Mallikarjun is a student of law who is studying in S.S.L. Law College at Gulbarga, caught red-handed while copying in the examination held on 06.07.2019 and a malpractice case was registered against him. The Registrar (Evaluation I/c) Karnataka State Law University debarred Mallikarjun for 3 years and restricted him to write exams in future. Petitioner/Mallikarjun aggrieved by the order has filed the writ petition in the High Court of Karnataka, Kalaburagi Bench under Articles 226 & 227 of the Constitution of India, praying to issue a Writ of Certiorari and Mandamus to quash the order passed by the registrar (Evaluation I/c) Karnataka State Law University.
Facts of the case
Petitioner/ Mallikarjun is a law student pursuing his law course in S.S.L. Law College at Gulbarga. Caught red-handed while copying in the examination held on 06.07.2019 and a malpractice case was registered against him. After enquiry and meeting held by the committee, The registrar (evaluation i/c) Karnataka state law university passed the impugned order as,
“The Candidate shall be debarred from taking next available 3 Examinations (in any semester) in all papers, besides forfeiting his performance in the examination in which he commits malpractice, by imposing a penalty of Rs.1,000/-. The further candidate shall not be permitted to keep terms for the next higher course or pursue other alternative courses till their term of punishment is over.”
Learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the enquiry conducted is illegal, without authority of law and contrary to “The Ordinance Governing the Malpractice by Candidates Appearing in the Examination and Officials/Supervisory Staff, Punishment and Procedure under section 48 (1)(d) of Karnataka State Law University Act, 2009” and submits that no documents were provided to the petitioner before the commencement of the enquiry and no opportunity was given to the petitioner to cross-examine any of the witnesses and merely based on the statement of the supervisor, the impugned order has been passed in stark violation of the basic principle of natural justice and hence the impugned order and the consequent punishment imposed on the petitioner is illegal and without authority of law is liable to set aside.
Learned counsel on behalf of the respondent, filed a detailed statement of objection contending that a valid and proper enquiry was held before passing the impugned order. Referring to the proceedings of the Malpractice Committee held on 29.08.2019, learned counsel pointed out that the petitioner was issued with prior notice and he actually participated in the proceedings but refused to sign the order sheet and failed to cross-examine the witnesses and therefore the allegations made against the respondents are baseless and contrary to the records maintained by the Malpractice Committee.
Learned counsel for respondents further submitted that the petitioner having been caught red-handed and the material used for malpractice having been recovered in his presence, there is prima facie material in proof of his misconduct and therefore there is no illegality whatsoever, either in the procedure adopted by respondent or in the punishment imposed on the petitioner and thus sought for dismissal of the petition.
Decision of the Court
A perusal of the proceedings conducted by the Malpractice Committee reveals that though the petitioner appeared before the Committee, charges were not read over and his plea was not recorded. There is nothing in the proceedings recorded by the respondent to indicate that any charge was framed against the petitioner. Under the said circumstance, the very basis for enquiry having been taken away the subsequent proceedings conducted by the petitioners by examining witnesses on behalf of respondent do not assume any significance. Since the enquiry conducted by the respondent is not in accordance with the procedure contemplated under the Karnataka State Law University Act 2009, solely on this ground, the impugned order and the consequent punishment imposed on the petitioner is liable to set aside. Further ordered petitioner is directed to appear before respondent without any further notice or intimation to take the further date for the enquiry. In the event the enquiry cannot be completed on or before 22.12.2019, the petitioner shall be permitted to write the ensuing examination commencing from 20.12.2019. The results of the said examination shall be subject to the order passed by the Malpractice Committee.
In case petitioner fails to appear before respondent on 16.12.2019 and fails to appear before the Malpractice Committee as per the instruction of respondent, this order shall become inoperative and the order passed by the examination committee shall be given effect to.
In view of this order, the respondent is directed to declare the results of the examinations so far written by the petitioner with respect to backlog subjects.
Thus petition is allowed.
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