Title: Riddhima Singh V Central Board Of Secondary Education & Ors.
Citation: LPA 729/2023
Coram: Hon’ble The Chief Justice And Hon’ble Mr. Justice Tushar Rao Gedela
Decided On: 01.11.2023
The present LPA arises out of judgement dated 12.09.2023 passed in W.P.(C) No. 8383/2023 whereby the Ld. Single Judge dismissed the writ petition filed by the Appellant herein on grounds of forum non-conveniens without expressing any opinion on the merits of the matter.
Appellant was a student in Respondent School (the „Respondent School‟). However, on 02.04.2018, the Appellant‟s father received a message from the Respondent School that due to non-payment of fees for the academic year 2017-2018, the Appellant was debarred from attending the Respondent School. Being aggrieved, the Appellant preferred W.P.(C) 6007/2019 (the „First Writ Petition‟) before this Court seeking issuance of directions against Respondent No. 1 („CBSE‟) to permit the Appellant to appear for Class X and Class XII examinations. During the pendency of the aforenoted writ proceedings, this Court, through interlocutory orders, directed the Respondent School to readmit the Appellant and directed the school to conduct Grade VII and Grade VIII examinations for the benefit of the Appellant. Both the examinations were conducted by the Respondent School and was cleared by the Appellant. It is pertinent to note that the Grade VIII examinations were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vide judgement dated 04.06.2021, the First Writ Petition was dismissed by the Ld. Single Judge on grounds that this Court was not the most appropriate forum to adjudicate the dispute. The Court considered that the Appellant was a resident of Uttar Pradesh and that the Respondent School was also located in Uttar Pradesh. As the grievances of the Appellant primarily pertained to the Respondent School, the Court held that the mere inclusion of CBSE as a respondent was not sufficient to enable this Court to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Aggrieved the Appellant preferred a review petition against this judgement which was also dismissed with costs of INR 30,000 imposed on the Appellant.
Subsequent to the events of the First Writ Petition, the Appellant preferred the underlying writ petition seeking compensation from CBSE for alleged “intentional harassment, mental trauma of holding back the Petitioner in Class VII for two academic years in violation of RTE Act.” Without adjudicating on the merits of the matter, the Ld. Single Judge dismissed the writ petition on the grounds of non-conveniens, noting that the Appellant has attempted to found territorial jurisdiction in Delhi merely because CBSE is headquartered in Delhi.
Learned Counsel for the Appellant contends that the Ld. Single Judge erred in not considering that Clause 18.3.2 of the CBSE Affiliation Bye-Laws explicitly states that the legal jurisdiction for suits filed against the CBSE shall be the Union Territory of Delhi.
Court’s Analysis and Judgement:
The principle emerging from Shristi Udaipur is squarely applicable to the facts of the present case. In essence, the basis of the Appellant‟s claim for compensation is the loss of an academic year due a delay in examinations for Grade VIII. As the responsibility for conducting the examinations fell on the Respondent School, it is plain that the most vital part of the cause of action arose in Uttar Pradesh, where the Respondent School is located. Moreover, it must also be noted that the Appellant is a resident of Uttar Pradesh. Therefore, on a holistic examination of these circumstances, as the Appellant has failed to produce any material establishing that the grievance caused to her is directly attributable to the actions of the CBSE.
doctrine of forum conveniens is invoked to determine the most appropriate forum for adjudication of a dispute and this exercise is undertaken not only for the convenience of the parties but also in the interest of justice. Therefore, this Clause cannot be read in a matter that would permit all cases filed against the CBSE, regardless of the existence of a more appropriate forum, to be adjudicated in the Union Territory of Delhi; the existence of such a clause cannot exempt Courts from invoking the doctrine of forum conveniens especially in cases like the present where no direct actions of the CBSE have been impugned by the Appellant. So the court did not find any eason to interfere with the Impugned Judgement. Accordingly, the present LPA was dismissed.
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