend', the other candidate has used the word 'companion'. In such circumstances it is not possible to draw an inference that the answers of the petitioner and the other two candidates emanated from the same source. In fact I find that the petitioner has got more marks for this question than the other two candidates have.
6. As has already been pointed out above, this is not a case where the petitioner has been caught red-handed while copying or using unfair means. The charge of copying or using unfair means has been held to have been proved only by circumstantial evidence. The rule regarding circumstantial evidence is well established. A charge based on circumstantial evidence can be supported only in case it is possible to hold that the only inference which could be drawn from the proved circumstances was one of guilt and none else. I have demonstrated abovethat such a conclusion was not reasonably possible much less the only conclusion possible.
7. It is again true that this Court will not sit in judgment over the decision of the Examination Committee while exercising discretion under Article 226 of the Constitution. But the decision of the Examination Committee must be such as can reasonably be drawn from the evidence on the record. In my opinion the conclusion arrived at by the Examination Committee in the circumstances was not possible at all. As such this Court would be amply justified in quashing the impugned order dated 8th December, 1972, passed by respondent No. 1.
8. The petition is accordingly allowed. The order dated 8th of December, 1972, passed by the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, U. P. Allahabad, is quashed. The respondents are further directed to declare the result of the petitioner forthwith. In the circumstances there will be no order as to costs.