1. This an application for the issue of a writ under Article 226 of the Constitution against the Vice-Chancellor and members of the Syndicate of the Utkal University in the following circumstances. The petitioner was a student who appeared in June, 1950, for the Supplementary Matriculation Examination of the Utkal University at Joypur Centre. His Boll No. was 1405. He sat for the whole examination and answered all the papers. On valuation, it was found that his answer papers secured sufficient marks which, in the ordinary course, would have resulted in his having beendeclared as passed. When the results were published, his name was shown in the list of successful candidates sent to the Headmaster, Board hiGH School, Joypur, but scored out with a note in the remarks column 'expelled' by notification No. E. O. 349 dated the 1st September, 1950, of tthe University, published in the Orissa Gazette, it was stated that the petitioner had recourse to unfair means and as a penalty his results was cancelled and that he was debarred from appearing at any of the examination prior to the annual examinations of 1953.
2. It would appeal on the 29th June, 1950, a telegram was received by the Registrar of the University purporting to be one from Gadadhar Mohapatra to the effect that this petitioner and another by name Suryanarayana Bebarta bearing roll No. 1439 copied in the examination hall at Joypur centre at the Supplementary Matriculation. A petition also to that effect was later on received by the Registrar from the same person. The Vice-chancellor, thereupon, wrote letters to Chief Examiners in all the subjects asking them immediately to compare the answer books of the two candidates with Roll No. 1405 of the Joypur centre and report, if there was similarity in their answers with a request also to transmit the answer books to the University Office. The Vice-Chancellor also (?) on the Superintendent of the Joypur centre to send the University the seat-chart of the Joypur centre. Reports were received from all the examiners as also the seat-chart from the centre Superintendent. Thereupon the Syndicate met on the 30th August 1950. The reports indicated that there was somewhat striking similarity in the answers of both the roll numbers. Some of the examiners were or the opinion that it was roll No. 1405 that copied from roll No. 1439. On a consideration of these reports and the seat-chart, the Syndicate cancelled the results of both the candidates and imposed further punishment by way of debarring them from appearing at any of the examinations prior to the annual examinations of 1953.
3. It is. in the first instance, strenuously argued that the petitioner's name having been shown in the successful candidates which had been sent by the Matriculation Board to the Syndicate and the list having been approved it is no longer open to the Syndicate to cancel the candidate's name out of it. For this, reliance is placed on the fact that the candidate's name is shown in the list of successful candidates sent to the Headmaster of the centre and also on the minutes of the proceedings of the Syndicate dated the 30th August, 1950, which shows resolution No. 83 as follows:
'Resolved that the results of the Supplementary Matriculation Examination as recommended by the Matriculation Board be approved, published and printed in the University Calendar.'
It is accordingly contended that the cancellation thereafter is ultra vires and that the petitioner is entitled to be treated as a passed candidate and that the Syndicate should now be directed to give effect to this result. We are clearly of the opinion that this contention is untenable. The resolution of the syndicate above quoted and the list of successful candidates sent to the Head Master of Joypur Centre must be reasonably understood with reference to the context. The very proceedings of the Syndicate dated the 30th August, 1950, clearly show that by the earlier resolution No. 82, the result of this petitioner was cancelled. Hence the approval of the list by resolution No. 83, must be taken to be for the list with the petitioner's name cancelled. There is no substance in this argument and we must holdthat there has yet been no approval by the Syndicate of the results of this candidate and that he is entitled to no relief on that footing.
4. The main contention, however, raised on behalf of the petitioner is that the resolution of the Syndicate holding the petitioner guilty of malpractice and cancelling the result of his examination and imposing punishment is bad for the following reasons. (I) The Syndicate adjudged the petitioner guilty without affording him any opportunity to explaining the case against him. (2) The Syndicate did not take all the relevant circumstances into consideration and merely acted on the conjectural opinion of the examiners and was thus arbitrary. The conclusion was arrived at without the exercise of due care and caution. As regards the first ground, it is admittied that the petitioner was not given any such opportunity. But it was contended on the other side that no such legal obligation is imposed on the Syndicate in such matters.
As regards 2nd ground, viz., absence of due care and caution, the following points have been urged on behalf of the petitioner. The opinion of the examiners was not only mere guesswork based on supposed similarity in answer papers but it is entirely speculative when it is stated that the copy-Ing was by the petitioner (Roll No. 1405) from the answer papers of Roll No. 1439. It is pointed out that the reply filed on behalf of the University on this application shows that Roll No. 1439, Suryanarayana Bebarta, was a clerk of the Joypur College, who had been given an ultimatum that he will lose his services, if he would not pass the Matriculation Examination. Presumably it is said this candidate must have been failing previously and it is more likely that it was he that committed the malpractice, with a view to secure a pass and retain his service. The opinions expressed by some of the examiners that it was Roll No. 1405 that indulged in copying from Roll No. 1439 is based on the assumption that the copying must have taken place inside the examination hall. But it is pointed out that the seat-chart submitted by the centre Superintendent, which has been shown to us, indicates that such copying inside the examination hall was not likely. It is true that the Syndicate thought that the seat-chart did not show the exact state of facts and they gave effect to this suspicion by noting in their proceedings dated the 30th August, 1950, as follows:
'That while considering he gave two malpractice cases (referring to Roll Nos. 1405 and 1439). the Syndicate feels that the Centre Superintendent has not discharged his duties with due responsibility. The Director of Public Instruction, Orissa, be informed of this.'
It is, with some justification urged that if there was room for suspician that the Centre Superintendent was guilty of laches, so as to connive at the two roll numbers sitting sufficiently near in the examination room to facilitate copying contrary to the Seat-Chart, it is equally possible that the Centre Superintendent may have colluded with Roll No. 1439 to enable him to copy the answer of roll No, 1405, outside the examination hall. It is pointed out that the Centre Superintendent was only a Lecturer in that very school and that Roll No. 1439 was clerk thereof. If, therefore, this possibility of copying outside the examination hall is kept in view, the initial assumption made by the examiners that the copying took place inside the examination hall would be shown to be merely a hypothesis and the opinion of the Syndicate based upon such hypothetical supposition cannot be the basis of any sound opinion that it was the peti-tioner who was guilty of malpractice. It is therefore urged that the Syndicate when acting on the opinion of the examiners did not realise that the foundation of that opinion was considerably shaken by the view that they took about the trustworthiness of the Centre Superintendent. It is thus urged that there was absolutely no safe material on which a conclusion that the petitioner was guilty of malpractice could have been come to by the Syndicate and that their opinion in this behalf was one, arrived at without any due care and caution.
Learned counsel for the University contests, the validity and correctness of the above reasoning and also urges that in any view, since no positive mala fides have been imputed to the Syndicate in this matter, what has been done amounts at best to an honest error of judgment of the Syndicate and that it is not a ground on which the Court should interfere by a writ against against the decision of the Syndicate. There have been substantial arguments on both sides on these various points.
5. On behalf of the Syndicate a memo has now been filed in this Court signed by Sri Harihar Mohapatra, one of the members of the Syndicate and also an Advocate appearing on its behalf in this case as follows:
'The Syndicate of the Utkal University have decided that they would consider the possibility of the candidate 1439 copying from the anwser books of the candidate 1405, outside the examination hall, after the Director of Public instruction, Orissa makes a local inquiry into the matter as requested. Reports from the Senior Invigilator and the Principal of the Jeypore College have been obtained in the meanwhile. After the receipt of the report of the enquiry from the D. P. I., the matter will be reconsidered. Both the candidates will also be given opportunity to be heard during the enquiry.'
It is stated to us that this memo is based on a specific resolution of the Syndicate in this behalf which was recently passed and that this action has been taken without prejudice to the contentions raised before this Court in this case. We notice, however, that the resolution of the Syndicate as expressed in this memo, concludes all the relief that this Court would in any case, have found it possible to give to the petitioner on the contentions raised. If we agreed with the petitioner that the resolution of the Syndicate cancelling the results of the petitioner was bad on the ground that the petitioner had no opportunity given to him for explanation and that the Syndicate did not take all the material aspects which bear on the question before them and that they did not exercise their function in this behalf with due care and caution, even if we also overruled the contention raised on behalf of the Syndicate that the Court has no power to question a resolution of this kind, all that this Court) would have done is to direct the Syndicate to reconsider the whole matter after giving an opportunity to the petitioner for explanation. Since the Syndicate has voluntarily done the same, we do not feel called upon to give any decision on the merits of the contentions raised on either side. We would therefore merely dismiss this application with the note that in view of the memo, filed on behalf of the Syndicate, no other orders on this application for ft writ are called for and there will be no order as to costs.
6. I agree.