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The Principal, CSI Institute of Legal Studies, Thiruvananthapuram v/s Akhil Vijayan & Another

Company & Directors' Information:- AKHIL INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51109JK2000PTC002046

Company & Directors' Information:- AKHIL CORPORATION PRIVATE LIMITED [Under Process of Striking Off] CIN = U74900TG2015PTC098902

Company & Directors' Information:- INSTITUTE OF LEGAL STUDIES [Under Process of Striking Off] CIN = U74110PN2008NPL133244

    W.P.(C) Nos. 15959, 15935, 17570, 20786 of 2017 & Contempt Case (C) No. 937 of 2017

    Decided On, 10 July 2017

    At, High Court of Kerala



Judgment Text

Navaniti Prasad Singh, C.J.

1. All these matters relate to CSI Institute of Legal Studies, Parassala, Thiruvananthapuram. They challenge the jurisdiction of the Kerala Lok Ayukta to entertain complaints and grievances of the students in terms of the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999 ("the Act" for short).

2. The facts are not in dispute. The private respondents in the writ petitions were students of the fifth semester studying the five year law course in the said institution. After they had remitted the requisite fee for appearing for their fifth semester examination, quite a few of them were told that they would not be sent up for the examinations because of shortage of attendance.

3. Being aggrieved, they moved the Lok Ayukta contending that it is a case of maladministration. The Lok Ayukta, while issuing notice to the institute, passed certain interim orders, prima facie holding that it had jurisdiction in the matter. These were the subject matter of the four writ petitions. In those writ petitions, different interim orders were passed. In course of proceedings, all those petitions were consolidated and it was directed that, if pursuant to orders of the Lok Ayukta the students have appeared in the examination, then the results be declared and subject to the results, they would be entitled to be promoted to the next semester so that they can attend classes. We have listed all the cases including a contempt application, which has been filed by some of the students, wherein their grievance is that notwithstanding the orders of this Court, they are not being allowed to attend the higher classes.

4. We have heard Sri. Bechu Kurian Thomas, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the writ petitioners and Sri. George Poonthottam, learned counsel appearing for the students and with their consent we are disposing of all these petitions at this stage itself.

5. The first objection taken by the institute, with regard to the jurisdiction of the Lok Ayukta, in our view, is well taken. If we look to the definition clause of Section 2(b) of the Act as to what would constitute "allegation", it would be seen that it is allegation in relation to a public servant and therefore, it would be necessary that the complaint relates to a public servant. Public Servant is defined by Section 2(o) and includes persons in service of various authorities as mentioned in Section 2(o)(vii). Our attention is rightly drawn to clauses (xi), (xii) & (xiii), which deals with private colleges. The definitions are clear. Viewed in the context of the facts of the present cases, the petitioner institution is a self financing college not covered by Private Affiliated Colleges (Arts and Science Colleges) Staff Direct Payment of Salary Rules, 1972. It is not an institution which receives aid or grant from the Government of Kerala, nor is it a private Engineering College governed by the Rules for Payment of Salaries to the Staff of the Private Engineering Colleges and Polytechnics, 1972. That being so, the Chairman, Manager or Secretary or for that matter, the Principal of the said college would qualify to be a public servant for the purpose of the Lok Ayukta Act. Thus, it would not be a case of maladministration by a public servant in exercise of powers of his office and in that view of the matter, it is clear that the office of the Lok Ayukta had wrongly assumed jurisdiction in the matter. Accordingly, to that extent, the writ petitions have to be allowed and the proceedings before the Lok Ayukta have to be quashed.

6. However, that is not the end of the matter for pursuant to the orders issued by the Lok Ayukta and interim orders issued by this Court, students have been permitted to appear for the semester examinations and they are awaiting their results. Pursuant to orders of this Court in one of the cases, the student is pursuing his studies in next higher semester as well. The learned counsel for the Institution submits with reference to various judgments that this Court should not interfere more so when it is a question of academic discipline.

7. We are conscious of those judgments. But we are not inclined to set the clock back. The students were allowed to take the examinations pursuant to the orders of the Lok Ayukta and of this Court. They took the examination and results are yet to be published. They are attending the classes for the next semester as well. The learned counsel for the Institute submits that as per the regulations of the University, 70% attendance is a must and in absence thereof, neither can they be permitted to take examination nor be allowed to attend the next semester. A lot has been argued at the Bar with regard to the functioning of self financing institutions and steps taken in the name of discipline. On behalf of the students it is submitted that attendance were to be regularly marked, statements of shortages had to be published every month and students were to be given chance to object every month. These were never done. It was only done when the permission to sit in examination was considered.

8. There are allegations and counter allegations. We would not like to go into those aspects of the matter, having permitted the students to take the examination and attend the classes for the next semester. In fairness, the learned counsel for the Institute submitted that the Principal has been able to restore discipline in the institution which was hitherto lacking. Thus, in our view, the object of discipline having been achieved, no useful purpose would be served by cancelling the results of the students who have already be

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en permitted to take examinations and are attending seriously the next semester. 9. In the result, we would hold that in the facts of the instant case, the Lok Ayukta lacked the jurisdiction to interfere in view of the provisions of the Act. It is made clear that in so far as the students who were permitted to write examinations pursuant to interim orders of the Lok Ayukta or interim orders of this Court, their results would be declared and necessary consequences from the results would follow. With these observations and directions the writ petitions as well as the contempt case stands disposed of.