SC Upholds Karnataka HC Decision Directing NLSIU to Promote Failed Student as Protocol Overlooked by University
Supreme Court of India, in National Law School of India University Vs Hruday P.B & Anr.1 (S.L. A No. 7367/2021) disposed the petitioner-university’s Special Leave of Appeal and directed it to promote the respondent-student to the 4th year of the 5-year B.A.LL.B. The Court held that the respondent had cleared one project required for his promotion to the next class and the petitioner university had not followed proper protocols in failing the student.
The Supreme Court bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy held:
“We appreciate that the petitioner/Institute is a School of excellence. We also appreciate the endeavour to prevent plagiarism. However, in the facts of the case, we do believe that as per the existing regulations, the necessary formalities were not followed and that is what has given rise to the order of the learned Single Judge, dated 18.11.2020.”
The respondent, a five-year B.A.LL.B. student of the academic year 2017-18 from the petitioner university, was awarded a F-grade in ‘Child Rights’ Law Examination held in 2020 and was denied admission to the next year on account of having failed the said examination. The respondent received failing grades due to alleged plagiarism of the project work and he was also not permitted to take the repeat examination.
The respondent had first approached the Karnataka High Court by filing a writ petition under Article 226 stating that he was denied admission by the petitioner on the grounds of having plagiarised an additional project. The Single-judge of Karnataka High Court granted the student relief and ordered the petitioner to promote him to the 4th year.
Aggrieved, by the above decision, the petitioner-university filed a Writ Appeal heard by the division bench of Karnataka High Court. The respondent counsel produced the Registrar of the College’s statement. The Registrar of the College had stated before the division bench that the respondent having secured an A-grade in the University allotted additional course ‘project on project finance’, didn’t require the marks of the previous project to clear the academic year as only one project was deemed to be necessary to clear the trimester. The Division Bench heeded the words of the Registrar of the College and decided to uphold the decision of the single-bench Karnataka High Court.
Further aggrieved by the order, the petitioner university approached the Supreme Court with a Special Leave of Appeal.
The Supreme Court after studying the case held that the respondent-student was not accorded a fair hearing by the university before the decision to fail him was taken. The Bench insisted that the division bench’s ruling was based on the fair words of the Registrar of the University, who had clearly consented to promote the student.
The Supreme Court remarked:
“We would say that normally the Court would loathe to interfere in disciplinary matters of educational institutions and if at all, the universities should be able to set its own house in order in its own way. But at times when things are pressed beyond the stage, judicial intervention becomes necessary and that is what appears to have happened in this case.”
The Bench also added that this judgement should not be an encouragement to seek judicial assistance after defying rules set by educational institutions.
Concluding, the court dismissed the case and ordered the petitioner to allow the respondent to continue to the next year of the B.A.LL. B course.
Nidhi Nair | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL