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Kerala University, B. Com. Students Vs. University of Kerala and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.P. No. 9912 of 1983-S
Judge
Reported inAIR1984Ker217
ActsKerala University Act, 1974 - Sections 38, 39, 39(1) and 41
AppellantKerala University, B. Com. Students
RespondentUniversity of Kerala and ors.
Appellant Advocate P. Balagangadhara Menon and; John T. Thomas, Advs.
Respondent Advocate T.P. Kelu Nambiar, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Madhusoodan Nair v. Govt of Kerala
Excerpt:
.....there are only two requirements to be satisfied :one is the laying of the resolution of the academic council before the senate, and the other is publication. it js true that the university like any other responsible authority could not act arbitrarily or in a way which is prejudicial to the students who are to benefit from the study and who arc to take examination. it is well known that in our present set up our universities are not working in ideal conditions, and they have too many constraints. it is not as though we fail to notice that the faculty made the recommendation as early as on 18-3-1983, but the academic council passed the resolution only on 24-6-'83,'and the registrar addressed the government only on 7-9-1983. whether there had been any valid and good reasons for this..........petitioners, is that the university had not acted legally in implementing the resolution of the academic council to change the syllabi in the manner in which it was done. he submitted that it was on 18-3-1083 that the faculty of commerce recommended the introduction of the new syllabi for the 1st year b. com. course. thereafter it was only on 24-6-1983 that the academic council passed resolution approving the change, and it was only on7-9-1983 that the registrar of the university wrote to the secretary to the higher collegiate education, and the government's sanction for the introduction was obtained only on 24-10-1983, and it was thereafter that the new syllabi were introduced on 2-11-1983.4. though the petition dt. 18-11-1983 did not disclose the proper identity of the signatories.....
Judgment:

Bhaskaran, Ag. C.J.

1. 30 students, who figure as signatories to the petition dt. 15-11-1983, presented a petition in person to the Chief Justice of this Court, and that was ordered to be treated as a writ petition. Notice with copy of the writ petition was ordered to be served on the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar of the Kerala University. On behalf of the Government, notice was ordered to be served on the Government pleader also. The University has entered appearance through its Standing Counsel, On behalf of the petitioners, Sri Balagangadhara Menon appeared at their request. Some of the Associations and Student Groups also have either got themselves impleaded in the writ petition or sent statements expressing their views in the mailer.

2. The whole question centres round the introduction of the new syllabi for the 1st Year B. Com. Degree Course for the year 1983-84. It is the admitted case that the new syllabi came into effect only on 2-11-1983. According to the averments in the petition the petitioners were students studying in the 1st Year B. Com. class from as early as on 14-7-1983 and they were considerably prejudiced on account of the introduction of the new syllabi in the middle of the year, namely on 2-11-1983. Though the petition, as it was presented on 15-11-1983, had not the form and contents of a regular writ petition, the deficiencies therein were substantially made up by the filing of the affidavits and reply affidavits in this Court on behalf of the petitioners on 5-12-1983 and 16-12-1983. Cm behalf of the University also a counter-affidavit hag been filed.

3. The main contention of Sri P. Balagangadhara Menon. on behalf of the petitioners, is that the University had not acted legally in implementing the resolution of the Academic Council to change the syllabi in the manner in which it was done. He submitted that it was on 18-3-1083 that the Faculty of Commerce recommended the introduction of the new syllabi for the 1st Year B. Com. course. Thereafter it was only on 24-6-1983 that the Academic Council passed resolution approving the change, and it was only on7-9-1983 that the Registrar of the University wrote to the Secretary to the Higher Collegiate Education, and the Government's sanction for the introduction was obtained only on 24-10-1983, and it was thereafter that the new syllabi were introduced on 2-11-1983.

4. Though the petition dt. 18-11-1983 did not disclose the proper identity of the signatories therein, it is now the admitted case that they are student in a parallel College known as 'Cochin Arts College'. They are students who were entitled to get themselves registered for appearing for the examination tin 30-11-1983. By Ext. P-2 order dt. 2-11-1983 the University informed the colleges concerned that in the light of the decision taken by the Academic Council on 24-6-1983 the new syllabi had to be implemented from 1983-84 academic year. On the question as to which was the last date of admission to the colleges, which can only mean regular colleges, as the parallel colleges, we are told, are not governed by any such rules, as they are in their very nature tutorial colleges or centres imparting private tuitions at their own expenses and at their own risk. Now the position therefore, is that the University contemplated the starting of the Colleges or classes in the 1st year B. Com. course only on or after 15-10-1983, even though it might have been possible for some of the colleges to start classes even earlier. It might, however, be presumed that the University authorities would, for all practical purposes, be taking note of the fact that the colleges were entitled to admit students up to 15-10-1983, and any scheme, particularly with respect to that concerning examination, should be so conceived as to cause no prejudice to even the students who were admitted on the last permissible date. If that be the position, it is to be noted that the delay between the last date of admission to the college or the last day permitted to make admission to the college in 1st year B.Com. class and 2-11-1983 on which date Ext. P-2 was issued, was roughly 17 days.

5. Now, on the question as to whether the syllabi now introduced are valid, we have to survey the relevant provisions in the University Act, the 1st Ordinance and the Statute. Section 38. Kerala University Act (the Act) provides as follows:--

'Regulations.-- Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Statutes and theOrdinances, the Academic Council may make Regulations providing for all or any of the following matters, namely:--

(a) the courses of studies and the conduct of examination:

(b) the admission of students to the various courses of study and to the examinations;

(c) the qualifications of teachers:

(d) the appointment and prescription of duties of the Boards of Studies and examiners:

(e) recognition of examinations, degrees and diplomas of other Universities as equivalent to the examinations, degrees and diplomas of the University; and

(f) all other matters which under the provisions of this Act, the Statutes and the Ordinances are to be, or may be prescribed by Regulations.'

Procedure for making Regulations is as contained in Section 39 of the Act and that provides as follows:--

''Procedure for making Regulations.-- (1) All Regulations made under this Act shall have effect from such date as the Academic Council may direct, but every Regulation so made shall be laid before the Senate during its next succeeding meeting.

(2) Subject to the provisions of Sub-section (1), the procedure to be followed in making, amending or repealing Regulations shall be prescribed by the Statutes.'

Chapter 38, Kerala University first Statutes, 1977, dealing with the procedure for making Regulations and the authority to initiate Regulations, lays down as follows:--

'The Academic Council may make, amend or repeal Regulations either on its own motion or on the recommendation of the Senate, the Syndicate the Faculties of other authorities of the University.'

And Statute 3 lays down laying of Regulation before the Senate, thus:

'All Regulations made or repealed by the Academic Council shall be laid before the Senate during its next succeeding meeting as laid down in Section 39 of the Act. The Senate shall have the power to cancel or amend any Regulation in the manner laid down in Clause (a) of Sub-section (2) of Section 19 of the Act. If any Regulation or an amendment or repeal thereof is not so laid down before the Senate,the Regulation or amendment shall lapse or the Regulation repealed shall revive as the case may be after the next succeeding meeting of the Senate.'

Section 41 of the Act provides that all Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations made under the Act shall be published in the Gazette. The petitioners have no case that the introduction of the new syllabi is without the Academic Council passing a resolution in that behalf. The main contention raised by the petitioners is that it is only by regulations the syllabi could be changed, and in support of that contention reliance was placed on the Full Bench ruling of this Court in Mary Philipose v. State of Kerala (1981 Ker LT 380): (AIR 1981 Ker 149). It is not disputed by the counsel for the University also that the changes to the syllabi should be in the form of Regulations. The only question is whether the formalities for making Regulations had been undergone in this case. As already noticed, pursuant to the recommendation made by the Faculty of Commerce on 18-3-1983, after due consideration, on 24-6-1983 the Academic Council had decided by resolution to approve the recommendation made by the Faculty. Thereafter there are only two requirements to be satisfied : one is the laying of the resolution of the Academic Council before the Senate, and the other is publication. As far as the laying of the resolution before the Senate is concerned, the counsel for the University during the course of his submissions told its that he had received information that on 2-12-1983 the Senate had approved the resolution passed by the Academic Council. He also submitted that for the Gazette notification necessary communications have already been sent and the publication was awaited.

6. Counsel for the petitioners, Sri Balagangadhara Menon, submitted that actually the resolution of the Academic Council could not be given effect prior to the Senate approving the resolution and it being published in the Gazette. He would, therefore, contend for the position that even now the new syllabi or the resolution in that behalf passed by the Academic Council not having been published in the Gazette, it could not be given effect to. In any event, he would say, the Senate having given its stamp of approval only on 2-12-1983, the resolution could not have been effected before that date. We are afraid the provisions contained in the Act and the Statutes do not support this extreme stand taken by the counsel for the petitioners. As far as the requirements for placing the resolution of the Academic Council before the Senate is concerned. Section 19 (1) makes it abundantly clear that it has to be done before the Senate during its next succeeding meeting. Not only that, that section itself makes it clear that all regulations made under the Act shall have effect from such date as the Academic Council may direct. So, the Academic Council having directed to give effect to its resolution from 2-11-1983, we are of the opinion that the fact that by that time the Senate had not approved the resolution or that Gazette publication was not effected by that time, by themselves would not affect the validity of the resolution duly passed by the Academic Council. The position would have been quite different had it been when the resolution was not before the Senate during its next succeeding meeting after the resolution was given effect to, or at the meeting in which the Senate considered the resolution placed before it. The Senate resented the resolution passed by the Academic Council and placed before it (Senate) for its approval. The petitioners have no case that either the resolution had not been laid before the Senate or that resolution having been laid before it, the Senate had resented it. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the resolution passed by the Academic Council on 24-6-1983, subsequently approved by the Senate on 2-12-1983. is regulation within the meaning of that expression in the Act and that it could rightly be given effect to by the University from such date as is directed by the Academic Council in that behalf, and that being the position, in giving effect to the new syllabi on and from 2-11-1983, the University or the Academic Council did not commit any error of not following the procedure in that behalf.

7. The petitioners' grievance, however, is that assuming that the procedure prescribed in the Act and the Statutes had been complied with, the introduction of the syllabi in the middle of the Academic year is not justified and that it has caused great hardship to the students. The expression 'middle of the year' is used probably with reference to the definition given in Chapter 1. Star tute 2 of the University First Statutewhich defines 'academic year' generally as starting with 1st June and ending with 31st May of the next year. In this case none has a case that studies were started as early as on the 1st June. Though the petitioners have stated that they had started their studies on 14-7-1983, due to various factors over which the University does not appear to have effective control, the last date for admission had to be extended up to 15-10-1983, and the last date for registration of the candidates who wanted to appear privately also had to be extended till 30-11-1983. If the candidate who got admission only On 15-10-1983 would not be seriously prejudiced by the introduction of the new syllabi on 2-11-1933, the question is because of the interval of about 17 days from that date and 2-11-1983 on which date the new syllabi were introduced, this Court would be justified in taking the view that the University had acted arbitrarily and in violation of the principles of natural justice. It js true that the University like any other responsible authority could not act arbitrarily or in a way which is prejudicial to the students who are to benefit from the study and who arc to take examination. However, in the circumstances of this case, it could not be said that what is done by the University is arbitrary or in violation of the principles of natural justice.

8. We may at once dismiss a contention put forward by the petitioners that the Academic Council was not justified in introducing certain new subjects for the 1st Year B.Com. course deleting certain other subjects. It is for the academicians, who are the competent persons in that behalf, to decide which are the subjects to be taught and which, are not to be taught; A substitution of the subjects for the particular years by the Court embarking upon such matters without having the expertise, and strictly speaking without propriety in doing so would be a futile exercise and something not permitted by law. Therefore, we are not entering that region, at all.

9. The only other thing to be considered is whether because of the delay in introducing the new syllabi we should declare that the introduction of the new syllabi is invalid and that it will be given effect to only from, the next academic year. True, probably the delay in the introduction of the new syllabi could have been avoided, had the concernedauthorities been more diligent. It is well known that in our present set up our Universities are not working in ideal conditions, and they have too many constraints. It is not for us to go into the reasons or to suggest remedies for such things. Suffice it to notice that in the conditions now prevailing and the constraints to which the University is subjected, where for the sole reason that there has been some delay in the University introducing the amendment, could it be said that it could be given effect to only during the next academic year. It is not as though we fail to notice that the Faculty made the recommendation as early as on 18-3-1983, but the Academic Council passed the resolution only on 24-6-'83,' and the Registrar addressed the Government only on 7-9-1983. Whether there had been any valid and good reasons for this long delay on the part of the Registrar in addressing the Government in a matter of this magnitude and which may have far-reaching consequences, is not a subject-matter for our investigation in these proceedings. The effort of the University should have been to avoid comments like this, and this sort of delay affecting the career of thousands of students should have been avoided.

10. Before parting with this judgment we have to dispose of one other contention raised at the threshold by the counsel for the University. That was regarding the locus standi of the petitioners to come to this Court with a petition of this nature seeking reliefs. It was submitted by the counsel that it is doubtful whether all the signatories to the petition arc really students or whether they are really persons who are having any identity or address. It was also submitted that they were students of a parallel college only not of any regular college. It was submitted that at least 40 out of 70 students who signed the petition were understood to be not students at all. Though allegations and counter-allegations are seen to have been made on this question in the counter-affidavit of the University and the reply affidavit of the petitioners, we do not consider it necessary to make' an investigation into this aspect of the matter to ascertain the exact position. The observations of the Supreme court in para 63 of the judgment reported in A. B. S. k. Sangh (Rly.) v. Union of India (AIR 1981 SC 298) is a complete answer to thequestion raised by the University in (sic) gard to the locus standi of the petitioners to move this Court. It is not as the age every letter or petition received by the Chief Justice is treated as a writ petition. By and large it is only those letters or petitions which disclose a prima facie public cause that are treated as writ petitions and notice issued to the concerned authorities. On the question of locus standi we would only refer to two more decisions, one of the Supreme Court and the other of this Court. in people's Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, (AIR 1982 SC 1473), speaking for the Bench. Bhagwati, J. states as follows (at P. 1878):--

'There is a misconception in the minds of some lawyers, journalists and men in public life that public interest litigation is unnecessary cluttering up the files of the Court and adding to the already staggering arrears of cases which are pending for long years and it should not therefore be encouraged by the Court. This is, to our mind, a totally perverse view smacking of elitist and status quoist approach. Those who are decrying public interest litigation do not seem to realise that courts are not meant only for the rich and the well-to-do for the landlord and the gentry, for the business magnate and the industrial tycoon, but they exist also for the poor and the downtrodden the havenots and the handicapped and the half-hungry millions of our countrymen.'

In Madhusoodan Nair v. Govt of Kerala, (1983 Ker LT 43). speaking for the Division Bench, Chandrasekhara Menon. J., stated as follows:--

'There is no reason to reject the original petition on the ground that the petitioner has no locus standi in the matter. Any citizen in the State should be able to question any illegal or ultra vires action of the Government. In a democratic State every citizen is in a way participant in the governance of the State and therefore if the Government goes as try in any matter, the citizen should have the right to approach the proper legal forum for questioning such action. The citizen has the right to see to it that the Government is on the proper path. Certainly the judiciary will keep aloof from party-politics and will not intervene in what are essentially political contests. While the courts have to draw a line between political and judicial questions taking due note of the division of powersbetween the three branches of the Government and do its best not to tread on other's grounds, the judiciary cannot refrain from making its own decision if a citizen complains of an illegal or ultra vires action of the State or its officers.'

11. It is true that certain amount of prejudice has been caused to the students at large length who have joined the B.Com. course this year and in that case no distinction need be made between the parallel college students on the one hand and the regular college students on the other, because classes normally could have been started only on or after 15-10-1983 and whatever extra work that might have been done, starting the classes prior to that date might have resulted in the benefit of those who took that much care in advance. There is a delay of 17 days in introducing the syllabi. Though we do not consider that that by itself to be a sufficient ground for interfering with the decision of the University, we hope and trust that in fixing the examination date, in order to enable the students to make up whatever loss in the study hours they have met occasioned by the delay in the introduction of the new syllabi, the Syndicate would take into account this aspect of the matter and take a decision.

12. A point was sought to he made out saying that between 24-6-1963, on which date the Academic Council passed the Resolution, and 2-12-1983, on which date the Senate approved it, there was a Senate meeting and there was a violation of the provisions contained in the Act and the Statute in regard to the compliance with the procedure with respect to the making of Regulation. It is the common case that it was only on 2-11-1&83 the Academic Council gave effect to the resolution and in the next meeting of the Senate it has been laid before it and according to us this would be sufficient compliance with the requirements under the Statute.

Subject to the above observation, the writ petition is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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