WRIT – C NO. – 3297 OF 2020
ADIL KHAN V. VICE CHANCELLOR ALIGARH MUSLIM UNIVERSITY ALIGARH AND 4 OTHERS
BENCH: JUSTICE SALIL KUMAR RAI
FACTS OF THE CASE
The Allahabad High Court stated that the Vice-Chancellor is the final disciplinary authority and is not bound by the Disciplinary Committee’s recommendations.
“A mere noting of approval on the report of the Disciplinary Committee does not disclose any application of mind by the Vice-Chancellor either to the findings of the Disciplinary Committee or its proposal regarding the punishment to be imposed on the petitioner,” the bench of Justice Salil Kumar Rai stated.
In this instance, disagreements among two student groups regarding the invitation of a political leader to the campus resulted in violent activities that disrupted the academic environment at the university. It is alleged that the petitioner was a part of the violence. The petitioner and three other students, including one Farhan Zubairi, were all suspended by the university’s Proctor in an order dated February 13, 2019.
According to the order from February 13, 2019, Manish Kumar had complained to the Proctor that two university students had abused and physically assaulted him. He also said that the petitioner and Farhan Zubairi were to blame for the chaos on the campus.
The petitioner was also forbidden from entering the university campus by the 13.2.2019 order.
The petitioner was served with a charge sheet by the Disciplinary Committee. The petitioner did not appear before the Disciplinary Committee, which made its recommendations, due to his illness. However, due to the fact that the Disciplinary Committee’s initial recommendations were made without hearing the petitioner, the Vice-Chancellor referred the matter back to the Disciplinary Committee for additional investigation.
The High Court cited the case of V.C. Guru Ghasi Das University v. Craig Macleod, which stated that “maintenance of discipline in the University was important for a conducive academic environment,” “that the larger interests of the academic community are more central than the individual interests of a student, and the courts should be most reluctant to interfere in matters of discipline or in the administration of the internal affairs of a University,” and “the courts should be most reluctant to interfere in matters of discipline or in the
The case of Chairman, J & K State Board of Education v. Feyaz Ahmed Malik and Others was examined further by the bench, The Supreme Court held that “the courts have the power to intervene to correct any error in complying with the provisions of the Rules, Regulations, or Notifications and to remedy any manifest injustice being perpetrated on the candidates,” after observing that in matters pertaining to campus discipline, the duty is primarily vested in the authorities in charge of the institutions and that the court should not substitute their own views in place of the authorities in question.
The petitioner faces serious allegations, according to the High Court. He received a severe punishment with far-reaching repercussions. The punishment not only deprives the petitioner of educational opportunities and has a negative impact on his career, but it also creates a stigma that will prevent him from pursuing a career in the future. The nature of the allegations made against the petitioner, the severe and unjust punishment he received, and the Supreme Court’s observations convince the court to reject the University’s argument that the court should decline to exercise its power of judicial review because the matter involves the administration of the University’s internal affairs and discipline.
In addition, the bench made the observation that “the Vice-Chancellor is the final disciplinary authority and he is not bound by the recommendations of the Disciplinary Committee.” The Disciplinary Committee’s recommendations are merely a proposal to the Vice-Chancellor. Regardless of whether the Vice-Chancellor agrees or disagrees with the Disciplinary Committee’s findings and recommendations, he is not expected to act mechanically or without thinking. Regardless of whether a decision is purely administrative or quasi-judicial, the fairness principle requires that any order with adverse civil consequences on the subject of the order be supported by reasons revealing the decision-maker’s mental state.
After referring to decisions made by the Supreme Court, the High Court stated that any decision, whether administrative or quasi-judicial, that has a negative impact on anyone and can be appealed must be supported by explicit and clear reasons demonstrating proper mental application and that the decision-maker exercised discretion based on relevant grounds and ignored irrelevant factors. The aforementioned tests are clearly not met by the Vice-Chancellor’s order.
The bench made the observation that the Vice-Chancellor’s mere approval of the Disciplinary Committee’s report does not indicate that the Vice-Chancellor has considered the Disciplinary Committee’s findings or its proposal for the petitioner’s punishment.
According to the High Court, the petitioner’s disciplinary proceedings, which culminated in the Vice-Chancellor’s order and Executive Council resolution, violate natural justice principles and the Rules of 1985. The petitioner’s disciplinary proceedings, including the orders of the Vice-Chancellor and the Executive Council, could be overturned for the aforementioned reasons.
In view of the above, the bench allowed the petition.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY AJAY ADITHIYAA N