1. A sole and a common question that arose, for determination in W. P. 10305, 10847, 10889 and 10916 of 1981 is whether the Syndicate of the Annamalai University has got the power to pass a resolution shedding the under-graduate courses from the curriculum of the University. The above proceedings were brought by a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council and a social worker, a parent, a Reader in English and member of the Syndicate Annamalai University, and a lecturer in Annamalai University respectively challenging the jurisdiction of the Syndicate of the Annamalai University to pass resolution No. I dated 5-91981 closing the under-graduate course from the curriculum of the University from October 198 1. The common respondent is the Registrar of the University as representing the Syndicate, while in the last two petitions, the Government of Tamil Nadu represented by the Secretary to Education Department was impleaded as respondent 2. Mr. Justice Padmanablian upheld the contention of all the petitioners and also incidentally opined that the principal authority to take a decision in the matter of shedding an under-graduate course is only the Academic Council and that after the Academic Council takes a decision in the matter it has to be placed before the Senate which has either to approve or disapprove the stand taken by the Academic Council. The aggrieved respondent., viz, the Registrar of the University had come forward with these appeals.
2. The appellant in all these four appeals is represented by the Advocate General, while the contesting respondents in the second appeal is represented by Mr. Sekkizhar, and the contesting respondents in the last appeal by Mr, Karuppan, . and the contesting respondent in the other two appeals by Mr. R. Gandhi. All the learned counsel agree that. the Annamalai University Act Madras Act I of 1929, as amended by Madras Act 10 of 1943, was not subject to scrutiny by this Court, so far save in the judgment under appeal.
3. The said University is a magnificent monument of benefaction and foresightedness of its founder Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar. The three colleges, viz, Meenakshi College, a Tamil college and a Sanskrit college, all established by him together with his princely donation of Rs. 20 lacs formed the nucleus of the University.
4. It is needless to point out that the answer to the question posed by these proceedings has to be found out from the scheme behind the Act and the various provisions therein in particular S. 3 relating to purposes and powers of the University, S. 14 naming the authorities of the University, Ss. 15 and 16 relating to the constitution of the Senate, its powers and duties, Ss. 17 and 18 relating to the constitution of the Academic Council and its powers and Ss. 21 and 22 relating to the constitution of Syndicate and its powers. Therefore, we have to immediately point out that the citations relied on by the respondent as well as by the learned Judge are hardly of any assistance to us. While construing the particular provision' in the Mysore University Act, the Supreme Court in Mysore University v. Gopala Gowda, : 3SCR229 , summed up the powers of the Academic Council and held that the Academic Council is invested with the power to control the entire academic life of the student from the stage of admission to a course of study to the ultimate conferment of a degree or academic distinction. So too in Damodar Mohanty v. Mal University : AIR1955Ori151 , what was decided is that where there is an inconsistency between the, decision of the Academic council and that, of the Syndicate, the Academic Council's decision alone will prevail inasmuch as it is within its exclusive jurisdiction to prescribe the course of study. We will be pointing out in due course that in this case, there is n6 scope for any friction between the power vested on the Syndicate and that vested on the Academic Council under the Act and consequently, even this decision is of very little use to us.
5. As a matter of fact, both Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Sekkizhar restricted their contentions to the point that the Syndicate did not possess the power to shed the under-graduate course and to support such a contention, they urged that it is the Senate which is the supreme body, which has the unfettered power to accept or reject the recommendation made by the Academic Council in this behalf. Indeed, even the learned Judge had observed : -
'Similarly, if the Syndicate wanted to shed the under-graduate courses it should have made a proposal to the Academic Council which in its turn should have taken a decision subject to its being finally approved or disapproved by the Senate'.
6. It may be convenient at this stage to advert to the argument of Mr. Sekkizhar to, the effect that as the three colleges formed the nucleus, and as in the three colleges undergraduate courses were conducted, the University could not close down such undergraduate courses. This argument overlooks his own submission that the Senate as supreme body is competent to exercise such power. Even otherwise, in our view, nothing turns on the circumstances under which the Annamalai University was founded. For after it is established, it has a separate legal entity and is governed by the Act.
7. Before we proceed to examine the respective contents of power conferred on the three authorities, viz, the Senate, Academic Council and the Syndicate, it is of vital importance to bear in mind the various gradations such as pattern of courses of study or branches of learning, courses of study, faculties and departments of study. A reference to the history of the University published in Annamalai University calendar of the year 1961 volume 1, which is used both by the learned Advocate -General and by the other I-earned counsel equally, shows that in the year 1957-58 a decision was taken to change the pattern of course of study and in pursuance thereof, the pre-University class for arts and science subjects was instituted in the year 1957-58, which was followed by the institution of the three year course for B.A. B.Sc. B.O 4 . B.Com. and B.Mus. degree in the year 195859, and the two year post-graduate M.A.: M.Sc., M.Com and M.O.L. degree courses in the year 1959-60. It is apposite to refer to S. 3 of the Act. S. 3 defines the purposes and powers of the University. According to S. 3(a)(i) the purposes and powers of the University shall be the following, namely, to provide for instruction in such branches of learning as the University may think fit, including professional studies and technology. (The rest has been loft out of consideration as not germane for our, purpose), it is important to remember that this is the only place where the expression 'the branches of learning'-is used in the Act. So too, this provision is the life and spirit of the University in its constitution and in its functions. Thus, when in this vital and charging section, the purpose and power of the University are defined to provide with instructions in such branches of learning as the University may think fit. We are clearly of the view. that the expression branches of learnings, include several courses of study to evict, Pre-University course, under graduate course, post graduate course, professional studies and studies relating to technology. In the history referred to above no doubt, the expression used is pattern of courses of studies'. But bearing in mind the language employed in this provision, we are or the opinion that even this expression was used as a substitute 'for branches of learning'. Our said approach is fortified from S. 19 of the Act. Section 19 refers to the faculties. Section 19(l) provides that the University shall include faculties of Arts, Science, Technology and Oriental studies and such other faculties as may be prescribed and each such faculty shall be constituted in the manner prescribed. The said provision further refers to the departments of study and the heads of departments. Thus, the genus-is branches of learning, while its species is faculty which in turn comprises of several departments of studies. The relevency of the above gradation we will be referring to in due course
8. It may be useful at once to notice the various authorities of the University named in S. 14 an~ they are as follows and the order is maintained as per the section.
1. The Senate
2. The Academic Council
3. The Faculties,
4. The Boards of Studies,
5. The Syndicate,
6. The Finance Committee (for the period fixed under the Act) -
7. The Board of Selection
8. Such other bodies as maybe declared by the statutes to be authorities of the University.
9. Now let us examine the relative powers of the Senate, Academic Council and Syndicate. Ascertainment of their respective powers will certainly give a disposal to these appeals. We may at once point out that it was not the contention of either of the counsel that there is any over-lapping in the powers conferred respectively on the three authorities. Section 15 relates to the constitution of the Senate and as we feel that the constitution of the Senate as such is not of vital significance, we do not propose to enumerate various members ex officio, life members and other members except to point out that it is the largest and larger and widely represented body compared to the Academic Council and the Syndicate. Section 16 defines its powers and it runs thus : -
'16. The Senate shall be the supreme governing body of the University and shall have the following powers, namely : -
(1) to make statutes and amend or repeal the same,
(2), to consider and pass resolutions on the annual reports and the annual accounts, which resolutions shall be communicated to the Syndicate who shall take action in accordance therewith
(3) to consider and pass resolutions on the annual financial estimates which resolutions shall, after the period of tenure of the Finance Committee, be communicated to the Syndicate who shall take action in accordance therewith,
(4) to exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may be conferred or imposed upon it by this Act or the statutes, and
(5) to do all acts and things necessary to give effect to the provisions of this Act.'
According to the above provision, the Senate has the power to make statutes and amend or repeal the same; besides it has generally the control over the financial aspects of the University. This provision makes no specific reference to the branches of the learning or the courses of studies or the faculties or the heads of department& It Will be useful to notice that under S. 29 of the Act, subject to the provisions of this Act, the statutes may provide for the constitution, powers and duties of the authorities of the University. In other words, subject to the provisions of this Act, the constitution, powers and duties of various authorities referred to supra including the Syndicate and the Academic Council can be modulated by the Senate making suitable statutes. That is how the Senate becomes the supreme body of the University. Viewed from another angle, the same result will follow. For instance,even if the Academic Council or the Syndicate were to resolve to install a particular branch of learning, yet, the supreme body viz, the Senate, pan nullify such resolution passed either by the Syndicate or the Academic Council by refusing to provide for suitable finance. It is, in this background, the supremacy of the Senate has to be understood but not with reference to the other powers to be. exercised under the Act either by the Academic Council or by the Syndicate.
10. 'Next in order the constitution and power and duties of the Academic Council are set out in this Act. Section 17 relates to the constitution of the Academic Council:
' 17. The Academic Council shall consist of the following persons, namely :-
Class I - Ex-officio members
(1) The Vice-Chancellor
(2) The Director of Public Instruction, Madras
(3) The Professors and Readers of the University
(4) The Chairman of the Boards of Studies
(5) The 1~embers of the Syndicate who are not otherwise members of the Academic Council.
Class 11 - Other members
1. Ten members, of whom not less than five shall be teachers other than Professors and Readers, elected by such teachers.
2. Five members elected by the Senate from among its members, provided that no one who is already a member of the ' Academic Council shall be eligible for election under this item'.'
Section 18 defines its powers and duties, It reads thus : -
18. The Academic Council shall have the control and regulation of residence, teaching and examinations in the University and the maintenance of the standards thereof, shall have the following powers and shall perform the following duties, namely :
(a) to make proposals. to the Syndicate for the institution of professorships, readerships, lecturerships or other teaching posts.
(b) to make regulations for purposes hereinafter specified.
(c) to make recommendations to the syndicate for the recognition of teachers qualified to give instruction in hostels not maintained by the University.
(d) to formulate, modify or revise, subject to the control of the Senate, scheme ' s for the constitution or reconstitution of Faculties and, departments of studies, and
(e) to do such other things and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the Statutes.'
In our considered view, the proper reading of S. 18 is that the power of the Academic Council has to be found in the first limb of the said provision, while the latter only explains but does not expand such powers. Consequently, the enumeration of powers and duties in cls. (a) to (e) will certainly relate to the powers found in the first part of S. 18. As a matter of fact, a careful reading of cls. (a) to (e) will reveal that the Academic Council has no right to decide any of the matters referred to therein, but is bound to make proposals to the Syndicate, to make regulations, to make recommendations to the Syndicate, to formulate, modify or revise schemes for the constitution or re-constitution of faculties and department of studies and to do such other things and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the statutes. Thus, the Academic Council is rather burdened with a duty to maintain the standards of the University in all branches of learning, in all faculties and in all courses of studies. If we turn to the constitution we would find that most of the members are qualified for, or well acquainted with, teaching profession and that its numerical strength is very limited. Even any proposal or recommendation made by the Academic Council or the scheme for constitution, reconstitution of faculties and departments of studies is not binding on the Syndicate or Senate, To put it differently, if the Academic Council is called -upon to submit proposals or recommendations or formulations of schemes, it is bound to perform such duties. When we did ask both the learned counsel appearing for the two sets of parties to refer to any provision in the Act, which mandates that the proposals, recommendations and formulations made by the, Academic Council would bind either the Senate or the Syndicate, they failed to refer to any provision. We are, therefore, unable to share the view taken by the learned Judge when he held that if the syndicate wanted to shed the under-graduate course, it should have made a proposal to the Academic Council which in turn should have taken a decision of course subject to its being finally approved or disapproved by the Senate. We have to reiterate that the Act does not vest the Academic Council with a power to make any decision as such about the constitution or reconstitution of faculties and departments of studies and that on the other hand, it had the duty to formulate, modify or revise subject to the control of the Senate schemes for constitution or reconstitution of faculties and departments of studies. It is here the gradation referred to by us at the outset looms large. Section 18(d) makes no reference to pattern of courses of -study or branches of learning. But then the reference is confined to constitution or reconstruction of faculties and departments of studies. This will also clearly indicate that the Academic Council has no concern whatever over the constitution, reconstitution or shedding of any branches of learning. It is only after a particular branch of learning is installed, the need to formulate, modify or revise schemes for the constitution or reconstitution of faculties and departments of studies will arise. Thus, we have to emphasize that the Academic Council has no concern whatever about the opening or shedding of any branches of learning in the University.
11. While S. 21 relates to the constitution of the Syndicate, S. 22 prescribes its powers and duties. Both the learned counsel confined their arguments on sub-s. (f). While the learned Advocate General contended that this particular sub-section is wide enough to embrace the power of installing or shedding any branch of learning, the counsel representing the respondents submitted to the contrary. Therefore, we propose to extract S. 22(f) : -
The Syndicate shall have the following powers and perform the following duties, namely-
(f) to regulate and determine all matters concerning the University in accordance with' this Act and the statutes and regulations.'
In the first instance, we have to point out that the sub-section is couched in very wide term and such a power is not found either in S. 16 defining the power of the Senate or S. 18 defining the power of the Academic Council. The significance in placing S. 22 after prescribing the powers of the Senate and Academic Council is in our view to indicate that all the residuary power concerning the University resides in the Syndicate. It is here S. 3 prescribing the purpose and powers of the University becomes relevant. Section 3 (a)(i) indicates that the purpose of the University is to provide for instructions in such branches of learning as the University may think fit including professional studies and technology. So long as the power to provide for instructions in such branches of learning is not placed even in S. 16 which defines the powers of the Senate, the supreme body, the inference is irresistible and that is the Syndicate alone has the right to provide for instructions in any branches of learning as the University may think fit. The branches of learning comprise of a pre-university course, an under-graduate course, a post-graduate course and so on. It is needless to stress that without a power to provide for instructions in such branches of learning, the University can never function effectively. Therefore, such a power should be found somewhere in the Act and in any of the authorities of the University defined in S. 14. We can also demonstrate that the process of elimination will also support our above conclusion. We had just now pointed out that no such power is found in S. 16, nor in S. 18. The other authorities barring the Syndicate referred to in S. 14 are the faculties, boards of studies, finance committees, board of selection and such other bodies as may be declared by the statutes to be authorities of the University. The finance committee ceased to exist by virtue of, S. 42. The faculties according to S. 19 make no reference to any such power as found in S. 22 (P. So too, no such power is vested in the boards of studies, nor in the boards of selection. Then, what is left out is the Syndicate. It would automatically follow that the power should be found somewhere. If sub-s.(f) in S. 22 were to be read in the above context, it is manifest that the Syndicate is vested with the power of widest amplitude regarding regulation-and determination of all matters concerning the University.
12. 'The expression 'to regulate and determine all matters concerning the University' unmistakably discloses that it is for the Syndicate to regulate and determine what branches of learning the University should conduct or shed. The word 'concerning' according to the Chambers 20th Century dictionary and the Concise Oxford Dictionary means 'relating to'. Thus, it -is the Syndicate which has the exclusive right to regulate and determine all matters relating to the University. There is no need to over emphasize the significance of the word ,air used in sub-s. (f). In short, it proclaims the unlimited powers of the Syndicate regarding the opening or shedding of any branches of learning. We have to point out at this stage that though the learned Judge referred to S. 22(f) simply concluded as follows-
'That does not take in the power to shed, a particular course of study which is available in the University'. . , With great respect to the learned Judge, we are constrained to point out that the said conclusion is not supported by any reasoning, nor did the learned Judge examine the content of the power found in' S. 22(f) with reference to the history of the University in the manner we had assessed. In other words, the said conclusion of the learned Judge requires to be set aside and is hereby set aside.
13. Practice or convention will have no relevance or impact in a case where a particular right is created under statute, nor will no exercise of such power by the Syndicate in the instant case diffuse to any extent such a statutory right conferred on it. Therefore, on an earlier occasion, when the suggestion of the Academic Council was sought for by the Senate, it will not in the least affect the wide power conferred on the Syndicate under S. 22. Therefore, we are of the view that it is unnecessary to refer to some of the resolutions that are reflected in the minutes of the Academic Council filed in the form of a printed book.
14. 'It may not be out of place to point out that the Act conferred on the Senate to make such statutes and amend or repeal the same; a similar power on the Academic Council to pass regulations while a like power to pass standing orders by the Senate. For our purpose it is enough to point out that none of the statutes, none of the standing orders and none of the regulations has any part to play, because the content of the power that resides in the Syndicate has to be found in S. 22(f) of the Act.
15. Mr. R Gandhi to support his contention that the very nomenclature of University would include maintenance of under-graduates courses, referred to the meaning of the word 'University' in the World Book Dictionary edited by Clarence L. Barnhart and Robert K. Barnhart, brought out in, 1983 edition. The meaning given therein is, 'an institution of learning of 'the highest grade, a university usually has several schools, as of law, medicine, theology, teaching and business and in the United States, it also includes a college of liberal arts and a graduate school or schools and is empowered to confer various degrees.' The meaning as such would not help the learned counsel. For, there is no such indication that without an under-graduate course, there won't be any University; at any rate, it is not worthwhile to refer to any book or text because according to S. 2(g) of the Act, University means the Annamalai University at Annamalai-nagar constituted under this Act.
16. 'In the result, all the four appeals succeed. The orders of the learned Judge made in all the writ petitions 10305, 10847, 10889 and 10916 of 1981 are set aside and all the writ petitions will stand dismissed. Both here and before the learned Judge, the parties are directed to bear their respective costs.
15. Appeals allowed.