1. The petitioner, a student of the Stewart Science College who appeared in the Pre-University Examination held in 1968, challenges the decision of the Utkal University dated June 11, 1968 by which the petitioner's result in the said Examination was cancelled and he was debarred from appearing at any examination prior to the second examination of 1969, on the ground of alleged malpractice in that on March 23, 1968, in the morning session when the examination in Physics was in progress, he was found in possession of a piece of manuscript paper which the petitioner is alleged to have utilised at the time of the examination.
2. On May 20, 1968, the University issued on the petitioner a notice for the alleged malpractice, requiring him to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against the petitioner on the following charges:
(i) he was in possession of unauthorised material in the examination hall in contravention of the Rules prescribed by the University for the guidance of candidates printed on the Admit Card;
(ii) he made use of the above material in answering questions 8 and 9 of the Physics Paper.
3. Rule 4 reads as follows:
'Candidates should bring their own pens and mathematical instruments. No book or paper, printed or manuscript, other than their admission card should be taken into the examination hall. Candidates should not have in their possession, while in the Hall, any book or paper printed or manuscript even if they are unconnected with the subject of the examination, except their Admission Cards and such question papers, answer books, graph sheets etc. as are provided by the University for the Examination being held at that time.'
4. The documents on which the satd charges are based, as enclosed with the show cause notice, were the report of the Centre Superintendent, the report of the invigilator and the report of the Board of Conducting Examiners.
5. The particulars of the petitioner's alleged malpractice in the examination hall are that the petitioner was found copying from a piece of paper, containing the answers of some physics questions set in the Examination, by Shri B. P. Mukherji, Invigilator of the Hall. The petitioner was caught while he was actually copying sitting on his seat inside the Examination Hall.
6. The petitioner submitted his explanation to the University on May 25, 1968, denying the charges. He stated that the said invigilator Shri B. P. Mukherji happened to be his private tutor, for some time after which the petitioner changed to another tutor for private tuition, that the Invigilator might have borne some grudge against the petitioner and was perhaps seeking an opportunity to damage his career, which he had done bv picking up some sheet in the Examination Hall and alleging it to have been in the petitioner's possession and to have been copied out by the petitioner in answering questions. The petitioner made a prayer that he wanted to cross-examine the Invigilator on the date of the Enquiry and that the Invigilator may be summoned to appear before the Malpractices Enquiry Committee and that the petitioner may be allowed to cross-examine him.
7. The main points urged on behalf of the petitioner are that the proceedings of the Enquiry Committee being quasi judicial, in the absence of specific rules laying down the procedure for the enquiry principles of natural justice are to be followed. It was contended that the petitioner had a right to cross-examine the Invigilator on his report. The petitioner, however, was denied his prayer for cross-examination, of the Invigilator.
8. As to the claim of right of cross-examination, such claim was first based on a concept that rules of natural justice require that one should be given a right to cross-examine all such persons who have sworn affidavits supporting the allegations against him. The Supreme Court expressed the view that there is no such rule of natural justice and there is no authority in support of such view. When evidence is given viva voce against a person he must have the opportunity to hear it and put the witnesses questions in cross-examination. Rules of natural justice require that a! party against whom an allegation is being enquired into should be given a hearing. The right to be heard does not include the right to cross-examine. Rules of natural justice vary with varying constitution of statutory bodies and the rules prescribed by the Act under which they function. The question whether or not the rules of natural justice had been contravened should be decided not under any pre-conceived notions but in the light of statutory rules and provisions. It was on this reasoning that the Supreme Court in State of Jammu and Kashmir v. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, AIR 1967 SC 122 held that no case had been made out by Bakshi that the rules of natural justice require that he should have the right to cross-examine all the persons who had sworn affidavits supporting the allegations made against him.
9. In support of his claim of right to cross-examine the Invigilator, the petitioner relied on an English decision. University of Ceylon v. Fernando, (1960) 1 All ER 631. That case dealt with the report of a Commission of Enquiry set up by the Vice-Chancellor of Ceylon University against the alleged malpractices of a student as in the present case and no special form of procedure was prescribed. In course of the enquiry viva voce evidence was taken as quoted in extenso in the judgment. There the question arose whether the plaintiff was given an opportunity of questioning an essential witness who deposed against the plaintiff. In that case, the Privy Council expressed the view that it might have been a formidable objection if the plaintiff had asked to be allowed to question the witness and his request had been refused. What the Privy Council decided on that point is this:
'It therefore appears to their Lordships that the only complaint which could be made against the Commission on this score was that they failed to volunteer the suggestion that the plaintiff might wish to question Miss Balasingham, or in other words, to tender her unasked for cross-examination by the plaintiff. Their Lordships cannot regard this omission, or a fortiori the like omission with respect to other witnesses, as sufficient to invalidate the proceedings of the commission as failing to comply with the requirements of natural justice in the circumstances of the present case'.
In our opinion, this decision far from supporting the petitioner's claim of right to cross-examine, purports to express the contrary view.
10. On the question of procedure adopted by the Malpractices Enquiry Committee exercising quasi-judicial functions, it is the settled position in law that it is not a court and therefore it is not bound to follow the procedure prescribed for trial of actions in courts nor by the strict rules of evidence. These bodies can, unlike courts, obtain all information material for the points under enquiry from all sources and through all channels, without being fettered by rules of procedure which govern proceedings in courts. The only obligation which the law casts on them is that they are not to act on any information which they may receive unless they put it to the party against whom it is used and give a fair opportunity of explaining it. What is a fair opportunity must depend on the facts and circumstances of each case and where such opportunity had been given, the proceedings arc not open to attack on the ground that the enquiry was not conducted in accordance with the procedure followed in Courts: State of Mysore v. Shiva Basappa, AIR 1963 SC 375. 377.
11. In the present case, after the show cause notice was served, the particulars of the cha arges were brought to the notice of the petitioner, the documents in support of the charges including the report of the Invigilator were all enclosed with the show cause notice, the petitioner was duly intimated about the time of enquiry and he was free to offer any defence in his favour. In fact, his defence was that the incriminating piece of paper on which charge has been framed against him was in the handwriting of the Invigilator who might have introduced the incriminating material without the petitioner's knowledge. The petitioner was shown the original report of the Invigilator in his own handwriting which is widely different from the writing on the incriminating material and there is no similarity between the two. Although the petitioner, when questioned by the Centre Superintendent, had confessed the fact before him and the copy of the Centre Superintendent's report had been supplied to the petitioner, he did not deny such admission of guilt by him in his explanation. In view of the false and fantastic plea taken by the petitioner and on the facts and circumstances of the case, it was not considered necessary to examine the Invigilator as a witness. That apart, the answer paper of the petitioner shows that he made use of the incriminating material in answering questions 8 and 9. The petitioner was supplied with a copy of the incriminating material and during enquiry all relevant papers were made available to him.
12. The report of the Enquiry Committee, on which the University came to the impugned decision, was this:
'Looking at the slip of paper he (petitioner) said that that was in the handwriting of the Invigilator. The Invigilator's report in his own handwriting was shown to him. The two are so widely different that there cannot be any remote possibility of semblance. The candidate said he knew nothing about this in the Examination Hall. But the Superintendent has reported that he personally went to the Examination Hail and the candidate admitted the fact to him.
The Conducting Board reported specific portions from the incriminating material copied in the Answer Book. The evidence is definite that the candidate copied certain answers from the incriminating male-rial in his possession'.
It was on this finding that the Enquiry Officer came to the conclusion that the possession and use of the incriminating material were proved and recommended that the results of the Examination be cancelled and he be debarred from appearing in two more Examinations.
13. Here, in the absence of any statutory rules, the principles of natural justice appear to have been followed in the course of the proceedings. In view of the confession made by the petitioner during enquiry and also on the facts and circumstances of the case, there was no necessity to summon the Invigilator on his written report against the petitioner which was shown to him.
14. In this view of the case, the writ petition is dismissed, but there will be no order as to costs.
15. I agree.