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S.H. Joseph Thabaraj Vs. the Prinicipal, Government Arts College - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1968)1MLJ120
AppellantS.H. Joseph Thabaraj
RespondentThe Prinicipal, Government Arts College
Cases ReferredUniversity of Madras v. Nagalingam
Excerpt:
- - nandagopal, alleging that his son was manhandled on 1st august, 1966, by the petitioner who again threatened his son with knife on 5th august, 1966. in the affidavit it is stated that the principal called the petitioner as well as another student, who was implicated in the complaints, on 9th august, 1966. at the bar it is stated that the date 9th august, 1966, is a mistake for 8th august, 1966. it is now the common case that the principal met the petitioner and the other student on-8th august, 1966. the principal enquired the students about the complaints showing them the complaints' received by him. i am satisfied that there was no meeting between the brother of the petitioner accompanied by anybody else and the principal on the 16th. and lawyer-like methods may find special.....orderp.s. kailasam, j.1. writ petition no. 2203 of 1966 is filed by a student in the first year of the b.a. class of the government arts college, madras, for the issue of a writ of certiorari to the principal of the government arts college calling upon him to produce the records pertaining to the grant of transfer certificate and conduct certificate of the petitioner and to quash the order, dated 16th august, 1966, confirming his earlier order, dated 8th august, 1966.2. writ petition no. 2204 of 1966, is filed by the same student for the issue of a writ of mandamus directing the principal of the government arts college to take in the petitioner as the student in the first year b.a. class of the government articles college, madras.3. the petitioner joined the first year b.a. literature at.....
Judgment:
ORDER

P.S. Kailasam, J.

1. Writ Petition No. 2203 of 1966 is filed by a student in the first year of the B.A. class of the Government Arts College, Madras, for the issue of a writ of certiorari to the Principal of the Government Arts College calling upon him to produce the records pertaining to the grant of transfer certificate and conduct certificate of the petitioner and to quash the order, dated 16th August, 1966, confirming his earlier order, dated 8th August, 1966.

2. Writ Petition No. 2204 of 1966, is filed by the same student for the issue of a writ of mandamus directing the Principal of the Government Arts College to take in the petitioner as the student in the first year B.A. class of the Government Articles College, Madras.

3. The petitioner joined the first year B.A. Literature at Government Arts College, Madras, in June, 1966. He continued in the college till 9th August, 1966, when he was suspended by the Principal. As there is divergence between the parties regarding as to what happened, the facts as stated by the parties in their respective affidavits will be referred to. The version of the petitioner is as follows. On 9th August, 1966, at about 3-30 P.M. when the petitioner was attending the major poetry class, on receipt of a note from the Principal, the lecturer called the petitioner and stated that the Principal wanted to see him. The petitioner met the Principal immediately. On seeing him the Principal stated that the petitioner was behaving in an in disciplined Way in the college compound and called him a rogue. The petitioner requested the Principal to give him an opportunity to explain the matters and asked for the actual charges against him. The Principal got angry and refused to give any charges and said to the petitioner that he was suspended. The petitioner pleaded innocence. The Principal suggested that the petitioner might take the transfer certificate immediately, otherwise a complaint would be lodged against him for misbehaviour within the college compound. The petitioner begged the Principal to hold an enquiry pleading that he was innocent and that the allegations were unfounded. The Principal asked the petitioner to get out of the room. On 10th August, 1966, the Principal's peon handed over the suspension order, dated 8th August, 1966. The suspension order stated that the petitioner and another were suspended from 9th August, 1966, in connection with their indiscipline in the college and that they should meet the Principal with their parents or guardians. A copy of his order was sent to the mother of the petitioner, Mrs. Ruth Henry. As she was sick, the brother of the petitioner, S.D.J. Pandian, met the Principal on 16th August, 1966, but the Principal without assigning any reasons asked him to take the petitioner out of the college by getting the transfer certificate, failing which the Principal would write adverse remarks in the transfer certificate. Though the petitioner's brother prayed for an opportunity to explain the matter and answer the charges, the Principal did not accede to his request. On 16th August, 1966, the Principal sent a letter to the petitioner's mother enclosing the conduct and transfer certificates of the petitioner and informing that the College Council met on the 16th August, 1966, and decided to issue the transfer and conduct certificates to the petitioner. This letter was received on 19th August, 1966, by the petitioner's mother.

4. The petitioner's submission is that he is innocent and that he was victimised without giving him an opportunity of being heard. The whole scheme, according to the petitioner, was sponsored by Mr. Muthukannappar, the head of the department of Tamil, who is Ill-disposed towards him due to personal animosity and political leaning. It was further alleged that the Principal actively supported Mr. Muthukannappar and became a victim of the scheme of Mr. Muthukannappar and thereby acted with mala fide intentions to send the petitioner out of the college.

5. The version as given by the Principal, may now be stated. On 6th August, 1966, Sri B.S. Govindarajan, Assistant Professor of Tamil and Senior N.C.C. Officer in Government Arts College, Madras, reported in writing to the Professor of Tamil, who is also the convenor of the disciplinary committee, that the petitioner threatened another student by name D. Nandagopal of the second B.Sc. class. saying that the petitioner would not hesitate to endanger the life of Sri D. Nandagopal and Sri B. Section Govindarajan. Along with this report Sri B. S. Govindarajan forwarded two written complaints received by him from Nandagopal and also the peon of the N.C.C. group of the college, to the convenor of the disciplinary committee, who submitted the same to the Principal. On 8th August, 1966, the Principal received a complaint from Sri N.C. Danapal Naidu, father of Sri D. Nandagopal, alleging that his son was manhandled on 1st August, 1966, by the petitioner who again threatened his son with knife on 5th August, 1966. In the affidavit it is stated that the Principal called the petitioner as well as another student, who was implicated in the complaints, on 9th August, 1966. At the Bar it is stated that the date 9th August, 1966, is a mistake for 8th August, 1966. It is now the common case that the Principal met the petitioner and the other student on-8th August, 1966. The Principal enquired the students about the complaints showing them the complaints' received by him. While the other student was evasive in his answers, the petitioner behaved in a manner unbecoming of a student. The Principal, therefore, told the petitioner and the other student that he was placing them under suspension for indiscipline and that they might come along with their parents and meet him. He also issued a memorandum to this effect to the petitioner and the other student and sent copies of the memorandum to their parents by registered post. The other student came with his father and expressed his regret, and he was excused and further action against him was dropped. So far as the petitioner is concerned, it is stated by the Principal that neither the petitioner nor his parents nor his guardian turned up at any time. In the meantime the Principal also had reports that the petitioner was indulging in undesirable activities and taking a prominent part in organising a strike. As neither the petitioner nor his parents or guardian turned up, the Principal placed the entire matter before the College Council on 16th August, 1966, for taking such action as the council might deem fit. The College Council consisting of gazetted officers and heads of departments, which met on 16th August, 1966, decided to issue transfer and conduct certificates to the petitioner, as they felt the continuance of the petitioner was not at all conducive to the discipline and morale of the college.

6. In a supplementary counter-affidavit by the Principal, the Principal stated that the College Council is usually consulted before taking any major decision affecting the students and in all matters connected with the college, but the views of the council are only recommendatory and not mandatory. The Principal explained that the matter was placed before the College Council to ascertain their views as is the usual practice in every college, and the council unanimously agreed with his view that the petitioner should be expelled and that the final decision to expel the petitioner was taken only by the Principal. The Principal reiterating that the decision was taken by him stated that, if any impression was created in the affidavit or correspondence that the decision to expel the petitioner was taken solely by the College Council, it is not correct. The Principal further stated that S.D.J. Pandian, the brother of the petitioner, met him with letter from the petitioner, dated 23rd August, 1966, and requested him to return the P.U.C. grade certificate of the petitioner, which was done. The Principal denied the allegation that Pandian met him on 16th August, 1966. He also repudiated the allegation that during the meeting he said that, if the petitioner was not taken out of the college, he would write adverse remarks in the transfer certificate. The Principal also denied that the petitioner's expulsion from the college was due to personal animosity and imaginary grudge, which Mr. Muthukannappar had against the petitioner. He denied that the impugned order was passed vindictively out of any bias or any other extraneous considerations.

7. In the reply affidavit the petitioner reiterated that the entire order of dismissal was engineered by Mr. Muthukannappar, who had a grudge against him. He denied that the reports alleged to have been made against him were shown to him by the Principal. He further denied that his attitude was arrogant and unbecoming of a student towards the Principal, He also reiterated his statement that his brother saw the Principal on 16th August, 1966, as 13th, 14th and 15th were Government holidays. At the time of the interview of his brother with the Principal, he Stated that no charges were shown to his brother or an opportunity accorded to the brother for explaining the charges. He also denied the allegation that he went round organising a strike. The petitioner also filed supporting affidavits from four persons, namely, S.D.J. Pandian, P.K. Rajan, Nargunam and Noble Narendra Singh. S.D.J. Pandian, the brother of the petitioner, stated in his affidavit that at about 10-45 A.M. on the 16th August, 1966, he met the Principal along with his friend Mr. Nargunam, Advocate, and that during the interview the Principal told him that, if he was not taking the petitioner out of the college, he would write adverse remarks in the transfer certificate. The Principal refused to give him or the petitioner any opportunity to explain their case.

8. Mr. Nargunam, Advocate, in his affidavit stated that Pandian met the Principal at 10-45 A.M. on 16th August, 1966, and that the Principal wanted Pandian to take his brother out of the college and that, if he did not do so, he would write adverse remarks in the transfer certificate, and that an opportunity to explain the matter against the petitioner was denied by the Principal.

9. P.K. Rajan, a student studying along with the petitioner, in his affidavit stated that Mr. Muthukannappar, head of department of Tamil, called him and asked him whether he was aware of the indisciplined way in which the petitioner was behaving in the college and that, when he replied in the negative, Mr. Muthukannappar threatened him and warned him that he would suffer, if he deposed in favour of the petitioner. Noble Narendra Singh, who is studying in the college and who knows the petitioner, stated in his affidavit that Mr. Muthukannappar wanted him to give a petition against the petitioner and that he declined. He stated he was also aware of the fact that Mr. Muthukannappar was gathering complaints against the petitioner.

On the allegations in the affidavits and the counter-affidavits and reply affidavit certain questions of fact have to be decided. Firstly, it is the contention of the petitioner that Mr. Muthukannappar, head of the department of Tamil, was responsible for his dismissal due to prior animosity. The parties are also not agreed as to what happened when the Principal met the petitioner on 9th August, 1966. According to the petitioner, the Principal charged him with indisciplined conduct, and when the petitioner requested for an opportunity to explain the matters and the charges against him, the Principal got angry and suspended him. According to the Principal, he showed the complaints and enquired him about the incidents but the petitioner behaved in an arrogant manner and, as the Principal thought that no useful purpose would be served, he suspended the petitioner and directed the petitioner to come with his parents and meet him which the petitioner did not do. Further, according to the petitioner, his brother accompanied by Mr. Nargunam met the Principal and asked for an opportunity to explain the matter, which was denied to the petitioner. According to the Principal, nobody ever saw him on the 16th, and Pandian came and saw him only on 23rd August, 1966, and asked for the P.U.C. grade certificates. It is necessary to consider which of the two versions is true. The allegation against Mr. Muthukannappar is that he was a Congress M.L.C., and his appointment as head of Tamil department in Arts College was criticised in the assembly in July, 1966. It is stated that Mr. Muthukannappar imagined that the petitioner was responsible for giving information regarding him to the members of the opposition party in the assembly. It is also alleged that Mr. Muthukannappar threatened the petitioner several times stating that he would send the petitioner out of the college and with this end in view he was collecting complaints from several students against the petitioner. The affidavits of two students are also filed in support of the allegation that Mr. Muthukannappar was collecting complaints against the petitioner. It is the case of the petitioner that as Mr. Muthukannappar was a Congressman and influential, he instigated the Principal to dismiss the petitioner. The allegation that Mr. Muthukannappar suspected the petitioner as being responsible for giving information to the members of the the opposition seems to be purely imaginary. The appointment of Mr. Muthukannappar was published and the members of the opposition party would certainly have known about it. The petitioner come to know Mr. Muthukannappar only in July, 1966, and there is no basis for the suspicion that the petitioner gave information. It is even more unlikely that Mr. Muthukannappar suspected that the petitioner was responsible for giving information. The allegation that Mr. Muthukannappar was collecting complaints against the petitioner does not also carry conviction. Mr. Muthukannappar is the convenor of the disciplinary committee and he received complaints from Sri Govindarajan, Assistant Professor of Tamil and Senior N.C.C. Officer in Government Arts College, and from one student Nandagopal, whom the petitioner is alleged to have threatened. I am unable to accept the statement of the petitioner that Mr. Muthukannappar threatened to get the petitioner dismissed or was collecting complaints against the petitioner. It may be that after reports have been received from Sri Govindarajan and Nandagopal as convenor of the disciplinary committee Muthukannappar might have questioned some students as to the incidents. I am not persuaded to accept the plea of the petitioner that Mr. Muthukannappar threatened to get the petitioner dismissed or collected complaints against him. The charge of the petitioner that the Principal acted on the instigation of Mr. Muthukannappar cannot be accepted. The Principal took charge of his post only after the college reopened this year, and it is not likely that he would have known Mr. Muthukannappar who was freshly appointed to his post, intimately. It is far-fetched to state that being afraid of the influence of Mr. Muthukannappar the Principal in order to oblige him dismissed the petitioner. I am unable to accept the allegations made against Mr. Muthukannappar or the allegation that the Principal at his instigation acted mala fide in dismissing the petitioner.

10. Coming now to the next allegation of the petitioner that when the Principal met him on 8th August, 1966, he suggested that the petitioner may take the transfer certificate, that otherwise a complaint would be lodged against him and that if he took the transfer certificate he will give the seat to some other students, the suggestion obviously is that the Principal threatened him and forced him to take the transfer certificate in order to provide a seat for another student. The Principal has denied this allegation. In my view, it would have been most unlikely that the Principal threatened the petitioner with dire consequences if he did not take the transfer certificate for the purpose of providing a seat to another student. It could not have been that the Principal was unable to find a seat otherwise. It is not probable that the Principal would have induced an innocent person to take the transfer certificate in order to provide a seat to another person. It is equally unlikely that he would have threatened the petitioner with dire consequences if he did not take the transfer certificate. These allegations have to be rejected as unfounded.

11. It may be noted in this connection that the Principal has stated in his counter-affidavit that he expected the guardian or the parents of the petitioner to turn up so that he could place all the matters before them and advise the petitioner as in the case of the other student whose apology has been accepted.

12. It is contended by the petitioner that on receipt of the suspension order which also directed the petitioner to meet the Principal with his parents or guardian, the petitioner's brother met the Principal on the 16th, but Principal, without assigning any reasons, directed him to take the transfer certificate, threatening that otherwise he would write adverse remarks in the transfer certificate. It is further stated that no opportunity was given to the petitioner's brother to explain the petitioner's conduct. To substantiate this statement, the affidavit of Mr. Nargunam has been filed. The Principal stated that neither Pandian nor anyone else met him on 16th August, 1966. He also denied that there was any incident as spoken to by the petitioner on 16th August, 1966. According to the Principal, the brother of the petitioner saw him on the 23rd and asked him for the return of the P.U.C. grade certificate which was given to the petitioner. It has to be noted that in the affidavit of the petitioner, he has not stated that the petitioner's brother accompanied by Mr. Nargunam met the Principal on the 16th. If Mr. Nargunam accompanied the brother of the petitioner as contended now, I do not see any reason why it was not stated in that affidavit that Mr. Nargunam accompanied the petitioner's brother. The non-mention of Mr. Nargunam's name probabilises the statement of the Principal that nobody met him on the 16th. The statement of the petitioner's brother is interested. I do not see any reason for rejecting the statement of the Principal. I am satisfied that there was no meeting between the brother of the petitioner accompanied by anybody else and the Principal on the 16th. On the 16th, the Principal sent a communication to the guardian of the petitioner, the relevant portion of which reads thus:

The College Council met on 16th and decided to issue the transfer and conduct certificates to your son. Accordingly, his transfer certificate and conduct certificate are sent herewith.

13. The order is challenged on the ground that it was passed by the College Council without giving an opportunity to the petitioner to explain the allegations against him and that as a quasi-judicial tribunal, the council was bound to observe the principles of natural justice and give a reasonable opportunity to the petitioner to state his case. The contention of the Principal in his supplementary counter, is that the decision to expel and to issue the transfer certificate and conduct certificate was taken by him and the function of the College Council was only advisory.

14. Before dealing with this aspect, the question to be considered is, whether it be the Principal or the College Council, is it a quasi-judicial tribunal and is the petitioner entitled to claim the principles of natural justice? In C.D. Sekkilar v. Krishnamurthy : AIR1952Mad151 Subba Rao, J., (as he then was) observed that it would be seen from the Madras Educational Rules and the clauses of the scheme of management of the college (Pachiappa's College) that the college is a public institution and the Principal and the College Council in discharging their duties are governed by the Madras Educational Rules and the Disciplinary Regulations issued by the University and the clauses of the scheme framed by the High Court and therefore, the Principal is holding a quasi-public office and is bound to discharge his duty in accordance with the rules governing the institution and regulating his conduct. There can be no-doubt that the Government Arts College in the instant case, which is run by the Government with public funds and governed by the Madras Educational Rules and the Disciplinary Regulations issued by the University, is a public institution and the Principal is holding a quasi-public office bound to discharge his duties in, accordance with the rules.

15. In University of Madras v. Nagalingam (1964) 2 M.L.J. 251 : I.L.R. (1964) Mad. 582, a Bench of this Court held that an academic authority in imposing a punishment, is not merely discharging an administrative act but was functioning as a quasi-judicial tribunal, In Board of High School v. Ghanshyam (1963) 2 S.C.J. 509 : A.I.R. 1962 1110, the Supreme Court held that the examination committee, when it exercises its powers in cancelling the results of the students and declaring that they have been debarred from appearing in the examination, was acting quasi-judicially and the principles of natural justice would require that the, student must be heard. These two decisions are sufficient authority for holding that the student is entitled to the principles of natural justice. Subsequent decisions if at all have widened the area where the principles of natural justice are applicable.

16. The Supreme Court in coming to its decision Board of High School v. Ghanshyam (1963) 2 S.C.J. 509 : , reiterated at page 1113 the principles laid down by it in the Province of Bombay v . K.S. Advdni and Ors. : [1950]1SCR621 , where it was held:.if a statutory authority has power to do any act which will prejudicially affect the subject, then, although there are not two parties apart from the authority and the contest is between the authority proposing to do the act and subject opposing it, the final determination of the authority will yet be a quasi judicial act provided the authority is required by the statute to act judicially.

17. The principles that were laid down in Province of Bombay v. K.S. Advani and Ors. : [1950]1SCR621 , were based on the rule laid down in Rex v. Electricity Commissioners London Electricity Joint Committee Co. (1920) Ex parte (1924) L.R. 1 K.B. 171, which ruled:

Wherever any body of persons, having legal authority to determine questions, affecting the rights of subjects, and having the duty to act judicially, act in excess, of their legal authority, they are subject to the controlling jurisdiction of the King's Bench Division exercised in these writs.

18. Lord Hewart, C.J., in Rex v. Legislative Committee of The Church Assembly, Haynes Smith, Ex parte L.R. (1928) 1 K.B. 411, construed the decision Rex v. Electricity Commissioners, London Electricity Joint Committee Co. (1920) Ex parte L.R. (1924) 1 K.B. 171 205, as meaning that before the decision of any authority could be subjected to writ jurisdiction, it must appear that the said body should have legal authority to determine questions affecting the rights of subjects and should further be required to act judicially. The view that there must be a duty and that that authority should further be required to act judicially was not accepted by the House of Lords in a recent decision in Ridge v. Baldwin L.R. (1964) A.C. 40. According to Lord Reid, this was a gloss which was put by Lord Hewart, G.J., and not laid down in Rex v. Electricity Commissioners, London Electricity Joint Committee Co. (1920), Ex parte L.R. (1924) 1 K.B. 171, and he observed that principles of natural justice would flow from the nature of the lis. This interpretation of Rex v. Electricity Commissioners, London Electricity Joint Committee Co. (1920), Ex parte L.R. (1924) 1 K.B. 171, which is different from the interpretation put by Lord Hewart in Rex v. Legislative Committee of the Church Assembly Haynes-Smith, Ex parte L.R. (1928) 1 K.B. 411, was accepted by the Supreme Court in A.C. Co. v. P.N. Sharma : (1965)ILLJ433SC , where Gajendragadkar, C.J., observed:.the area where the principles of natural justice have to be followed and judicial approach has to be adopted, has become wider and consequently the horizon of the writ jurisdiction has been extended in a corresponding measure.

19. As a result of the decision of the House of Lords in Ridge v. Baldwin L.R. (1964) A.C. 40, and the decision of the Supreme Court in A.C. Co. v. P.N. Sharma : (1965)ILLJ433SC , the requirement that the authority should act judicially can be inferred from the nature of the decision, which the Tribunal has to come to. In the case of a Principal or a College Council which conducts an enquiry for the purpose of dismissing a student, apart from the authority of University of Madras v. Nagalingam (1964) 2 M.L.J. 251 : I.L.R. (1964) Mad. 582, and Board of High School v. Ghanshyam : AIR1962SC1110 , there can be no doubt that the duties of a Principal in dismissing a student fall within the rule laid down in Ridge v. Baldwin L.R. (1964) A.C. 40, and A.C. Co. P.N. Sharma : (1965)ILLJ433SC , and he is bound to observe principles of natural justice.

20. It is difficult to define natural justice. Lord Parker, in Reg. v. Registrar of Building Societies Ex parte a Building Society (1960) 2 All E.R. 549 : (1960) 1 W.L.R. 669, stated:

I always find the expression 'natural justice' very difficult. There is no one code of natural justice which is automatically imported into any procedure of a judicial nature. What is imported by way of natural justice depends entirely, on the tribunal or official in question, the nature of the functions, and, perhaps most important of all, the exact words of the statute,...Each case most depend upon the nature of the function and the exact words of the statute.

21. The foremost principles of natural justice are (i) that a man cannot be judge in his own cause, and (ii) audi alteram partem, which means, that both sides of a case must be heard before it can be decided. We are concerned with the principle of audi alteram partem. Lord Reid in Ridge v. Baldwin L.R. (1928) 1 K.B. 411, explaining the principle audi alteram partem stated thus at page 64:

The Principle audi alteram partem goes back many centuries in our law and appears in a multitude of judgments of judges of the highest authority. In modern, times, opinions have sometimes been expressed to the effect that natural justice is so vague as to be practically meaningless. Bui I would regard these as tainted by the perennial fallacy that because something cannot be cut and dried or nicely weighed or measured, therefore it does not exist.

After an elaborate discussion of the case-law, the learned Judge held that the power of dismissal in the Act of 1882, could not then have been exercised and cannot now be exercised until the watch committee have informed the constable of the grounds on which they propose to proceed and have given him a proper opportunity to present his case in defence.

22. It has been held that no person could be damnified without being informed of the charge against him or being given an opportunity of rebutting it. The procedure that has to be adopted in guaranteeing this right of informing the person of the charge against him and giving him an opportunity or rebutting it will depend upon the nature of the Tribunal. In Local Government Board v. Arlidge L.R. (1915) A.C. 120, Lord Shaw observed at page. 138:

If a statute prescribes the means it must employ them. If it is left without express guidance it must still act honestly and by honest means. In regard to these, certain ways and methods of judicial procedure may very likely be imitated; and lawyer-like methods may find special favour from lawyers. But that the judiciary should presume to impose its own methods on administrative or executive officer is a usurpation. And the assumption that the methods of natural justice are ex necessitate those of Courts of justice is wholly unfounded.

23. The right to examination and cross-examination which are taken for granted in most legal conflicts is not always a necessary requirement of natural justice before all Tribunals. The right to be heard may be satisfactorily complied with, in the case of certain Tribunals, by receiving explanatory statements. It has also been held that a personal hearing is not a requisite in complying with the rule of the right to be heard. When the Principal of a college or the College Council acts as a quasi-judicial Tribunal, one may normally expect the Principal to contact the student and apprise him of the allegations against him and ask him as to what he has got to say on the charges. A reasonable opportunity should be given to the student to prove his innocence. Here again, what is reasonable opportunity would depend upon the facts of each case.

24. There is some divergence of opinion as to whether a quasi-judicial authority should give reasons for his order. As far as the Principal of a college is concerned, an order of dismissal is not necessarily bad on the ground that no reasons are given. Jagadisan, J., disagreeing with the view of Veeraswami, J., in Nagalingam v. University, of Madras : AIR1963Mad31 , that the Syndicate must give reasons for its action, held in Writ Petition No. 922 of 1961:

The fact that the disciplinary proceedings are of a quasi-judicial nature is not sufficient to compel the Syndicate to write a judgment giving reasons. In a case where the order of a quasi-judicial Tribunal is subjected to an appeal or revision by a superior authority, the absence of reasons may vitiate the order as the Court or Tribunal sitting in appeal or revision should not be in the dark as to the basis of the decision arrived at and impugned before them. But this principle cannot be invoked to invest this Court with the power to issue writs quashing orders which do not unfold their own story. In other words, an un-speaking order is not ex facie bad because of its muteness. An order bereft of reasons, because the Tribunal was not obliged to give reasons, is colourless...In my opinion, the impugned order should not be held to be bad on the ground that ex facie it is not supported by reasons.

25. A Bench of this Court in University of Madras v. Nagalingam (1964) 2 M.L.J. 251 : I.L.R. (1964) Mad. 582, while reversing the decision of Veeraswami, J., in Nagalingam v. University of Madras : AIR1963Mad31 , quoted with approval the observations of Jagadisan, J., in Writ Petition No. 922 of 1961 that it is not obligatory upon the Syndicate to write a judgment giving reasons and that an unspeaking order is not ex facie bad because of its muteness.

26. A few decisions of the Supreme Court were relied on by the learned Counsel for the petitioner in support of the contention that the order of dismissal should give reasons. In Harinagar Sugar Mills v. Shyam Sunder : [1962]2SCR339 , the Supreme Court held that the Central Government, when exercising its powers under Section 111 of the Companies Act, is a Tribunal and is bound to follow a judicial approach and give sufficient grounds in support of its order. In a recent decision of the Supreme Court M.P. Industries Ltd. v. Union of India : [1966]1SCR466 , Bachawat, J., speaking for the majority rejected the contention that every appealable order under Article 136 of the Constitution must be a speaking order and the omission to give reasons for the decision is by itself sufficient ground for quashing it. The majority expressed its view that an order of an administrative tribunal rejecting a revision application cannot be pronounced to be invalid on the sole ground that it does not give any reasons for the rejection. The Court distinguished the decision in Harinagar Sugar Mills v. Shyam Sunder : [1966]1SCR466 , on the ground that there was vital difference between an order of reversal of the appellate authority in Harinagar Sugar Mills v. Shyam Sunder : [1966]1SCR466 , where no reason whatsoever was given, and the case before their Lordships, which was one of affirmance. Subba Rao, J., (as he then was) in his dissenting judgment expressed the view that it was essential that some restriction should be imposed on the Tribunal in the matter of passing orders affecting rights of parties and the least that they could do was to give reasons for their orders.

27. In Govindarao v. State of M.P. : [1965]1SCR678 , the Supreme Court held that the Government, while passing an order under Section 5(3) of the Central Provinces and Berar Revocation of Land Revenue Exemption Act not granting money or compensation to persons, must give reasons for the order, as the Government has a duty to act in a judicial manner and the claimants are entitled to know the reason as to why their claim for the amount of money or compensation is being rejected by the Government.

28. As seen from a discussion of the case-law, there is some difference of opinion as to whether a quasi-judicial Tribunal should give reasons for its order or not. While the Supreme Court held in Harinagar Sugar Mills v. Shyam Sunder : [1966]1SCR466 , that the Central Government, while acting as the appellate authority under Section 111 of the Companies Act should give reasons for its order, in M.P. Industries Ltd. v. Union of India : [1966]1SCR466 , it distinguished the decision holding that an order of a Tribunal rejecting a revision application cannot be pronounced to be invalid on the sole ground that it does not give reasons for the rejection. Subba Rao, J., (as he then was) dissented from this view and expressed his opinion that the Tribunal should give reasons for its order. In Govindarao v. State of M.P. : [1965]1SCR678 , the Supreme Court held that the Government, while acting under Sections (3) of the Central Provinces and Berar Revocation of Land Revenue Exemption Act, should give reasons for its order.

29. The cases dealt with by the Supreme Court relate to the discharge of a statutory duty by a Tribunal where the Tribunal is under a duty to follow the provisions of a statute. As already observed, the procedure that may be followed by all Tribunals need not be uniform and each Tribunal is at liberty to prescribe its own procedure provided the principles of natural justice are observed in that the aggrieved person is informed of the charge and an opportunity is given to him for rebutting it. The principles of natural justice have not been extended to include a right to require a quasi-judicial Tribunal to give reasons for its order though in some cases where the order of the Tribunal is subject to appeal, reasons are required to be given. It cannot be said that the decisions of the Supreme Court which hold that reasons should be given would cover Tribunals in the nature of principals of educational institutions. Regarding the question whether the Principal of a college should give reasons for his order, there is the authority of this Court in University of Madras v. Nagalingam (1964) 2 M.L.J. 251 : I.L.R. (1964) Mad. 582, which approved the view of Jagadisan, J., in Writ Petition No. 922 of 1961 that it is not obligatory upon the Syndicate to write a judgment giving reasons and that an unspeaking order is not ex facie bad because of its muteness.

30. In applying the principles laid down by the decisions cited above, it has to be considered whether the principle of natural justice has been observed in this case. It has been found that the petitioner was called by the Principal and the complaints against him were read out to him and he was asked to explain. The petitioner denied the charges and did not behave properly. He was suspended and asked to meet the Principal with his parents or guardian. It has also been found that neither the petitioner nor his guardian met the principal till the 21st when the petitioner's brother asked for the grade certificate of the petitioner. It is no doubt true that no formal charge was framed against the petitioner but a reading of the complaints would be sufficient compliance and the failure to frame formal charges would not vitiate the order. It may be noted that, according to the Principal, he wanted to place the matters before the parents and advise the petitioner, as in the case of the other student, not to indulge in such undesirable activities. The Principal did not expect that the petitioner's parents would ignore and refrain from meeting him. The petitioner and his guardian were in fact given an opportunity to explain the petitioner's conduct but they did not avail of it. Therefore, the petitioner cannot be heard to say that no reasonable opportunity was given to him.

31. Taking all the circumstances into consideration it cannot be said that there was any violation of the principles of natural justice. On the materials on record I am satisfied that the Principal did read the complaints to the petitioner and asked him for his explanation and directed the guardian to meet him but the petitioner did not avail himself of that opportunity. This would normally conclude the case against the petitioner as the High Court will not interfere when the principles of natural justice had been followed unless the authority acted arbitrarily or abused its discretion.

32. But there is some uncertainty as to whether the Principal himself took the decision to expel the petitioner or whether the College Council was responsible for taking the decision. This question assumes importance as the petitioner has got a right to be heard by the authority that expelled him. The Principal, in his counter-affidavit, stated in paragraph 2 as follows:

Further it may be seen from the facts set out hereunder that the decision to expel the petitioner was by the College Council of which I am a member and not solely by me in my individual capacity.

In paragraph 5 of the counter-affidavit, the Principal stated:

Therefore I had no other alternative except to place the entire matter before the College Council on 16th August, 1966, and take such action as the Council may deem fit. The College Council consisting of gazetted officers and heads of departments which met on 16th August, 1966, unanimously decided to issue transfer and conduct certificates to the petitioner as they felt that continuance of the petitioner is not at all Conducive to the discipline and morale of the college. A letter to this effect, dated 16th August, 1966, was despatched on 18th August, 1966.

The letter referred to in the counter affidavit reads:

The College Council met on 16th and decided to issue the transfer and conduct certificates to your son. Accordingly, his transfer certificate and conduct certificate are sent herewith.

The allegation in paragraph 2 of the counter-affidavit is very specific that the decision to expel the petitioner was by the College Council and not by the Principal in his individual capacity. The statement in paragraph 5 is equally explicit that the matter was placed before the College Council and for such action as they, may deem fit and they unanimously decided to issue the transfer and conduct certificates to the petitioner as they felt the continuance of the petitioner was not conducive to the discipline and morale of the college. The communication sent is also clear that it was the College Council that decided to issue the transfer and conduct certificates. There cannot be a more definite statement by the principal that it was the College Council that decided to issue the transfer and conduct certificates. While so, in the supplementary counter-affidavit, the Principle has explained that the College Council is consulted before taking any major decision affecting the students and that the recommendation of the Council is only recommendatory and not mandatory. He further explained that the Council unanimously agreed with his view but the final decision to expel the petitioner was only by him. In view of the contradictory statements and in the absence of any other material, it is difficult to come to a conclusion whether it was the Principal or the College Council that took the decision to expel the petitioner. It is admitted that the Principal is empowered under Rule 97 of the Madras Educational Rules to inflict the punishment of expulsion. But as a reasonable doubt is created as to whether it was the Principal or the College Council that took the decision, it has become incumbent on this Court to set aside the order of dismissal. It is needless to say that if the order of dismissal was by the College Council, it cannot be sustained, as the petitioner had no opportunity to> explain his case before the College Council. The order of dismissal will, therefore, be set aside but the Principal or the College Council, whoever may be the punishing authority under the constitution of the college, will, if they so desire, conduct a fresh enquiry against the petitioner and take its own decision. They are at liberty to accept the explanation of the petitioner if it is convincing or to pardon him if they are satisfied with the apology, or to proceed with the enquiry and to punish or exonerate the petitioner. I have no doubt that the Principal is not prejudiced against the petitioner and would act unbiased as from the counter-affidavit it is clear that he was quite prepared to explain the matter to the parents of the petitioner and advise the petitioner against indulging in undesirable activities and has in fact pardoned the other student.

33. In conclusion, it may also be pointed out that the issuing of the transfer certificate is not in accordance with the University Regulations, chapter 30, Rule 4 of which provides that if any student is expelled from an affiliated college, intimation of the fact of expulsion with the statement of reasons therefor shall be given forthwith by the Principal (a) to the parent or guardian of the student, and (6) to the Syndicate. The intimation to the Syndicate shall be accompanied by the transfer certificate of the student and the Syndicate, on the application of the student or his parent may, after making such enquiry as it deems fit and proper, deliver the certificate to the student with any necessary endorsement or withhold it temporarily or permanently. So neither the Principal nor the College Council was in order in sending the transfer certificate and conduct certificate to the mother of the petitioner. The Principal himself admitted that the transfer certificate was despatched to the petitioner's mother by mistake instead of being forwarded to the University. While the Principal has power to expel a student, he is required to send intimation of the fact of expulsion and the statement of reasons, accompanied by the transfer certificate of the student, to the Syndicate. It is the duty of the Syndicate on the application of the student, or his parent, to deliver it to him after making an enquiry with the necessary endorsement. The despatch of the transfer certificate to the petitioner's mother is, therefore, not in accordance with the University Regulations and will, therefore, be withdrawn.

34. In the result, the Writ Petition No. 2203 of 1966 is allowed and the order of expulsion of the petitioner from the college is set aside and the transfer certificate issued to the petitioner is withdrawn. The Principal or the College Council is at liberty to conduct a fresh enquiry if they so desire. There will be no order as to costs.

35. In view of the judgment in Writ Petition No. 2203 of 1966, no orders are necessary in Writ Petition No. 2204 of 1966.


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