Delhi HC: Reconstitution of Grievance Redressal Committee Not Against Integrity of DU

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The Delhi High Court allowed Delhi University to add a member of its choice to the court-constituted Grievance Redressal Committee. This was in connection with the online open book examination for final-year students. (The University of Delhi vs Anupam & Ors)

Brief Facts

This was the result of an appeal preferred by Delhi University against a Single Judge Bench’s order. The Court gave its nod to conduct online OBE. The Single Judge had set up a Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC). This was under the aegis of Justice (retd) Pratibha Rani. The other members of the Committee included Professor K. S. Rao, Professor Kavita Sharma, Senior Advocate BB Gupta, and Advocate Kamal Gupta. 

Contentions

Senior Advocate Sachin Dutta appeared on behalf of Delhi University in Court. He sought the restoration of its grievance redressal committee, albeit under the aegis of Justice Rani. He argued that interference “by outsiders” (the advocates), would impinge upon the functional autonomy and integrity of the university. He stated that DU was an institution of repute. It is trustable with the constitution of a grievance redressal forum. When the Committee had to give a report, it was like they were monitoring. Senior Advocate Dutta stated that there were no pleadings before the single Judge regarding its own proposed grievance committee. He further questioned: “Is there any basis for the conclusion that our committee would not be transparent?

Court’s Observations

A Division Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad had been set up.  Unimpressed by the submissions, the Court remarked:

“If the exams go satisfactorily, with little creases here and there, what is the problem? …  If you are so squeaky clean, let outsiders scrutinize.”

At the very outset, the Court cautioned against ‘ego’, remarking:

“You have the welfare of the students at heart. And your interest cannot be any different from that of the Court.”

The petitioners’ counsel included Advocate Akash Sinha. The court heard the contentions of the parties. It stated that that the GRC constituted by the Single Judge, would have no role to play in the integrity, or the functioning of the University.

It opined that the reconstitution of the GRC neither impinges on the integrity of the University nor does it intrude on its authority. Selecting members of the Committee who were not a part of the University, but have sufficient experience at hand, would only add to its stature. It would endorse the impartiality of the process further when a retired judge of the High Court would be the head. The Court further required the contact details of external members of the Committee which will get shared with the other members. Additionally, the Bench clarified that the Chairperson would have the casting vote, in case of cleavage. 

Court’s Decision

As a concession, the Court allowed the University to choose one person from its proposed committee to join the court-appointed GRC. After initially suggesting the name of Dr. Ajay Arora, the University chose Professor SC Rai.  

Shortly after the Division Bench hearing, the Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh heard the application by the GRC with respect to DU’s non-cooperation and non-compliance with the order.   

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor PC Joshi, and Professor KC Rao, one of the Committee members, assured the Court that they will stick to the Division Bench order in letter and spirit. Thus, the Single Judge opined that there is no need for an order.


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