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The Registrar, University of Madras Vs. Sundara Shetti and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstititution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1956)1MLJ25
AppellantThe Registrar, University of Madras
RespondentSundara Shetti and ors.
Excerpt:
- - the moderation rules recommended by the moderation board are approved by the syndicate and communicated to the secretary, secondary education board. book, the certificate which purported to be granted by the secretary to the secondary education board was under an authority conferred on him by the university, that neither publication in the gazette nor the certificate endorsed on the s. but the learned judge held that the petitioner had no opportunity of making any representation to the university before the cancellation of the certificate or before he received the order of the principal directing him to quit the college, and that the revocation of the certificate acted upon in good faith by the petitioner and the principal without notice to the petitioner and without giving him an.....p.v. rajamannar, c.j.1. these three appeals involve common questions and were therefore heard together. they are from three judgments of rajagopalan, j., disposing of applications under article 226 of the constitution filed in the following circumstances: the main judgment was pronounced in w.p. no. 630 of 1954 from which writ appeal no. 28 of 1955 has been preferred. we shall, therefore, take that appeal first. the petitioner in w.p. no. 630 of 1954, who will hereinafter be referred to as the petitioner, sat for the secondary school leaving certificate (hereinafter referred to as the s.s.l.c.) examination, held by the board of secondary education, government of madras in march, 1952. in due course, the s.s.l.c. book was despatched to him with the marks obtained by him at the public.....
Judgment:

P.V. Rajamannar, C.J.

1. These three appeals involve common questions and were therefore heard together. They are from three judgments of Rajagopalan, J., disposing of applications under Article 226 of the Constitution filed in the following circumstances: The main judgment was pronounced in W.P. No. 630 of 1954 from which Writ Appeal No. 28 of 1955 has been preferred. We shall, therefore, take that appeal first. The petitioner in W.P. No. 630 of 1954, who will hereinafter be referred to as the petitioner, sat for the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (hereinafter referred to as the S.S.L.C.) Examination, held by the Board of Secondary Education, Government of Madras in March, 1952. In due course, the S.S.L.C. book was despatched to him with the marks obtained by him at the Public Examination entered in it, with a rubber stamp certificate, which ran as follows:

Certificate completed.

Eligible for admission to University courses of studies, Andhra, Madras, or Annamalai Universities

A certificate is deemed to have been completed when the Public Examination marks are entered in it.

At the bottom of the page on which the marks were entered and the certificate was stamped, it bore the signature of the Secretary to the Board of Secondary Education, and the date, 18th May, 1952. On the strength of this certificate, he sought and obtained admission to the Intermediate Class of the College Course of the Madras University in Thiagaraja College, Mathurai. In March, 1953, he sat for the Examination held by the College at the end of the first year of the Intermediate Course, and on 7th April, 1953, he was promoted to the Senior Intermediate Class. While he was thus studying in the Senior Intermediate Class, on or about 22nd December, 1953 he was served with a letter from the Principal of the College to the following effect:

In the list of S.S.L.C. Holders of March 1953 declared eligible for University Course of study published in the Fort St. George Gazette, dated 24th September, 1952, your name was not found and the matter was under correspondence with the Registrar, University of Madras. The Registrar has now sent me the orders of the Board of Secondary Education, Madras, in the matter, which says that you are not eligible for a course of study of the University of Madras.

Your name is, therefore, removed from the rolls of the College with immediate effect which please note.

It also appears that in the S.S.L.C. book, the portion of the stamped certificate which declared his eligibility was scored out. On 26th December, 1953, the petitioner addressed a letter to the Secretary, Board of Secondary Education, asking for a certified copy of the order declaring him not eligible for the University course of study, and he received a reply dated 6th January, 1954, from the Commissioner for Government Examination saying that he was not declared eligible and that his name was not published in the Fort St. George Gazette. The petitioner then approached the Vice-Chancellor and the Government for a reconsideration of the matter, but he was not successful. He thereupon filed the Writ Petition No. 630 of 1954 praying that this Court may be pleased to issue appropriate writs, directions, and orders as necessary, and in particular (1) to issue a writ of Mandamus directing the respondents, that is, the Registrar, University of Madras, the Secretary, Board of Secondary Education, the Principal, Thiagaraja College, and the Government of Madras, to permit the petitioner to continue his studies in the Second Year University Course and (2) to issue a writ of certiorari, and after calling for the concerned records, quash the cancellation of the S.S.L.C., by the 2nd respondent, i.e. the Secretary, Board of Secondary Education. In the affidavit filed by the petitioner in support of his application, he submitted that the order of the University communicated to the Principal of the College was illegal, void and without jurisdiction for several reasons, namely, (a) that the declaration of eligibility granted to him by the duly constituted authorities on his S.S.L.C., book entitled him to admission in any College affiliated to the University, and it was on the strength of the declaration of eligibility that he was admitted, and neither the University nor the Principal had any jurisdiction to reopen the validity of admission long thereafter, and (b) there was no provision in the University Ordinances or rules enabling the authorities to review the order of declaration of eligibility long after he was admitted to the University course. The petition also pointed out the hardship caused to him by the action taken by the University after he had been duly promoted to the Senior Intermediate class and had practically completed the Intermediate course, and in another three months be sitting for the University Intermediate Examination. In the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the University of Madras, it was stated that the petitioner had not been declared as eligible for admission to the University Course of Study, Madras University, as he did not obtain the number of marks required under the Ordinance and the Moderation Rules framed by the University, and that his number or his name was not included either in the Provisional Eligible List or the Final Eligible List published in the Fort St. George Gazette, dated 24th September, 1952, which was the only authoritative List, that it was by over-sight the eligibility stamp printed on the S.S.L.C. book was not scored out by the Secretary to the Board of Secondary Education before it was issued to the petitioner, that later it was found on scrutiny that the petitioner did not satisfy the rules of eligibility, that as the petitioner had not been declared eligible by the duly constituted authority he could not be admitted to the University course of study, and that the petitioner could not take advantage of a clerical error. The counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the Secretary, Board of Secondary Education, contained an account of the procedure followed in tabulating the marks obtained by candidates at the Government Examination and publishing the University Eligibility List based on the results of the Examination. The procedure is thus set out:

(4) Tabulation work begins in the first week of May as soon as marks are received from the examiners. For this purpose more than 200 persons are employed. These persons are recruited from the Staffs of Government Educational Institutions. The time at their disposal for tabulating the marks and finalising the results of tens of thousands of candidates is hardly 4 weeks as the results have to be announced before the 10th June. Within this short period the marks are processed through several stages and checked and the lists of candidates eligible for College Courses according to the University rules in Chapter XXIV are prepared. A number of what are known as 'hard case statements' are also prepared in accordance with the instructions given by the University to enable them to consider the 'hard cases' and decide the rules of moderation for the year. Those hard cases are those of candidates with deficiency of marks within the limits indicated by the University. The Moderation Rules are received from the University in the last week of May and the hard cases have to be scrutinised and the Moderation Rules applied to them. Some of the Moderation Rules are rather complex and great alertness and care are required in applying them. I may state that accuracy and carefulness are enjoined upon the Tabulators and the Tabulators being Government servants are responsible persons and every item of work is checked and rechecked with elaborate care. It is then sent to the University and if approved by them is released to the press as a provisional List of Eligibility to the University concerned. After the release of the results, the certificates are returned to the Schools and to the private candidates in a great hurry within a short period after a thorough checking so as to enable them to apply for College admissions.

The Secretary further stated that the authoritative list of eligible candidates was the one that was published in the Fort St. George Gazette; but for the convenience of students seeking admission to the College course and having regard to the fact that the publication in the Gazette takes place a considerable time after the commencement of the University Course, a device was adopted with the approval of the University, namely, a system of fixing a rubber stamp to show that the candidate was eligible for admission to a University. The endorsement of eligibility was stamped or printed on the certificate in advance, and it should be scored out before issue if the candidate was not eligible. The Secretary stated that by oversight the eligibility endorsement was not scored out in the case of the petitioner. He pointed out that the stamped or printed certificate contained the names of the three Universities of Madras, Annamalai and Andhra, and a proper endorsement should indicate the particular University or Universities, to which the candidate was declared eligible. It happens in this case that none of the names of the three Universities was struck out. The Secretary of the Board made it clear that the secondary Education Board as such had no interest whatsoever in the declaration or publication of eligibility to the University course, and no one but the University has the authority to declare such eligibility. It is the University who pays for the work of tabulation of marks, the preparation of various statements and the Eligibility List, and so far as this work is concerned, the Secretary says he is merely an employee of the University.

2. Further information on the subject was furnished to us by the Registrar of the University in a supplementary affidavit, filed by him pending the hearing of the appeals. The procedure is more fully described in paragraph 2 of this affidavit, which runs thus:

Every year a Committee is appointed, by the Syndicate of the University of Madras from among its members to act as a Moderation Board for the Secondary School Leaving Certificate Examination for the year. This Committee recommends to the Syndicate, on the strength of certain data furnished by the commissioner for Government Examinations, with reference to the results of the Examination for the year judged by the rules prescribed by the Ordinances of the University, relaxation of the permanent ordinance rules regarding the marks that have to be obtained in order to secure eligibility for courses of University study by way of graded condonation subject to certain controlling conditions. The Moderation Rules recommended by the Moderation Board are approved by the Syndicate and communicated to the Secretary, Secondary Education Board. The application of the Moderation Rules to individual cases is done by the Secretary, Secondary Education Board and his officials. A list ultimately published by the Secretary, Secondary Education Board comprising the numbers of all the candidates appearing for the S.S.L.C. Examination in the year and securing eligibility for University courses of study, either on the basis of the marks secured by them without reference to moderation or as a result of the application of the Moderation Rules.

The following further extracts from this affidavit relate to the endorsement of eligibility made on the S.S.L.C. books of the candidates:

The system of showing the eligibility of a student by an endorsement appearing in his book was introduced in October, 1950 and has with certain modification continued since then. It is true that the University consented to the introduction of this system but it was never intended that the endorsement of eligibility appearing in the S.S.L.C. should be a document of formal validity binding on the University, as a declaration that the candidate is declared eligible for University courses of study as required by the Ordinances of the University.... The endorsement of eligibility appearing in the book is a statement made on the basis of the provisional list published by the Secretary, S.S.L.C. Board. But the University has always made it clear that the list published by the S.S.L.C. Board is only provisional, and by itself confers no right on the candidate to be admitted to a College or to be permitted to sit for a University examination. It is the gazette list alone that is accepted by the University as the declaration of eligibility required by the Ordinances....

(8) The Endorsement of eligibility appearing in the books, whether it is the rubber stamp endorsement for the year 1953 or the printed endorsement for the years 1953 and 1954 is part of a composite stamp which refers to the completion of the certificate and also to the eligibility of the candidate for University courses of study. It is something that is included in the book of every student who has completed his course as a matter of routine. The dating of the book and the affixing of the facsimile signature of the Secretary, S.S.L.C., Board are done in all cases, whether the candidate is eligible for courses of University studies or not, and have no specific application to those who are declared eligible. After the books are completed for routine purposes they are sorted into two groups, books of those whose numbers have been included in the provisional list and the books of those whose numbers are not included. This sorting is done at a time when the eligibility stamp has already appeared in the book. After the sorting the assistants of the Secretary, S.S.L.C. Board, score out the irrelevant entries. If the book belongs to a student whose number is not in the provisional list, the eligibility part of the endorsement is scored out. If the book belongs to a student whose number is included in the provisional list the relevant regional specification is allowed to remain and the irrelevant one scored out. This scoring is done by the assistants of the Secretary and usually the assistant who makes the scoring puts in his initials. But practically every year on account of the large numbers of students appearing for the Examination a few mistakes occur.

3. The Registrar pointed out that the University was not concerned with the cancellation of any certificate, as it never regarded the endorsement of eligibility appearing in the book as a document of formal validity as a declaration of eligibility. The Registrar filed along with the affidavit copies of instructions issued from time to time to the Principals of affiliated Colleges by the University in which it was made clear that a student could be admitted to a University course of study and have his name included in the list of Matriculates only if his number was included in the eligibility list published in the Gazette. It must be mentioned that all this information was not before Rajagopalan, J., when he heard and disposed of the petitions. The learned Judge allowed the petition and set aside the cancellation of the certificate of eligibility ordered by the University and given effect to by the Secretary, Secondary Education Board. He also set aside the order of the Principal directing the removal of the petitioner's name from the rolls of the College. It is against this order that Writ Appeal No. 28 has been filed by the University of Madras.

4. Before discussing the contentions raised on behalf of the University of Madras and on behalf of the petitioner and the grounds on which the learned Judge allowed the petition, it is useful and necessary to set out the Ordinances of the University which have a material bearing on the questions involved in the case.

5. Chapter XXXIV of the Laws of the University contained in Vol. II of the Madras University Calendar, 1953-54, contains the Ordinances framed under Section 19(p) of the Madras University Act relating to the admission of holders of S.S.L.C. to University Courses of Study. Ordinance I inter alia provides that

(a) Holders of completed Secondary School Leaving Certificates may be admitted to University Courses of Study if they (a) shall have completed the age of fourteen years and six months on the fifteenth day of July of the year in which they seek admission to Courses of study and (b) shall have secured at the Public Examination the marks prescribed below and been declared eligible for admission to University Courses of Study by the Syndicate.

The marks prescribed for various selected courses are then set out. At the end of this section, there is mention of the Moderation Board in these terms:

There shall be a Moderation Board appointed by the Syndicate to consider hard cases.

Ordinance 1(d) provides for the publication of a complete list of Certificate-holders declared eligible for admission to University Courses of Study in the Fort St. George Gazette, A copy of this list has to be furnished to each Principal of a Constituent or an Affiliated College.

6. Chapter XXXIII deals with the Register of Matriculates. The Syndicate is bound to maintain a Register of Matriculates in which the names of certain classes of persons shall be registered. Among them are the following:

(a) Candidates who pass the Matriculation Examination of the University.

(b) Holders of completed Secondary School Leaving or European School-Leaving Certificates declared eligible, and holders of other Certificates accepted by the Syndicate as qualifying for admission to the University.

7. Chapter XXXV again relates to admission to Courses of Study. Ordinance 1 in this Chapter refers to the Register of Matriculates. It says:

No person shall be permitted to enter upon a University Course of Study for the first time unless he gets his name registered in the Register of Matriculates maintained by the Syndicate. Every applicant for registration shall pay to the University such registration fee as may be prescribed.

Such persons shall have completed the age of fourteen years and six months on the fifteenth day of July of the year in which they seek admission to University Courses of Study:

Provided that it shall be competent for the syndicate to waive a strict compliance with the above age limit in the case of a student who has been declared eligible in a year prior to the date of admission.

* on payment of Rs. 10.

Ordinance 2 in this Chapter lays down the conditions of admission to the Intermediate Course. The material part of this Ordinance is as follows:

Admission to the course of study for the Intermediate Examination shall be granted only to the following classes of students:

(i) Persons who have passed the Matriculation Examination of this University.

(ii) Holders of completed Secondary School-Leaving Certificates and of completed European School-Leaving Certificates issued under the authority of the Government of Madras declared eligible for Admission to a University Course of study according to the rules and directions which the Syndicate may prescribe from time to time.

The learned Judge, Rajagopalan J. held that whether or not the rules of the University provided for the issue of a certificate of eligibility by way of endorsement on the S.S.L.C. book, the certificate which purported to be granted by the Secretary to the Secondary Education Board was under an authority conferred on him by the University, that neither publication in the Gazette nor the certificate endorsed on the S.S.L.C. book, by itself, constituted the declaration of eligibility prescribed by Ordinance 1(a) of Chapter XXXIV, and that the University had jurisdiction to correct a mistake that had been committed in the issue of a certificate of eligibility. But the learned Judge held that the petitioner had no opportunity of making any representation to the University before the cancellation of the certificate or before he received the order of the Principal directing him to quit the College, and that the revocation of the certificate acted upon in good faith by the petitioner and the Principal without notice to the petitioner and without giving him an opportunity of showing cause against contemplated revocation was opposed to all principles of natural justice, and on that short ground alone, the order of the University to cancel the certificate, given effect to by the Secretary, Secondary Education Board, was liable to be set aside by the issue of a writ of cerliorari. He further held that the cancellation of the certificate ordered by the University did amount to an exercise of power so unreasonable in the circumstances of the case that the Court was bound to treat that by itself as sufficient justification for setting aside the order of the University. In the course of the Judgment, he commented on the fact that it was not disclosed on what grounds the Moderation Board had come to the conclusion that the petitioner's case was not a hard case and that even the Court was not taken into the confidence of the University and was not informed of the instructions issued to the Moderation Board.

8. Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar, learned Counsel for the appellant, the University of Madras, made it quite clear to us that the University was anxious to obtain a ruling of this Court as to what action should be properly taken by the University in circumstances such as have occurred in the present case. He also submitted that the University was aggrieved by the finding that it had acted contrary to all principles of natural justice in these cases. After listening to full and exhaustive arguments from counsel we have no hesitation in saying that the action taken by the University was perfectly bona fide and in the belief that such action was incumbent on the University under the rules and regulations binding on it.

9. Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar, at the outset, impressed upon us that the alleged cancellation of a certificate of eligibility granted to the petitioner was really of no importance and that the only question which falls to be decided in this case is whether the University, and acting under its directions, the Principal, can be compelled to permit the petitioner in this case to continue the University Course of Study to which he was admitted in or about June, 1952. We see considerable force in this. As Rajagopalan, J. observed, the rubber stamp endorsement of eligibility of the S.S.L.C. book of the petitioner is at best a prima facie proof of the declaration of the eligibility of the petitioner for admission to a University Course of Study. That by itself would not preclude the University from alleging and proving that the petitioner was not declared eligible and therefore he could not be deemed to have been validly admitted to a University Course of Study. Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar contended that as the Ordinances and Rules of the University stand, the University cannot be compelled, indeed it is not within their power, to permit the petitioner to be admitted to a University Course. Though the petitioner has been already admitted, it must be held that he was wrongly admitted, and now that the mistake has been discovered, he cannot be permitted to continue the course any longer, He relies on the categorical and mandatory provision in paragraph 1 of Chapter XXXV that no person shall be permitted to enter upon a University Course of Study for the first time, unless he gets his name registered in the Register of Matriculates maintained by the Syndicate. A candidate's name cannot be registered in that Register unless in the case of holders of completed S.S.L.C.s he has been declared eligible. The same prohibition, counsel submitted is reiterated in paragraph 2(ii) of Chapter XXXV, which lays down that admission to the Course of Studies for the Intermediate Examination shall be granted only, among others, to holders of completed Secondary School-Leaving Certificates, declared eligible for admission to a University Course of Study according to the rules and directions which the Syndicate may prescribe from time to time. Counsel submitted that the petitioners were never declared so eligible, and therefore admission could not be granted to him to the Intermediate Course. Here we must mention what was not disputed before us that the petitioner does not claim to have been declared eligible by the University on the basis of the marks obtained by him or by the application of any of the rules adopted by the Moderation Board for the year. It is not merely the admitted fact that the petitioner's number is not to be found in the list of numbers of candidates declared eligible and published in the Fort St. George Gazette that we are relying on, nor on the equally admitted fact that the petitioner's, name was not included in the provisional list of eligibles published by the Secretary, Secondary Education Board, at the office of the Commissioner for Government Examinations. We rely on the statement made on behalf of the University that the petitioner was not actually declared eligible on the basis of the marks obtained by him at the Examination or by the application of the rules adopted by the Moderation Board. We have no reason to doubt the correctness of the statement. We do not see in a case like this what the petitioner could have done if he had been given prior notice or an opportunity to show cause why a mistake made by the University or some one acting on behalf of the University, should not be corrected. The University might very well have informed the Court the rules which were adopted by the Moderation Board for the material year and demonstrated the fact that the petitioner could not have been declared eligible. The omission to do so, however, would not affect the decision of this case. We shall assume for the purpose of this case that the petitioner was not declared eligible to be admitted, to a course of study in the Madras University.

10. Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar tried very hard to minimise the effect and importance of the endorsement (rubber stamp or printed) made on the candidate's S.S.L.C. book that he had been declared eligible for admission to the University. He adverted to the fact that there was no mention of any such endorsement in the rules and regulations governing the University as evidence of the declaration of eligibility of a candidate. He pointed out that all that was contemplated by the Ordinances was the publication in the Fort St. George Gazette of a complete, list of certificate holders declared eligible for admission to University Course of Study. The provision that a copy of such list shall be furnished to each Principal of a Constituent or Affiliated College made it clear that list was the only authoritative list. It is quite true that there is nothing in the Ordinances which refers to an endorsement being made on the S.S.L.C. book declaring the eligibility of the candidate. At the same time, it must not be overlooked that there is nothing in the Ordinances which lays down that an entry in the list of the eligibles published in the Fort St. George Gazette will be the only proof of eligibility and that the list so published would be conclusive proof of eligibility. Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar was prepared to concede that it would be open to a candidate who does not find his number included in the list of eligibles published in the Gazette to establish that he was as a matter of fact declared eligible by the Syndicate and that by a mistake his number was omitted from the published list. Strictly speaking, the declaration of eligibility is made by the Syndicate of the University when it approves with or without modification the list prepared by the Secretary, Secondary Education Board, in accordance with the rules laid down by the Moderation Board as approved by the University. It is this approved list which is sent for publication in the Gazette. It will be open to the University to correct any error in the published list on the basis of the list actually approved by them. This they can do suo motu or at the instance of a candidate.

11. It is, however, abundantly clear from the material which can be gathered from the record in this case that in view of the inconvenience to all concerned in the matter of admissions to the College courses by waiting for the publication of the list of eligible candidates in the Gazette months hence, a practice approved by the University was in vogue of endorsing the declaration of eligibility on the S.S.L.G. book of the candidate by the Secretary, Secondary Education Board. This function must be understood as being exercised by the Secretary of the Board on behalf of the University and not in his capacity as the Secretary of the Board. Certain correspondence between the Secretary, Board of Secondary Education and the University which was placed before us confirmed us in this opinion. On 16th September, 1950, the Syndicate of the Madras University resolved that the Secretary of the Board of Secondary Education be informed that the University is agreeable to the suggestion regarding the note to be stamped about the eligibility of a certificate holder but that a distinctive mark should be indicated with reference to the particular University to which the candidate is eligible, and that no such stamp be impressed in the case of candidates who do not satisfy the age rule of the University. Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar wanted to minimise the importance of this revolution by a reference to a prior letter from the Secretary in which it was stated that it had been decided to make such a note in the certificates of eligible candidates. But it should not be overlooked that this decision of the Secretary was approved by the Syndicate of the University with modifications suggested by them. The position, therefore, is that the University did hold out that the eligibility endorsement on the certificates was prima facie proof of the declaration of the eligibility of the candidate concerned. It appears that the University was always emphasising their attitude that the only authoritative list was the list which was published in the Gazette and that the Principals of Colleges were aware of this. But it is on the strength of the endorsement that the Principal could proceed to make admissions. Otherwise, at the time of admission, there would be no other data to help the Principal to decide whether a candidate was or was not eligible.

12. As already mentioned, and as held by Rajagopalan, J., the University would not be precluded from showing that such an endorsement was wrongly made and from proving that a particular candidate was not duly declared eligible, though by mistake the endorsement of eligibility was not scored out. Mr. M.K. Nambiar, learned Counsel who appeared for the petitioner (respondent before us) very properly conceded this position in law. But he contended that in that particular case, having regard to what had happened, the University was estopped from saying that he could not continue his study and that he should leave the College. On the strength of a wrong endorsement made by the Secretary, Secondary Education Board, acting presumably on behalf of the University, the petitioner had expended time and money in pursuing a course of study in the College for nearly two years. He should not now be told that there was a mistake and all the two years of his study should go waste. We agree with him. We would prefer to rest our decision on this ground of equitable estoppel rather than on the ground of unreasonable exercise of power by the University, though ultimately the same result follows. Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar met this plea of estoppel by the argument that the University was not responsible for what the Principal had done. But that is no answer. What the petitioner relies on is the endorsement of eligibility on the S.S.L.C. book which must be deemed to have been made on behalf of the University, as a result of which the petitioner undertook a course of study involving the expenditure of time and money. In our opinion, this is an instance of something much more substantial than what Mr. Venkatasubramania Ayyar characterised as sentimental estoppel. It is a case of legal or equitable estoppel which satisfies practically all the conditions embodied in Section 115 of the Evidence Act.

13. It was not suggested by the University that the petitioner in this case knew that he had not been declared eligible and that his action was mala fide, in embarking on a course of University study. Nor was it suggested that he had procured the endorsement of eligibility by fraud or improper means. In these circumstances, we consider that a mandamus should issue both to the University of Madras and to the Principal of the Thiagaraja College to forbear from preventing the petitioner to complete his Intermediate course and appear for the Intermediate Examination in due course.

14. As already observed, the cancellation which consisted in the scoring out of the endorsement of eligibility on the S.S.L.G. book is of no significance, as that by itself would not prejudicially affect the petitioner, and no relief is nece5ssary as regards the purported cancellation. The appeal is dismissed. No costs.

15. In W.A. No. 27 of 1955, the material facts are as follows: The petitioner appeared for the S.S.L.G. Examination in March, 1953 and on the strength of the endorsement of eligibility on his S.S.L.G. book he obtained admission to the Intermediate course at the Government Arts College, Mangalore, in July, 1953. He pursued his studies in the said College, and in March, 1954, he sat for the examination held by the College and passed the said examination. In April, 1954, he was informed that he had passed the examination and that his name was included in the list of students who were promoted to the Senior Intermediate class. On or about 5th June, 1954, the petitioner was served with a letter from the Lecturer in charge of the Arts College, Mangalore, asking him for an explanation why he had sought admission to the Intermediate class when he was not found eligible for the College course and informing him that his promotion to the Senior Intermediate class was held in abeyance. On 7th July, 1954, the petitioner received a further communication informing the petitioner that he was not eligible for a University course of study and therefore was not permitted to continue his studies in the College. The endorsement of eligibility on the petitioner's S.S.L.C. book was scored out and returned to him.

16. On the facts of this case, we think that the rule of equitable estoppel should apply and the University must be held to be precluded from taking any action to the detriment of the petitioner on the ground that a wrong endorsement had been made as to his eligibility.

17. There will be a writ of mandamus similar to that granted by us in W.A. No. 28 of 1955. This appeal is also dismissed. No costs.

18. The facts in W.A. No. 29 of 1955 are not similar. In this case the petitioner appeared for the S.S.L.C. Examination held in March, 1954. On the strength of an endorsement of eligibility made on the candidate's certificate, he obtained admission to the first year of the Intermediate course at the Virudhunagar Hindu Madras Senthikumara Nadar College, Virudhunagar, in July, 1954. Soon after the publication of the eligibility list in the Fort St. George Gazette, the Headmaster of the school in which the petitioner had completed his school course, discovering that the petitioner's name was not found in the List wrote to the petitioner and his father as guardian informing that the Secretary, Secondary Education Board, had informed him that the petitioner had not been declared eligible for a University course of study and that his S.S.L.C. book may be obtained and sent immediately for necessary corrections. The father of the petitioner wrote to the Head-master referring to the eligibility endorsement on his son's certificate. The Head-master then asked the petitioner's father to communicate the name of the College in which the petitioner had been admitted so that the Principal could be contacted for necessary action, but the petitioner's father failed to give the necessary information. Eventually, on 18th January, 1954, the Principal of the College sent a letter to the petitioner's father asking him to withdraw his son from the College immediately. It may be noticed that in this case, the mistake was discovered very soon after the petitioner had been admitted to the College course. Hardly two months had elapsed before this happened. If the letter from the Principal removing the petitioner's name from the rolls of the College was not served on the petitioner's guardian earlier, it was entirely due to the fault of the guardian, the father, who would not give the necessary information when called upon by the Head-master of the school in which the petitioner had studied. It is true that the petitioner had studied in a College class for a few months and expended some money towards fees, etc. But we do not think that the circumstances are such as would sustain a plea of estoppel. It is conceded as it was, that the University would have a right to correct a mistake made in the endorsement of eligibility on the S.S.L.G. certificate. It is obvious that some time must inevitably elapse before the mistake is discovered. In the circumstances of this case, we think that the rule of equitable estoppel should not be applied. As there is no dispute that the petitioner was not declared eligible for admission to a University course of study, it follows that the University, and the Principal, were justified in their action.

19. The appeal is, therefore, allowed, and the Writ Petition No. 733 of 1954 is dismissed. No costs.


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