1. The petitioners appeared in English Paper II of B. A., T. D. C. Part II, Examination of the Punjabi University held on May 13, 1971, from the Center located in the Nehru Memorial College, Mansa. An anonymous letter had been written to the University by a candidate on April 23, 1971, pointing out that there was large scale copying and adoption of unfair means by the candidates appearing at that Center and that the next examination for B. A. would take place in that Center on April 27, 1971 and May 11, 1971. It was suggested that surprise raids may be made. On May 11, 1971, the Assistant Registrar of the University paid a surprise visit to that Center and found a large number of books thrown out of the hall through the broken window panes and the smuggling in of answers to questions through the broken window panes. The Assistant Registrar recorded the statements of the Supervisory Staff who admitted that there was mass scale adoption of unfair means but they could not help. As a result of the report of the Assistant Registrar, the Punjabi University sent a circular to all the Examiners to mark the answer books carefully and to see whether there was copying or adoption of unfair means noticeable from the answer books. The Examiner who evaluated the answer books of the petitioners sent a report that the answers to questions 2, 3, and 5 of all the petitioners tallied with each other which clearly showed that they had copied from one another or from a common source. The Expert of the subject also concurred in that opinion. The petitioners were issued a questionnaire. The petitioners were issued notices to appear before the Assistant Registrar on August 14, 1971. They actually attended his office on August 16, 1971, when each one of them was issued a questionnaire. The petitioners admitted that the answers to questions 2, 3 and 5 in their answer books tallied with each other, but they explained that the resemblance of the answers was due to the fact that they had studied at the same coaching college known as Taxila Academy, Mansa. and these questions had been discussed by the professor who dictated their answers which the petitioners memorized and they reproduced the same in the answer books. It was also stated by them that previously they were students of the Correspondence Courses and such like questions found place in the lectures issued to them which they had studied. They stated that they could not produce any note book showing that these questions had been dealt with in the class room or the answers were dictated by the Professor which they had memorized. They were specifically asked if they wanted to appear before the Unfair Means Committee to which they replied in the negative. To another question they replied that they did not want to produce any evidence in defence. The Unfair Means Committee examined the answer books of the petitioners and finding that their answers to questions 2, 3 and 5 tallied with each other came to the conclusion that the petitioners had received help from one another or from a common source and had thus adopted unfair means in the examination. They were disqualified for two years under Ordinance 4(b) of the Ordinances of the University relating to the use of unfair means in the examination. Feeling aggrieved the petitioners have filed the present petition to which a reply has been filed by the University.
2. The learned counsel for the petitioners has submitted that the rules of natural justice were violated inasmuch as they were not supplied copies of the anonymous report, the statements of Iqbal Singh and the Supervisory staff recorded on May 11, 1971, and the conclusions arrived at by the Unfair Means Committee. There is no merit in this submission. The anonymous complaint which was made on April 23, 1971, long before the examination held on May 13, 1971, did not relate to the petitioners. It was a general complaint about the adoption of unfair means on a mass scale in the Center. The statements of Iqbal Singh and the Supervisory Staff recorded on May 11, 1971, also did not relate to the petitioners,. as their examination took place on May 13, 1971. The statement recorded on May 11, 1971, related to the examination of that day or the adoption of unfair means at the Center generally. The petitioners were not entitled to the report of the Unfair Means Committee setting out its conclusions so as to given them a notice to show cause why the proposed punishment should not be inflicted on them. A specific question was put to the petitioners as to whether they wanted to appear before the Unfair Means Committee or to produce evidence in defence, to which they replied in the negative. Thereafter the Unfair Means Committee was justified in considering their cases on merits and to arrive at the conclusion as to whether the petitioners were guilty of the charge of using unfair means or not.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioners then argued that there is no finding by the Unfair Means Committee as to whether the petitioners copied from one another or from some specific common source and, therefore, the case is not covered by Ordinance 4(b). I find no merit in this submission as well Ordinance 4(b) reads as under:--
'If an answer book shows that the candidate has received help from or given help to another candidate or if he is found copying or to have copied from any paper, book, or note or to have allowed any other candidate to copy from his answer book or to have taken the examination with notes written on any part of his clothing or body of table or desk or instruments (allowed in the Engineering Examination) like set squares, protectors, slide rules. etc. or is guilty of swallowing or destroying any note or paper found on him, or talking to a person outside the examination hall while going to urinal or consulting notes or books while outside the examination hall, he shall be disqualified for two years including that in which he is found guilty. If he is a candidate for an examination held once a year, or for four examinations including that in which he is found guilty, if he is a candidate for an examination held twice a year. or for four examinations, including that in which he is found guilty if he is a candidate for an examination held twice a year'.
4. In my opinion the case is fully covered by the first sentence of this regulation. The answer book of each petitioner shows that he has received help from or given help to another candidate. If that were not the case the answers to questions relating to precis, translation and sentences using words having the same sound could not be the same. The only other possibility is that they received a note from which each one of them copied. Such an eventuality is covered by the next sentence, i.e., copying from any paper, book or note. In either case, the petitioners are guilty of adopting unfair means for which there is ample evidence in their answers to the said three questions, which are verbatim the same. If these answers had been attempted by each petitioner on his own, the language used could not be the same. The petitioners put forth the plea that these questions had been dealt with by the professor in their coaching academy but were not able to produce any note-book containing those questions or answers thereto from which they had memorised. Evidently the explanation tendered by them was false. It is almost impossible that the two persons shall use the same language while translating a passage from one language to another or writing out a precis of the same passage. The sameness of the answers to the said three questions clearly shows that either the petitioners had copied from one another or from a common source and in either case they were guilty of adopting unfair means within the meaning of ordinance. 4(b) ibid. There is, therefore, no substance in the submission of the learned counsel.
5. The learned counsel for the petitioners then relied on my judgment in Sukhsham Kumari v. Punjab University, 1969 Cur LJ 843, which is of no help to him. In that case the charge against the petitioner was that she had copied answer to question No. 1(a) from somewhere and was based on the report of the Head Examiner which was concurred in by the Expert. The standing Committee also came to the same conclusion. The petitioner in reply to the questions in the questionnaire had stated that she had solved the questions herself and had not copied from anybody. While holding that the case was not covered under regulation 13(b) (which is in the same terms as Ordinance 4(b) of the Punjabi University) I observed as under:
'It is evident that under this regulation the examine can be punished only if it is proved that he either received or attempted to receive help from another candidate or gave help or attempted to give help to another candidate. The answer books of all the examinees in the hall were before the Head Examiner and presumably the Expert and they were not able to point out from whose answer book the petitioner had copied the answer to question 1(a). It has also not been found that the petitioner had copied from some paper, book or note. No charge, therefore, could be levelled against her under Regulation 13(b). This regulation does not talk of copying from somewhere but only from the answer book of another candidate or from some paper, book or note. Unless the original from which the copy was alleged to have been made was found to exist it could not be said that the petitioner had copied from somewhere. This is a very vague allegation that she copied from somewhere and apart from saying that she did not, nothing else could be said. The charge, thus, was too vague and the finding of the Standing Committee cannot be supported as being based on any legal evidence on the record. A mere suspicion in the minds of the Head Examiner the Expert and the Standing Committee has led to the disqualification of the petitioner. If the Head Examiner, the Expert or the Standing Committee had read the answer to the question somewhere, they could have stated so but this was not the case made out by them against her. Under the circumstances, I hold that the order of the Standing Committee disqualifying her for two years was not based on any evidence but a mere suspicion expressed by the Head Examiner and the Expert and is liable to be quashed.'
6. In that case there was no answer book of any other candidate showing that the petitioner had copied from him or her nor was any other source found out from where she had copied. The present case is distinguishable inasmuch as the answer books of the petitioners disclose that they had taken help or given help to one another or copied from a common source.
7. The next judgment relied upon by the learned counsel is Rashpal Singh v. The Punjab University, 1968 Cur LJ 618, wherein the learned Judge with regard to regulation 13(b) of the Punjab University held that:--
'a guilty mind is envisaged for punishing the candidate indulging in unfair means as specified in the Regulation. The Regulation is a penal measure and has to be construed strictly. No punishment can be awarded under this Regulation to a candidate who has received help from a source other than that some candidate. Thus, there is a lacuna which unwittingly provides a loophole, and a means of escape, in Regulation 13(b), which punishes receiving help from another candidate but not from the supervisory staff or any other person not being a candidate.
Thus, there is a lacuna which unwittingly provides a loophole, and a means of escape, in Regulation 13(b). which punishes receiving help from another candidate but not from the supervisory staff or any other person not being a candidate.'
8. Evidently that case is also distinguishable on facts from the present case.
9. As to whether the material on which the Unfair Means Committee came to the conclusion that the petitioners had adopted unfair means was sufficient to come to that conclusion or not cannot be gone into by this Court in this petition in view of the following observations of their Lordships in Syed Yakoob v. K. S. Radhakrishnan, AIR 1964 SC 477 (head note b):--
'The Jurisdiction of High Court to issue a writ of certiorari is a supervisory jurisdiction and the Court exercising it is not entitled to act as an appellate Court. This limitation necessarily means that findings of fact reached by the inferior Court or Tribunal as result of the appreciation of evidence cannot be reopened or questioned in writ proceedings. An error of law which is apparent on t he face of the record can be corrected by a writ, but not an error of fact, however grave it may appear to be. In regard to a finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal a writ of certiorari can be issued if it is shown that in recording the said finding the Tribunal had erroneously refused to admit admissible and material evidence, or had erroneously admitted in admissible evidence which has influenced the impugned finding. Similarly, if a finding of fact is based on no evidence, that would be regarded as an error of law which can be corrected by a writ of certiorari. A finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal cannot, however, be challenged in proceedings for a writ of certiorari on the ground that the relevant and material evidence adduced before the Tribunal was insufficient or inadequate to sustain the impugned finding. The adequacy or sufficiency of evidence led on a point and the inference of fact to be drawn from the said finding being within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the points cannot be agitated before a writ Court.'
10. Another judgment of their Lordships, Board of High School and Intermediate Education U. P. Allahabad v. Bagleshwar Prasad, AIR 1966 SC 875, is also instructive, Para 12 of the report is as under:--
'In dealing with petitions of this type, it is necessary to bear in mind that educational institutions like the Universities or appellant No. 1 set up Enquiry Committees to deal with the problem posed by the adoption of unfair means by candidates and normally it is within the jurisdiction of such domestic Tribunals to decide all relevant questions in the light of the evidence adduced before them. In the matter of the adoption of unfair means, direct evidence may sometimes be available, but cases may arises where direct evidence is not available and the question will have to be considered in the light of probabilities and circumstantial evidence. This problem which educational institutions have to face from time to time is a serious problem and unless there is justification to do so, Courts should be slow to interfere with the decisions of domestic Tribunals appointed by educational bodies like Universities. In dealing with the validity of the impugned orders passed by Universities under Art. 226, the High Court is not sitting in appeal over the decision in question; 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. Enquiries held by domestic Tribunals in such cases must, no doubt, be fair and students against whom charges are framed must be given adequate opportunities to defend themselves, and in holding such enquiries, the Tribunals must scrupulously follow rules of natural justice; but it would, we think, not be reasonable to import into these enquiries all considerations which govern criminal trials in ordinary Courts of Law. In the present case, no animus is suggested and no mala fides have been pleaded. The enquiry has been fair and the respondent has had an opportunity of making his defence. That being so, we think the High Court was not justified in interfering with the order passed against the respondent.'
11. In view of these observations, the decision of the Unfair Means Committee has to be upheld.
12. For the reasons given above I find no merits in this petition which is dismissed with costs, Counsel's fee Rs. 100/-.
13. Petition dismissed.