A.N. Grover, J.
1. This is an appeal under Clause 10 of the Letters Patent against a judgment of a learned Single Judge dismissing a petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution.
2. According to the allegations contained in the petition, the petitioner was a student of Government Higher Secondary National High School, Jaito, and he appeared in the Matriculation Examination held by the Punjab University in March 1963, from Jaito centre, his Roll No. being 113940. He appeared in English Paper 'A' on 1st March, 1963, and the examination in all other papers concluded on 28th March, 1963. It is further alleged that in the Jaito centre some students had been found using unfair means and a report had been made by the supervisory staff, but the petitioner was not one of them. The case of the petitioner was that one Bhagwan Singh, who had been running a private academy at Jaito for coaching students for Matriculation Examination, had some personal differences with the Head Master of the School where the petitioner was studying, and he made a complaint accusing the Head Master of allowing the use of unfair means by students, and a confidential enquiry was ordered by the University authorities.
Messrs. Shamsher Singh and Mohinder Singh were deputed to make a confidential enquiry at the premises of the Government High School, Jaito, into the alleged complaint of unfair means employed at Jatio centre in the Matriculation Examination held in the month of March, 1963, and, therefore, the petitioner was to report himself to the said officers in connection with the said confidential enquiry. Although the petitioner does not clearly say what the nature of that enquiry was, but it is apparent that he was asked to answer a questionnaire (copy Annexure Rule 1). In answer to question No. 5 he stated that he did not know about the wholesale copying at the centre, because he was busy with his work. In reply to question No. 7, which was to the effect that the scrutiny of his answer-book in English Paper 'A' revealed that his attempt in question No. IV resembled the answers given by roll numbers of other candidates, he stated that a summary had been dictated by the teacher (apparently before the examination) and the same was reproduced in the answer-book, but in answer to the next question he denied that he copied the same from anyone else or from the notes or papers in his possession. Question No. 10 was put in the following terms --
'Will you answer to Question No. IV now ?'
The answer given by the petitioner was 'Sir, Yes. Very well.'
3. It may be mentioned that the answers given in the questionnaire show that the petitioner answered them partly in Hindi and partly in English, and what has been stated by me before is the substance of the answers given by him. It seems that question No. 10 was either not clearly understood by him as it was perhaps couched in a language which was grammatically inaccurate, because the intention of the University authorities, as explained now, was to ask him to write out the answer to question No. IV at that time when the question was put.
4. In the petition it is stated that no information was sent by the University with regard to any unfair means having been employed by him and that there was no material on which the University authorities could' decide that he employed any such means while answering the English Paper. He was later on disqualified under Regulation 12 (b) at p. 89 of the Punjab University Calendar, 1962, Part I, for a period of two years, and it is the order disqualifying him which has been challenged.
5. In the return filed by the respondent University it was stated that a number of students had been caught red-handed while employing unfair means in the Jaito centre in the examination held in March, 1963, and its had also been reported that the Head Master of the Government High School had helped the examinees appearing from his centre in the use of unfair means. The scripts of the candidates, who were suspected of having used unfair means, were sent for, and according to the reports of the Head Examiners, apart from the 35 candidates, who were caught redhanded, 72 candidates were involved in the use of unfair means. The petitioner was founds guilty of using unfair means regarding question No. IV in English Paper 'A', which required the candidates to give a summary of a poem called 'King Bruce and the Spider.' The Assistant Registrar was deputed to conduct an enquiry and the petitioner appeared before him and he was put the questions contained in the questionnaire, which he answered.
Another student, whose Roll No. was. 49386, had confessed that somebody had told him the answer to question No. IV, which he wrote down in his script, and Roll Nos. 113915 and 113972 had stated that they had been encouraged by Shri Bhagwan Singh to use unfair means. It was claimed that the petitioner had been given full opportunity to explain the charge against him and the Standing Committee had found him guilty of using unfair means. In paragraph 11 of the return it was stated that after perusal of the report of the Head Examiner in English Paper 'A' and the statements of the petitioner and the other candidates the matter had been referred to an expert for his considered opinion, who after comparing the various answer-books in English Paper 'A' gave an adverse opinion against the petitioner as also certain other candidates, and it was after that that the Standing Committee considered the entire material and gave the decision.
6. The learned Single Judge in a short order dismissed the petition saying that it stood concluded by his decision dated 9th April, 1964, in Civil Writ No. 1849 of 1963 (Punj), Sat Pal v. Punjab University, which related to a student who had appeared from Jaito centre. The order of the University had been upheld by him following a Bench decision of this Court dated, 20th November, 1963, an Civil Writ No. 1911 of 1963 Karamjit Kaur v. Punjab University decided by Mehar Singh and Khanna, JJ., (since reported as 1964-66 Pun LR 674) (and also AIR 1964 Punj 327). For all those reasons the petition was dismissed.
7. The first question which has to be determined in this case is whether in view of the Bench decision mentioned above, which related to a candidate who appeared from the same centre, namely, Jaito, in the same examination, it was open to the petitioner to persuade us to take a different decision. In answer to the questionnaire which had been put to the candidate in that case she replied that without sufficient time in advance it was not possible for her to write the story of English Paper 'A' which she had written in the answer-book. In her case also the opinion of the expert had bean obtained and after laying down certain principles applicable to such cases, the learned Judges express-ed the view that there had been substantial compliance with the legal requirements and no violation of the principles of natural justice had been shown.
One of the matters on which reliance was placed against her was that she did not write out an answer to question No. IV on the ground that she had forgotten it, although she was required to do so at the time of answering the questionnaire. Now, although, the facts are very similar in the present case but there is one point of distinction and that is that the petitioner did not say in answer to the last question that he could not give the answer to question No. IV of the English Paper 'A'. On the contrary he stated that he could answer it very well. The question was very unhappily framed and considering that the age of the candidate was only about 16 years, the only fair and proper thing was to have further asked him to write out the answer. But it appears that the officers who conducted the enquiry never thought of that and took no trouble to explain to the petitioner what he was really required to do. If he had been asked to actually write out the answer and if he had written it out in substantially the same way as in the answer-book, then the Standing Committee could well have taken the view that the candidate had learnt the summary of the poem in question, which had been dictated by the teacher before the examination, by heart, and had reproduced it accurately in the answer-book.
It is a matter of common knowledge that students learnt quite a lot of answers by memory from notes or note-books and they can reproduce them in a very accurate manner. Be that as it may the more important question which has arisen is whether the Standing Committee was justified in relying on their report of the expert which was prejudicial to the petitioner, without giving any indication to him of the existence of such a report. No such indication could be given at the time the questionnaire was framed or was answered because it is common ground that the opinion of the expert had not been obtained till then and that it was obtained subsequently. After the expert's report had come, no further intimation was sent to the petitioner about it, and it has been vehemently contended by Mr. D. N. Aggarwal that that constituted a violation of the principles of natural justice because the petitioner was debarred from putting forward his case with regard to the report of the expert.
Mr. Ganga Parshad Jain, who appears for the respondent-University, had taken up the position that the report had been obtained only by way of abundant caution and that it was wholly unnecessary to inform the petitioner of its contents or give him any indication about it. He says that in Karamjit Kaur's case, 1964-66 Pun LR 674 : (AIR 1964 Punj 327) also a similar report had been obtained and yet the Bench held that there had been no infraction of the rules of natural justice.
8. As there was some conflict with regard to the true principles applicable to cases which arose out of orders made by the University against the candidates in the matter of use of unfair means, a Full Bench of five learned Judges was constituted to answer the following question, the decision being reported in Ramesh Kapur v. Punjab University, 1965-67 Pun LR 101 : (AIR 1965 Punj 120) (FB) :
'Can the University authorities be said to have complied with the rules of natural justice if after giving a hearing to a candidate they collect some other material and take the material so collected into consideration in coming to a decision prejudicial to the candidate without confronting the candidate with such material and giving him an opportunity to offer such further explanation as he may have to offer '
Karamjit Kaur's case, 1964-66 Pun LR 674: (AIR 1964 Punj 327) was considered apart from the other cases decided by Division Benches and learned Single Judges, and it was said that these cases had been decided on their own facts. The conclusion was given in paragraph 15, which may be reproduced from the judgment delivered by me (with which all the other learned Judges agreed):--
'I venture to sum up the position in cases of the present kind in this way. An examinee must be adequately informed of the case he has to meet and given a full opportunity of meeting it. As to what the extent and content of that information should be or ought to be, would depend on the facts of each case. It is always open to the examinee to ask for more information or details with regard to the material or evidence which may be sought to be used against him and normally if he makes a request in that behalf, the University authorities, in order to inform him adequately of the case he has to meet as also to afford him proper opportunity of presenting his case, would supply him the necessary particulars or details of the evidence. This situation may arise at any stage i.e., at the time when information is given of the charge or the allegation or even at a later stage when the examinee has already furnished the explanation. If any material is collected by the University authorities after a hearing has already taken place, it may or may not be necessary for them to communicate or disclose that material or evidence to the examinee as this will depend on a number of factors e.g., the nature of the material collected, the prejudicial matter it contains, the use which is sought to be made of it and the course which the proceedings take in each case. In the very nature of things no hard and fast rule can be laid down and so long as the Court is satisfied that the opportunity which was afforded to the examinee at all times and all stages was adequate and sufficient, it will not interfere with any orders prejudicial to him which may have been made by the University authorities.'
The answer contained in paragraph 16 is --
'It will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case whether the rule of natural justice has been complied with by the University authorities by affording an adequate opportunity to a candidate to present his case against the charge or allegation made against him. It may be added that if the right of a candidate to be heard is to be a reality, he must know the case which he has to meet and if he asks the University authorities to supply him with necessary details of such material or evidence on which the case against him is based, any refusal to do so will be prima facie violative of the rule of natural justice.'
In Ramesh Kapur's case, 1965-67 Pun LR 101: (AIR 1965 Punj 120) (FB) when the matter went back to the Division Bench for final disposal (the Division Bench decided this case on 18th September, 1964), the question arose whether it could be said in that case that adequate opportunity had been afforded to the candidate for meeting the allegations against him. There also certain material had been collected after the questionnaire, which had been put to the candidate, had been answered, and the Bench expressed the view that the material collected behind the back of the candidate was highly prejudicial to him, and if the same had been taken into consideration by the authorities concerned without giving an opportunity to the candidate to rebut the same, it could not be said that there had been compliance with the rules of natural justice.
The opportunity that had to be given to a candidate is to be a reality and not a mere farce before he can meet his case and give a proper explanation, he must be told not only what is going to be considered against him but also the persons who are giving information against him, so that he may be able to show that the statement made by a particular person is not worthy of credence for certain reasons, besides showing that the statement is incorrect. As certain statements had been recorded behind the back of the candidate, which were prejudicial to him, the Bench felt that he had not been afforded adequate opportunity.
9. It seems to me that the present case has to be decided on its own facts, and after the decision of the Full Bench it cannot be disposed of merely on the decision given in Karamjit Kaur's case, 1964-66 Pun LR 674: (AIR 1964 Punj 327). Mr. Jain showed us the decision of the Standing Committee, and it is apparent from it that the report of the expert was relied on mostly for giving a decision that the petitioner had been guilty of the use of unfair means. It is admitted that the petitioner at no stage was informed of the existence of such a report, which was highly prejudicial to him. Following the Bench decision in Ramesh Kapur's case, 1965-67 Pun LR 101 : (AIR 1965 Punj 120) (FB) which was given in the light of the principles laid down by the Full Bench, I am of the view that the impugned order cannot be allowed to stand and must be set aside. It is, therefore, quashed, but it will be open to the University authorities to give a fresh decision after complying with the law laid down by this Court. In the circumstances there will be no order as to costs.
S.S. Dulat, J.
10. I agree.