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Peerzada Ahmad Saleem Khan Vs. Vice-chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ Petn. No. 12573 of 1981
Judge
Reported inAIR1982All76
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 21(2) and 226; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 17, Rule 3
AppellantPeerzada Ahmad Saleem Khan
RespondentVice-chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
Advocates:S.G. Hasnain, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
.....- does not amount to denial of hearing - freedom to read and study does not include violence and indiscipline - only jurisdiction of supervisory character - cannot decide on the quantum of punishment - nothing to establish that the teachers were biased - held, petition dismissed. - - ..) inciting the students to violence and organised the raid by school children and other students on vice-chancellor's lodge on 7-5-1981 when the vice-chancellor's residence was badly damaged by brickbatting and the t. in case of a teacher, there is a strong presumption of an unbiased and honest decision coming from him. 12. we are not satisfied that the procedure adopted by university was unfair, unreasonable or unjust and as such the punishment imposed upon the petitioner is not hit by article..........in the year 1981. the petitioner was served with a show cause notice dated 18th july, 1981 by the vice-chancellor of the aligarh muslim university, aliagarh. this notice stated that the petitioner was guilty of having incited the students to violence. the relevant portion of the notice for knowing the charges levelled against the petitioner is being quoted below :--'it has been brought to my notice that you mr. saleem ahmad khan peerzada alias lovy incited the students to violence between april 17-may 12, 1981 particularly on 17/4, 24/4,7/5,11/5 and 12/5-1981, disturbed the e. c. meeting on 17-4-1981, raided the vice-chancellor's residence with a group of students on the night of may 1981, forcibly prevented the students from attending classes on 5-5-1981 and subsequent days, forcibly.....
Judgment:

K.C. Agarwal, J.

1. This petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution challenges the order of the Vice-Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh dated Aug. 7, 1981. The relevant portion of the said order is extracted below :

'On the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee, the following, students are expelled with immediate effect for the periods specified against each for the acts of indiscipline committed by them : Name Period forwhich expelled1. Mr. Irfanullan Khan,Student of M. Lib.Science, M. M. Hall Five Years2. Mr. Saleem Ahmad KhanPeerzada alias Lovy,Student of B. Sc.Enggd. 1st Yr.N. R. S. Hall, AMU Five Years.'

2. The petitioner was a student of B. Sc. Engg. having been admitted in the year 1974. He was studying in IV year of B. Sc. Engg. in the year 1981. The petitioner was served with a show cause notice dated 18th July, 1981 by the Vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Aliagarh. This notice stated that the petitioner was guilty of having incited the students to violence. The relevant portion of the notice for knowing the charges levelled against the petitioner is being quoted below :--'It has been brought to my notice that you Mr. Saleem Ahmad Khan Peerzada alias Lovy incited the students to violence between April 17-May 12, 1981 particularly on 17/4, 24/4,7/5,11/5 and 12/5-1981, disturbed the E. C. meeting on 17-4-1981, raided the Vice-Chancellor's residence with a group of students on the night of May 1981, forcibly prevented the students from attending classes on 5-5-1981 and subsequent days, forcibly prevented the employees from attending offices on 19/5, 20/5, and 21/5-1981, used abusive language against the Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and other functionaries of the University on the microphone (PAS) for more than two weeks, were one of the signatories on an objectionable and indecent pamphlet (Utho Vagarana Hashr.....) inciting the students to violence and organised the raid by school children and other students on Vice-Chancellor's lodge on 7-5-1981 when the Vice-Chancellor's residence was badly damaged by brickbatting and the T. V. Camera was stolen.'

He was called upon to submit his reply within 48 hours of its receipt.

3. On 22nd July, 1981, the petitioner wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor requesting him to supply the copies of the reports mentioned in the charge-sheet. The petitioner also made a prayer for postponement of the case. He asked for 15 days time for submitting the explanation. On 30th July, 1981, the petitioner was sent a reply by the University. Along with this letter, some of the copies were sent to the petitioner. He was asked to appear before the Disciplinary Committee on the 5th of Aug. 1981. The remaining papers were sent to the petitioner on 4th Aug., 1981. On 5th Aug., 1981 the petitioner accepted that he had received the papers demanded by him, but he showed his inability to submit the reply on the 5th of Aug. 1981. He made a request for a week's time being given to him for submitting it. This application was given at 4.00 P.M. on the 5th of Aug. 1981 to the Committee, when the case of the petitioner was being considered. The Committee did not adjourn the hearing and expelled for five years. This was communicated to him by the letter dated Aug. 7, 1981, the relevant portion of which has already been quoted above.

4. The petitioner has challenged the validity of the aforesaid order of the Vice-Chancellor. The first ground was that the petitioner was entitled, to the adjournment being granted to him on 5th Aug. 1981 and since the refusal to adjourn the case has resulted in depriving the petitioner of his valuable right to defend himself, the impugned order of the Vice-Chancellor is invalid.

5. We have seen above that the petitioner had been given time on 18thJuly, 1981 to furnish his explanation, which he did not avail and sought adjournment on the ground of having not been supplied the copies of the relevant reports. On his prayer, all the papers were, admittedly, given to him. Some of them were received on 30th July, 1981, whereas the remaining on the 4th of Aug. 1981. The petitioner could give his explanation on the 5th of Aug. 1981. But instead of submitting his explanation, he again applied for adjournment. The request of the petitioner for adjournment was found to be untenable and the proceedings were concluded.

6. The question that needs to be considered is whether the Disciplinary Committee committed any error in refusing to adjourn the case.

7. It may be relevant to point out that in a proceeding, where there is an absence of a statutory provision specifying the amount of time which would be given, a notice should be served prior to the hearing to enable a party to prepare his case and to answer the same against him. That notice, which will satisfy this requirement, will obviously vary with the facts of each particular case. Amongst others, the amount of time needed to analyse the factual grounds of the case to be met, the availability of evidence, the need for prompt action, and so on are the relevant aspects.

8. It has been held in Goss v. Lopez (1975) 419 US 565, 582 in the United States that in situations involving the countless disciplinary proceedings against students the notice may in some cases be immediately followed by the hearing. In such situations what is aimed for is a balance between legal formality and fairness, the need to allow a student a fair opportunity to represent his side of the case and a 'meaningful hedge against erroneous action.....' (See Flick's Natural Justice, page 27).

9. To meet the requirement of providing an opportunity, adjournment may also be given. And adjournment is one of the most obvious means to avoid a party being prejudiced. A refusal to grant an adjournment may, therefore, in some cases, tantamount to a denial of the opportunity to be heard. However a party is not to be given adjournment as of right. Where the nature ofthe proceedings are such that an adjournment will lead to a protracted hearing, increased delay, the authority would be justified in refusing to grant the prayer for the same. In the instant case, the petitioner was served with the chargesheet involving him in some incidents of which the petitioner had the personal knowledge. He was aware of all the facts and no preparation was required for submitting the reply. He sought one adjournment, which was acceded to. If in the interest of the purposes, for which, the disciplinary proceedings had been taken against the petitioner, the Disciplinary Committee thought that no further adjournment could be given, no exception can be taken by us to the same. The petitioner had all the papers on the 4th of Aug., 1981. He could submit his reply on the 5th of Aug., 1981. Instead of doing this, he asked for another adjournment, which was found by the Disciplinary Authority to be unjustified. In such a circumstance, the refusal to grant the adjournment could not tantamount to a denial of the opportunity to be heard. The Disciplinary Authority was the master of its own proceedings. The enquiry required prompt action. The petitioner had lengthy notice of proceedings. He could not be expected to obtain adjournment as of right by presenting an excuse. In fact, the further adjournment had not been claimed to present an effective reply but to delay matters. In such circumstances, refusal to adjourn could not be said to have been wrongly refused. The Committee had a discretion to grant adjournment or refuse to do so. This Court could interfere when refusal would have been found to be arbitrary. But this is not so.

10. The second argument of the learned counsel was that the members constituting the Disciplinary Committee were biased. The learned counsel could not substantiate the argument made before us. The petitioner had been charge-sheeted on the basis of the reports of a number of teachers in respect of various incidents enumerated in the charge-sheets. There is nothing to show that those, who took a decision on the reports of the teachers were in any way biased against the petitioner. There were materials before them on the evaluation of which they found that thecharges against the petitioner have been made out. None of the decision-maker was personally involved. For being disqualified on the ground of bias, disqualification must be founded upon the existence of real likelihood of bias. Such a thing has not been proved. There was nothing to establish that the decision-makers stood to gain or lose personally as a result of the decision. The work of the University had to be carried out in accordance with the Act, Statutes and Ordinances. Under the Statutes, the teachers constituted the Disciplinary Committee and were empowered to take a decision in respect of the complaints made against the petitioner. A teacher of an University cannot be kept in the category of an employer. In case of a teacher, there is a strong presumption of an unbiased and honest decision coming from him. There is nothing to show that there was any personal animosity between them and the petitioner,

11. The third argument of the learned counsel was that the power conferred on the Vice-Chancellor by Statute 35 to punish a student for an indisciplined act since it is not regulated by any guideline, the same is ultra vires being in contravention of Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution. Article 19 was brought in for the purpose of urging that every citizen of India has right to read and study. The unreasonable impediment caused to that right should be hit by Article 19. There is no doubt that right to read is a fundamental right but freedom guaranteed is not to indulge in indiscipline and lawlessness. It is the atmosphere that makes a University. It is a mistake to suppose that freedom to read confers upon him the right to indulge in indiscipline and lawlessness. Aligarh Muslim University Act and the Statutes framed thereunder have conferred the right on the Vice-Chancellor to regulate discipline.

12. We are not satisfied that the procedure adopted by University was unfair, unreasonable or unjust and as such the punishment imposed upon the petitioner is not hit by Article 21 of the Constitution.

13. The submission that the petitioner was denied the opportunity to defend himself has no legs to stand. The petitioner was given an opportunity whichhe did not avail. If he did not avail, the petitioner has to blame himself for the same.

14. In Kishan Singh v. The Financial Commissioner, Haryana, AIR 1980 SC 1661, the Supreme Court held that (at p. 1662) :--

'Since the order was passed after service of notice on the appellant, it cannot be said by any stretch of imagination that there was a violation of the principle of natural justice.'

15. The principles of natural justice are not inflexible and cannot be impressed into straight jacket of a rigid formula. No hard and fast rule can be laid down as to the requirement of natural justice, which has got to be com-pulsorily followed. What, then, are the requirements of natural justice depends on a variety of circumstances. In the instant case the petitioner was given the notice. He did not avail it and made a prayer for adjournment, which was found to have no merit. In these circumstances, the petitioner cannot be said to have been denied the opportunity to defend himself.

16. The next submission of the learned counsel was about the quantum of punishment. On all the materials placed, the Disciplinary Committee found the involvement of the petitioner in a number of matters, which are enumerated in the charge-sheet are of a very serious nature. If the Authorities found that the petitioner was involved in the activities, which hampered the running of the University, the action of the authorities debarring him for 5 years cannot be said to be arbitrary. We cannot sit in appeal over the decision of the Disciplinary Body and set aside the same. Ours is a limited jurisdiction of supervisory character. We could not also be satisfied that the quantum of punishment was perverse. If the petitioner was dissatisfied with the quantum of the punishment, then the remedy of the petitioner lay in approaching the Visitor under Section 13(6) of the Aligarh Muslim University Act. The learned counsel for the petitioner urged that Section 13(6) only confers a right on the Visitor and does not provide a remedy. We are not impressed with this argument. Upon motion being made the Visitor can act under Section 13(6). In this case, before admitting the writ, we invited the counter affidavit of the Aligarh Muslim University, to which rejoinder affidavit was also filed by the petitioner. We have examined all these affidavits and the records of the University. After having examined all the materials brought before us, we have found that the present writ petition has no merit. The petitioner's learned counsel drew our attention to the writ petition and rejoinder affidavit and urged that the petitioner had a brilliant academic career, which has been snapped by the resolution of the disciplinary committee. The fact that the petitioner had the brilliant career has been denied in the counter affidavit. Although the decision of the writ petition would not turn on this consideration, but even if we were to take the same into account, we find that allegation of the petitioner about his career being brilliant is far from truth. The petitioner and others Indulged in activities, which compelled the Vice-Chancellor to close the University resulting in the loss to the students. The consequence of the closure of the University affecting the career of thousands of students receiving education, is not very difficult to imagine. It is a matter of common knowledge that a number of P. A. C. men have been employed to enable the authorities to run the University. Considering in the light of these facts, the action of University cannot be interfered.

17. The writ petition is dismissed under proviso to Rule 2 of Chapter XXII of the Rules of the Court.


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