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M.R. Manjunatha & Another v/s The Kuvempu University Jnana Sahyadri, Represented By Its Registrar, Shankaraghatta Shivamogga & Others

    Writ Petition Nos. 7776, 9699 of 2022 (EDN-RES)
    Decided On, 01 June 2022
    At, High Court of Karnataka
    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE M.I. ARUN
    For the Petitioners: S.P. Kulkarni, K.N. Phaneendra, Sr. Counsels, K. Srikanth Patil, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1 & R2, T.P. Rajendra Kumar Sungay, Varadaraj R. Havaldar, R3 to R10, A.D. Ramananda, R11 & R12, J.M. Anil Kumar, Advocates.


Judgment Text
(Prayer: This Writ Petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying to quash the impugned order dated 01.04.2022 made in No.Kuvi/Pavi/Ds-I/D2570/2021-22 passed by the 2nd Respondent Vide Annexure-A and quashing the impugned order dated 04.04.2022 made in No.Ku/Eb/Ds-0i/D92/2021-22 passed by the 2nd Respondent vide Annexure-A1, in the interest of justice and equity.

This Writ Petition is filed under Articles 226 & 227 of the Constitution of India praying to quash the impugned order dated 01.04.2022 passed by the R2 as per Annexure-A and quash the impugned notification dated 18.04.2022 passed by the R2 vide Annexure-B.)

1. WP No.7776/2022 is filed by two students of respondent no.1-Kuvempu University. They got admitted to first year B.com Under Graduate course for the academic year 2019-20 by way of distant education. W.P.No.9699/2022 is filed by various centres who are offering degree courses on behalf of respondent no.1- Kuvempu University through distant education.

2. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Universities were not in a position to conduct regular examination, and hence, the University Grants Commission as well as State Government permitted the Universities to assess performance of the students by taking into consideration internal assessments and their performance in previous semester and promote them for the next semester or a year, as the case may be. The Universities accordingly amended their regulations for the year affected by COVID-19 and where they could not conduct the examination they promoted the students based on internal assessment or/and their performance in previous semester. Respondent no.1-Kuvempu University in the instant case was also faced with a similar dilemma. Apart from other courses, they were also required to assess the performance of first year degree students for the academic year 2019-20 who are studying by way of distant education. The examination ought to have been conducted under normal circumstances by May/June 2020. But, the same was not conducted due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Syndicate of the University by its resolution dated 30.11.2021 decided to conduct necessary examination to the students as COVID-19 pandemic waned and they felt the examination could be conducted. However, the Registrar (Evaluation) of respondent no.1- University issued notifications on behalf of the University which stated that in respect of distant education for the academic year 2019-20 they would assess the performance of the students based upon internal assessment and he also asked various study Centres to submit the internal assessments of the students enrolled with them. Further, the said internal assessments were evaluated by the University and results were also announced. Thereafter, those students who were declared passed have been admitted to the Second year degree course also including the petitioners in W.P.No.7776/2022. When this was the situation, the University realized that the Registrar (Evaluation) had acted contrary to the decision of the Syndicate and cancelled the results announced including the results of the petitioners/students herein and notified that the examination shall be conducted afresh for the academic year 2019-20. The said circular and notification are dated 01.04.2022 and 04.04.2022 respectively. Aggrieved by the same, the instant writ petitions are filed challenging the said Circular and the notification.

3. The case of the petitioners is that the students in the instant case were admitted to first year B.com course for the academic year 2019-20. The University was required to conduct the necessary examination in the months of May/June 2020 itself. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the same was not conducted. Finally, in tune with the University Grants Commission Regulations and State Government Circulars and also the decisions taken by several other Universities, respondent no.1- University took decision to evaluate the performance of the petitioners/students based on the internal assessment and accordingly results have been announced and they have been admitted to Second year degree course. Subsequently, the action of the University in canceling the results for the academic year 2019-20 in the month of April 2022 and deciding to conduct fresh examination is arbitrary, unreasonable and it causes irreparable loss and injury to the students. On the said grounds, the decision of the University to cancel results and conduct fresh examination has been challenged.

4. Per contra, it is contended on behalf of the University that the decision taken by the Registrar (Evaluation) to assess the performance of the students based on internal assessment and promote them to the next year is against the provisions of the Karnataka State Universities Act as it is against the decision of the Syndicate and the same is not valid in law. It is contended that the mistake of the Registrar (Evaluation) cannot enure to the benefit of the students and the University is justified in canceling the results and deciding to conduct fresh examination to the students. It is further contended that all the students are not before the Court and there are students who wants to take up examination. On the said grounds, it is prayed that the writ petitions be dismissed.

5. No doubt, the Syndicate as per Section 29 of the Karnataka State Universities Act is empowered to make arrangements for the conduct of the examination prescribed by the Statutes, Ordinances or Regulations and the Officers of the University including the Registrar (Evaluation) has to act as per the decision of the Syndicate. However, given the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, the students cannot be made to suffer due to the erroneous decision of the University or its Officers. In the instant case, the students have been admitted for the academic year 2019-20. They should have written the first year examination by May/June 2020. There has already been an inordinate delay. Finally, a decision is taken by the Registrar (Evaluation) on behalf of the University to assess their performance based on internal assessments and based on the same, they have been declared passed in the month of February 2022. They lost almost a year. They have got themselves admitted to Second year degree course. Thereafter, in the month of April 2022, a decision is taken to cancel the said results and to conduct fresh examination. These changes would cause undue hardship to the students. Further, it is not the case of the University that similar decision to pass the students based upon the internal assessments has not been taken by other Universities or such a decision is against the statute and is illegal. It is their contention that the decision taken was not procedurally correct and the mischief was played by the Registrar (Evaluation). If that is the case, the University is always at liberty to initiate appropriate action against the erring Officer. However, it would be inappropriate to punish the students for the same.

6. For the aforementioned reasons, the writ petition deserves to be allowed. Hence, the following:

ORDER

(i) The impugned Circular dated 01.04.2022 bea

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ring No.Kuvi/Pavi/DS-1/D2570/2021-22 issued by respondent no.1-University vide Annexure-A to the writ petitions and the notification dated 04.04.2022 bearing No.KU/EB/DS-01/D92/2021-22 issued by respondent no.1-University vide Annexure-A1 in W.P.No.7776/2022 and the notification bearing No.KU/EB/DS-01/D237/2022-23 dated 18.04.2022 vide Annexure-B in W.P.No.9699/2022 are hereby set aside; (ii) The decision of the Kuvempu University to annul the results of the students announced pursuant to its notification dated 07.02.2022 bearing No.Kuvi/Pavi/DS-1/D2121/2021-22 is hereby set aside; (iii) Consequently, the results declared in respect of the petitioners in W.P.No.7776/2022 and similarly situated persons are upheld; (iv) The writ petitions stand disposed of accordingly.
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