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Miss Shibani Bose Vs. Promotha Nath Banerjee and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMatter No. 207 of 1951
Judge
Reported inAIR1952Cal238
ActsCalcutta University Regulations - Sections 26A, 33 and 33(3); ;Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantMiss Shibani Bose
RespondentPromotha Nath Banerjee and ors.
Appellant AdvocateNiren De, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateSankar Banerjee, Adv.
Cases ReferredGovernment Board v. Arlidge
Excerpt:
- .....chatterjee and the petitioner. although this created some disturbance in the atmosphere of the class prof. mukherjee did not take any steps at the time. he however requested the superintendent to transfer the petitioner to some other section of the college, and' he continued to hold his class ignoring the conduct of the petitioner and chatterjee in the meantime.10. on the 5th september 1951 he felt that the conduct of the petitioner was such as- to call for some sort of disciplinary action, and asked the petitioner to change her seat. she refused to obey him and stuck to her seat by the side of chatterjee.11. on the 7th september 1951 prof. mukherjee got the letter of the petitioner dated 6th september. the tone and language of this letter, as i have pointed out, is far from polite.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Bose, J.

1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution and the relevant provisions of the Charter for an appropriate writ for cancellation of an order passed against the petitioner on 14th September 1951 under Regulation 26 (a) of Chapter 23 of the University; regulations and for certain other directions.

2. The petitioner is a Master of Arts of the University of Calcutta and was admitted as a student of the University Law College in the year 1950. In 1951 the petitioner was a student in Section 'A' in the Second year class of the said University Law College. It is alleged in the petition that as such student the petitioner was entitled to attend lectures delivered in the said College and to take her seat in the class rooms without any restriction whatsoever, but in July 1951 Prof. Uma Prosad Mukherjee in violation of the petitioner's fundamental rights directed the petitioner to occupy a seat in a particular bench and not to use any other seat whatsoever or to sit beside any male students in the class room. It is further alleged that although this was an encroachment on the fundamental right of the petitioner and on her personal liberty the said Professor continued his unreasonable demands and threatened to expel the petitioner from the class room and if necessary from the institution. The petitioner did not however comply with the direction of the professor. The Professor thereupon referred the matter to the Principal and the Governing body of the Law College. On the 14th September 1951 the petitioner received a letter from the Principal of the Law College addressed to her, to the following effect:

'Dear Miss Bose,

Pursuant to the orders of the governing body of this College dated the 12th September 1951 and in accordance with the provisions of Section 26(a), Chapter 23, Page 89 of the Calcutta University regulations, quoted below, you are required to leave the College and a Transfer certificate shall be issued to you free of charge with effect from tomorrow the 15th September 1951. In case you fail to accept the Transfer Certificate or otherwise fail to carry out the orders of the said Governing body under section 26(a) above, action will be taken against you under the provisions of Section 33(3), Chapter 23, page 90 of the said regulations quoted below.

Yours sincerely,

Sd/- P. N. Banerjee

Principal.

To

Miss Shibani Bose,

108/5A, Monoharpukur Road.

Section 26(a), Chapter 23, Page 89 of the regulations :

'A Principal may, without assigning any reason, require a student to leave the College if he considers such action necessary in the interest of the Institution. He shall in such a case issue a Transfer Certificate (in a form prescribed by the Syndicate) in his favour free of charge. The certificate shall not be issued under this section without any previous approval of the governing body of the college.

Action taken under this section shall be reported to the University.'

Section 33(3), Chapter 23, Page 90 of the regulations :'A Principal may, for breach of college discipline expel a student.'

3. It is alleged in the petition that no opportunity was given to the petitioner for making any representation before the Principal or the governing body of the college before the said order was passed and the petitioner was condemned unheard. It is further stated that the procedure adopted by the governing body and the Principal was contrary to natural justice and so the order served on the petitioner on the 14th September 1951 was bad.

4. Certain correspondence has been annexed to the petition. One of such letters is dated the 6th of September 1951 and is written by the petitioner to the Prof. Mukherjee in language which is far from polite and a copy of this letter was forwarded to the Principal, Mr. Banerjee, with a forwarding letter to Mr. Banerjee requesting him to intervene in the matter.

4A. The letter addressed to Mr. Mukherjee need not be set out here in extenso but a portion thereof was as follows:

'Paragraph 6'': 'As to the other alternative you have given me namely to change my present mode of sitting in the class will tantamount to my submission before a suggestion, without the least thread of reason whatsoever the horror and shame of whose implication I shudder to think of.'

5. There is also a letter in that annexure dated the 11th September 1951 written by the father of the petitioner to Mr. Banerjee the Principal in which it was pointed out that Prof. Mukherjee had made certain objectionable remarks concerning the petitioner such as 'Does the petitioner find herself specially comfortable beside a male student and that the petitioner was not a bona fide student and so on', and he requested the Principal to take steps in the matter and threatened that in default of the Principal taking any step he would take such steps as he might be advised.

6. Mr. Banerjee the Principal has affirmed an affidavit in answer to the petition. It is stated in this affidavit that Mr. Murari Mohan Chatterjee by whose side the petitioner used to take her seat in the class room and which was objected to by Prof. Mukherjee applied for admission on the 3rd of July 1950 into the Law College and stated in the application that his age was 40 years. The petitioner applied for admission on the 6th July 1950 stating her age to be 30 years. It is further stated in the affidavit that lectures in the second year class started being delivered from 16th July 1951. There were 5 lady students and 56 male students and in paragraph 7 of the affidavit it is stated that on 5th September 1951 Prof. Mukherjee came and told the deponent that the petitioner had been habitually sitting by the side of Chatterjee in his class and that their conduct and demeanour were unbecoming and were provoking adverse criticism by other students and that Prof. Mukherjee's request to the petitioner to sit with the other lady students in the class had been refused by her in a rude and insulting manner. It is further stated in the affidavit (paragraph 8) that on the very same day, 5th September, 1951, the petitioner and Chatterjee had separate interviews with deponent and the latter had a full discussion in the matter with the petitioner for more than one hour. In course of such discussion the petitioner told Mr. Banerjee that she and Chatterjee were very well known to each other and were on quite friendly terms; she was the Managing Director of a Press owned by Chatterjee and was getting a salary of Rs. 350/- per month and that she came to the College with Mr. Chatterjee in his car and suggested that these considerations should weigh with the Professor in-allowing her to sit by Mr. Chatterji. The deponent thereupon suggested that for the sake of maintaining discipline in the college, he would transfer the petitioner or Chatterjee to another section of the second year class. But the petitioner declined to accept the offer. Mr, Banerjee then suggested that she might take a transfer to another college in the city and that he would give her necessary transfer certificate but she refused this offer also. After the interview with the petitioner Chatterjee was with Mr. Banerjee in his room the same day and he said that he would sit with the petitioner and would not leave the section and he further stated that if he was asked to change the section or to take a transfer the matter would not rest there but he would carry on agitation not only inside the college but outside, in the press, and would also make representation to the Vice-Chancellor, the Chancellor and if necessary he would go to the High Court for redress. On the 6th September 1951 the deponent received a copy of a letter addressed to Prof. Mukherjee and on the same day he proposed to the Vice-Chancellor to call a Meeting of the governing body of the college to deal with the situation. On the 8th of September the petitioner with another Prof. Mr. Chunder who was also in charge of the second year class saw Mr. Banerjee and the petitioner told him that she was not prepared to sit either with the other lady students in section 'A' or to take a transfer to some other section. On the 10th of September 1951 Prof. Mukherjee came and reported to Mr. Banerjee certain facts. Chat-terjee also came the same day and his attitude was as rude and defiant as on the previous day and he threatened to carry on the agitation in the press if any steps were taken against him. On the 10th September Mr. Banerjee also received a representation from some of the students of section 'A' of the second year class requesting him to transfer the petitioner and Mr. Chatterjee to some other section. On the 11th September 1951 Mr. Banerjee received a copy of a letter addressed by Chatterjee to Professor Mukherjee. On the 12th September 1951 the governing body held a meeting and Mr. Banerjee reported all the facts to the governing body and the governing body after considering the facts and perusing the various letters received from the petitioner, Chatterjee and the other students of the College passed a resolution to the effect that the Principal should take action against the petitioner and Mr. Chatterjee under section 26 (a) of the regulations and in case the petitioner and Chatterjee refuse to accept transfer certificates then the Principal should take action under section 33(3) of the regulations. On the 14th September 1951 Mr. Banerjee addressed two letters to the petitioner and Chatterjee asking them to leave the College and informing them that transfer certificates would be issued to them with effect from 15th September 1951. Thereafter the proceedings of the governing body were confirmed by the Syndicate on the 15th September 1951 and on the 15th September 1951 pursuant to the previous approval of the governing body which was confirmed by the Syndicate Mr. Banerjee passed an order on the then Vice-Principal of the College to issue two transfer certificates, one to the petitioner and the other to Chatterjee.

7. It appears from the University Law College Calendar that the management of the College is vested in the governing body but their proceedings shall be subject to confirmation by the Syndicate. It further appears from section 26 (a) that the transfer certificate shall not be 'issued' under the section without previous approval of the governing body. The approval of the governing body was given on the 12th September as I have pointed out before, and this approval was confirmed on the 15th and it was after confirmation that the transfer certificates were directed to be issued. Thus everything was in order. It appears that the petitioner and Chatterjee refused to accept the transfer certificates and thereafter their names have been struck off the rolls.

8. Prof. Mookerjee has also affirmed an affidavit. He states that on the 16th July 1951 when he was lecturing for the first time to the Second year class students of that session, he saw two students one male and another female being the petitioner and Chatterjee entering the class-rodm together in an unbecoming manner, and the petitioner did not sit with the other lady students who were occupying a separate bench in the class, but sat by the side of Chatterjee and they sat close to each other and their attitude and demeanour struck him as objectionable. Sometime later the petitioner abruptly left the class-room without taking his permission and did not return to the class that day. On the 18th July the petitioner and Chatterjee entered class room in the same unbecoming manner and sat together in an objectionable manner. The deponent noticed that their behaviour caused a lot of distraction and unhealthy stir amongst other students of the class. The deponent thereupon requested the petitioner to sit with the lady students but she refused. This was no doubt a gross act of indiscipline on the part of the petitioner but in order to avoid unpleasantness the Professor did not pursue the matter. The Professor courted disrespect and controlled himself on the occasion.

9. On the 20th July 1951 a boy about 6 years is brought into the class without the permission of the Professor and he is made to sit betwen Chatterjee and the petitioner. Although this created some disturbance in the atmosphere of the class Prof. Mukherjee did not take any steps at the time. He however requested the Superintendent to transfer the petitioner to some other section of the College, and' he continued to hold his class ignoring the conduct of the petitioner and Chatterjee in the meantime.

10. On the 5th September 1951 he felt that the conduct of the petitioner was such as- to call for some sort of disciplinary action, and asked the petitioner to change her seat. She refused to obey him and stuck to her seat by the side of Chatterjee.

11. On the 7th September 1951 Prof. Mukherjee got the letter of the petitioner dated 6th September. The tone and language of this letter, as I have pointed out, is far from polite and shows the extremely bad taste of the petitioner, to say the least about it. Prof. Mukherjee on that day found such a feeling of unrest and excitement in the students of the whole class that he had to dissolve the class. Prof. Mukherjee then had a talk with the Principal.

12. On the 8th September 1951 the petitioner had an interview with Prof. Mukherjee. There was a discussion and there was some sort of settlement. Prof. Mukherjee however realised on the 10th September that the petitioner had gone back upon her promise and again continued to defy the direction or request of Prof. Mukherjee. The Professor noticed that Chatterjee was instigating the petitioner not to budge an inch and the attitude of both Chatterjee and the petitioner was most disrespectful and the Professor found it impossible to continue the lecture in the face of such indiscipline. He saw the Principal again.

13. On the 13th September 1951 Professor Mukherjee received a letter from the petitioner. This is shortly the progress of affairs which have led to the action being taken against the petitioner and Chatterjee. There can be no doubt that both Chatterjee and the petitioner refused to be subject to the discipline of the class and were acting in a manner which was detrimental to the interest of the class as a whole.

14. In the affidavit in reply of the petitioner various facts have been introduced which are not to be found in the petition. It is clear however from the affidavit in reply that at the discussion which took place between the petitioner and the Principal at the interview of the 5th September 1951 Mr. Banerjee had told her that Prof. Mukherjee had noticed such unbecoming behaviour or conduct in the petitioner and Chatterjee in the class as led Prof. Mukherjee to suspect of some illicit connection between the petitioner and Chatterjee. This admission in the affidavit in reply completely negatives the contention of Mr. Niren De that the petitioner had not been given notice of the charges which were levelled against her. It .is clear that it was fully brought home to the petitioner that she and Chatterjee were guilty of unbecoming conduct in the class room and they were guilty of acts of indiscipline in refusing to obey the directions of the Professor and in showing disrespect to the Professor.

15. I have not the slightest hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the petitioner was given ample opportunities to make amends or refute the charges and the principles of natural justice were fully observed in the case of the petitioner and Mr. Chatterjee. Prof. Banerjee had made clear to the petitioner and Chatterjee what the charges were but they failed to satisfy him that the charges were unfounded. On the other hand their defiant attitude convinced him that they were determined to throw the discipline of the college to the winds.

16. Mr. Naren De the learned counsel for the petitioner contended that though Section 26A of Chapter XXIII of the University Regulations empowers the Principal to make an order asking a student to leave the college in the interest of the institution without assigning any reasons it does not dispense with the observance of the principles of natural justice. Reliance is placed on some cases of expulsion of members of Clubs in support of his contention. The learned counsel refers to 'GOMPERTZ v. Goldingham', 9 Mad 319 at p. 321; 'AMBALAL SARABHAI v. Phiroz H. Antia,' AIR (26) 1939 Bom 35 at pp. 38-39 and 'M. S. EZRA v. Mahendra Banerjee', 51 Cal W N 612 at pp. 618, 620, 633.

17. It is not necessary to deal with these cases in any detail.

18. The Principal of a college when acting under section 26A or Section 33 of Chapter XXIII of the Regulations or when the Governing Body of the Law College is giving its approval under Section 26A or when the Syndicate is confirming the proceedings of the governing Body, it cannot be said that they are acting judicially or quasi judicially. They are exercising merely administrative functions. There is no duty or obligation upon them to adopt the regular forms of legal procedure, or to give a hearing to the student as in a trial before a Court of Law. It is sufficient if the students gets an opportunity to make representations against the action proposed to be taken against him, at some stage, before his right to be educated in a particular institution is affected. In the present case the petitioner, as I have pointed out, had been given sufficient opportunity for the purpose, by the Principal Mr. Banerjee and she had no right to ask for any further opportunity of a hearing before the Governing Body or the Syndicate. (See 'LOCAL Government Board v. Arlidge' (1915) A.C. 120-where the owner having got a hearing in the local enquiry was held not entitled to a further hearing in the appeal before the Local Government Board.

19. Moreover the words 'approval' of the Governing Body and 'Confirmation' by the Syndicate mean 'Sanction' given by such bodies. Such 'Sanction' is an executive act and it would have been a valid sanction even if it would have been given in defiance of natural justice. So long as the approval and the confirmation is given fairly and honestly, it is not open to challenge at all. It has not been shown that the approval and the confirmation was given otherwise than in good faith. (See in this connection the decision of the Judicial Committee in 'WHITE v. KUZCH', (1951) A C 585 at pp. 598-600.)

20. A point was raised on behalf of the respondents that this Court will not interfere with the domestic disputes of educational institutions. It appears to me that this point is not without substance. A Professor in charge or control of a class has the undoubted right to maintain the discipline of the class and to regulate the conduct of the students in the class. So long as the students are in the class they must observe the rules of discipline, for otherwise there is bound to be chaos or confusion in the class. The Principal of a College as appears from Regulations 26A and 33 has the power to ask a student to leave the College for breach of discipline and in the interest of the Institution. In the present case Mr. Banerjee has purported to exercise this power vested in him under the Regulations. There cannot be the slightest doubt that Mr. Banerjee had jurisdiction to do what he did. So long as persons or bodies entrusted with certain jurisdiction strictly confine themselves within the limits of their jurisdiction the Courts will not interfere. Matters of college discipline are entirely internal affairs of the college concerned. Whether there has been any breach of such discipline or not is a matter for the decision of the College Authorities. Such matters cannot be enquired into by the Court and are outside the purview of the Court. Strong reasons of sense and convenience dictate that these questions should not be brought under the jurisdiction of the Courts of law. There is the Syndicate to supervise the management and administration of the affairs of the educational institutions. Inspectors are appointed to report as to the state of discipline in colleges. In case of disputes regarding affairs of the Institutions, the appeal must be to the Syndicate for determination of such disputes and not to a Court of law.

21. In England the remedy in such cases lies in applying to Visitors (See Halsbury Vol. 9 Para 1302 page 768). In the Club cases cited by Mr. De the Court assumed jurisdiction because rights of property were involved and were infringed. No such considerations arise in the present case.

22. It was contended by the learned counsel for the Respondents that although it is the Syndicate which confirmed the proceedings of the Governing Body, the Syndicate has not been made a party. In my view the Syndicate is not a necessary party. The 'Confirmation' given by the Syndicate only makes the order of the Principal effective but the Order complained of is the order of the Principal

23. In the result, the petition fails and the Rule must be discharged with costs.


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