Skip to content


The Registrar, Himachal Pradesh University Vs. Shashi Pal Singh and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal No. 7 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1974HP41
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 14, 15(4), 29(2) and 226
AppellantThe Registrar, Himachal Pradesh University
RespondentShashi Pal Singh and ors.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredSukhvinder Kaur v. State of Himachal Pradesh
Excerpt:
- .....for the year 1973-74, as below:--'wards of political sufferers and persons with outstanding social background hailing from himachal pradesh.'3. the petitioner produced before the respondents a certificate (annexure d) dated october 25, 1961 which was from all india ina enquiry and relief committee appointed by the all india congress committee, signed by one shri jagdev singh, joint secretary, which signified that shri shamsher singh, father of the petitioner, was a member of the indian national army. the petitioner further relied upon the letter of the ministry of home affairs (annexure e) dated may 23, 1961, which indicated that all ex. ina personnel were to be treated as political sufferers so far as the government of india was concerned and were thus eligible for relief in the.....
Judgment:

D.B. Lal, J.

1. This Letters Patent Appeal has been brought from the judgment of a learned Single Judge, whereby a writ petition filed by Shri Shashi Pal Singh has been accepted, quashing the decision of the respondents, who are the State of Himachal Pradesh, the Principal, Himachal Pradesh Medical College, Simla, and the Registrar of the Himachal Pradesh University, refusing the admission of the petitioner in the first year M. B. B. S. course of the Medical College. The allegations of the petitioner Shashi Pal Singh were, that after passing the pre-Medical Examination from the Himachal Pradesh University in 1973, he applied to the Medical College for appearing in the examination held for admission to the M. B. B. S. course and he sought his admission under the category reserved for political sufferers. The respondents did not accept the candidature of the petitioner under that reserved seat and, therefore, allowed him to appear in the competition against general seats which were un-reserved. Accordingly the petitioner took up his competition but his marks were not sufficient and he could not get admission under any un-reserved seat. The decision regarding his refusal of admission became the subject-matter of writ petition filed by him. According to the learned Chief Justice, there were sufficient grounds for interference and he not only quashed the decision of the respondents refusing the admission of the petitioner, but also directed them to consider his case on merit under the category ''wards of political sufferers' for admission.

2. The petitioner relied upon the reserved category which is described in the Himachal Pradesh Medical College Prospectus for the year 1973-74, as below:--

'Wards of political sufferers and persons with outstanding social background hailing from Himachal Pradesh.'

3. The petitioner produced before the respondents a certificate (Annexure D) dated October 25, 1961 which was from All India INA Enquiry and Relief Committee appointed by the All India Congress Committee, signed by one Shri JagdeV Singh, Joint Secretary, which signified that Shri Shamsher Singh, father of the petitioner, was a member of the Indian National Army. The petitioner further relied upon the letter of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Annexure E) dated May 23, 1961, which indicated that all Ex. INA personnel were to be treated as political sufferers so far as the Government of India was concerned and were thus eligible for relief in the matter of employment to public service and also for educational concession to their children. The respondents relied upon the letter of the Secretary Department of Health Himachal Pradesh (Annexure RB) of September 25, 1973, which mentioned that a formal letter/certificate by the Government of Himachal Pradesh in regard to their being freedom fighters/ex.-INA personnel or a certificate to that effect by the State Social Welfare Advisory Board were only admissible for any such concession. According to the respondents the certificate submitted by the petitioner did not satisfy this condition and hence he was not treated ward of a political sufferer.

4. The respondents further contended that according to the category specified, wards of political sufferers who were persons with outstanding social background and hailing from Himachal Pradesh, were only contemplated for concession in the matter of admission. The petitioner may have satisfied the condition of being a ward of political sufferer but he did not satisfy the other condition of being a ward of a person with outstanding social background, and that was the additional reason why his admission was not considered to be covered in that category.

5. The learned Single Judge held in favour of the petitioner and decided that the categories described in the Prospectus under this heading were in fact two and not one, namely, wards of political sufferers and wards of persons with outstanding social background. There was of course no dispute that the petitioner or his father hailed from Himachal Pradesh. According to learned single Judge, the petitioner was the ward of a political sufferer and as such the additional qualification of his being a ward of a person with outstanding social background was not needed. As such the learned Judge directed that the order refusing admission be quashed and the case of the petitioner be re-considered on merit after taking regard to the certificates and letters submitted by him.

The respondents have felt aggrieved of the decision and have preferred this appeal.

5-A. The vexed question which is proposed before us refers to the interpretation of the aforesaid category of reserved seat, as specified in the Prospectus of the Medical College. The rules for interpretation are fairly well settled. In our opinion at the outset we shall quote with profit the observations of their Lordships in Bengal Immunity Co. Ltd. v. State of Bihar, AIR 1955 SC 661, with reference to the renowned Heydon's case, (1584) 3 Co Rep 7a. It is a sound rule of construction of a statute firmly established in England as far back as 1584 when it was observed:

'..... for the sure and true interpretation of all Statutes in general (Be they penal or beneficial, restrictive or enlarging of the common law) four things are to be discerned and considered:

Ist. What was the common law before the making of the Act,

2nd. What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide,

3rd. What remedy the Parliament hath resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the Commonwealth, and

4th. The true reason of the remedy; and then the office of all the judges is always to make such construction as shall suppress the mischief, and advance the remedy, and to suppress subtle inventipns and evasions for continuance of the mischief, and 'pro privato commondo' and to add force and life to the cure and remedy, according to the true intent of the makers of the Act, 'pro bono publico''.

6. The learned Counsel for the respondent-appellants referred to Articles 15 (4) and 29 (2) of the Constitution. Wherever a discrimination is sought to be made on ground, of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, reservation in the matter of admission to a college can be made in favour of 'educationally backward classes of citizens', or of the scheduled castes, and scheduled tribes. It is canvassed before us that the authorities were aware of these provisions of the Constitution while the Rules of admission were made for the prospectus. They had to provide a remedy for the mischief or defect which was likely to occur to such educationally backward classes of citizens and so incorporated the category which they chose to describe as 'wards of political sufferers and persons with outstanding social background'. The remedy was provided to safeguard the necessity of only such a category of citizens..... Therefore, the wards of political sufferers as such were not intended to be protected, but in addition to that they were required to be wards of persons with outstanding social background with pointed reference to have belonged to a class of citizens educationally backward. Unless both the conditions were satisfied the reservation could not be made, as it was likely to be struck down under Articles 15 (4) and 29 (2). Thus, contends the learned Counsel, the interpretation to be given should not be divorced from the context and it would be an incorrect finding to hold that a ward of political sufferer simpliciter will be a category fit for reservation. Such a category by itself will not be protected for admission in preference over others. A Division Bench of Rajasthan High Court in Su-rendrakumar v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1969 Raj 182 has struck down such a category as unconstitutional to justify reservation of seat in a Medical College as it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. We are in all respectful agreement with this decision.

7. The same rule of interpretation as embodied in Bengal Immunity Co. Ltd. (Supra) has appeared in different context in two subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court, Collector of Customs, Baroda v. Dig-vijaysinhji Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd., Jamnagar, AIR 1961 SC 1549 and Firm Amar Nath Basheshar Dass v. Tek Chand, (1972) 1 SCC 893 = (AIR 1972 SC 1548). In the Collector of Customs (Supra) their Lordships refer to two well established rules of construction which are, namely, (1) where the words of a statute are in themselves precise and unambiguous no more is necessary than to expound those words in their natural and ordinary sense, the words themselves in such case best declaring the intention of the Legislature, and (2) where alternative constructions are equally open that alternative is to be chosen which will be consistent, with the smooth working of the system which the statute purports to be regulating; and that alternative is to be rejected which will introduce uncertainty, friction or confusion into the working of the system. It is abundantly clear and so was held by the learned single Judge that the language 'outstanding social background' is vague and the use of the conjunction 'and' is also somewhat misplaced. With reference to Articles 15 (4) and 29 (2) in all probability the intention was to make a reservation for a class of citizens educationally backward, and the only inter-pretation possible is one which will be consistent with the smooth working of the system and to interpret otherwise would be to ntroduce uncertainty, friction or confusion into the working of the system. It would not be rational to hold that a ward of a political sufferer howsoever advanced he may be in education or in status, is considered fit for reservation in the matter of education in a Medical College. That would amount to an infraction of Article 14. Therefore, the only interpretation possible would be that only such wards of political sufferers were intended to be covered who belonged to the category of citizens educationally backward. That was indeed a laudable object because political sufferers by the very nature of their suffering could not look after the education of their sons and daughters, with the result that their wards remained educationally backward although they occupied 'outstanding social background' which phrase has got to be read together with the language 'wards of political sufferers' for a correct interpretation of the category. While referring to Firm Amar Nath Basheshar Dass (Supra) we can well quote the very language used by their Lordships:--

'It cannot, however, be gainsaid that one of the duties imposed on the Courts in interpreting a particular provision of law, rule or notification, is to ascertain the meaning and intendment of the Legislature or of the delegate, which in exercise of powers conferred on it, had made the rule. In doing so, the Court must always presume that an impugned provision was designed to effectuate a particular object or to meet a particular requirement and not that it was intended to negative that which it sought to achieve.'

8. It would lead to extravagant results if the category described is bifurcated and wards of political sufferers are dealt with separately from wards of persons with outstanding social background. Singly staled any one of these category would be hit by Article 14. A person with outstanding social background hardly needs protection. In our opinion the framers of the rule referred to educationally backward class of political sufferers and their wards alone were to be given preferential treatment. A political sufferer might turn to be a debauch in subsequent life. He may have amassed wealth or achieved high position and his children may have been very well looked after. They cannot be considered 'educationally backward class'. Such wards of political sufferers never needed any protection by the State. It would be stultifying the rule if the category is bifurcated in the manner it has been done by the learned single Judge. The entire language in our opinion embodies a reservation in favour of educationally backward class of citizen.

9. It has been contended that the conjunction 'and' may some times be used in a particular context as meaning 'or' and for this reliance is sought from Syamapada Eanerjee v. Asst. Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Burdwan, AIR 1964 Cal 190 and Ishwar Singh Bindra v. State of U. P., AIR 1968 SC 1450. It is legitimate to read the conjunctive and disjunctive words 'and' and 'or' one for the other, where literal interpretation would defeat the intention of the legislature or the object of the Act. The conjunction 'and' is generally used for a cumulative sense, requiring the fulfilment of both the conditions which it joins together, and herein it is the antithesis of 'or'. Sometimes to carry out the intention of the Legislature it is found necessary to read the conjunctions 'and' or 'or' one for the other In our opinion the conjunction 'and' used in the description of the category, joins together two requirements, one being ward of a political sufferer and the other being ward of a person with outstanding social background.

10. The learned single Judge sought the assistance from the category 'f' of Group-I (reserved), for holding that like category 'f' in category 'e' also wards of political sufferers form a separate class as compared to wards of persons with outstanding social background. In our opinion, no assistance can be sought from category 'f' for which it is not difficult to interpret that sportsmen falling in any of the three categories have been given preference for admission. The position is entirely different in category 'e' where in view of the Constitutional provision the reservation cannot but be in favour of educationally backward class and no discrimination can be made because of the place of birth of a particular person having been born at the house of a political sufferer and unless that person is really a sufferer because of the political life and his ward is rendered educationally backward, he cannot be given the reservation for admission. In Kumari Chitra Ghosh v. Union of India, (AIR 1970 SC 35). their Lordships considered a case which related to reservation of seats in a Medical College with pointed reference to Articles 15 and 29 of the Constitution. It was observed that the Rules do not discriminate between any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any one of them. Only such reservations are to be held valid which do not violate these Articles. Therefore, in our opinion, category 'e' which is a Rule of admission must satisfy the requirement of Articles 15 and 29 and only such an interpretation can be given to it which satisfied that requirement. In fact the Government wanted to safeguard the interests of educationally backward classes as they thought that the wards of political sufferers are likely to fall in that category and that is why the latter part of the language was utilised while defining the category. The State Government admittedly affords financial assistance to the Medical College. The backward classes needed the protection and that is why category 'e' was provided. We can quote with advantage at this stage the observations of their Lordships in M. R. Balaji v. State of Mysore, (AIR 1963 SC 649) :--

'If the State Government has decided to afford financial assistance, and make monetary grants to students seeking higher education where it is shown that the annual income of their families is below a prescribed minimum, it may afford relief to and assist the advancement of the backward classes in the State, because backwardness, social and educational, is ultimately and primarily due to proverty. An attempt can also be made to start newer and more educational institutions and even rural Universities and thereby create more opportunities for higher education. This dual attack on the problem posed by the weakness of backward communities can claim to proceed on a rational, broad and scientific approach which is consistent with, and true to, the noble ideal of a secular welfare democratic State set up by the Constitution of this country. Such an approach can be supplemented, if necessary, by providing special provision by way of reservation to aid the backward classes and Scheduled Castes and Tribes.'

11. In our opinion, therefore, category 'e' of the Prospectus really consists of one and the same class and the petitioner had to satisfy both the conditions of being ward of a political sufferer and of being ward of a person with outstanding social background before he could compete against the reserved seat. The phrase 'outstanding social background' necessarily refers to outstanding performance of the person or his guardian in the political field, coupled with his backwardness in the matter of education.

11-A. A Division Bench of this High Court in Sukhvinder Kaur v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (C. W. P. No. 12 of 1970 decided on 30-11-1973) -- (reported in AIR 1974 Him Pra 35) was called upon to decide about the vires of this very reserved category and actually struck it down, holding that it infringes Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. It was held that the expression 'political sufferer' is not defined in the Prospectus and those political sufferers who have got a higher status and whose wards are not educationally backward, are not entitled to reservation for their wards. Similarly 'persons with outstanding social background' unless they are educationally backward do not deserve a reservation. It was, inter alia, stated by the Bench :--

'Therefore, there does not appear to be any justification for any reservation for such a class, unless the words 'persons with outstanding social background' are understood in some other way.' (P. 16 of the judgment).

12. We have attempted to understand the expression 'in some other way', namely, that the expression must be necessarily tagged with the backwardness in the matter of education. Otherwise the category itself would be ultra vires and the petitioner cannot claim admission on the basis of such a category. This would throw overboard his case initially. That would certainly be a ground of refusing the relief claimed by him.

13. The learned counsel for the respondents further argued that the decision of the learned single Judge cannot be sustained also on this ground that he has imposed his own decision upon the discretion exercised by the Government. It is already decided upon the certificates and letters submitted by the petitioner that he never belonged to the category of being a ward of a political sufferer. If the Government was not satisfied wi'.h the particulars supplied by the candidate, how can the Court super-impose its own decision upon it by saying that the particulars were sufficient and should be re-considered for admission. In this connection reference need be made to (Annexure D, E, RA and RB), which are the only relevant documents. As already stated on October 25, 1961 (Annexure D) a certificate was obtained by the petitioner's father from a Relief Committee appointed by the All India Congress Committee. The Government of Himachal Pradesh never intended to consider that certificate sufficient and as their endorsement (Annexure RB) dated September 25, 1973 indicates, they could place reliance only upon the formal letter or a certificate issued by the Government or upon a certificate issued by the State Social Welfare Advisory Board. Verily, the petitioner never supplied such a letter or certificate and he could not tell the Government that the certificate (Annexure D) was more than sufficient and on its basis he should be held to be a ward of a political sufferer. It is submitted in this connection that no form of such certificate is prescribed in the prospectus which means that the petitioner was at liberty to furnish any certificate he preferred to do. This would not be a valid argument because the discretion was left with the Government and if they had already decided in (Annexure RD) that a particular certificate would only be considered, and that decision applied to every candidate, why did not the petitioner comply with it. In our opinion no exception could be taken to the decision of the Government that a certificate only from a prescribed authority, and no other certificate was to be taken into consideration. The letter (Annexure E) of the Under Secretary to the Government of India, dated May 23, 1961 was good for nothing. It only provided that the children of INA personnel were also to be given facility for admission in educational institutions. The question before the Government was not this that the said category was to be benefited but the question was as to whether the petitioner satisfied the condition for being included in that category. According to Government such condition was not satisfied. As such the decision made against the Government cannot be sustained as the High Court has imposed its own decision by saying that the particulars supplied by the petitioner were sufficient and that he could be held belonging to that category. The letter of October 19, 1973 (Annexure RA) merely indicated that the category 'e' required the candidate to satisfy that he was not only the ward of a political sufferer but was also a ward of a person with outstanding social background. The two conditions were to be read together. That was the clarification given by the Deputy Secretary (Health) to the Registrar of the Himachal Pradesh University.

14. On behalf of the petitioner, during the pendency of the petition it seems,efforts were made to get a certificate fromthe Government so that he could be treateda ward of a political sufferer. With that endin view a Sub-commitee of the HimachalPradesh Social Workers Relief Board wascalled on November 29, 1973 under the Chairmanship of Shri Lal Chand Prarthi, theForest Minister. The application of Shamsher Singh was considered and it was decided that he was a political sufferer and that thecertificate issued by the Relief Committee appointed by the All India Congress Committeewas valid for all intents and purposes. Thiswas clearly a step taken by the petitionerduring the pendency of the writ petition andspeaks for itself. The learned single Judgeseems to have been influenced by these minutes of the Sub-committee and that is whyhe intended the respondents to consider thecase of the petitioner de novo. In our opinion,firstly such a document cannot be taken intoconsideration because it would not satisfy therequirement of (Annexure RB) dated September 25, 1973 and secondly it would not havesatisfied the further condition which was incumbent upon the petitioner to fulfil, namely, his being a ward of a person with outstanding social background. Therefore, thedocument freshly procured by the petitionerwould be of no avail. Apart from this therespondents relied on evidence which wasfurnished and upon such evidence the petitioner could not be held even to be the wardof a political sufferer and this Court cannotimpose its own decision upon the respondents.

15. Lastly the learned counsel contended that the petition is also infructuous because the relief granted cannot be implemented. The University of Himachal Pradesh as such, is not a party to the petition. Similarly that candidate whose admission is to be cancelled to accommodate the petitioner is not made a party to the petition. Unless the University as such is a party who will implement the decision of the Court? The Registrar is no doubt a party, but he is only an official of the University. It is undisputed that the University is a corporate body and could be sued as such. That partijcular candidate who has been admitted must leave the Medical College in case the petitioner is accommodated as the number of seats is fixed and the Government cannot be compelled to increase such number of seats. The said candidate is not a party to the petition and he cannot be condemned without being heard and this is another flaw in the petition. It is, however, submitted on behalf of the petitioner that these are new pleas which perhaps could not be raised at the stage of appeal. In our opinion the defects pointed out are in the very inception of the petition and could be taken notice of at any stage. These are in fact legal pleas and no amount of evidence is required to substantiate them.

16. For the reasons given above we are in respectful disagreement with the judgment of the learned single Judge. We accordingly hold that the admission of the petitioner was rightly refused and no relief can be granted to him as a result to this writ petition. The appeal is allowed and the judgment of the learned single Judge is set aside. The writ petition is dismissed. However, we do not make any order as to costs.

Chet Ram Thakur, J.

I agree.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //