R.A. Mehta, J.
1. The question is regarding admission to the Part-time Post Diploma Degree Course (Electronics & Communications). There is no dispute that the two petitioners are eligible for admission to this course as they have passed Diploma in Electronics and Radio Engineering (DERE) after passing Standard XII (Science) examination.
2. The contention of the petitioners is that the respondents Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are not eligible and not entitled to be admitted to this course and if these respondents are excluded from admission, the petitioners would get the same. These respondents have been admitted to this course in December 1985 or January 1986 and the semester examination is commencing from 30-6-1986 (three days hereafter) and the petitioners have stated that if they are entitled to be admitted, they are entitled to appear at the examination so that they will not lose their valuable semester or year of the academic career.
3. The respondents Nos. 5, 6 and 7 have not passed the Standard XII examination and after Standard X examination, they have directly gone to the Diploma Course in Radio Technology (DRT) held by the Gujarat State Board of Technical Education. It is a course of six semesters (i.e. three years). The minimum eligibility standard for admission to that diploma course is Standard X with Mathematics, Science and English. After that course of Diploma in Radio Technology comprising of six semesters (i.e. 3 years), they are eligible for another diploma of three semesters called Additional DERE i.e. Additional Diploma in Electronics and Radio Engineering. The question is whether this additional diploma in Electronics and Radio Engineering is equivalent to the DERE of three years after Standard XII (Science) examination.
4. According to the petitioners, the advertisement issued for admission specifies and restricts the category of persons entitled for the same and the persons who have not passed Std. XII Science examination before obtaining the equivalent Diploma are not eligible and in the alternative, are excluded by the Principal of the Engineering College. Secondly, it is submitted that the equivalence of two Diploma Courses i.e. DERE and Additional DERE is bad and the decision of the respondent authorities is not sustainable. It is also submitted that the Standard XII (Science) examination is one of the basic requirements and there is no equivalent examination passed by the respondent Nos. 5 to 7.
5. On behalf of the respondents, it is submitted that under Section 22(x) of the Gujarat University Act and under Reg. 3 (Page 325 of Hand Book Part II of (Gujarat University, 1980) the Academic Council has the power, on the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Equivalence of Examinations, to grant recognition to examination of other Universities and Examining Bodies. At page 389, under caption 'General', at point No. 5, there inequivalence and recognition of Civil, Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Examination Diploma for admission to first year degree course.
6. A similar question regarding equivalence-of the Addl. Diploma in Electronics & Radio Engineering (Additional DERE) was raised in the year 1982 and the Gujarat State Technical Examination Board wrote a letter dated 30th June 1982 to the respondent-Gujarat University and the subject of that letter shows 'Regarding equivalence of the DERE and Addl. DERE Examinations held by this Board'. There is no dispute that both these examinations are held by the same Board and that very Board, by that letter, had recommended that both these Diplomas (DERE and Addl. DERE) be recognised as equivalent. It is pointed out therein that DRT is a six semester (3 years) course to which the admission is granted after 10th standard with Mathematics, Science and English and DERE is a five semester course after Pre-Science (i.e. Std. XII Science Exam.) and Addl. DERE is a three semester course after DRT. Thus, for DERE, the duration of studies is 12 + 5 semesters and for Addl. DERE., it is Standard 10+3+114 (Std. 10 + 3 years DRT and Vh years Addl. DERE). Thus, both these Diplomas (Addl. DERE and DERE.) have the same duration of study and the course of studies is also considered and the State Board of Technical Education has recommended that, having reward to the similarity of the course of studies, equivalence should be granted. The courses of studies and syllabus were also similar. The University referred the letter of the Technical Examination Board to the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering who recommended that they should be considered eligible for part-time degree course. The Vice-Chancellor considered an application of one Prafulla Thakkar and granted her eligibility for this course.
7.The subject matter was referred to the Standing Committee on equivalence which consisted of Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor and Deans of the Faculty of Engineering and that Committee on 22-6-1984, taking note of the decision of the Vice-Chancellor, resolved that the students who have passed (Addl. DERE) Additional Diploma in Electronics and Radio Engineering examination undertaken by the Technical Examination Board should be considered eligible for admission to Electronics Branch in Engineering Faculty. It is stated in the affidavit-in-reply that while considering the prescribed syllabi, duration of course and relevant factors, the Academic Body of the University has resolved that students who have passed Additional DERE examination should be held eligible, for being admitted to the part-time Degree Course in Electronics and Radio Engineering.
8. In view of the above facts stated in the affidavit-in-reply filed by the Controller of Examinations of Gujarat University, it is submitted by the Learned Counsel for the respondents that the University has duly recognised equivalence between the two examinations of DERE and, Addl. DERE and, therefore, the respondent Nos. 5 to 7 are eligible and have been duly granted eligibility certificate and, therefore, they are rightly given admission to the Post-Diploma Part-time Degree Course in Electronics and Engineering.
9. The Learned Counsel for the petitioners has strongly relied upon the advertisement dated 6-11-1985 issued by the respondent No. 4 Principal of L.D. Engineering College, wherein it is stated that the applications for admissions to part-time degree course in Electronics and Communication Engineering are invited on or before 28-12-1985 and it is further stated that minimum qualification for admission is Diploma in Electronics Engineering (or its equivalent) obtained after Standard XII Science (or its equivalent examination).
10. On the basis of this advertisement, it is submitted that respondent Nos. 5, 6 and 7 have not obtained the Diploma after Std. XII (Science) or other equivalent examination and, therefore, they are ineligible or in any case, their exclusion by the Principal is not illegal. It is submitted that the Principal of the College had the authority to restrict the number of candidates by resorting to exclusion of particular category namely those who have not passed Std. XII (Science) examination. It is also submitted that these two examinations are not equivalent and the Court should examine the question of equivalence and hold that Addl. DERE is not equivalent to DERE.
11. It is not possible to uphold any of the contentions of the petitioners. The submission that these two examinations are not equivalent is not correct. In fact, Standard X students would directly go to Diploma Course in Civil, Mechanical or Electrical Engineering and who pass that Diploma are eligible for admission to degree course in that particular branch. Similarly, for Electronics Branch, if students with equivalent Diploma having obtained directly after Standard X, are admitted, there is nothing unusual.
12. Having regard to the fact that both these examinations i.e. DERE and Addl. DERE are held by the same Board and having regard to the duration of the studies as mentioned above and the prescribed syllabi and courses, if the very Board which holds these two examinations is of the opinion that they can be treated as equivalent and if such opinion also finds favour with the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering of the University, the Standing Committee on equivalence and the Academic Council of the University, then there is no scope for any Court to go into that question and to come to a contrary concision. The experts in the subjects having applied their mind at different levels and on consideration of the duration of studies and the courses of studies and syllabi, it would require very very strong grounds and special circumstances for the Court to enter into that arena and to interfere with the academic decisions of an autonomous University. Court should be very slow and reluctant to do so. The petitioners have not made out any such special strong case. Merely because there may not be some paper in some semester, it cannot be said that the decision of the authorities regarding equivalence is illegal or arbitrary.
13. The Learned Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the Court should call for the material and the decision taken by the different authorities and examine the same. These authorities, while deciding the question of equivalence are not deciding any dispute or writing any judgment. They are taking academic decisions and passing resolutions. Merely because the petitioners without making a strong or special case desire that these things should be produced, it cannot be done. It would be an exercise of fishy adventure and unless the Court is satisfied that it is necessary in the interest of justice, such things must be discouraged. Having regard to the affidavit-in-reply and the decisions of all the authorities and the concurrent opinion of all the authorities, there is no scope for any such enquiry. DERE and Addl. DERE have been held to be equivalent by the competent authorities. The Learned Counsel for the petitioners has submitted that the authorities have not used the word 'equivalent' and stated that they are eligible and, therefore, it is not a decision on equivalence. There is no substance in this submission. The question was directly and squarely raised by the Technical Education Board and was also referred to the Standing Committee on Equivalence of Examinations. Therefore, there is no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that these two examinations have been held to be equivalent by the competent authority and only on that basis, the persons who have passed the said examination can be said to be eligible. But for the equivalence, they cannot be said to be ineligible at all.
14. The Learned Counsel for the respondents has relied upon the Division Bench decision in the case of Damyanti Hasmukhlal v. South Gujarat University AIR 1979 Guj. 62. In that case, the High Court held that the content of curricula in a technical subject like Science requires a proper assessment and evalution in the context of relevant academic standards and when the Academic Council of the University has stated that First Year Science Examination of the Bombay University is equivalent to the Pre-University Science Examination of the South Gujarat University, it would be hazardous for the High Court to differ from that opinion on the basis of there being one more or less subject in one or the other carriculum. It was also observed that when two views are possible on the question under consideration, the High Court should not take a view different from that taken by the University Authorities. In para 19, the High Court observed as under:
We are of the view that it is not open to the petitioner to invite us to go into this aspect of the case and that on the facts and in the circumstances of the ease, we are not competent to express any opinion on this matter.
15. The Supreme Court decision in the case of University of Mysore v. Govinda Rao : 4SCR575 was also relied upon. In that case, the question was whether a First or High Second Class Master's Degree of an Indian University or an equivalent qualification of a Foreign University in the subject concerned can be said to be equivalent and the Supreme Court observed that this aspect of the question relates purely to an academic matter and Courts would naturally hesitate to express a definite opinion particularly when it appears that the Board of experts was satisfied that appellant No. 2 fulfilled the first qualification. The observations of the Supreme Court in another case of Mohammad Shujat Ali v. Union of India : (1976)IILLJ115SC were also relied upon and there also, it was held as under:
It must be noted that the question in regard to equivalence of educational qualifications is a technical question based on proper assessment and evaluation of the relevant academic standards and practical attainments of such qualifications and where the decision of the Government is based on the recommendation of an expert body which possesses the requisite knowledge, skill and expertise for adequately discharging such function the Court, uninformed of relevant data and unaided by the technical insights necessary for the purpose of determining equivalence, would not lightly disturb the decision of the Government. It is only where the decision of the Government is shown to be based on extraneous or irrelevant considerations or actuated by mala fides or irrational and perverse or manifestly wrong that the Court would reach out its lethal arm and strike down the decision of the Government.
16. In the present case, the decision of equivalence is not based or actuated on mala fide or perverse or manifestly wrong. In this view of the matter, I am clearly of the opinion that the DERE and Addl. DERE are held to be equivalent examinations by the competent authorities and no case is made out for interference by the Court.
17. Since respondents Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are holding qualifications of Addl. DERE which is equivalent to DERE, they are eligible for admission to the part-time degree course in Electronics Engineering and the authorities have rightly held them to be eligible.
18. The Learned Counsel For the petitioners has submitted that comparison of merits from two different sources or examinations on the basis of marks at two different examinations is arbitrary and invalid because dissimilar is treated as similar. It is submitted that when the admission is from different sources, the assessment of their merits on the basis of different examinations is incomparable and there must be a separate or special mode for assessing the merit. It is submitted that for assessment of real comparative merits, there could have been a joint entrance exam or separate quota for persons coming from different sources having regard to the relevant circumstances or some other rational method. But without adopting such method, only on the basis of marks at two different examinations, the merit list has been prepared and this has resulted in un equals being treated as equals and dissimilars as being similar. It is to be noted that both these examinations are held by the same Board. Other academic authorities of the Universities have also taken the same view. It is true that better method of comparative assessment could have been adopted. However, it cannot be said in the facts of this case that preparation of merit list on the basis of marks obtained at these two examinations which are held to be equal, is in any way arbitrary.
19. The advertisement by the Principal has to be construed reasonably so as to read it consistently with the equivalence recognised by the University. If Std. XII requirement is considered an additional requirement, it would nullify the equivalence and all eligible holders of Addl. DERE would stand arbitrarily excluded, because they are mostly after Std. X and not after Std. XII. The Principal and the advertisement have not intended to exclude them. Even if there was such exclusion, it would be arbitrary and violative of Article 14 denying equality amongst eligible persons.
20. It is also submitted that persons similarly situated as respondents Nos. 5 to 7 (who have passed Additional DERE without Std. XII) would not have applied because of the advertisement of the Principal and, therefore, their exclusion vitiates the admission of respondents Nos. 5 to 7. The petitioners have not pointed out even one such case; even if there be any such person, the petitioners cannot get admission in any case. Therefore, there is no case for interference on this score also.
These are the contentions raised on behalf of the petitioners and they-fail. Hence the petition is dismissed.
Rule discharged with no order as to costs.