ARBITRARINESS SABOTAGES RIGHTS U/ARTICLES 14 & 16 OF THE CONSTITUTION

PETITIONER: DR. J. P. KULSHRESHTHA AND ORS.

Vs.

RESPONDENT: CHANCELLOR, ALLAHABAD UNIVERSITY, RAJ BHAWAN AND ORS.

DATE OF JUDGMENT30/04/1980

KRISHNAIYER, V.R.

BENCH:

KRISHNAIYER, V.R.

KOSHAL, A.D.

REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J)

CITATION:

 1980 AIR 2141                     1980 SCR  (3) 902

 1980 SCC  (3) 418

 CITATOR INFO :

 F                 1990 SC1402   (32)

ACT:

     Ordinance 9(2)  of the  University of  Allahabad issued under section  32(2) (f)  of the  Allahabad University     Act, 1921-Whether strict  compliance regarding the qualifications etc. prescribed  for appointment  of teachers  is necessary-whether non- complain serviettes the selection.

HEADNOTE:

     Six posts   of Readers  in the English Department of the University fell vacant and  applications  were           invited  by advertisement. The appellants and respondents 5 to 10, among others were applicants and they were all serving as lecturer in the   University at  that time.  Since section  29 of        the Allahabad University  Act, 1921         stipulates that teachers of the University  shall be  appointed by the Executive Council on  the recommendations  of  the  Selection  Committee,  a Selection Committee was constituted. The selection committee has to    do the statutory exercise of choosing the best among the applicants in conformity with the minimum qualifications prescribed under  ordinance 9(2)  of the University. But the committeee  chose   to  interview  the  candidates  who were otherwise eligible  for consideration. 13 applicants turned up  for           interview.  Respondent  9,  Dr.  Rhattacharya    and appellant  Skand  Gupta  resented  the    viva  voce  test  as unauthorized and  did not  care to appear for the interview. 

However Dr. Bhattacharya. On being persuaded, did later turn up, was  interviewed and  eventually included  in the Select List. Skand  Gupta did     not enjoy  the benefit   of a  second  pursuation to  present himself for interview, did not appear before  the   Selection Committee   and  missed   the      bus. Respondents 5  to 10  were chosen and on the recommendation, the Executive Council made their appointment. The appellants thereupon moved      the Chancellor  under section 42 of the Act requesting him   to cancel  the appointments of respondents 5 to 10. But by an order dated November 22, 1973 he upheld the selection and  appointment. The  appellant, therefore, moved the High  Court under  Article 226  of the  Constitution and impugned the  selection         process  and  the  appointments  on various grounds.  The learned  single judge  considered the merits of  the contentions and concluded that the selections and the consequent appointments  were bad  in law except in regard to  respondents 7  and 10 and directed the University to  make   fresh  selection   and  fill   UP  the  vacancies. Respondents 5  to 6  and 8  and 9  went  in  appeal  to the Division Bench which accepted their appeals and reversed the judgment of  the single judge in its entirety and hence the appeal by special leave. 

  Allowing the appeal the Court,^

     HELD:  1.  Any  Administrative  or quasi-judicial body clothed with  powers and  left unfettered  by procedures  is free to   device its own pragmatic, flexible and functionally viable processes of transacting business subject, of course, to the basics of  natural justice,  fair  play    in  action, reasonableness in collecting decisional materials, avoidance of arbitrariness and extraneous considerations and other vise  keeping within  the leading  strings of the law. Though there  is no  flaw in  the methodology of interviews, certainly,  cases   arise  where  the  art  of interviewing candidates  deteriorates  from  strategy  to  stratagem and undetectable manipulation  of results  is achieved by remote control tactics   masked as viva voce tests. This, if allowed is surely  a  sabotage of  the purity     or  proceedings,  a subterfuge whereby  legal means    to reach  illegal  ends  is achieved. So, it is that Courts insist on recording of marks  at interviews  and other  fair checks  like  guidelines     for marks and  remarks, about  candidates and  the like.  If the Court is sceptical, the record of the Selection proceedings, including the  notes regarding the interviews may have to be made  available.  Interviews,  as  such,  are  not  bad  but polluting it  to attain illegitimate ends is bad [908 H, 909 A-C]

     2. Social   scientists and     educational avant  garde may find pitfalls  in our  system of  education and    condemn the unscientific aspects  of marks   as  the   measure  of  merit, things as  they now stand. But, however imperfect and obtuse the current  system and  however urgent the modernization of our courses  culminating in  examinations may  be, the   fact remains that  the Court has to    go by    what is  extent and cannot explore        on its     own or  ignore the  measure of merit adopted by  universities. Judges must not rush in where even educationists fear  to tread.  So the criterion of marks and class, the  Allahabad University  has laid  down  is  sound, although to  swear religiously         by class  and grade  may  be exaggerated  reverence    and  false   scales   if   strictly scrutinized by progressive n criteria. [909,E-G]

     3. The prescription of a high second class in ordinance 9 is  a mandatory  minimum. A glance at the relevant portion of  ordinance  9  reveals   that  wherever   relaxation  of qualifications is intended, the ordinance specifically pelfs it out    and by  necessary implication, where it has not said so, the         possession of such qualification is imperative. The ordinance has  a purpose  when it prescribes at least a high second class  for a Reader's post. It is obligatory. [909 H,

91 O A. C-D]

     4. "High"   is the antithesis of "low" and a high second class is,  therefore, a contrast to a low second class. When the range  of a  second class marks is wide of the candidate who gets that Class with marks within the lower half bracket it cannot  be said  that he  gets a high second class. If he manages to  get 48 marks he barely gets a second class not a high second class. And commonsense, which is not an enemy of Court sense, points  clearly to the meaning,  of high second class as  one where  the marks   fall a little short of first class marks  and he  narrowly misses  first  class.  In  the context of ordinance 9 and its purpose and the collection of words used  viz. 'first    class or  a high second class', the interpretation will  misfire  if  the  Court  disregard   the intent and effect of the adjective, 'high' and indifferently read it to mean merely the minimum marks needed to bring the candidate within  the second  class.  High  is high  and  a superior second class denotes    marks somewhere    near  first class marks. Even by relaxing, diluting and liberalizing the rigour clearly   imported  by  the  draftsman  by  using  the expression "high second class", still it is impermissible to render the  word 'high'   nugatory or  make, by construction, that intensive    adjective redundant.  Nor did the University has all these years treat a high second class to mean a mere second class  and English  has not  lost its  potency in  he  Allahabad University  so 25  to include  low  in  high.      The utmost construction  would be: Draw a line at mid-point, and marks above  and below that line will be high and low second class respectively. In the instant case, the mid-line being 54 those who have not secured above 54 cannot claim to have obtained  a high  second class and are ineligible. [910 D-H, 911 A, D]

     5. It is true that the Selection Committee is an expert body. But  their expertise  is not  in law,   but  in  other branches of  learning and  the final  interpretation  of  an ordinance is  a legal  skill outside the academic orbit.[911 E-F]

     6. While  there is no absolute  ban, it  is a  rule of prudence that  courts should  hesitate to dislodge decisions of academic  bodies. But  university organs, for that matter any authority in our system, is bound by the rule of law and cannot be  a law unto itself. If the Chancellor or any other authority lesser  in level  decides an academic matter or in educational question,  the court  keeps its  hands off;   but where a      provision of  law has to be read and understood, it is not  fair to    keep the could out. To respect in authority is not  to worship  it unquestion  illegal since  the bhakti cult is  inept in the critical field of law. In short, while dealing With  legal affairs which have an impact on academic bodies, the  views of  educational experts  are entitled  to great consideration  but not  to exclusive wisdom. [911 G-H, 912 B-D]

     The University  of Mysore and Anr. v. C. D. Govinda and Anr., [1964] 4 SCR 575 @ 586; followed.

     7. An illegal act cannot be  deemed to  be  legal  by reading a  legislative function  into an  executive  action. Were this  dubious doctrine  applied to Governmental affairs and confusion  between executive  and legislative  functions juries prudently  sanctioned, the  consequence could well be disastrous to  the basics  of our  democracy. Shall gains in some case  should not justify the urging of propositions which are subversive of our constitution. [912 E-F] 

JUDGMENT

     CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION :  Civil Appeal No. 1524 of 1977.

     Appeal by Special Leave  from the Judgment and  order dated 21-9-1976    of the   Allahabad High Court    in  S.A.Nos. 26,66 and 37/76.  S. P. Gupta and Pramod Swaroop for the Appellants.   Yogeshwar Prasad and  Mrs. Rani  Chkabra  for the  Respondents 5 and 6.  U. R.  Lalit and Manoj Swarup, Miss Lalit Kohli for the Respondent (University.)

     The Judgment of the Court was delivered by

     KRISHNA IYER  J.-The core controversy in this appeal by special leave  rages round  the legality of the selection of Readers by  the Allahabad  University. The  fortunes of   the litigation, pending  for seven  years have  been fluctuating from court  to court.  The fine     line of distinction between internal autonomy  for educational  bodies and insulation of their operations  from judicial interference on the one hand and the      constitutional obligation  of the  court to examine the legality of academic actions and  correct  clear  injustices  on  the  other  is jurisprudentially real   and the  present appeal  illustrates the demarcation  between  the  two  positions.    While  legal shibboleths  like  "hand-off  universities"  and  meticulous forensic invigilation  of educational  organs  may  both  be wrong,  a  balanced approach of leaving universities in their internal functioning  well alone  to  a   large     extent, but striking at  illegalities and  injustices, if  committed  by however high  an  authority,  educational  or other, will resolve the  problem raised,  by counsel  before us  in this appeal from  a judgment  of the   Division Bench of the High Court.   Once We recognize the basic yet simple proposition that no islands of insubordination to the rule of law exist in our Republic  and that    discretion to disobey the mandate of the law     does not  belong even to university organs or other authorities the  retreat of  the Court      at the    sight of  an academic body, as has happened here, cannot be approved. On the facts and features of this case such a balanced exercise of jurisdiction  will, if  we may  anticipate  our  ultimate conclusion, result in the reversal of the appellate judgment and the   restoration, in substantial measure, of the learned single Judge's    judgment quashing the selections made by the University bodies  for the  posts of  Readers in English way back in 1973.

     A perception  in perspective  of the  facts  which   are brief and  the law  which is  clear, persuades us to narrate the circumstances  which have  led a  number of lecturers of the Allahabad  University to  fighting forensic battles over the selection of some as Readers in English by the selection Committee and their opportunity by the Executive Council      Nearly a  decade ago,  six  posts    of  Readers  in the English  Department   of  the  University  fell       vacant  and applications were  invited by advertisement. The petitioners and respondents 5 to 10 among others, were applicants. These parties were  all serving  as lecturers in the university at that  time.   A selection committee was  constituted  as contemplated by the statutes and ordinances harmed under the Allahabad  university  Act,  1921  (for       short,   hereinafter called the  Act.) Section  29 of  the Act,  stipulates that teachers  of  the  university  shall  be  appointed  by the executive council  on the  recommendations of  the selection committee. There  are statutory provisions  regulating the functions of the selection committee section 32(2)(f) of the Act. provides  for the         issuance of  ordinances prescribing qualifications for  appointment of  teachers. Ordinance 912) lays down  the qualifications  for teachers  in the  various faculties. We  are concerned  with ordinance  9 with special reference to  the prescription of qualifications for Readers and it runs thus:  9.   The following   qualifications are  prescribed     for the appointment  of teachers    in the    Faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce and Law

    (2)  For  Readers:    (i)  First  or          high  Second  Class Master's degree  in the Subject concerned and good academic record.

     (ii) Established  reputation for  sound scholarship and be competent  to teach  upto Master's degree and guide research

    (iii) A doctor's degree, or equivalent published work.

     (iv) At  least 5  Years' teaching  'experience  of the subject concerned  in post-graduate  classes in  a  University  recognized   by  law,   or   research experience in  a Research  Institute recognized by  the. University  or' the  State,  or  the  Central Government. Provided that               the selection     'Committee may relax the qualifications  contained in  clause (iii) for  the post  of Readers     in the    case  of  candidates           whose total  length of  service as  tea cheers  in this University  is  not  less  than the  period' required to  teach the  maximum of  the Lecturer's grade and  who shall have established a reputation  as teachers.        Provided  further  that  in  the  case  of  women- teachers of  this (i.e.  Allahabad University), in place of qualification No. (IV) requiring 5 years' teaching experience  in post  graduate  classes  a minimum of  5 Years  teaching experience  of the subject in the graduate classes in this University may also  be considered  adequate for the post of Readers.

     The statutory  exercise of choosing the best among the applicants in  conformity with the minimum qualifications is done by the selection                committee which recommends  to the 'executive' council  its panel. While there  is no specific legislative provision  regarding the procedure to be adopted by  the selection  committee there is no doubt that arbitrariness is  anathema,  violation       of  natural  justice vitiates and  subject to  this, self-created rules, flexible and pragmatic,  fair and  functionally viable,   may well  be fashioned by  the selection committee.   In  this  case  the committee chose   to interview  the candidates who were other wise eligible for consideration. 13 applicants turned up for inter view.  But respondent  No, 9,  Dr.  Bhattacharya,    and petitioner No. 2, Skand Gupta, apparently resented the viva voce test as unauthorized and did not care to appear for the interview. How     ever, Dr.  Bhattacharya (R.  9),  on  being persuaded, did later turn up, was interviewed and eventually included in the 'select list'. The second Petitioner  did not  enjoy the  benefit of  a  second persuasion to  present himself for interviews did not appear before the Selection Committee and missed the bus.   The Committee,  which  consisted  of  academic  experts prepared a  panel and forwarded it to the Executive Council. As is  inevitable in  situations of  over supply,  many    are called but  few are chosen and Respondents 5 to 10 (Dr. Mrs. Hem Lata  Joshi, R-5,  Shri H. S Saxena, R-6 Dr. R. R. Dutt, R-7, Shri I. N. Agarwal, R-8, Dr. A.N.Bhattacharyya, R-9,and Dr. L.M. Upadhayaya, R-10) were lucky to be chosen while the Petitioners  were   luckless  and  lost.  Petitioner  No.  2 represented against  the propriety  of the  selection to the executive council,  but the  latter overruled  the objection and accepted  the recommendation.  Respondents 5  to 10 were thus appointed       Readers. The Petitioners thereupon moved the chancellor  under  s.42           of  the  Act  and  urged  in  their Petition,  that     the  selection   was illegal, but  were disappointed  because  the  chancellor, by  this  order  of November  22,              1973,     upheld  the   selection   and        the appointments. The  last refuge  of those with lost causes is the writ  jurisdiction of  the High  Court. The Petitioners invoked Art.  226  of  the  Constitution  and  impugned the legality of  the selection  process and the appointments on various grounds.  The learned  single Judge  considered      the merits of  the contentions and concluded that the selections and the  consequent appointments  were bad  in law except in regard to  respondents 7 and 10 and directed the university, in January  1976, to hold fresh selections . for filling the vacancies of long years ago. 

     Inevitably, the  vanquished respondents  rushed to   the appellate Bench  of the   High Court  where  success  greeted them; for,  the appeals  were allowed  in  reversal  of  the single Judge's reasoning and the writ petition was dismissed in entirety.  The final sanctuary of those who F. fancy that they are  victims of  judicial injustice  of other  forms of iniquity is  the Supreme  Court in  its misleadingly immense and self  defeatingly multiform jurisdiction under Art. 136, The appellants are here hopefully invoking our power to heal their alleged in jury.   With this   backdrop, it  will be easy to appreciate the few submissions urged by the appellants in substantiation of their case that although the selection committee was legally constituted, the  process of  selection and the criteria for selection Were illegal, If the selecting were invalid dated by any lethal vice  the council's  action in  accepting the commendees cannot survive.  Nor can  the chancellor's dismissal of  the objections  of the appellants lend life to what otherwise is non    est.  Thus,  the  crucial  issue  is whether the grounds of attack levelled against the selection have substance.

     A few  basic facts must be remembered before We discuss the merits.  All the  parties with  whom we are concerned as candidates, have  acquired their  master's degree  from  the Allahabad University. In tune with the hierarchical ethos of Indian society  which does not spare the academic there is a pyramidal structure  with lecturers  at the  bottom, Readers above       them   and   professors    at   the   top,   speaking simplistically. Our  concern in this appeal is with Readers; and the  eligibility qualifications mentioned in ordinance 9 are the minimum, not  the maximum. We may straight get into the meat of the matter, The substantial con tension urged by the appellant  with success  before  the  single  Judge   and failure before the Division Bench is that the  contesting respondents are not even qualified for consideration because they do not have a first class or a high second class in the Master's degree. It is common ground that none of them has a first class.  It is undisputed that the Allahabad University awards first  class to      those who  obtain 60 % and above and second class to those who secure anything between 48 % to 59 ^. For    the nonce,  we are  not concerned  with  the  other qualifications itemized   in ordinance  9. The marks obtained by the         appellants show  that they  are recipients  of first class or  high second  class. The  controversy is  not about their eligibility  but that  of the  contesting respondents. Dr. Mrs.  Joshi (R.  S) has  secured 52.2 marks; Shri Saxena (R. 6) has scraped through with 49 .3 marks; Dr. Dutt (R. 7) has, however,  obtained a  first class  while  Shri  Agarwal (R.8) is  slightly below the middle line in the second class range having  got only 53 .8, marks; Dr. Bhattacharya (R9.) has fared  a little  better with  54 .5 marks. Dr. Upadhyaya (R. 10) also has a better performance record in the Master's degree examination  since he  has 55.1   marks to his credit. From these figures it is obvious that Dr. Dutt (R.7) has the 'distinction of  being the  holder of  a first  class.  It  is beyond    one's     comprehension  how   his  selection  can  be challenged  on   the  score of ineligibility.  Indeed,    the appellants have       accepted the findings of the learned single Judge who  has disallowed  the writ  petition vis-a-vis R. 7 and R.  10. We  agree. Even  in  regard  to  the  conclusion arrived at  so far as R. 10, Dr. Upadhyaya, is concerned who has secured marks above the middle line in the range between 48 %  and 59  %, we  are not  disposed to  disagree with the single Judge.  Thus, the  appointments of. 7 and R.10 do not call for  any interference.  The rest  will, right  now,  be exposed to the actinic light of legal scrutiny. We may  dispel two  mystiques before we debate the real issued. Did   the  selection  committee  act  illegally in resorting to the interview process to pick out the best ? We think not. Any administrative or quasi judicial body clothed with powers and left unfettered by procedures  is free to devise its own pragmatic, flexible and functionally  viable processes  of transacting  business subject, of  course to the basics  of natural justice fair play in action,  reasonableness  in  collecting  decisional materials, avoidance of  arbitrariness   and extraneous considerations and  otherwise keeping  with in    the  leading strings of  the law.  We find  no flaw in the methodology of `interviews.'  Certainly,  cases  arise  where  the  art  of interviewing  candidates   deteriorates  from     strategy  to stratagem  and   undetectable  manipulation  of results  is achieved by  remote control  tactics  masked  as  viva      voce  tests. This,  if allowed, is surely a sabotage of the purity of proceedings,  a subterfuge  whereby legal  means to reach illegal ends  is achieved.  So it  is that courts insist, as the learned  single Judge  has, in this very case, suggested on recording  of marks     at interviews  and other fair checks like guidelines  for marks  and remarks about candidates and the like.  If the  court is  sceptical, the  record  of the Selection proceedings,  including the  notes  regarding   the interviews, may  have to  be made  available. Interviews, as such, are  not bad  but polluting  it to attain illegitimate ends is bad. Dr. Martin Luther  King Jr. was right when be wrote.

                           "So I have tried  to make it clear that it is wrong to  use immoral  means to attain moral ends.

                           But now I must   affirm that  it is   just as wrong, or even more, to use   moral means to preserve immoral ends."

     The second obscurantism we must remove  is the  blind veneration of  marks at examination as the main measure of merit. Social  scientists and  educational avant  garde may find pitfalls  in our  system of  education and condemn the unscientific aspects  of marks     as  the   measure  of  merit, things as they now stand. But, however imperfect and obtuse the current  system and however urgent the modernization of our courses  culminating in  examinations may be, the    fact remains that  F he  court has  to go  by what  is extent and cannot explore   on its     own or  ignore the  measure of merit adopted by  universities. Judges must not rush in where even educationists fear  to tread.  So,  we     see  no purpose  in belittling the criterion of  marks and    class the Allahahad  University has   laid down,  although to swear religiously by class and  grade may  be  exaggerated  reverence  and  false scales if strictly scrutinized by progressive criteria.   We have  stated earlier  that the prescription of first class or  high second  class is    part of  the ordinance as a qualification  for   a   Reader's  post. is  this  condition mandatory or directory ? The High Court at the two tiers has taken contrary views. But we are inclined to hold that  a high  second class  is a  mandatory minimum.  A glance at  the relevant portion of ordinance 9 reveals that wherever  relaxation  of  qualifications  is  intended, the ordinance  specifically    spells     it  out  and  by  necessary implication, where  it has  not said  so, the  possession of  such qualification  is imperative.  We must  remember that a Reader       is but next to a  Professor  and  holds    high responsibility in  giving academic guidance to post-graduate students. He has to be a creative scholar himself capable of stimulating  in      his  students a  spirit  of    enquiry   and challenge, intellectual    ferment and thirst for research. If the teacher is innocent of academic excellence, the student, in  turn,   will  be   passive, mechanical,   negative and memorizing where  he should  be innovative,  imaginative and inventive. The   inference is  irresistible that a Reader who guides the  students and  raises his faculties into creative heights is  one who  himself  has  had   attainments  to his credit. Putting aside for a moment the value of examinations and marks as indicators of the student's potential], we must agree that  the ordinance  has a  purpose when it prescribes at least a  high second   class for  a Reader's  post. It is obligatory      Now we  come to  close grips  with the Principal point debated before  us. When  is a    second class  high, going by marks? For any layman the meaning is clear. For any purpose oriented interpretation     the decoding is simple. High is the antithesis of  low and     a high second class is, therefore, a contrast to  a low  second class.  When the  range of second class marks  is wide,  of the  candidate who gets that class with marks  within the lower half bracket you cannot say he gets a    high second  class. If he manages to get 48 marks he barely gets  a second  class-not a  high second          class.    And common sense which  is not  an enemy  of court  sense, points clearly to the meaning of high second class as one where the marks fall  a little  short of  first  class  marks  and  he narrowly misses  first class.  In the context of ordinance 9 and its   purpose and  the collocating  of  words  used     viz. 'first class  or a  high second class', the  interpretation will misfire  if we  disregard the  intent and effect of the adjective 'high'  and indifferently  read it  to mean merely the minimum  marks needed  to bring the candidate within the second class.  High is               high and  a  superior  second  class denotes marks some where near first class marks. Assuming we relax, dilute  and liberalize the rigour clearly imported by the drafts-man  by using             the expression 'high second class', still it is impermissible to render the word 'high' nugatory or  make,   by  construction,     that   intensive   adjective redundant. Nor  are we impressed with the strange submission that the  University has  all these  years  treated  a    high second class  to mean  a mare second class, and, therefore English has lost its potency in the Allahabad University and high includes low. Such pathetic semantics must be rejected such continuing commission of wrong does not right it.

     The  utmost   we  may   reluctantly   accept   is   the construction that the learned single Judge has adopted. Draw a line  at mid-point,  and marks  above and  below that line will be high and LOW second class respectively. 

     It was urged that marks for the second-class grade vary from university   to University and start sometimes with 40 % and so,   even 48 % must be regarded as high second class for Allahabad  University.        Here  we  are  concerned  only       with holders of second class from the Allahabad University and so the complication  of other  universities does not rise. Even otherwise, will     reference to and particular university, the marks for  second class may be from X to Y and 'high' with reference to  that university  will  be the  superior      half between   X and Y.  Lexically,   logically,   legally, teleologically,    we,   find  the  conclusion  the  same.  We regretfully but   respectfully  disagree    with  the  Division Bench and  uphold the  sense of high second class attributed by the learned single Judge. The mid line takes us to 54 and although  it   is   unpalatable to   be   mechanical and mathematical, we  have to  hold  that  those  who  have  not secured above  54 marks cannot claim to have obtained a high second class  and are  ineligible. In  the instant case, Dr. Mrs. Joshi,  Shri Saxena  and Shri  Agarwal do  not fill the bill, their  marks being  below 54  in the  Master's  degree examination. We have earlier  held that the power to relax, as the ordinance now runs, in so far as high second class is concerned, does     not exist.  Inevitably, the  appointment of the 3  respondents violate  the ordinance and are therefore, illegal. It  is true,  as counsel  for the respondent urged, that the  'selection Committee is an expert body. But their expertise is  not in  law, but in other branches of learning and the final interpretation  of an  ordinance is  a  legal skill outside the academic orbit. 

     Rulings of this Court  were cited before us to hammer home the  point that  the Court   should not  substitute its judgment for  that of  academicians when the dispute relates to educational affairs. While           there is no absolute ban, it is a  rule  of prudence  that courts should hesitate  to dislodge  decisions   of  academic  bodies.  But  university organs, for  that matter  any authority in our    system,  is bound by  the rule of law and cannot be a law unto itself If the Chancellor or  any other               authority  lesser  in  level decides an  academic matter  or an educational question, the Court keeps  its hands off; but where a provision of law has to be read and understood, it is not fair to keep the Court out. In Govinda Rao's case (1) Gajendragadkar, J (as he they was) struck the right note:

                                 "What the High Court should have considered is whether

                                 file appointment made by the Chancellor Had contravened

                                 any statutory  or binding   rule or   ordinance,  and  in

                                 doing so, the High  Court should have shown due regard

                                 to the   opinions expressed  by the  Board  and  its

                                 recommendations on which the Chancellor has acted."

                                 (Emphasis added)

The later  decisions cited  before us broadly conform to the rule of    caution sounded  in Govinda  Rao. But to respect an authority is  not to  worship it  unquestioningly since    the bhakti cult is inept in the critical field of law. In short, while dealing  with legal  affairs which  have an  impact on academic  bodies,  the views  of  educational experts are entitled to great consideration but not to exclusive wisdom. Moreover, the  present case  is  so  simple  that  profound doctrines about academic autonomy have no place here.

     A strange submission was mildly made that the Executive Council has  also the  power to    make ordinances  and so, by accepting a  low second  class has  equal to  a High  second class in the case of the three respondents, the Council must be deemed  to have  amended the ordinance and implicitly re-written it  to delete  the adjective  'high  before  'second class. This  argument means  that an  illegal  act  must  be deemed to be legal by reading a legislative function into an executive action.  Were this  dubious  doctrine applied  to governmental affairs  and confusion  between  executive  and legislative functions  juris  prudentially  sanctioned,     the consequences could  Well be  disastrous to the basics of our democracy We  mention this facet of the argument not only to reject it  but to  emphasize that  small gain  in some         case should not  justify the urging of  propositions  which are subversive of  our Constitution  Be that  as it      may, we are satisfied that respondents 5, 6 and 8 do not possess a high second class in their Master's degree.   The second    condition  successfully  urged before the single judge  of the  High Court relates to Dr. Bhattacharya (R. 9).  The point  is that  R. 9  and petitioner  No. 2 for selection the  second Petitioner  lost his  chance of  being considered because  he did  not appear for the interview and Dr. Bhattacharya averted that fate because he was sent for a second time. The equivocal version of Dr. Bhattacharya has not been accepted by the learned single Judge and we are unhappy that  an academic  has been  put to the necessity of this dubiety which suggests that taking liberties with truth for getting  a temporary  advantage is a tendency which does not spare  highly  educated  and  gifted  persons.  In        this connection, even the terminological inexactitude indulged in by Dr.          Hem Lata Joshi (R. 5) is not complimentary, when she says that  in her  application she  gave 54 marks as against the actual  figure of  52.2 and when challenged, she excused herself by  saying that her memory, working in a hurry, let her down.  We are  satisfied that if the Selection Committee had chosen  to give  an opportunity  to the  2nd petitioner, even as   they did  to R. 9, he might well have turned up and having regard  to his  high marks,  might also have stood a good chance of being selected. The criticism is not that the Selection Committee's  action was  mala-fide or biassed, but that there  has been  unequal treatment  between equals. For this reason,  the selection  of R.  9 deserves  to be struck down as violative of Art. 14.

     Other minor  points which have been urged and countered do not deserve serious consideration and we decline to deal with them. The conclusion we reach is that the selection and  appointments of respondents 7  and 10   are  good;  but the selection and  appointment of  respondents 5, 6, 8 and 9 are bad in law. 

     The tragic sequel cannot   be dismissed  as none of our concern because   the Court,  by its process, must, as far as possible, act  constructively,   minimising  the injury  and maximising the benefit. Indifference  to consequences   upon institutions and  individuals has an imperial flavour and we wish to    make it  clear that  the fact   that since  1973 the respondents 5,   6, 8  and 9 have been functioning as Readers without blemish    is a  factor which  distresses us  when  we demolish their       appointments. They have gained experience of several years  in the Reader's post. They are otherwise well qualified on the academic side. The short-fall in the matter of a  high second  class,  while  some  of  them  have  been doctorates, should  not have such disastrous consequences as to throw  out the  appointees 7       years after.  We think that these special circumstances may well justify the appropriate authority in  the University resorting to alternatives which may mitigate  their misfortune.  We have  been  informed  by counsel Mr.  Manoj Swarup that the University is inclined to take an accommodative attitude to mitigate the hardship that may flow  from the adjudication. Of course, they are free to take such  steps as  they deem just and necessary. We do not think there  was anything  wrong in  Dr. Bhattacharya having been persuaded to come to the interview, but we regard it as improper that  such a  facility was  not extended to the 2nd petitioner.  In conclusion,  we allow  the appeal and direct a fresh selection from among those candidates who are qualified for Readership in  the light  of our interpretation of Ordinance 9. We  make it   clear that the appointments of respondents 7 and 10 sustained by the High Court, will remain untouched.

     The appeal is allowed subject to the observations made above.

S.R.                                                                             Appeal allowed.

 

 

 

 

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