Lapse in Initial Compliance with Eligibility Criteria by Educational Institution to Not Jeopardize Right of Student Later: Bombay HC
The Bombay High Court in Aarti Harish Bhandari vs Shree L R Tiwari College of Law — Writ Petition no.7959 Of 2021- directed the respondent college to clearly specify mandatory eligibility criteria for admission to the course at the beginning of the admission process and not jeopardize the right of the student for non-compliance by the institution. It further held that the petitioner was eligible to appear for 5th and 6th semester examination of three-year LLB degree course he had been admitted to.
The bench consisting of Justice R.D Dhanuka and Justice Abhaya Ahuja held:
(ii)Respondent No.2 – University is directed to declare the petitioner as eligible to appear for 5th and 6th semester examination (three-year course conducted by the respondent No.2 – University, within 48 hours from today;
(iii) We, hereby, direct the respondent No.1 – College to permit the petitioner to appear for her 5th semester examination forthwith;
The petitioner sought for the Hon’ble court to direct the respondent to permit her to appear for the 5th and 6th semester examination. She had appeared for and passed the Common Entrance Test (CET) which was conducted on 06.12.2019 by the University of Mumbai (respondent no.2), thus securing admission in the LLB course and had passed 4 semesters. Although the petitioner had paid the third-year fees, she was declared as ineligible for the examination.
The counsel on behalf of the petitioner submitted that after completion and passing of all the 4 semesters, the college, i.e., the respondent no. 1, could not restrain the petitioner at this stage. Further it is stated that the respondent no 2 through a letter dated 18.11.2020 communicated to respondent no.1 that the petitioner was ineligible due to securing less percentage as per rule O.5078 of the statute of the university. The said rule reads:
O.5078- For admission to the First Semester of 3 years LL.B. or 5 years LL.B Course of the candidates securing more than 40% but less than 45% of marks at the respective qualifying examinations (with further 5% relaxation for the candidates belonging to SC/ST categories) the University may conduct Common Eligibility Examination. The Common Eligibility Examination may be conducted either through University Department of Law or through any of the assenting Law Colleges affiliated to the University of Mumbai on behalf of the University of Mumbai as shall be recommended by the Board of Studies in Law. The candidates passing in such examinations shall become eligible for admission to the respective Law Courses and may be admitted in any of the Law Colleges conducting the respective Courses, subject to the availability of the admissions / seats in the College for the course and the Class.
Nevertheless, the ineligibility was not communicated to the petitioner and she came to know about it when she visited the college. Aggrieved by this, the Petitioner had approached this court through a writ.
The court after hearing the facts and analysing the circumstance observed that, the petitioner having passed the CET and securing admission to the 3-year LLB course at the respondent college, the latter could not restrain her from appearing for the final year examinations.The court went on to state:
“In our view since the petitioner was already allowed to appear for the CET examination and after passing the said examination was granted admission by the respondent No.1 – College, the University after lapse of substantial period and that also more particularly, the petitioner having passed 4 semesters out of 6 semesters could not have declared the petitioner ineligible by placing reliance on clause O.5078. The petitioner is not at fault because of the non-communication on the part of the University or the College about such order passed by the University belatedly or by not considering the issue of eligibility at the threshold.”
The court while disposing of the case also clarified that:
“It is made clear that we have passed this order in the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case and this order shall not be treated as a precedent in any matter.”
In conclusion, the court upheld the prayer of the petitioner and directed the respondent no. 2 to declare the petitioner as an eligible candidate and to issue her hall-ticket within the stipulated time, for the 5th and 6th semester examinations along with handing over of the degree after successful completion of the course.
Rasmita Behera | Research Intern | EduLegaL