V. Khalid, C.J.
1. The petitioner appeared as a private candidate in the B. A. Final (old scheme) examination held in May-June, 1982 with Roll No. 4609. The results of the examination were declared on 13-8-1982, but not that of the petitioner. He came to know from the Gazette that his result was withheld on account of unfair means. He contacted the 4th respondent who is the Controller of Examinations, University of Jammu and enquired of him as to why his result was not declared. He is alleged to have assured the petitioner that there was no complaint against him and that his result would be declared soon. The petitioner waited. But to his surprise a notice (Annexure-A1) dated 11-12-1982 was served upon him informing him that there were allegations of use of unfair means by him and asking him to appear before the Competent Authority, the 3rd respondent in the writ petition on 21-12-1982 and to forward his written explanation before that date. The said notice was accompanied by a copy of the allegations against him (Annexure-A2). The petitioner sent his written explanation to the 5th respondent, the Asstt. Registrar (Secretary, Jammu University) stating that ho was innocent and denying the allegations levelled against him. (This explanation is not produced). He appeared before the 3rd respondent and requested him to permit him to cross-examine the witnesses and to produce defence evidence. The petitioner was assured by respondent No. 3 also that there were no accusations against him and that his result would be declared. The petitioner waited till he received another notice (Annexure-A1) dated 14-2-1983 issued by the 6th respondent, the Deputy Registrar of the University of Jammu, informing him that a ' committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor, the 2nd respondent, had, after consideration of all the materials placed before it, come to the conclusion that the petitioner was guilty of unfair means and that the committee had proposed to disqualify him from appearing in any University Examination or passing in such examination for a period of three years. The petitioner sent a reply to the notice reiterating his stand that he was innocent (not produced). Finally, the petitioner received Annexure-C1, notification dated 13-6-1983 from the 6th respondent informing him of the imposition of the punishment proposed. Hence this petition.
2. The prayer in the petition is to quash Annexure-C/1 No: Secy/II/83/1037-50, to direct the respondents to declare the result of the examination of the petitioner of B. A. Final (old scheme) held in May, 1982 and for other incidental reliefs as this Court may deem fit to grant.
3. The grounds on which the above prayers are made, are as follows :
(i) The statement of allegations accompanying the first notice, is not in law sufficient within the meaning of statute 4 (h) of the Statutes governing the unfair means/misconduct cases; grounds of charges should have been separately furnished;
(ii) Requisite show cause notice was not issued to the petitioner before passing the impugned order and thus there was violation of Statutes 3 (a) and 5 (a);
(iii) Inordinate delay in initiating proceedings has rendered the proceedings bad in law;
(iv) The petitioner was not allowed to go through the records on the basis of which the proceedings were taken against him;
(v) The petitioner was not allowed to participate in the proceedings and to cross-examine the witnesses;
(vi) The committee that decided to take action and to impose punishment on the petitioner is not a committee contemplated by the statute and as such the entire proceedings are bad;
(vii) The order impugned and the earlier proceedings are bad for violation of the principles of natural justice.
4. When the petition came up for admission before me, the petitioner's counsel, Mr. A.H. Qazi, took me through the averments in the petition and the various annexures. He forcefully contended that the petitioner was treated harshly and action against him was taken in utter violation of law, accepted norms, in violation of the mandate contained in the relevant statutes and in violation of the principles of natural justice. He urged before me (i) that the petitioner was not served with the heads of charges in detail so as to enable the petitioner to meet them, (ii) that the committee that went into the allegations against him was a ghost committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor and (iii) not the competent authority contemplated by the statute. Mr. T.S. Thakur offered to appear for the University and as desired by me made available to me the relevant files of the University evidencing the proceedings taken against the petitioner and culminating in the impugned order. ,
5. I am not impressed with any of the contentions raised by the petitioner. It is not correct to say that details of the allegations were not made available to him. The original notice dated 11-12-1982 itself was accompanied by the statement of allegations, sufficient in details to enable him to offer the explanation. Annexure A1 is the notice and AnnexureA2 is the statement of allegations. According to me, Exhibit A/2 contains, as far as necessary, the details of allegations against the petitioner for him to submit his explanation. The petitioner has not produced the explanation to ascertain whether he had at that time any difficulty to give a reply for want of necessary materials. The files produced by the University, which contain the explanation, do not help the petitioner. Annexure-A2 can be usefully read to appreciate the petitioner's contention ;
'Roll No. 4609
It had been noted that you had written 2 pages and the last words 'students all over community' in English Paper-B. After the answer book was received from the examiner it was found that these pages were non-existent. It seems that you have inserted written, material inasmuch as staples impression on the first page and the remaining pages do not tally. In Economics Paper-A the last line written by you was 'caused to the official working in the institution'. This sentence was not in the script after it had been evaluated. The non-congruence of the punch holes and staple marks between the outer cover and the inner sheets clearly reveals that the inner sheets have been taken out and replaced.
In view of this your scripts in English Paper-A, Education Papers A and B and Economics Paper-B were also scrutinized. In all the cases it was found that the inner sheets had been removed and written sheets reinserted. This is evident from the fact that the punch holes and the staple marks of the outer cover and the inner pages do not coincide in any of the scripts mentioned above.
There is thus a prima facie case established against you of having smuggled inner sheets, under Clause (h) of Statute 4 of the Statutes relating to unfair means/misconduct in examinations, which reads as under :
'(h) smuggles in an answer book of continuation sheet or takes out or arranges to send out the question papers or an answer book or a continuation or replaces the answer book, its inner sheets, or continuation sheets during or after the examination with or without the connivance of the staff on duty in connection with the examination.'
The disclosures made in Exhibit A2 are serious. The pretended innocence of the petitioner cannot pass muster with any authority when the unfair means adopted are those of the nature seen in Annexure-A2. This contention has therefore to fail.
6. Regarding the complaint that proceedings are bad on account of delay, it is only to be stated to be rejected. ' This complaint is based on the violation of Statutes 3 (a) and 5 (a) of Chapter XXXI relating to misconduct/unfair means inexamination. Statute 3 (a) reads as follows :
'3 (a). The 'Officer-in-charge Examinations' shall report to the Controller of Examinations without delay and on the date of occurrence each case where use of unfair means/misconduct in the examination is suspected or discovered, with full details of evidence and explanation of the candidate concerned on the form (Annexure) supplied by the Controller of Examinations for the purpose;
XX XX XX Xx'
The misconduct/unfair means accused of, fall within Statute 4 (h) as extracted in Annexure-A2. Statute 5 (a) prescribes the time limit for the notice. This is not a case where the petitioner and others were caught red handed in the examination hall. The authorities in charge of the examination hall suspected malpractices. They took care to note the answer papers immediately after they were written. Later on they verified them with the notings after the answer papers were received back. These processes in the normal course take time. Strict compliance with Statutes 3 (a) and 5 (a) is impossible in the nature of things. The petitioner would have been seriously prejudiced if action was taken immediately on mere suspicions. Here due deliberation and requisite probe was essential. The authorities did not want to hurry through the matter and took care to see whether the accusations against the petitioner were well founded or not. The delay in taking proceedings was unavoidable. The petitioner cannot be aggrieved by the delay. The proceedings cannot therefore, be challenged on the ground of delay,
7. I was invited to a decision by Kotwal, J. reported in AIR 1983 J & K 19 in the context of the discussion about Statute 5 (a). While considering Statute 5 (a) the learned Judge held that the time limit prescribed therein was directory in nature and its breach would not vitiate the resultant enquiry unless it could be attributed to malice or it had otherwise materially affected the result of the enquiry. I respectfully agree. In this case the petitioner has no case that he was not given sufficient time to offer his explanation. These contentions are also rejected.
8. Grounds (iv), (v) and (vi) cam be disposed of together. In enquiries before high academic bodies, the delinquent is not, and cannot be, given the right to cross-examine the witness as in a judicial proceeding. Nor can such a person claim access to all the records with the University. All that is necessary, is to give him notice of the allegations against him which is done here. These objections also bear no merit.
9. A committee consisting of very high and responsible academicians was constituted to go into the allegations against the petitioner and others. This shows the anxiety of the University to be above board in its enquiry. The committee went into the charges in detail. It was after such detailed consideration that the committee made its recommendations. This committee is not the competent authority mentioned in Statute 16. The competent authority under Statute 16 is the Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, if any, three persons nominated by the Syndicate, Dean Faculty of Law, Registrar and the Controller of Examinations. The petitioner's counsel strenuously contended that the Committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor was not the competent authority under Statute 16 and as such the decision taken by that Committee disqualifying him was a nullity for want of jurisdiction. The mistake that the petitioner's counsel has committed in the submission is in misreading Annexure-B1 dated 14-2-1983. In the annexure, reference is made to the considerations by the competent authority of the report made by the committee. The competent authority also heard the petitioner and considered the explanation submitted by him. Thus the ultimate conclusion was arrived at not by the committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor but by the Competent Authority mentioned in Statute 16. This is made further clear from the 2nd paragraph of Annexure-Bl by which the petitioner was asked to explain, why the punishment proposed by the Competent Authority be not awarded. Thus the main plank of the petitioner's attack against the impugned order falls to the ground.
10. Now about violation of natural Justice. Exhibit-C1 was passed after considering the petitioner's explanation by the authority competent, to do so. This was preceded by two notices to the petitioner. Thus there is no question of violation of natural justice. Notices were given and he was personally heard. The question of violation of natural justice comes up when something is done against a person to his detriment without hearing him. That is not the casehere.
Among the files submitted to me by the counsel for the University, I find a note in which the petitioner's signature also appears. This appears to be a note of the proceedings by the competent authority held on 21-12-1982. The last two sentences are significant and are being quoted with advantage ;
'As regards the other questions regarding non-congruence of punch holes and staple marks between outer, cover and inner sheets of various exhibits, the candidate could not render any satisfactory reply aS regards the enmity with any person connected with the conduct of examination, he stated that he had no enmity with any person connected with the examination nor he could allege mala fide on the part of anyone connected with the conduct of the examination. The above statement is correct.'
The petitioner, cannot, in the face of these materials plead bias or mala fides either.
11. The petitioner's counsel invited my attention to a decision of this court rendered by Anand.J. in AIR 1977 J&K; 1 where the learned Judge had to consider the subsequent cancellation of the admission of a student who was admitted to Medical College and who had attended lectures after paying the college fees. The order was challenged among other grounds on the ground of non-compliance with the principles of natural justice. There the requisite show cause notice was not issued. The learned Judge observed that requirements of a notice cannot be done away with on the assumption that the student would have no defence in reply to such a notice to the cancellation of his admission. This decision has no application to the facts of this case.
12. The policy of the Courts in dealing with high and responsible academic bodies, has been not to interfere with their decisions except for compelling reasons. In AIR 1970 Ker 142, Krishna Iyer, J. said :
'Courts 'fear to tread' and decline 'to rush in' to quash decisions of responsible academic bodies........'
In AIR 1983 Ker 200, I had occasion to observe as follows (at pp. 207-8):--
'Courts have generally set certain limitations and self-imposed restrictions on them while exercising their discretionary power under Article 226 in dealing with decisions of academic bodies. The Courts have consistently kept their hands off high academic bodies unless flagrant violation of fair play based on bias or mala fides is brought to their notice in the orders passed by them......'
In that judgment a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court was considering a few companion petitions at the instance of students accused of serious malpractices, raising questions kindred to the ones raised before me in this petition. I stick to the opinion held by me and hold that the case before me is a similar one. In my judgment the order impugned passed by a high academic body faced with very serious charges of mal-practices--a decision taken after due deliberation and in strict compliance with the rules of procedure and principles of natural justice does not call for an interference.
13. By Annexure-C1 the petitioner was told that he could file appeal to the Syndicate within 45 days from the date of issue of the notification if he was aggrieved by the order. The petition filed by him does not disclose the fact whether he took advantage of this relief. The Syndicate, in appeal, could have gone into the facts and evidence in greater detail than this court under its writ jurisdiction. No explanation is offered why this remedy was not resorted to.
14. The University has a great responsibility to streamline the educational system, to cleanse the dirt that creeps into its echeleons, to purge it of unwholesome practices and inspire confidence in the public mind about the competence and efficiency of its products. It cannot keep quiet and allow persons like the petitioner to go unpunished. To keep quiet would be to bring it down in the eyes of the public and to destroy the confidence of the public in the entire educational system. I do not close my eyes to these vultures inside some sections of the University who feed on the ill-gotten fortunes obtained from persons like the petitioner and who are behind such mal-practices; for without the help of such vultures, persons like the petitioner cannot accomplish these misdeeds with such consummate case. I hope they will also be dealt with mercilessly.
The writ petition fails and is dismissed.