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Deepak Srivastava v. V.C., Allahabad University Allahabad And Others - WRIT - C No. 32810 of 2006  RD-AH 16682 (22 September 2006)
CIVIL MISC. WRIT PETITION NO. 32810 OF 2006
The Vice Chancellor Allahabad University and others...........................................................................Respondents.
Hon. S.N.Srivastava, J.
By way of present petition, the petitioner has sought relief of a writ of mandamus directing the Opp. parties to declare the result of the petitioner of LL.B First Year, First semester examination 2006 and further not to prevent him to face viva voce. The further relief is for a writ of certiorari quashing the impugned order dated 3.4.2006 whereby petitioner's result dated 3.4.2006 of LL.B. first Year, Ist Semester examination 2006 was cancelled.
The facts forming background are that while appearing in Ist Semester examination 2006 of LL.B. First year from Allahabad Degree College, it is alleged, the petitioner was caught by the Flying Squad possessing crib-notes (hand written piece of paper). The said piece of paper used for cribbing was appended to the answer script of the petitioner. It would further appear from the record that by means of letter dated 17.1.2006, the petitioner was called upon to show cause why the result of his first semester examination, 2006 be not cancelled. The reply to show cause was sought to be submitted by 27.1.2006. The precise charge contained in the letter aforesaid reads as under:
"Caught by flying squad with one and half handwritten page found from the hand of the candidate."
The reply submitted by the petitioner to the show cause notice aforesaid quintessentially was one of denial further stating therein that the piece of paper imputed to have been recovered from his possession had in fact been found by the Flying Squad from the back of the Bench occupied by the petitioner and he had nothing to do with the piece of paper. He further replied that he had no knowledge about the contents of piece of papers. In the latter part of the reply, the petitioner dwelt upon certain miseries, which his family was encountering and ultimately prayed for benign consideration. Subsequently, the petitioner was served a letter from the University of Allahabad intimating him that he has been awarded punishment of cancellation of his result for the first semester examination 2006 of the LL.B, first year. It is in this backdrop that the petitioner has instituted the present petition.
Learned counsel for the petitioner began his submission assailing the impugned order on the ground that the order was passed without any tangible material on record further arguing that the petitioner had not made use of any unfair means in attempting question. It is further canvassed that the reply submitted by the petitioner was not reckoned with while passing the impugned order. Finally, it has been urged that the result of the petitioner be declared attended with the prayer that he be allowed to appear in the 2nd semester examination of the first year LL.B. course. Per contra, Sri A.B.L.Gaur, learned counsel for the University contended that the impugned order was passed taking into consideration of the invigilator's report, the unauthorized material and also the reply submitted in response to show cause notice and further that the order was rightly passed in accordance with law. It is next contended that the unauthorized material was found from possession of the petitioner and it constituted sufficient material and furnished valid foundation for cancellation of result. The learned counsel also argued in support of the impugned order that the entire matter was considered by the Expert body constituted by the University comprising teachers of high probity. In the end, the learned counsel submitted that there is no infirmity in the decision making process by the Committee and the order is well founded and calls for no interference. The learned counsel also produced the original record for perusal of the Court.
I have bestowed my most anxious considerations to the arguments advanced across the bar by the learned counsel for the parties and have also delved into the materials on record.
From a perusal of the original record, it would crystallize that the charge of using unfair means relates to 16.1.2006 on which date the petitioner had appeared to attempt II paper of Law of Torts. Further, it crystallizes from a perusal of the report of examination Superintendent, Allahabad Degree College that the petitioner was caught by the Flying Squad. It would also appear from the record that statement of petitioner was recorded the same day in which he denied any recovery of any crib-notes from his possession stating further that the material in question had indeed been found lying at the back of the Bench and it was quite illegally foisted upon him alleging that it was not recovered from his possession and was rightly appended to his answer script. He clearly stated in his statement that he neither used any unfair means nor he cribbed from the material appended to his answer script. It has been further stated that while the petitioner was attempting questions of II paper of Law of Torts, the flying squad recovered the unauthorized material from the back of the Bench stating further that he has been wrongly and illegally roped in by the Flying Squad.
Coming to the reply submitted by him in response to the charge sheet, the petitioner has denied using any unfair means further stating that he has nothing to do with the material alleged to have been found from his possession. He further stated that the hand-written material had no nexus with the question being attempted by him. The reply also refers to his family background and miseries, which his family was encountering. Ultimately, it has been stated that the hand-written script has been illegally appended to his answer sheet.
I have also perused the examiner's report from the original record the substance of which is that the petitioner had not crabbed from the hand-written script appended to his answer sheet but at the same time the report mentions that the script related to the question which at the time of visit of flying squad was being attempted by the petitioner. From a perusal of the proceeding conducted in the matter of use of unfair means by the petitioner, it would transpire that in column no. 6 are embodied recommendations to the effect that the result of candidate's LL.B. First Year, First Semester examination 2006 be cancelled. This recommendation, it would further appear, bears no one's signatures and it is also not clear as to who conducted the search and referred the matter to the committee and further there is no indication whether the details of materials were taken into consideration by the body making recommendation for cancellation of the examination. The column no. 7 which is meant for containing decision of unfair-means Samiti/Vice Chancellor, has been left blank without containing any decision except bearing three signatures dated 14.3.2006. In this conspectus, there is nothing on record to prop up that the Body at all considered the reply, the examiner's report that the petitioner had not crabbed from the materials and the basis of their conclusion culminating in making recommendations that petitioner's Ist semester examination of LL.B. first year be cancelled. Further, there is nothing in column no. 7 to show who recommended the cancellation and further whether it was accepted or rejected.
The learned counsel for the University then switched to emphasize on provisions of the Ordinance issued on the use of unfair means and causing disturbances in examination. The relevant portion contained in para 1.5 of the Ordinance may be excerpted below.
"1.5. The committee referred to in Ordinance 1.4 above shall consider:-
(a) the report, if any, about the candidate having been found in possession of unauthorized material;
(b) the reply of the candidate, if any, to the notice;
(c) the report of the examiner concerned, if any, regarding the transcription or non-transcription of the unauthorized material of which the candidate was found in possession
(d) any other report of intimidation, threat, manhandling or violence received in connection with the conduct of the examination by any person on duty of the University and
(e) any other material.
The provisions afore-quoted clearly envisage that the Committee shall reckon with the report about the candidate having been found in possession of unauthorized material, the reply of the candidate to the notice, the report of examiner concerned regarding the transcription or non-transcription of the unauthorized material of which the candidate was found in possession. As stated supra, there is nothing in the original record to show that the Committee passed any order at all. In column no. 6, merely recommendation is scribed without containing any body's signature underneath it. In column no. 7, no decision either by the Committee or by the Vice Chancellor has been recorded. It is also clear from the materials on record i.e. the report of the examiner to the effect that though unauthorized material appended to the answer script related to the question attempted by the petitioner but it was not found to have been cribbed from the unauthorized materials. It does not appear from the materials on record whether reply of the petitioner has been taken into reckoning. Furthermore, there is no order canceling the result.
It brooks no dispute that the Court can certainly examine whether the decision making process was reasonable, rationale and not arbitrary on the facts and circumstances. This Court now proceeds to examine whether the Committee was a statutory body exercising quasi-judicial function and whether the alleged decision rendered by it in the matter was reasonable, rationale and informed with reasons observing in compliance the principles of natural justice.
The Committee dealing with unfair means matter of a student is a statutory committee having imprimatur of the Act and the statute of Allahabad University and by this reckoning it is a body performing quasi-judicial functions. By a catena of decision it has been held that both on principle and on authority every administrative officer exercising quasi-judicial functions is bound to give reasons in support of the order he makes. The essence of the settled position is that examining the question on principle why every quasi-judicial order must be a speaking order. The necessity of giving reasons flows as a necessary corollary form the rule of law, which constitutes one of the basic principles of the Constitutional set up. They must decide solely on the facts of the particular case, solely on the material before them and apart from any extraneous considerations by applying pre-existing legal norms to factual situations. It was further observed that now the necessity of giving reasons is an important safeguard to ensure observance of the duty to act judicially. It introduces clarity, checks the introduction of extraneous or irrelevant considerations and excludes or at any rate, minimizes arbitrariness in the decision making process.
In R.P.Bhatt v. Union of India (1986) 2 SCC 651, the Apex Court while interpreting Rule 27 (2) of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965 held that the word ''consider' in Rule 27 (2) of the Rules implied ''due application of mind'. It was further held that the appellate authority discharging quasi-judicial functions in accordance with natural justice must give reasons for its decision. In Ram Chander v. Union of India (1986) 3 SCC, 103, the Apex Court held that the duty to give reasons is an incident of the judicial process. In this decision, the case of R.P.Bhatt aforesaid has been cited with approval. In Divisional Personnel officer, Southern Railway v. T.R.Chellappan, (1976) 3 SCC, the essence of what has been held by the Apex court was that the terms ''consider' postulates consideration of all the aspects, the pros and cons of the matter after hearing the aggrieved person. In Barium Chemicals Ltd v. A.J.Rana, (1972) SC 591, the Apex Court reckoned into consideration the dictionary meaning of the word ''consider' which according to Shorter Oxford Dictionary means ''to review attentively, to survey, examine, inspection, to look attentively, to contemplate mentally, to think over, mediate on, give heed to, take note of, to think deliberately, bethink oneself to, reflect. Again the Court consulted Words and Phrases-Permanent Edition Vol. 9-A according to which the word ''consider' means to think with care. It is also mentioned that to ''consider' is to fix the mind upon with a view to careful examination; to ponder; study; mediate upon, think or reflect with care.
It would thus be eloquent that the statutory committee, which was dealing with the matter of unfair means allegedly employed by the petitioner in attempting questions, being quasi-judicial authority was to act judicially and was bound to give reasons, the duty to give reasons being an incident of the judicial process and to decide the matter on the facts of the case, on the material before them and by applying legal norms to factual situations regard being had to clause 1.5 of the Ordinance excerpted above which mandates that the Committee shall consider (a) the report, if any, about the candidate having been found in possession of unauthorized material; (b) the reply of the candidate, if any, to the notice; (c) the report of the examiner concerned if any, regarding the transcription or non-transcription of the unauthorized material of which the candidate was found in possession etc. As stated supra, from the examination of the original record, it does not appear that the Committee at all reckoned with the reply of the petitioner, the examiner's report to the effect that the petitioner did not copy from the unauthorized material though it related to the question being attempted by the petitioner besides that the column no. 6 containing two liner recommendations does not bear signature of any one and column no. 7 does not contain decision accepting or rejecting the recommendations. There is no order at all on record not to speak of a reasoned order evidencing the fact that requisite material was taken into reckoning by the Committee. The settled position in law is that the power of review under article 226 of the Constitution can be exercised effectively only if the order is a speaking order and reasons are given in support of it and if no reasons are given the High Court would be powerless to interfere so as to keep the unfair-means committee, which is a creation of statute, within the limits of the law and it would result in stultifying the power of judicial review by the High Court.
The learned counsel for the University read out to me number of decisions including the decision of Central Board of Secondary Education v. Vineeta Mahajan and another (1994) 1 SCC 6. From its perusal, it appears to me that the decision centred round its own facts and has been rendered on the admitted facts that the papers relevant to the examination were found from the possession of the candidate. The canons that govern this case contradict its extension to a situation like the present case.
In the above conspectus, the petition deserves to be allowed and the impugned order is liable to be quashed. The University is directed to declare the result of petitioner's LL.B. First Year First Semester examination 2006 after evaluation of the answer script and also permit him to appear in the next semester examination as the case may be.
As a result of foregoing discussion, the writ petition succeeds and is allowed and the impugned order dated 3.4.2006 is quashed.
In the facts and circumstances of the case, there would be no order as to costs.
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