Gita Mittal, J.
1. These writ petitions raise questions relating to the manner of exercise of the discretion conferred on the respondents to permit migrations of students from one course and institutions under the Delhi University to another. The impugned order passed in all the petitions is the same and questions raised being identical, these petitions have been taken up together for hearing and disposal.
However, it is necessary to note facts of each case in order to appreciate the contentions of the petitioners and the same are so noted.
2. Facts in Writ Petition(C) No. 20013/04 entitled Radhika Garg v. Delhi University
(i) The petitioner in this case has claimed that she had a brilliant academic record and scored over 74% in the school leaving examination conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Eduction. Based on her grading, she was admitted to the B.Sc. General (Industrial Chemistry) course and was allotted the Atma Ram Sanatan Dharam College by the Delhi University(arrayed as respondent No. 1 herein). The petitioner had deposited fees in respect of such admission in the said college on the 16th October, 2003.
(ii) It is submitted that the petitioner was suffering medical problems for which she was under treatment at the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital and could not continue this course. Copy of the out patient ticket of this hospital of October, 2003 bearing OPD No. 48679/2003 has been placed on record. The petitioner has submitted that on account of her medical condition, she was unable to attend her practical classes and was finding it difficult to pursue the course. As such she made an application to the Chairman of the Standing Students Council of the University of Delhi seeking transfer of her course from B.Sc. General (Industrial Chemistry) to B.A.(Honors) English/B.Com(Honors)/B.Com.(Pass).
In the same application, apart from the change of course, the petitioner also pointed out that she had scored the requisite percentage of marks or met the cut off percentage for admission to these courses in the same college and that she also met the percentage required for admission to these courses in the School of Correspondence Course & Continuing Education.
(iii) This application appears to have been received by the authorities on the 17th February, 2004. The Principal of the ARSD College put an endorsement thereon to the following effect therein:-
She was admitted on 16th October, 2003. Her case has been sent to the University for condensation of delay in Admissions 2003 - 2004 vide letter No. 2172 dated 10th December, 2003. Forwarded Sd/- 9.2.2004
(iv) The undisputed factual position is that the Standing Committee of the Academic Council of the Delhi University considered this application of the petitioner Along with the applications made by sixteen others students in its meeting on 16th April, 2004. The applicants were called for the meeting and after hearing the applicants, the Standing Committee recommended change of courses and change of institution to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Eduction in respect of the present petitioner whose name featured at serial No. 14 of the list.
(v) The petitioner submits that based on this recommendation of the Standing Committee, the petitioner had approached the Principal of the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education(respondent No. 2 herein) and submitted an application for permission to take admission in B.Com(P) as per the recommendation of the Standing Committee. The position with regard to the recommendation of the standing committee was confirmed from the authorities and directions were issued by the respondent No. 2 for issuance of the prospectus as per endorsement on the application of the petitioner itself. The petitioner was also directed to deposit the fees and as such, the petitioner had deposited the requisite charges vide a receipt bearing serial No. 4866 dated 26th April, 2004.
(vi) The petitioner has submitted that the admission granted to her was unconditional and absolute and there was nothing provisional in the admission granted to her by the respondent No. 2. The petitioner was never informed that her admission was subject to any resolution or acceptance of any other authority of the respondent No. 1.
(vii) According to the petitioner, she pursued her course of B.Com(P) and was issued the admission ticket No. 4552774 for taking examinations for the B.Com(P) - Part I Examination by both the respondents. This admission ticket was issued by the Controller of Examinations and bears the counter signature of the Principal of the respondent No. 2. It is submitted that the examinations for the said course were held on 28th , 31st of May and 2nd June, 2004 as per the admission tickets.
(viii) There was no objection whatsoever either to the admission of the petitioner or her candidature at any time even when she took her examination.
(ix) It appears that the petitioner was awaiting her result but the same had not been declared without any reason. To the shock of the petitioner she received a letter dated 18th November, 2004 from the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education(respondent No. 2 herein) to the following effect :-
Ms. Radhika Garg,
G-15, Maharani Bag
Subject: Cancellation of admission
Ref: School Roll No. 03 BC 14758
Examination Roll No. 4552774
Please refer to your provisional admission to B.Com(P) 1st year for the session 2003-2004 on the recommendation of the Standing Committee(Students) subject to the approval of the Academic Council.
In this connection, I am to inform you that the Academic Council has rejected your request for admission by the Resolution dated 18.06.2004. Hence the provisional admission granted to you is being cancelled and no further correspondences will be entertained in this regard.
The petitioner has impugned the cancellation of her admission to the course in question by this letter on several grounds which are noticed hereafter.
(x) Despite earnest efforts and representations to the respondents nothing fruitful resulted necessitating the filing of this petition.
3. Facts in W.P.(C) 1467/2005 entitled Ayushman Kakoty v. Delhi University
(i) Ayushman Kakoty has asserted that he was admitted to the B.A.(Pass) course being conducted by Dr. Zakir Hussain College on the 8th July, 2003. He has stated in his petition that his attendance was falling short due to reasons of ill health. He had therefore sought migration from his regular course of study to the B.A.(Pass) course conducted by the School of Correspondence and Continuing Education.
According to this petition, he had made this request as he did not want his health problems to cause any impediment to his studies.
(ii) The application of this petitioner for change institution was also considered by the Standing Committee of the Academic Council of the respondent No. 1 in its meeting on 16th April, 2004. According to the petitioner he was called for the meeting in order to support his application for migration and only thereafter his case was approved by this committee. The petitioner was asked to complete all formalities for effecting migration of the institution to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education(arrayed as respondent No. 2 herein) which he duly completed.
(iii) The petitioner has placed on record photocopies of his application to the respondent No. 2 and placed reliance on the endorsement made in his favor based on the recommendation of the Standing Committee of the respondent No. 1. The petitioner has contended that his admission to the respondent No. 2 was unconditional and the directions to issue prospectus and acceptance of fees were also unconditional. He was issued a receipt dated 26th April, 2004 by the respondent No. 2 after acceptance of the fees.
The petitioner was never informed that his admission was only provisional or that there was any requirement of its approval by the academic council.
(iv) The petitioner submits that he was issued an admission ticket by the respondents in view of acceptance of the validity of his admission to the respondent No. 2 and he took his examinations without any objection. The result of the examination of this petitioner is stated to have been declared on the 9th November, 2004 but was allegedly removed from the notice board.
(v) To the shock of the petitioner, he received a letter which was dated 10th November, 2004 from the respondent No. 2 to the following effect :-
Mr. Ayushman Kakoty,
Kala Guru Bishnu Rabha Path
Subject: Cancellation of Admission,
Ref. School Roll No. 2003 B.A.(P) 19499
With reference to your provisional admission to the B.A.(P) 1st year course under condensation of delay category, on the basis of the decision of Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee (students) on 16.04.2004.
Now the above mentioned decision of Sub-Committee of Standing Committee of the Students were not accepted by the Academic Council, University of Delhi, Delhi-7.
Therefore, the provisional admission granted to you is hereby cancelled and your name has been struck off from the rolls.
Sd/-Officer-on Special Duty
(vi) The petitioner immediately made a representation dated 11th November, 2004 to the Dean of Students Welfare of respondent No. 1 which also recommended the same for consideration. However, as no action was taken by the respondents in favor of the petitioner, he has been compelled to file the present writ petition impugning the cancellation of his admission by the respondents.
4. Facts in W.P.(C) 652/2005 entitled Kavita Dhawan v. Delhi University
(i) This petitioner has contended that she was admitted to the B.A.(Hon.) Course in English in the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce under the ageis of the University of Delhi in the year 2001. It appears that she had scored 70% marks in her school leaving examination.
She finished her first and second years in the said course in the college and was undergoing the final year when she suffered from facial paralysis in August, 2003 effecting the complete left side of her face including her left eye. The petitioner submits that she was under treatment for this at the Max Hospital at Panchsheel and later was under the treatment of Dr. L.K. Malhotra, a renowned neurologist.
In order to treat the paralysis, it has been submitted that the petitioner had to take strong steroid based medicines. The petitioner has averred that the medication did not have the desired results till 17th November, 2003 and the petitioner was advised to go for surgical consultation in case the paralysis did not recede. Fortunately, from the period November, 2003 to March, 2004, the petitioner started gradually recovering although she remained unable to attend regular classes in the College.
(ii) It is submitted that the petitioner was fearful of having to lose an academic year, which would have jeopardised her ambition to undergo the MBA course at the scheduled time. In these circumstances, the petitioner is stated to have submitted an application dated 31st March, 2004 to the Principal of her college seeking permission to complete her education with the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education where such shortage of attendance would not have been a factor for eligibility to take the examination.
The Principal of the college recommended the petitioner's case and made an endorsement on the application to the following effect :-
Forwarded with a request that college has no objection if she is considered as a special case
(iii) The application of the petitioner was placed before the sub- committee of the Standing Committee(students) of the Academic Council University of Delhi on the 6th April, 2004. This committee recommended the petitioner's migration to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education and made the following recommendation :-
May allow as special case to migrate to SCC
This recommendation of the sub-committee was placed before the Standing Committee(students) of the University of Delhi in its meeting held on 16th April, 2004 wherein a resolution approving the recommendation of the sub-committee was passed.
(iv) Based on these recommendations, the petitioner appears to have approached the Principal of the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce who issued her the requisite certificate of migration dated 21st April, 2004. The petitioner was unconditionally admitted as a student of the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on the 23rd April, 2004. The petitioner deposited the fees against receipt on the same date in the said institution. Thereafter the admission ticket was issued by the respondents to the petitioner o take the IIIrd year examination which were to be held in May, 2004.
(v) It appears that there was no objection taken to the candidature of the petitioner at any point of time and she undertook the examination which were conducted between 13th May, 2004 to 22nd May, 2004. The result of the petitioner was declared on the 2nd August, 2004 when she was declared successful in the B.A. (English Honors) Part III Examination by the respondents. The respondents also issued the provisional mark sheet and provisional degree, certificate dated 2nd August, 2004 to the petitioner.
(vi) The petitioner has submitted that as she was granted admission in the School of Correspondence and Continuing Courses Education, she did not join any other course nor could she continue to pursue her studies as the regular students of Delhi College of Arts and Commerce. Admission to the fresh session for the B.A.(English Honors) Part III started in the college from July, 2004. Based on the mark sheet and provisional degree, the petitioner took admission to a MBA programme in the Institute of Management Technology Ghaziabad(Distant Learning) and paid her fees for the post graduate course. Additionally, the petitioner applied for the post of Cabin crew in the Singapore Airlines on the basis of the mark sheet and provisional degree certificate granted by the University in October, 2004. The petitioner was one out of the six candidates selected from Delhi out of thousands who had applied for the post.
(vii) To the shock of the petitioner, in November, 2004 she received a letter dated 15th October, 2004 from the School of Correspondence and Continuing Education whereby she was informed that her request for migration from the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce to the School of Correspondence Courses had not been accepted by the University authorities and hence the provisional admission granted to her had been cancelled and her name struck off the rolls. The letter dated 15th October, 2004 reads as under:-
SCHOOL OF CORRESPONDENCE COURSES AND CONTINUING EDUCATION U N I V E R S I T Y O F D E L H I
5, CAVALRY LINES, DELHI - 110 007
Regd. No. CCI SOL/1618
188, Anupam Apartments,
Opposite Saket M.B. Road
New Delhi - 110068.
Ref: 01 BA(H) eng 743
Sub: Cancellation of Admisson
I write to inform you that your request for migration from DCAC to School of C.C. To BA(H) eng III yr during the session 2003-04 has not been accepted by the University Authorities.
Consequently, the provisional admission granted to you has been cancelled and your name has been struck off the rolls. Please note that no correspondence will be made to you in future.
(viii) The petitioner submits that she made representations to the Vice Chancellor of the Delhi University which were dated 7th November, 2004 and 6th December, 2004. No reply was forthcoming to these communications.
Only on 7th January, 2005, the petitioner's mother received a letter dated 5th December, 2004 from the respondents directing her to see the Section Officer of the respondent No. 1 Along with the original of the mark sheet and provisional certificate of B.A. (Honors English) Part III which had been issued to the petitioner on the ground that the provisional admission to her had been cancelled by the Delhi University. This letter reads as under:-
SCHOOL OF CORRESPONDENCE COURSES AND CONTINUING EDUCATION UNIVERSITY OF DELHI
5 Cavalry Lines, Delhi 110007
Ms. Kavita Dhawan,
188, Anupam Apts.
New Delhi 110068
Ref: School Roll No. 2001 BA(H) EN 743
You are required to see the Section Officer Exam-II Rool No. 18 along with the original Market sheet and Provisional Certificate of B.A. (H) English Part III issued to you, within 7 days from the dispatch of this letter as the provisional admission granted to you has been cancelled by the University vide letter No. Exam. III(I) / 2004 / 180 dated 22nd December, 2004.
Sd/ Section Officer.
(ix) In these circumstances, the petitioner was left with no option but to file the present writ petition impugning the letters dated 15th October, 2004 and 5th December, 2004 and praying for a direction to the respondents to issue the final degree to the petitioner as she has passed her B.A.(Honors English) Part III Examination.
(x) Along with the writ petition, the petitioner has filed a copy of a judgment dated 5th November, 2004 passed in Writ Petition(C) No. 17174/2004 entitled Chandni Mehra v. University of Delhi. It is contended that Chandni Mehra was the other candidate in whose favor also the sub-committee had made recommendations on 6th April, 2004 which were identical to those in favor of the petitioner. It is submitted that Chandni Mehra and the petitioner were the only two cases considered on 6th of April, 2004 whose request for admission/migration was recommended purely on medical grounds. It is pointed out that the facts relating to the petitioner have been noticed by the court in this judgment whereby the decision of the academic council and the action of the respondents in cancelling admission has been set aside and quashed. The petitioner before me has contended that she is entitled to parity of treatment and grant of the writ petition as prayed for.
(xi) It has further been submitted that migration is provided for under Ordinance IV of the University Calender and that attendance is irrelevant for the purposes of consideration of an application for migration. As the application was beyond the stipulated date, therefore exemption under Ordinance XC became necessary. The submission of the petitioner is Ordinance VII being relied upon by the respondents has no application in the instant case.
5. The respondents have appeared in answer to the notice to show cause and have filed counter affidavits in two of these matters. Original records relating to the consideration by the Standing Committee as well as the Academic Council have been also placed before me. The respondents' case rests principally on the plea that the petitioners were amongst several students who were short of attendance and did not have the necessary attendance percentages which would have enabled them to take the annual examinations in their respective courses. According to the respondents, as per clause 2(ii) of Ordinance VII of the University Calender read with Appendix 2, a candidate must have attended at least two thirds i.e. 66% of the lectures and practicals separately in the course which were being pursued by them. Having failed to achieve this percentage and being aware that the respective petitioner would not be permitted to sit for the annual examination in her/his respective courses, the petitioners made applications seeking migration to the School of Correspondence and Continuing Education at the highly belated stage barely before the end of the academic session. It is submitted that as per the notified Bulletin of Information, no migration is permissible after 31st December, 2003 and that the applications of the petitioners reflects abuse of provisions relating to migration.
Appearing for the respondents, Ms. Maninder Acharya, Advocate has contended that all the applications were based on medical grounds which were not genuine and that the medical certificates were only a camouflage for the real reason which was shortage of attendance.
It has been vehemently contended by Ms. Maninder Acharya, learned counsel for the respondents that the petitioners were aware that the admission granted to them was provisional and, therefore, derive no benefit from the fact that they were permitted to take admission in the School of Correspondence Courses & Continuing Education.
In these circumstances it has been vehemently urged that the Academic Council was justified in rejecting the application for condensation of delay in the 16 cases placed before it which included the cases of the petitioners.
6. According to the respondents, the highly belated applications seeking migration made only on account of the candidates being short of attendance in the courses to which they had been admitted could not have been granted and for this reason the recommendation of the standing committee(students) made in its meeting on 16th April, 2004 were not approved by the Academic Council of the Delhi University in its meeting dated 18th June, 2004.
7. The respondents have pointed out that the delayed applications could be granted only if the delay in making them was condoned by the Academic Council under Ordinance X(C) of the University Calender. It has been submitted that the Academic Council alone has been empowered by this provision and granted discretion to grant condensation and exemption from operation of the Ordinances governing admissions of students, migration etc and that such discretion can be favorably exercised only in exceptional cases provided that two thirds of the members of the academic council present in the meeting agreed with the same.
According to Ms. Acharya, as the applications were beyond the last date for migration, therefore they had to be treated as if they were applications seeking fresh admissions. Therefore Ordinance IV would have no relevance in the instant case.
8. It was in these circumstances and in view of the resolution dated 18th June, 2004 passed by the academic council that the provisional admissions given to the petitioners were cancelled by the School of Correspondence and Continuing Education vide its letter dated 15th October, 2004 and 5th December, 2004. The respondents have defended their action and decisions on the plea that the Academic Council has exercised its discretion under the statutory provisions governing its actions. It has been submitted that the issues raised in the writ petitions are matters best left to academic experts and that the present writ petitions would not be maintainable especially in view of the conduct of the petitioners.
9. According to the respondents, one of the petitioners(namely Kavita Dhawan) was short of attendance even in her first and second year of the course in her college and was permitted to take the examination only upon her giving an undertaking that she would make up the deficiency in her attendance in the next year. This petitioner is stated to have zero percent attendance in the final year as per information received by the respondents on the 17th of January, 2005.
10. Reliance has also been placed on a judgment dated 3rd December, 2004 passed in Civil Writ No. 18485/2004 filed by one Sh. Satish Bhatti impugning the same decision dated 18th June, 2004 of the Academic Council wherein his request for migration was also rejected Along with that of the present petitioners. According to the respondents for the reasons given in this judgment dated 18th June, 2004, the writ petitions which are the subject matter of the present adjudication also deserved to be dismissed.
11. Learned counsel appearing for the respondents has also submitted that no show cause notice is required nor any opportunity for hearing was required to be given inasmuch as the petitioners were all aware that their admission was provisional and that the approval of the Academic Council was necessary.
12. Learned counsel Mr. Arun Bhardwaj, Advocate appearing for the petitioner Radhika Garg has placed reliance on the judgment of this court reported in 2003 VII AD(Delhi) 349 entitled Avijit Bansal v. University of Delhi Ors. in support of his submission that having received the application seeking migration of the petitioner, the respondents were duty bound to act with utmost urgency. On the contrary, even though the respondents were fully aware of the recommendations of the Standing Committee and the consequential admission of the petitioner to the course in the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education, the respondents themselves issued the roll number to the petitioner and permitted her to take the examination. The meeting of the Academic Council was not held till 18th June, 2004.
Without giving any opportunity of hearing or putting the petitioner to notice, the Academic Council cryptically ignored the recommendations of the Standing Committee and decided that they be not accepted.
It has been contended that there was no material whatsoever before the academic council to the effect as has been stated in the counter affidavit or placed before the court in the oral submissions with regard to the attendance record of the petitioner.
13. It is further submitted that despite passing of the said resolution, the Academic Council took no step whatsoever to notify the petitioner of the same. The petitioner remained under the bona fide impression that the result would be declared. The petitioner was permitted to even join other courses or to pursue the second year of the course. It has been submitted that cancellation of the admission would ruin the career of the petitioner and shall not benefit anyone and as such ought not to be permitted to sustain.
14. Learned counsel appearing for Radhika Garg has further contended that the Academic Council was an authority created under the Delhi University Act and therefore being a public authority is required to give reasons for its decisions to ensure compliance with the natural justice.
It is particularly necessary when it was cancelling the admission of students. It has been submitted that despite the adjudication against the University of Delhi in the aforestated decision rendered in Avijit Bansal's case (supra) on 20th June, 2003, the respondents have failed to abide by the mandate of this court.
15. It is submitted that the respondents are bound by principles of promissory estoppel having permitted the petitioner to take admission and pursue the course, take the examination and to permit continuation of the course and that the discretion conferred on the academic council in Ordinance XC has to be exercised in favor of the petitioner keeping in view the recommendations of the standing committee.
16. In addition to the submissions made in the other petitions, Mr. Sanveer Mehlwal, Advocate for Ayushman Kakoty has placed reliance on the pronouncement of this court in 2002 III AD (Delhi) 81 entitled Liya Belliappa v. CBSE in support of his contention that the respondent was bound by principles of promissory estoppel, principles of natural justice and fair play to continue with the course to which he had been admitted and that the writ petition deserve to be allowed inasmuch as there was no mis-representation by the petitioner and no statutory rules were being followed if the petition was granted.
Reliance has also been placed on the judgment of the Apex Court rendered in Sanatan Gauda's case reported at 1990(3) SCR 23 in support of this submission.
17. It is also submitted by Mr. Mehlwal, learned counsel for Ayushman Kakoty that it was bounden duty of the respondents to have scrutinised the matter thoroughly before permitting the migration of the petitioner and admission to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education and permitting him to appear in the examination. Learned counsel has also drawn my attention to the judgment of the Division Bench of this court reported at 43 (1991) DLT 670 entitled Kanishka Aggarwal v. University of Delhi and Ors. in support of the submission that the petitioner was not put to notice by the respondents in any manner that the admission to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education was provisional or that it was subject to confirmation by the academic council. It is submitted that in the instant case, the Division Bench has held that the University of Delhi was estopped from cancelling provisional admission to the LLB course of the petitioner in that case.
18. Appearing for Kavita Dhawan, it has been contended by Ms. Rachna Joshi, Advocate that the orders passed by the respondents have been impugned by the petitioner inter alia on the submission that the application of the petitioner for migration is to be processed in terms of Ordinance IV of the University Calender and that Ordinance VII relied upon by the respondents had no application as the petitioners were not seeking condensation of shortage of attendance. It has been submitted that the reason for creation of School of Correspondence and Continuing Education is to provide for such like contingencies as in the present case and to ensure that there is no break in the academic course being pursued by a student.
19. According to Ms. Joshi appearing for the petitioner, the petitioner was given an opportunity for hearing by the Standing Committee which made the recommendations after considering each case on its merit. Therefore, the admission given to the petitioners upon such recommendations by the Standing Committee cannot be cancelled without grant of notice to show cause and opportunity of hearing and after compliance with the principles of audi alteram partem.
20. The petitioner has vehemently objected to the purported grounds for cancellation of admission as have been submitted on behalf of the respondents in the affidavit and in the oral submissions. Placing reliance on the pronouncement of the Supreme Court reported at 1952(1) SCR 135 entitled Commissioner of Police Bombay v. Gordhan Dass Bhanji, it has been submitted that an order made by an authority must speak for itself and that it cannot be construed in the light of explanations subsequently given.
21. Learned counsel is placing reliance on the equitable principles of promissory estoppel to urge that the petitioner has acted upon the recommendations of the Standing Committee. Based on the admission given to her by the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education, she forfeited her right to pursue her regular course in the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce and has undertaken the examinations on the validity of the admission given. Based on the results thereof, the petitioner has taken admission in the MBA course, paid fees and also accepted employment. At this stage, the respondents are bound by the principles of promissory estoppel and cannot be heard to challenge the legality of the petitioner to have been granted admission to the School of Correspondence and Continuing Education or cancel the admission of the petitioner. In this behalf reliance has been placed on 1989(3) SCC 362 entitled Dr. Mrs.Sheela Ashok Patwardhan v. Dean, Dr. V.M. Medical College, Slapurt and Ors., 1990 Volume 3 SCR 23 entitled Sanatan Gauda v. Berhampur University and Ors.
22. The petitioner has urged that the respondents cannot plead doctrine of freedom of administrative action in support of their contentions that they had the authority to override any equity in favor of the petitioner on the ground of principles of promissory estoppel by virtue of this doctrine. According to the petitioner, the respondents had pre-determined the issue inasmuch as the Vice Chancellor had recorded a noting on the file that the admissions have to be cancelled before the matter was placed before the Academic Council. It has been submitted that there was inherent bias on the subject matter inasmuch as in view of the noting recorded by the Vice Chancellor the consideration by the Academic Council remained an empty formality and was really a foregone conclusion inasmuch as the Vice Chancellor was the Chairman of the Academic Council. In this behalf the petitioner has placed reliance on the judgment of the Apex Court reported in 2002(2) SCC 290 entitled Amar Nath Chowdhury v. Braithwaite and Co. Ltd. and Ors.; 1977(1) SCR 64 entitled G. Sarana v. University of Lucknow.
23. Having thus noticed the factual matrix and the submissions made on behalf of the parties, it would be useful to set down the relevant legal provisions and the law on the subject.
24. The respondents have been created under the provisions of the Delhi University Act, 1922. In exercise of powers under this enactment, Ordinances and Statutes have been provided in order to ensure proper functioning of the various constituents of the respondents and to enable effective discharge of its functions. Migration from one course to another is provided under the provisions of Ordinances IV of the University Calender which reads as under :-
Ord. IV - Migration
1. (1) A student who has not completed his course of study or having completed his course of study has not appeared at the examination for which he was reading in any other Indian University or in any College under the control of a Board of Intermediate Education shall not be admitted to the University except on production of the following documents :
(a) leaving certificate from the Principal of the College or from the Registrar of the University he is leaving;
(b) certified copies of the report of attendance against his name in the register of students of the University ;or the College concerned.
(2) Admission of a student to the University in the second academic year of study for a degree examination may only be allowed on the ground that the parent or guardian of the student is residing in or has migrated to Delhi.
(3) In all cases of migration a certificate is required from the Principal of the College to which admission is sought by a student to the effect that he has attended a sufficient number of lectures in the subjects offered by him at this University in the College or the University from which he migrates, so as to enable him to complete the course of study prescribed by the University.
2. Applications for migration from the College of the University to another shall only be entertained by the Principal if forwarded by the Principal of the College from which migration is sought, and the necessary alteration in the enrolment entries shall only be made in the University Register by the Registrar after obtaining the consent in writing of both Principals.
25. It is necessary to examine the provisions which empower the Academic Council to grant exemption from the operation of any of the ordinances governing admissions and migrations of students. The same reads as under :-
Ord. X-C. Permissive Provisions
The Academic Council may, in exceptional cases grant exemption from the operation of any of the Ordinances governing admission of students, migration, the courses to be pursued by them, attendance at lectures or sessional or other work or the examination of candidates and authorise what is proper to be done instead in such cases, provided that no such exemption and authority shall be deemed to have been granted unless not less than two-thirds of the members present of the Academic Council voted in favor of the motion for such exemption nd authority made, by, or with the written authority of the Vice-Chancellor; and
Provided further that this two-thirds majority voting for the exemption should not be less than half the total strength of the Academic Council at the time.
26. The respondents have placed reliance on the provisions of Ordinance VII 2(2) which reads as under:-
(2) The required conditions shall not be deemed to have been satisfied in respect of the following degrees unless the candidate has attended not less than two-thirds of lectures and practicals, separately, delivered in his College or the University, as the case may be, for the course of study in each academic year:
B.A. (Pass) and (Honours) B.A. (Vocational Studies) B.Com (Pass) and (Honours)
B.A. (Honours) Music
B.Sc.(General) and (Honours)
Provided that in the case of Honours Courses and B.Sc. (General) Course attendance as above will be required to be put in separately in the Main Subject in the case of Honours Courses and in Group `B' subjects in the case of B.Sc.(General) Courses and in the Qualifying/Subsidiary Subjects in each academic year.
Other conditions regarding attendance in respect of these courses shall be as laid down in Appendix II of this Ordinance.
27. Appearing for the respondents, Ms. Maninder Acharya has also placed on record the Resolution No. 228 and 232 of the Academic Council of the University of Delhi whereby the Standing Committee of the Academic Council was constituted. This Resolution reads as under:-
228. The Council took up for consideration the cases of students involving late admissions, permission to appear at the examinations beyond the permissible span period, relaxation of requirement of attendance at lectures etc. etc. The Council was of the view that the order to have a consistent approach in such matters and to save time of the Council spent in examining detailed circumstances of such cases, it would be desirable if all such cases before being brought on the agenda of the Council were initially examined by a Standing Committee of the Academic Council and only such cases were brought before the Council for consideration as were recommended by the Said Standing Committee.
After discussion, it was decided that a Standing Committee of the Academic Council be constituted to scrutinize all such cases of students in future and subject to procedural requirements of Ordinance X-A wherever this Ordinance required to be invoked, only such cases be brought before the Academic Council as would be recommended by the Committee. The Council further ordered the Vice-Chancellor to constitute the Standing Committee for the purpose and further decided that all the cases which were before the Council under items Nos. 7,8,9,10,22,41,46,55, 56,57,58,59,60,61,68,69, and 70 of the Agenda be referred to the Standing Committee for scrutiny and consideration in the first instance.
232. The Vice Chancellor reported that as authorised by the Academic Council at its meeting held on 17th February, 1975 had constituted the Standing Committee, to consider the case of students, consisting of the under-noted persons:
1. Prof. U.N. Singh-Chairman
2. Prof. I.P. Singh
3. Prof. R.C. Pandeya
4. Prof. R.S. Nigam
5. Prof. Urmila Khanna
6. Dr. A.S. Kukla
7. Principal G.S. Randhawa
8. Dr. C.B. Gupta
9. Dr. R.K. Kohli
10. Shri B.P. Singh
11. Shri Y.N. Trehan
12. Shri M.M. Sharma
13. Shri Arun Kumar Mathur
28. Learned counsel appearing for the University of Delhi has produced the original record of the Standing Committee as well as of the Academic Council dated 18th June, 2004 before me. The parties have taken me carefully through the records of the writ petitions. I have given my considered thought to all the submissions raised before me.
29. The core issue which requires consideration in these matters can be summarised as follows:-
(i) Whether there is any discretion in the Academic Council to reject applications seeking migration or refuse to condone delays for such applications seeking migration on the ground that the applicants were short of attendance in the regular courses to which they had been admitted;
(ii) What is the effect of the noting dated 24th May, 2004 made by the Vice Chancellor prior to the meeting of the academic council on 18th June, 2004;
(iii) Whether the resolution dated 18th June, 2004 is based on relevant material and consideration and could have been passed without service of show cause notice and opportunity of hearing by the Academic Council;
30. I find that issues regarding migration have arisen before this court in earlier writ petitions decided by this court. One such petition, where the rights of students and the power of the University of Delhi to grant or permit migration came up for consideration was Civil Writ Petition 3089/1995 entitled Sumeet Sawhney v. the Principal Sri. Aurobindo College and Ors. The University in these petitions had taken a stand that no university or college can bind or compel the student to study in a particular college if the student seeks migration elsewhere. However the petition was being opposed by the college from which the migration was sought. This was based on the decision of the college and the requirement under Ordinance IV of the no objection from the college. In these circumstances in its judgment dated 19th October, 1995 the Division Bench held as under :-
Though the anxiety of the Staff Council and the College to maintain and improve the academic standard of the College as also their anxiety to maintain the student teacher ratio, may be appreciated but at the same time, we find it difficult to accept the contention that in order to achieve the said objects, the students can be compelled against their desire and wish to continue study in a particular college. Undoubtedly no student has any vested right to seek migration but the real question in these cases is not about the vested right of the students, but is about the legality of the stand of the College from where migration is sought. Can No Objection Certificate be refused to a student when the College to which admission is sought, is willing to give admission to that student. The answer to this question has to be in favor of the student. Where a student with a view to improve his career wants to join another college, which student feels is better and thinks that he would be able to make better mark in another collage to deny migration to such a student on the grounds stated by the College from which migration is sought, would be unjust and unreasonable. The grant of permission to migrate may be discretionary but the discretion is required to be exercised on sound legal principles and by adopting just and reasonable approach. Ordinarily this court may not interfere in exercise of discretion in academic matters but where the career of students is involved and the approach of college is not just and reasonable, the court has to come to the aid of aggrieved students. As already noticed above, the stand of the University and the College to which migration is sought is also that students cannot be compelled to study in a particular college. Further apart from the decision of the Staff Council, no other provision has been brought to our notice barring migration. On the other hand Ordinance-4, as noticed above, specifically permits migration. It may also be noticed that while operating aforesaid Ordinance in practice the student who is to apply for No Objection Certificate from which he seeks migration, would do so only when he has been ensured admission in any other college and, therefore, the question of violation of Ordinance-4 not arise.
Having held so, the Division Bench had directed the college from which migration was sought to issue the no objection certificate.
31. In a judgment reported at 71 (1998) DLT 202 DB in a case entitled Aman Ichhpuniani v. Vice Chancellor, Delhi University and Ors. The Division Bench reiterated the principles laid down in Sumeet Sawhney's case holding that students have no absolute unbridled vested right to seek migration. It was further stated that the exercise of discretion to permit or refuse migration has to be exercised on certain principles and that a mandamus can be issued for compelling of performance of the duty to exercise discretion on such principles. It would be useful to set down some of the material observations made by the Bench in this judgment.
12. We are conscious of our limitation on jurisdiction to judicially review a decision taken in the field of academics. In Maharashtra State Board of Secondary And Highter Secondary Education and Anr. v. Paritosh Bhupesh Kumarsheth, AIR 1984 SC 1543, their Lordships have held :
The Court should be extremely reluctant to substitute its own views as to what is wise, prudent and proper in relation to academic matters in preferences to those formulated by professional men possessing technical expertise and rich experience of actual day-to-day working of educational Institutions and the departments controlling them.
13. However, that does not amount to saying that the decisions taken by the administrative authorities in the field of academics and education are immune from judicial review and no writ can issue for securing performances of statutory duty cast on such authorities. In S.G. Lekhraj v. N.M. Shah, AIR 1966 SC 334, their Lordship have held that a writ of mandamus maybe granted where there is a statutory duty imposed upon the officer concerned and there is a failure of that officer to discharge that statutory obligation. The chief function of the writ is to compel the performance of public duties prescribed by statute and to keep the Subordinate Tribunals and officers exercising public functions within the limits of their jurisdiction.
14. A writ of mandamus may issue not only for enforcement of a right but also for compelling performance of a duty. The very provision for migration from the College to another within the University enacted by Ordinance IV contemplates the existence of a right to migrate. We will not go on to the extent of saying that such a right is a vested unbridled right. Nobody can be permitted to migrate just for whim and fancy. Good education is a scarce commodity and good Institutions displaying pieces of good education on their selling counters are equally scarce. The seats are invariably limited because the number of seats depends on very many considerations including administrative and financial. Once a student has been allowed admission in a particular Institution in a particular Course of study he occupies that seat excluding others in waiting from entering the Course by necessary implication. If such a student is allowed to leaves the seat and migrate to another Institution at his sweet will or merely for whim and fancy, he is certainly depriving someone else known or unknown from learning by leaving the seat vacant.
16. Nevertheless, the existence of Ordinance-IV does contemplate migration. The provision also casts a duty on the Principal of the College from which migration is sought to exercise his discretion and take a decision on prayer for migration guided by reason keeping in view the relevant considerations and not merely by whim and caprice. Like all other discretionary powers vesting in public authorities, the power to forward an application seeking migration is also coupled with a duty. Each prayer shall have to be dealt with on its own individual merits. If the prayer for migration be a bald prayer it may not be allowed merely for asking. On the contrary if there are valid reasons assigned providing reasonable justification for such demand, the Principal on being satisfied of the availability of just grounds for migration, is duty bound to forward the application. Else the exercise of discretionary power would stand vitiated for unreasonableness or arbitrariness.
18. Every student aspires to have the best education and for that purpose searches for the best Institution accessible to him and within his means. Having opted for an educational Institution and having been successful in securing admission therein ordinarily he would not opt out of it unless there be reasons for doing so. Students in School and even up to initial years of the College are invariably advised by their parents and guardians in choosing Course of study and the Institution. While asking migration they will ordinarily have the counsel of their parents and guardians without which they would not decide to migrate. In appropriate cases the Principal would do well to have a dialogue with the parents or guardians of the student before taking a decision on the students' request for migration. Applications made by the students to their teachers and Principal are not drafted on legal advise. They have to be dealt with in an atmosphere full of affection and harmony. An interview or dialogue between the Principal and the student, accompanied by parents or guardian if need be, would bring out the real reason for the prayer for migration enabling a just decision thereon by the Principal.
19. No Institution can afforded to retain good students with it by forcing them to do so. They have to be persuaded and made to feel convinced. A good student leaving a good Institution is a contradiction in terms. It is equally true that a student cannot be allowed to migrate if Institutional discipline would suffer in permitting him to do so. To illustrate, student facing disciplinary proceedings in an educational institution cannot be allowed to migrate if motivated by the idea of getting rid of such proceedings.
23. To sum up, in our opinion :
(i) to migrate from one College of the University to another is not a vested right of student. A student may seek migration from one College to another, if there be reasons for doing so. Ordnance-IV confers discretionary power on the Principal of the College from which migration is sought to forwarded or not to forward a prayer by a student seeking migration. The power is coupled with a duty to act reasonably guided by relevant consideration not by whim or caprice. The welfare of the student and the Institution have both to be kept in view and weighed - if there be conflict between the two;
(ii) A student has a right to choose an educational Institution of his choice while seeking an admission, but such right cannot be exercised with the same vigour and vitality while seeking migration;
(iii) A request by student seeking migration for reasons relevant and germane to such prayer may not be denied unless the Principal be satisfied of the non-availability of the grounds or be of the opinion that the migration will not be in the interest of the student or the interest of he Institution outweighs the interest of the student. The choice of the student has to be respected by giving due weight; for no sensible student would ordinarily like to leaves the Institution which he had chosen to join.
In such legal position, the Division Bench was pleased to grant the writ petition made by those petitioners who had informed the University as to the reason in which they were seeking migration. The two writ petitions where the petitioners had not given reasons in their application, were given liberty to make fresh applications setting out the reasons for migration and the principal of the college was required to dispose of the same within three days of receipt of the application. The principal was required to give reasons for the decision in case a different decision was being taken.
32. The issue of migration has recently fallen for consideration before Single Judge of this Court in a judgment which is reported at 99(2002) DLT 546 entitled Jatin Behl v. University of Delhi and Ors. Placing reliance on the pronouncements of the Division Bench and considering the refusal to give a no objection certificate by the Principal of the College from where migration was sought, this Court was of the view that the consent in this case was not being withheld unreasonably inasmuch as the case was not of extreme hardship or of any other supervening circumstances. It is also to be noticed that the College where to migration was being sought was already having students strength in excess of the sanctioned strength of the College. It was in these circumstances that the Court held against the student in this case.
33. From a consideration of the pronouncements of this Court some of the reasons which would justify refusal to exercise discretion in favor of a student and rejection of the application for migration would include, inter alia, the following:-
(i) An application making a bald prayer based on the whim or wish of a student without assigning any valid reasons (para 16 of Aman Ichhpuniani's case);
(ii) A prayer for migration from an institution of a student who is facing disciplinary proceedings in such educational institution cannot be permitted if motivated by the idea of getting rid of such proceedings (para 19 of Aman Ichhpuniani's case).
(iii) Ordinance VII places a disability upon a student to take examinations if the student is short of the prescribed attendance requirement. In case a student who is short of attendance and seeks migration for this reason to avoid the disability incurred by him/her under Ordinance VII, the institution may be justified in rejecting such application for the reasons given in para 19 of Aman Ichhpuniani's case.
However in case the student could justify her/his shortage of attendance by relevant and bona fide reasons & support the same with material, the application could be favorably considered.
(iv) Even an application made by a student making a prayer for migration giving reasons can be rejected if the authority/principal is satisfied that the reasons assigned by the student were sham and a camouflage for the real intent of the student (para 16 of the Aman Ichhpuniani's case).
(v) Again an application giving valid and cogent reasons may also be validly rejected by the College/ Institution if the Authority considering the request is of the opinion that the migration will not be in the interest of the student or in case the interest of the Institution out weighs the interest of the student(para 23 of the Aman Ichhpuniani's case).
The instances set out hereinabove are merely illustrative and the list is by no way exhaustive.
34. So far as the request for migration is concerned, reasons which have been considered as relevant and germane for favorable consideration of an application for migration amongst others include the ground of medical reasons, convenience of location of the institutions, distance and time spent in commuting from residence to the place of study; convenience of the shift i.e. from evening to morning or vice versa on account of grounds of security and even a request for migration motivated by a desire to improve career prospects based on the motive of achieving academic excellence etc. These considerations bear the seal of judicial scrutiny and approval as noticed above.
35. The manner of consideration of an application for migration has been considered in the aforestated pronouncements and it has been authoritatively held that a student is incapable of always making a considered and capable decision. Consequently an onerous duty has been cast upon the head of the institution to interview and have a dialogue with the parents of the student and the student on receipt of such application. The welfare of the student have to be given paramount consideration and the choice of a student with regard to the educational institution where he seeks to pursue academic course has to be largely respected while considering the application for migration. The courts have required consideration of relevant material while consideration of the application and required giving of reasons in the event that the authority arrives at a conclusion that the application deserves to be rejected. Expedition in undertaking the aforestated exercise and consideration of the application is inherent in the process and which has to be dealt with utmost urgency and dispatch. This answers the first issue raised herein.
36. In this background, it is necessary to examine he manner in which the respondents have taken the decision in the instant case. It is an admitted position that all the three petitioners had each given medical grounds as the reason for which they were seeking migration to the School of Correspondence Courses Studies & Continuing Education and had placed medical certificates on record.
Before me, it is also accepted that if the application had been made prior to 31st December, 2003, if satisfied with grounds/reasons for migration (Ref: pronouncement of the DB in Aman Ichhpuniani case), the respondents had limited discretion circumscribed by the limits afore-stated to refuse to grant the application. In any case the petitioner would have been permitted to migrate to the college of his/her choice without any intervention by the Academic Council. Only a no objection certificate was required from the Principal of the college from the student was seeking to migrate. The matter has gone to the Academic Council only for condensation of the delay in making the application.
37. From perusal of the original record, I find that the applications of the three petitioners were all forwarded by their respective Principals. The Principal of the colleges where from the petitioner was seeking to migrate have endorsed that they have no objection to the migration on the application forms itself. Thus, so far as the requirement under Ordinance IV is concerned, the same stood satisfied. It is to be presumed that the respective Principals were satisfied with the genuineness of the grounds stated.
38. The applications having been made after the last date notified by the respondents, the matter was put up before the Academic Council only for condensation of the delay under Ordinance X C. The petitioners have contended that the Standing Committee or the Sub-Committee had required the petitioners to appear before it and to defend their application for migration. It was because this committee was satisfied of the genuineness of the grounds stated and the material placed before it that the Standing Committee made the recommendations on the applications of the petitioners seeking migration. The recommendation required the petitioners only to complete the formalities at the School of Correspondence Course & Continuing Education. This recommendation was forwarded to the Academic Council and simultaneously the petitioners were granted admission by the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education.
39. I also find that there is nothing in the record of the Standing Committee to the effect that the recommendations or the admissions granted were provisional. There is no indication on the note endorsed on the documents placed on record by the petitioners from any authority of the University or the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education to the effect that the admission was provisional. The factual position is that the petitioners joined their courses and were issued the roll number by the university without any kind of objection whatsoever. The petitioners and the other candidates also took the examination conducted by the University. Even the results of Ayushman Kakoty and Kavita Dhawan were declared.
40. Based on the grant of admission to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education, all the three petitioners forfeited their admissions in the regular course and college of study. The petitioner Kavita Dhawan is stated to have joined her MBA course and has also been granted employment based on the mark sheet awarded to her in her examination in the final year at the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education.
41. In the meantime and unknown to the students, it appears that after the meeting and recommendations of the Standing Committee(students) of the Academic Council on 16th April, 2004, the following noting was recorded in the University file on 14th May, 2004.
If approved, the Minutes may please be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor for approval under provision of the Ordinance X-C of the Ordinances of the University, so that the matter may be reported to the Academic Council meeting. Action on the Minutes has been taken.
From this noting it is apparent that the respondents themselves were treating the cases as merely cases of condensation of delay under Ordnance X(C) of the Ordinances. It was decided to place the recommendations of the Standing Committee of the Academic Council before the Council for its consideration in the noting recorded on 21st May, 2004.
42. It transpires that, however, when the file was put up before the Vice Chancellor of the University, the following noting was recorded by him on the 24th May, 2004
I agree. The aforesaid cases, relating to shortage of attendance, recommended by the Standing Committee are not approved. Indeed, these cannot be approved as they are not in conformity with the Ordinances. The matter be placed before the Academic Council for its consideration.
43. This matter was placed before the Academic Council in the meeting held on 18th June, 2004 when the following resolution was passed.
ACADEMIC COUNCIL RESOLUTION/S DATED 18TH JUNE, 2004.
Resolution No. 1 to 52
53 The Council considered the following recommendations of the Standing Committee (Students) dated 16.04.2004.
The following students of regular colleges who could not complete the required attendance requirement at lectures during the academic session 2003-04 and were detained to appear at the concerned course examination by the respective colleges. The request of these students for admission/migration at the School of Correspondence Courses beyond the prescribed date were considered by the Standing Committee (Students).
After due deliberations the Committee resolved that the students be allowed admission/migration to the School of Correspondence Courses to the course concerned for the session 2003-04 subject to completion of required formalities at the School of Correspondence Courses:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ S.No. Name of Students Course College ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ xxx xxx xxx xxx
12. Ayushman Garg BA(H)Phil Pt.I Zakir Hussain
xxx xxx xxx xxx
14. Radhika Garg B.Sc.(G) Pt.I ARSD
17. Kavita Dhawan BA(H)Eng The request of the candidate for direct
B.A. (H) Eng. Pt.III
in School of
Courses beyond the
prescribed date be
accepted as a special
case on medical ground.
18. Chandni Mehra The request of the B.Com.(P)-II candidate for
admission Gargi (1720)
B.Com.(P)-II at School of
Correspondence Courses be
accepted as a special case
on medical ground.
After discussion, the Council resolved that the above recommendations of the Standing Committee be not accepted.
(6 members dissented)
44. It is noteworthy that the Vice Chancellor who had recorded his note on 24th May, 2004 in the aforestated terms was the Chairperson of this meeting.
45. Even after having passed this resolution the respondents took no action whatsoever in the matter. The first correspondence in this behalf placed before the court is a letter dated 3rd August, 2004 addressed by the Deputy Registrar of the Council to the OSD (Examination) of the University of Delhi enclosing recommendations of the Standing Committee for further action. Thereafter, it appears that ACE conduct of the University of Delhi has addressed a note to the OSD Examination on 1st October, 2004 to the following effect :-
This is with reference to the A.C. Resolution dated 18.6.2004 wherein the recommendation of the Standing Committee (students) dated 16.4.2004 were not accepted by the A.C. About migration/admission of 18 students in the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education.
In this connection O.S.D.(SCC) is hereby requested to kindly certify in the first instance that the admission of the above students has been cancelled so that the further action may be taken by the Result Section in the matter.
Inherent and implicit in this note is the knowledge that all the students had been admitted to the School of Correspondence Courses & Continuing Education and that such admissions had to be cancelled.
46. By such date, all the three petitioners had duly acted upon the recommendations of the Standing Committee in their favor. The University of Delhi and its authorities including the Standing Committee were aware of the fact that admissions had been granted, the students were permitted to pursue the course, take examinations and their results were announced and they were permitted to make further choices and exercise career options based on the admissions and consequences thereof.
47. It is settled law that any authority vested with a statutory power to perform certain statutory duties, functions and responsibilities and vested with discretion has to act within a reasonable time. This is more so in matters relating to education. The Apex Court has repeatedly emphasised upon the requirement of students abiding by strict academic schedule. For the same reason, inasmuch as admission to courses, migration, examination is concerned, the respondents have to abide by the same discipline.
The respondents would in such matters be limited by the same limitation as are imposed on students who are required to act before commencement of next academic session. In the instant case, the respondents were duly aware that the students were seeking migration before commencement of University examination.
48. This court has already considered the issue relating to migration in the aforestated two pronouncements by the Division Bench whereby the court has already held that a student cannot be compelled to undertake the course of study in a particular college subject to the parameters noticed hereinabove. It has not been disputed that if the application seeking migration had been made before the 31st December, 2003, then the Academic Council would have had no role to play and only the no objection certificates from the Principals would have sufficed. The Principal's had endorsed their 'no objections' to the applications for migration of the petitioner.
49. The petitioners' applications were delayed at best by a period of four to six weeks.
Admittedly the grounds for seeking migration were medical grounds and medical certificates had also been placed in support of the applications. There were findings in favor of the petitioners with regard to these in view of the no objections given by the Principal of Colleges as well as in the recommendations of the Standing Committee.
50. Therefore, the only issue which was required to be considered by the Academic Council was to the effect as to whether the students could be permitted to be to migrate after the last date of allotment to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education for the reasons stated in their applications.
51. So as to test the validity of this reason of rejection of the applications on the only ground being shortage of attendance, the same can be examined from yet another angle. Assuming that a candidate had not undertaken any classes despite having taken admission to a regular course in the University, could such student be refused permission to migrate to the School of Correspondence Courses & Continuing Education if the application was made before the cut off dated 31st December, 2004?
The answer to such question when put to learned counsel for the respondents was obviously in the negative.
52. The noting of the Vice-Chancellor dated 24th May, 2004 has also not found any fault with the genuineness of these reasons or grounds. There is no finding by either the Vice-Chancellor or the Academic Council that the grounds stated by the petitioners were not genuine or that the medical certificates were not correct. There are no reasons recorded in the meeting dated 18th June, 2004. the noting dated 24th May, 2004 of the Vice Chancellor merely records that the cases relate to shortage of attendance and are not approved.
In my view, this is also totally violative of the pronouncements of the Division Benches of this court which have been reproduced at length here-in-above. As noticed above, a student may be short of attendance because of genuine medical reasons. In such circumstance, it cannot be successfully contended that the application for migration or condensation of delay must not be permitted merely because the attendance of such student was short in the regular course. The authorities are concerned only with the genuineness of the given reasons.
53. The original record produced before me does not reflect availability of any material with regard to the attendance position of the petitioners before the Vice-Chancellor when he made the noting or the Academic Council on 18.6.2004 when it hold the meeting. On the contrary reliance has been placed on behalf of the respondents received during the pendency of the case on a letter dated 17th January, 2005 from the Principal of the college where the petitioner namely Kavita Dhawan was undergoing her regular course in support of the contention that she was short of attendance. Therefore the admitted position is that neither on 24th May, 2004 nor on 18th June, 2004 there was any material before the Vice Chancellor or the Academic Council to show that the petitioners were short of attendance or the extent thereof, even if such consideration could be a valid consideration for rejection of the application.
54. The Standing Committee had required the candidates to appear before it prior to making its recommendations and permitting the migrations.
There was no such variation in the material placed which had been placed before the Standing Committee and which was available on the file placed before the Vice Chancellor on the 24th May, 2004 or before the Academic Council on 18th June, 2004. In such circumstances having regard to the fact that the Academic Council was considering the matter more than five months after the applications had been made and long after the commencement of the next University academic session, the students/petitioners could have been at least heard prior to rejection of the recommendations by the Standing Committee and reasons been assigned. This would have been in compliance with the dicta of the aforestated pronouncements.
55. It cannot possibly be contended that attendance of classes is not a requisite for part taking the regular course of study.
However, assuming what is contended by the respondents is correct that the medical reason stated by the petitioners as a ground for migration was a camouflage for the real position which is stated to be shortage of attendance, it cannot be denied that the petitioners were being made to pay for the consequences of their dalliance by the very fact that they were moving from regular course of study to courses by correspondence. It cannot be disputed that the petitioners were all migrating from prestigious colleges which are affiliated to the University of Delhi.
56. From perusal of the note dated 21st May, 2004 as well as the resolution dated 18th June, 2004 it is abundantly clear that there has been no consideration of individual cases and the entire matter had proceeded on general prejudice against all the applicants. The respondents were bound to consider each application on its individual merit and pass a reasoned order on the merits/demerits thereof. The respondents had before them the requirement of stating the reasons of rejection in the judgment reported at 71 (1998) DLT 202 Aman Ichhpuniani case.
57. Strong grievances has been made that the decision against the petitioners was pre-determined and there was no consideration in law by the Academic Council. The Vice Chancellor had decided the matter and influenced the meeting on 18th June, 2004 as Chairperson. I may usefully refer to the pronouncement of the Apex Court in the judgment reported at 1977 (1) SCR 64 entitled G. Sarana v. University of Lucknow and Ors. To the following effect :-
It would be advantageous at this stage to refer to the following observations made by this Court in Manak Lal v. Prem Chand.
Every member of a tribunal that sits to try issues in judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings must be able to act judicially; and the essences of judicial decisions and judicial administration is that judges should be able to act impartially; objectively and without any bias. In such cases the test is not whether in fact a bias has affected the judgment; the test always is and must be whether a litigant could reasonably apprehend that a bias attributable to a member of the tribunal might have operated against him in the final decision of the tribunal. It is in this sense that it is often said that justice must not only be done but must also appear to be done.
Again as held by this Court in A.K. Karipak's case (supra), re-iterated in S. Parthsarthi v. State of Andhra Pradesh and followed by the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir in Farooq Ahmed Pandey and Ors. v. Principal Regional Engineering College & Anr. the real question is not whether a member of an administrative Board while exercising quasi-judicial powers or discharging quasi-judicial functions was biased, for it is difficult to prove the mind of a person. What has to be seen is whether there is a reasonable ground for believing that he was likely to have been biased. In deciding the question of bias, human probabilities and ordinary course of human conduct have to be taken into consideration. In a group deliberation and decision like that of a Selection Board, the members do not function as computers. Each member of the group or board is bound to influence the others, more so if the member concerned is a person with special knowledge. His bias is likely to operate in a subtle manner.
From the above discussion, it clearly follows that what has to be seen in a case where there is an allegation of bias in respect of a member of an administrative Board or body is whether there is a reasonable ground for believing that he was likely to have been biased. In other words whether there is substantial possibility of bias animating the mind of the member against the aggrieved party.
58. At this stage, I may also appropriately notice here the findings of my esteemed brother (C.K. Mahajan, J) in the judgment in Civil Writ No. WP (C) No. 17174/2004 entitled at Chandni Mehra v. University of Delhi and Ors. on the implications of the nothings of the Vice Chancellor and the legality of the resolution dated 18th June, 2004 of the Academic Council to the following effect:-
A perusal of the aforesaid noting shows that the Vice-Chancellor, who is also the Chairperson of the Academic Council, had already made up his mind. The Vice Chancellor had failed to appreciate that the cases of the petitioner and Kavita Dhawan were distinct and different from those of 16 other students who had been detained for shortage of attendance and had applied for migration whereas the petitioner's case was recommended for migration as a special case on medical grounds. Since the entire file was placed before the Academic Council along with the observations of the Vice Chancellor obviously the Academic Council would have been influenced by these observations which culminated in the rejection of the petitioner's case also. The opinion expressed by the Vice Chancellor in his administrative capacity while referring the petitioner's case to the Academic Council which was presided over by him would vitiate the proceedings insofar as the petitioner is concerned.
The petitioner was never apprised of the decision of the Academic Council. It is only after she became aware of the rejection of her request for migration when she received the impugned letter dated 15th October, 2004 from the School of Correspondence informing her that provisional admission granted to her had been cancelled and she had been struck off the rolls. Moreover a perusal of the impugned letter dated 15th October, 2004 shows that it is cryptic and issued mechanically. If the University had decided to cancel the admission of the petitioner, the petitioner ought to have been afforded an opportunity of hearing before cancelling her admission to the Correspondence Course. This was not done in the present case. The decision of the University to cancel her admission was conveyed to the petitioner. No other reason was assigned. Migration of the petitioner was in consonance with Ordinance-IV. No provision of the Ordinance IV has been violated.
The Academic Counsel had taken a decision on 18th June, 2004 and the same was communicated to the petitioner on 21st October, 2004. The respondents have failed to explain the delay of about four months in communicating the decision of not admitting the petitioner to the School of Correspondence. Had the petitioner not been admitted to the School of Correspondence Courses, she would have pursued the Course i.e. B.Com (Pass) II year in the regular College which commenced from July, 2004. In view of the silence and inaction on the part of the respondents, the plea of equitable estoppel is well founded. The respondents are barred from refusing to grant admission and declaring the result. One academic year will inevitably be lost if the University was not to be permitted to deny the petitioner her right to admission and declaration of result. This is not a case where the petitioner has played any fraud or misrepresented facts or concealed any material particulars while seeking admission. I draw support from a decision of the Division Bench of this Court reported as Miss Sangeeta Srivastava v. Prof. U.N. Singh and Ors. AIR 1980 Delhi 27.
The petitioner was allowed to file the application form and deposit the requisite fee. Admission Ticket was also issued to the petitioner for taking the examination. The petitioner also took the examination. The petitioner was led to believe that there was no impediment in her taking the examination. She prepared for the examination and devoted her time, effort and energies. Cancellation of her admission at such a late stage when she was expecting her results to my mind is not fair, just and proper.
In the facts and circumstances of the case, the career of the petitioner cannot be allowed to be jeopardised on the basis of a mechanical action of the Academic Council suffering from non-application of mind.
It is also brought to the notice of the Court that the result of a similarly placed candidate Kavita Dhawan (whose name appeared at Sl. No. 17 in the Resolution before the Academic Council) has been declared and she has already taken provisional certificate and mark sheet. The result of another candidate Prem Kochar (whose name was at Sl. No. 2 in the Resolution before the Academic Council) whose case was also not accepted by the Academic Council, has been declared. In these circumstances the action of the respondents in withholding the results of the petitioner and cancelling her admission is arbitrary and discriminatory and is liable to be quashed.
59. The court did not have cases of the other 16 students including the petitioners Radhika Garg and Ayushman Kakoty before it. The recommendations made by the Standing Council in their favor and their applications were on a different date, as noticed herein. The decision in respect of these students was also based on the same noting of the Vice-Chancellor and all these cases were also rejected arbitrarily without any material before the Academic Council and by non application of the independent mind.
60. This court has already held in Chandni Mehra's case(supra) that the decision dated 18th June, 2004 was rendered illegal as it suffered from the vice of apparent bias in the mind of the Chair Person of the Academic Council which obviously influenced the decision.
This finding is binding on me. I have also been taken through the original records and I find myself in complete agreement with the findings recorded in the judgment in respect of the Academic Council resolution dated 18th June, 2004 in respect of the present petitioners also. Having been so held, the impugned decision dated 18th June, 2004 of the Academic Council cannot be sustained. The second question is answered thus.
61. It is noteworthy that in the afore-stated decision in Chandni Mehra's case the court also noticed that the result of Kavita Dhawan had been declared and that she had taken the provisional certificate and the mark sheet. It was also noticed that the result of another candidate Prem Kochar (whose name was at serial No. 2 in the resolution before the academic council) whose case was also not accepted by the academic council, has been declared. In these circumstances, the court held that action of the respondents in withholding the results of the petitioner and cancelling her admission was arbitrary and discriminatory.
62. I find that while recording the order dated 3rd December, 2004 in writ petition(civil) 18455/2004, this aspect of the matter and the findings in the Chandni Mehra's case were not brought to the notice of the court. In Chandni Mehra's case, the court had clearly held that the opinion expressed by the Vice Chancellor in his administrative capacity while referring the petitioner's case to the Academic Council which was presided over by him would vitiate the proceedings and also that it suffered from the vice of apparent bias. It was also held that the impugned letter of cancellation was cryptic and had been issued mechanically. It was also found that if the University had decided to cancel the admission of the petitioners, the petitioners and the petitioners could have been awarded an opportunity of hearing before cancellation of her admission to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education.
It is apparent that neither these findings nor the original record were placed before the court while considering the decision rendered on 3rd December, 2004. It was also not brought to the court's notice that the result of Ayushman Kakoti (petitioner before me) had also been declared and he has been permitted to continue with the next year of the course in the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education.
63. In the light of all these facts, there can be no and I find no reason to vary the findings of the court on 5th November, 2004 so far as the noting of the Vice Chancellor dated 24th May, 2004 and the decision dated 18th June, 2004 is concerned. The resolution in all the cases (including petitioners) was one. It was as cryptic, based on no material and identical as in Chandni Mehra's case. The delay in the communication is similar. These petitioners have also not been afforded an opportunity before cancelling of their admissions and no reason has been assigned for the same. No plea of violation of any provision of law by these petitioners has been pleaded or established.
64. I also find that there is no allegation of fraud or mis-representation or cancellation of any material particulars on the part of the petitioners. The petitioners were permitted to fill the application form for admission to the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education and deposit the requisite fee. They were permitted to take the University examination without any impediment.
The issue relating to cancellation of admission at belated stages after a student had been permitted to undergo the course and take examinations has been held to be not fair or equitable. In this behalf the observations of the Apex Court in the case of Sanatan Gauda(supra) to the following effect are noteworthy :-
15. This is apart from the fact that I find that in the present case the appellant while securing his admission in the Law College had admittedly submitted his marks-sheet Along with the application for admission. The Law College had admitted him. He had pursued his studies for two years. The University had also granted him the admission card for the Pre-Law and Intermediate Law examinations. He was permitted to appear in the said examinations. He was also admitted to the final year of the course. It is only at the stage of the declaration of his results of the Pre-Law and Inter-Law examinations that the University raised the objection to his so-called ineligibility to be admitted to the Law Course. The University is, therefore, clearly estopped from refusing to declare the results of the appellant's examination or from preventing him from pursuing his final year course.
16. For all these reasons, I am of the view that the University is not justified in refusing to declare the appellant's results of the Pre-Law and Intermediate Law examinations. The appeal, therefore, succeeds. The respondent-University is directed to declare the said results as well as the result of the final examination if the appellant has appeared for the same. The appeal is allowed accordingly. In the circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.
65. I may also advert to the observations by this court in the judgment reported at 43 (1991) DLT 670 entitled Kanishka Aggarwal v. University of Delhi which reads as under :-
33. What do we find in this case? It is the Professor-in-charge who may make provisional admissions. It is he, who, as the so-called Convener, may admit provisionally even those who do not find their names in any of the Lists. There was no Waiting List and as many as 72 vacancies were crying to be filled up on the very last date of admissions. The petitioner was there. So were the like of him. They were all waiting in the wings with money in their wallets to pay admission fees. They were invited. They paid the fees. (It was argued by Mr. Rao that the petitioner must have named the person who had invited him to pay the fees. We regard it immaterial. There was some Barkes some-where who was willing a la David Copperfield. And, then how could fees be deposited without the other side willing to accept? Have we not heard and heard again that line from the Goblin Market : One may lead a horse to water, twenty cannot make him drink?) They were issued regular receipts for the same. Let us not forget that as per Clause IX of the Bulletin fees is to be paid only by an applicant selected for admission. Let us also not forget that before the payment of fees, the applicants admitted provisionally have to produce all the requisite certificates in original and their confirmation is to be made by none other than the Professor-in-charge himself, and as per the applicant, he had actually produced those certificates. (See Clause VII (c) ) As per Clause IX (3). The applicant also furnished two copies of his latest passport size photograph, the same being essential to effect his/her admission by payment of fees. He was allotted a roll number. He was issued even the requisite identity card. He was also assigned to one of the seven sections. He even started attending the lectures. And later, in all the communications of he University he was shown to have been provisionally admitted. Does all this not constitute a representation? What is all this if not the requisite 'conduct'? Was the applicant not justified, under the circumstances, to raise the assumption ?(See : Sanatan Gaurda v. Brahampur University, JT 1990 (2) SC 57).
36. We hold that the plea of estoppel is available and applicable.
37. Let us assume, the plea of estoppel is not available. Still, should the applicant be allowed to be thrown out? Should we deprive him of the rainbow of today and make his tomorrows bleak, barren and ominous? Whom shall we be serving thereby? An in-efficient, if not corrupt, system which has been spreading its fangs year after year? The Rip Van Winkles who refused to come out of their deep slumber even in the face of the reverberations caused by loud protests of foul play and demand for a CBI enquiry? Those who found it well high impossible to even transfer certain clerical staff inspite of pressing demand by the teaching community? Should we serve them or this innocent student who bought a dream with his time and money? He played no fraud. His only fault was his assumption that vistas or knowledge were being opened to him. Must he suffer for this innocence? Where lies his fault? How much do we wish, somebody had whispered to the University : un pey de charite, voyons'.
38. Yes, Wells is right (Situated Decision making 63 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1727 (1990)) in pointing out that judges remain impartial spectators while hearing the witnesses and going through reports, but at the end of the trial they become agents by interacting not only with those who are involved in the case, but with unknown others also whose cases will be decided in accordance with this case and ultimately they become situationalists or formalists inspite of their having been trained in the same legal system. John Dewey (Logical Method and Law, in 15th Middle Works 1889-1924, 68 (1983)) quotes Justice Holmes as saying :
The whole outline of the law is the resultant of a conflict at every point between logic and good sense-the one striving to work fiction out to consistent results, the other restraining and at last overcoming the effort when the results become too manifestly unjust.
Though Dewey points out that Holmes uses logic in a narrow sylogistic sense, and himself advocates experimental logic(P 69), let us say, the formalist judge represents logic, while the situationalist judge represents good sense. With respect, it is the situationalist judges we find working in Rajendra Prasad Mathur v. Karnataka University 1986 Supp. SCC 740 ; Thaper Institute of Engineering and Technology Patiala v. Abhinav Taneja and Ors., JT 1990 (3) SC 72 and Ashok Chand Singhvi v. Jodhpur University, AIR 1989 SC 823. For, in all these cases, the Supreme Court protected the interests of the students though found having been initially ineligible for admission. Who would not love to be in such august company?
66. All the aforestated observations squarely apply to the action of the University of Delhi authorities in the instant case as well.
67. I may also notice that while recording the noting dated 24th May, 2004 and in addressing the impugned decision, the respondents have completely ignored the impact and consequence of the same on the students involved. The petitioners all forfeited admissions in the regular courses. The petitioner Kavita Dhawan was in the final year and made arrangements to pursue further studies and to pursue an MBA course and also was successful in securing employment based on the result announced by the respondents. The petitioner Ayushman Kakoty, based on the result is pursuing the next year of the course. The respondents made no provision as to the fate of these students in case their decision was implemented. The question arises as to whether there could be any restitution and whether these petitioners could be reverted to the position subsisting on the date they made the applications. The answer is clearly in the negative. Each of these candidates would lose a complete academic year. One of the petitioners Kavita Dhawan would lose her admission in a professional course and employment also.
68. It would be appropriate to notice here the observations of this court in the judgment reported at 2002(III) AD (Delhi) 81 entitled Liya Belliappa v. CBSE and Anr. to the following effect :-
13. Learned counsel for respondent No. 1 has relied upon a Supreme Court judgment in Civil Appeal No. 2662 of 1998 CBSE and Anr. v. P. Sunil Kumar and Ors. in which the Apex Court has deprecated the practice of allowing the students to appear in the examinations of the Board or the Universities and then ultimately regularising the same by taking sympathetic view in the matter. It is also observed that the Courts by their fiat cannot direct the Universities to disputes to which they owe their existences. Learned counsel also relies upon the orders passed by the Apex Court in SLP- 18853/97 Central Board of Secondary Education v. Nikhil Gulati and Anr. On 13.2.1998 in which once again the practice of permitting ineligible students to undertake Board or University examinations was disapproved. However it was also added that unless the High Court can justify its decision on principle and precept it should better desist from passing such orders as it puts the rule of law to mockery. It is true that the Courts must not countenance in-fraction of rules nor should interfere with the rules, guidelines and policies made by the experts in academic matters but in a case like the present one where a student is shown to be put in an extremely disadvantageous position without any fault on his part the Court has the duty to intervene and set the equities right to ensure that the student is not made to suffer without any fault on his part.
Undoubtedly the admissions of the petitioners cannot be disturbed in such manner and at such stage and the impugned decisions deserve to be quashed to balance equities.
69. This is a direct consequence of the action of the respondents in not promptly disposing of the applications which were made in the beginning of February, 2004 and delaying consideration by the academic council till June, 2004 long after the academic session was over.
70. The delay in communication of the decision taken, i.e., till 18th December, 2004 to Radhika Garg, November 2004 to Kavita Dhawan and till 10th November, 2004 to Ayushman Kakoti also militates against the permissibility of the action of the respondents. The respondents intimated the decision taken by them well into the next academic year.
71. In this regard, I may appropriately refer to the observations by this court in the judgment of Arijit Bansal which are to the following effect :-
14. xxx xxx xxx
In short, the wrong declaration in the application form did not affect petitioner's merit position, in the selection process. At the risk of repetition in this case, the petitioner had secured 78.6% marks in xiith class examination. He was eligible and undertook Entrance Test in the year 2000 but could not make up to the merit list. He again appeared in the Entrance Test in the year 2001 and made up to the merit list. He has already completed about two years study in the MBBS course and has already passed the professional course in all the subjects. Even if petitioner's admission is cancelled, the seal in the second year cannot be occupied by any other candidate, therefore, no useful purpose can be served by cancelling the admission at this stage. Ordinance X-C of the University of Delhi Calender permits the Academic Council in suitable cases, to grant exemption from the operation of any of the Ordinances governing admission of the students. The cancellation of petitioner's admission, at this juncture would destroy his entire professional career without benefiting anybody else. The Medical Courses Admission Committee comprising of eminent educationists, after detailed examination of the material available on record, decided to allow the petitioner to continue the courses, with the warning that in case of any other misconduct committed by the petitioner, his admission to the course would be cancelled. This decision of the Medical Courses Admission Committee, could not be set aside by a cryptic non speaking resolution by the Academic council. xxx xxx xxx xxx
17. There is nothing in the Academic Council Resolution to show what material was circulated to the members of the AC, when the above resolution was passed. Respondents were again directed to produce the documents, which were circulated to the AC members or in the alternative to file affidavit. On 9.6.2003 respondents filed an affidavit which only shows that except the decision of the Medical Courses Admission Committee dated 24.10.2002, nothing else was circulated to the members of the Academic Council Along with the agenda. On being asked, learned counsel for the respondents very fairly conceded that no other document was circulated to members of the Academic Council. It is really surprising that the documents like memorandum, show cause notice, replies, representations of the petitioner and other connected documents were not even circulated to the members of the Academic Council Along with the agenda. In the absence of these documents, how could the members of the Academic Council overrule the well-considered decision of the Medical Courses Committee, which comprised of two members of the Academic Council, Principal, UCMS, Vice-Principal, LHMC and the Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences. For this reason alone, the resolution of the Academic Council, cancelling petitioner's admission, is liable to be set aside for non-application of mind and being violative of principles of natural justice.
xxx xxx xxx xxx
18. xxx xxx xxx xxx
Delhi University was created by an Act of Parliament under the Constitution. It is substantially financed by the funds provided directly or indirectly by the Government. The AC is an authority created under the Delhi University Act, therefore, in my view, AC is a public authority within the meaning of Section 2(g) of the Act. Section 4(d) of the Act imposes obligation on a public authority to give reasons for its decisions, whether administrative or quasi judicial. This duty helps compliance with the principles of natural justice. Thus, the AC, being a public authority, was bound to give reasons, for its resolutions, particularly while setting aside the admission of a student whose career is going to be decided by such a decision. The resolution of AC, being non-speaking, is liable to be quashed on this ground as well.
In my considered view, in the facts of the instant case, the resolution dated 18th June, 2004 and the admissions of the petitioners could not have been cancelled without notice to show cause, opportunity of hearing and without a reasoned and considered decision. The third question is answered thus.
72. According to Ms. Acharya, as the applications were beyond the last date for migration, therefore, they had to be treated as if they were applications seeking fresh admissions and Ordinance IV would have no relevance in the instant case.
The respondents have recorded nothings that the matter related to Ordinance XC as noticed above.
The respondents were themselves treating these applications as applications for condensation of delay under Ordinance XC and cannot be permitted to contend that the same were applications for fresh admission.
73. In this case the recommendations of the standing committee were permitted to be given effect to and migration was permitted which was well within the knowledge of the University of Delhi. It has been contended that the admissions were provisional and that only the academic council was competent to permit migration of the student. In this view of the matter the university would be advised to consider the permissibility of admissions based only on the recommendations of the standing committee. This would deserve to be balanced against the administrative hitch expressed on behalf of the respondent that it is not possible to convene a meeting to the academic council expeditiously. If this be so, the university ought not to be permitted to brush away recommendations of the standing committee which have been given effect to by it without compliance of the principles laid down in the authoritative judicial pronouncements noticed here-in-above.
The decision taken by the Academic Council and the order communicated to the petitioners reflect no reasons at all. There is no material on the record other than the noting by the Vice-Chancellor dated 24th May, 2004. The respondents cannot be permitted to read any reason as the basis of the decision taken other than the reason disclosed in the order. The order/decision has to be tested only on the basis of material on record. I am supported in this view by the pronoucement of the Apex Court in Commissioner of Police v. Gordhan Dass Bhanji (supra).
74. I may also advert to the submission made on behalf of the respondents that the petitioners are bound by the provisions of the statute which provides that the delay in the application could be condoned by the Academic Council alone and hence the petitioners were aware that their admissions were provisional. This is vehemently disputed by the petitioners who have stated that they have learnt for the first time that their admission was provisional only on the receipt of the letter dated 18th November, 2004.
I am unable to agree with the learned counsel for the respondent. In the facts noticed here-in-above even if the admission was initially provisional on account of the supervening circumstances the petitioners had every reason to believe that the admissions had been accepted and confirmed by the respondents inasmuch as they were issued admission tickets for the examinations and had taken their respective examinations without any objection from the respondents and the results of two of the petitioners namely Ayushman and Kavita Dhawan had been declared.
I may notice the principles laid down by the Apex Court in (1996) 5 SCC 468 while considering the representation made by the authority on the grounds of promissory estoppel:-
It is well settled that the doctrine of promissory estoppel represents a principle evolved by equity to avoid injustice and, though commonly named promissory estoppel, it is neither in the realm of contract nor in the realm of estoppel. The basis of this doctrine is the inter-position of equity which has always proved to its form, stepped in to mitigate the rigour of strict law. It is equally true that the doctrine of promissory estoppel is not limited in its application only to defense but it can also find a cause of action. This doctrine is applicable against the Government in the exercise of its governmental public or executive functions and the doctrine of executive necessity or freedom of future executive action, cannot be invoked to defeat the applicability of this doctrine. It is further well established that the doctrine of promissory estoppel must yield when the equity so requires. If it can be shown by the Government or public authority that having regard to the facts as they have transpired, it would be unequitable to hold the Government or public authority to the promise or representation made by it, the court would not raise an equity in favor of the person to whom the promise or representation is made and enforce the promise or representation against the Government or public authority. The doctrine of promissory estoppel would be displaced in such a case because on the facts, equity would not require that the Government or public authority should be held bound by the promise or representation made by it (vide Godfrey Philips case)
In the instant case also the respondents could be bound by their conduct and on grounds of the equitable principles of promissory estoppel to the effect that the admissions made to the petitioners were valid and binding.
75. It is apparent that the issues raised in the present petition and the validity of the action of the respondents will arise repeatedly so long as the provisions for migration exists and students would continue to make applications. In addition to the directions of the Division Bench of this court in Aman Ichhpuniani's case that an application stating relevant reasons for seeking migration would deserve to be favorably considered unless the reason was found to be false, however, bald applications for migration on the sole ground of a student wishing to migrate may not invite exercise of the discretion favorably in favor of the candidates. However it is imperative that the respondents follow a definite procedure while considering the applications for migration. From the aforestated pronouncements of this Court and consideration of the issues raised in the present writ petition, the following principles can be laid down:-
(i) Consideration of an application for migration involves a consultative process between the head of the institution or the recommending body with the student and the respective parents/guardians.
(ii) Consideration and decision making on the application have to follow a time bound frame. The entire process has necessarily to be completed expeditiously giving time to the student to prepare for the exams at the end of the academic session for which the application has been made. Under no circumstance can the decision making be protracted into the next academic session.
(iii) The consideration of the application entail application of mind to the reasons set out, materials placed in support thereof, welfare of the student and balancing of what may sometimes be conflicting interests of the students vis-a-vis the institution.
(iv) Rejection of an application must be by a reasoned order.
(v) Communication of the decision taken on an application for migration has to be made immediately upon the decision having been taken.
(vi) The decision taken must be communicated immediately to the concerned student, the institution wherefrom migration is sought as well as the institution to which migration is sought.
(vii) In the event of admissions having been granted to the institution to which migration is sought in circumstances as the present case and the next academic session having commenced, no cancellation of admission ought to be permitted without service of notice to show cause and opportunity of hearing by the competent authority.
76. In view of the foregoing discussion, the writ petitions are hereby allowed. The resolution dated 18th June, 2004 is hereby quashed. 77. The impugned order dated 18th November, 2004 in WP (C) 20013/2004 entitled Radhika Garg v. Delhi University issued by the respondents is hereby set aside and quashed.
78. It is directed that the result of Radhika Garg in her first year B.Com(Pass) course be declared forthwith. In case the petitioner obtained the requisite percentage of marks, she be allowed to take examination in the second year B.Com(Pass) course in the School of Correspondences Courses and Continuing Education and to undertake her examination in accordance with law.
79. In WP(C) No. 1467/2005 filed by Ayushman Kakoty, the letter dated 26th October, 2004 enclosed as annexure P-1 to the petition is hereby set aside and quashed. The respondents are directed to declare the result of the petitioner and in case he has passed to admit him to the second year of the B.A.(Pass) course in the School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education and to pursue the same in accordance with law.
80. In WP (C) No. 652/2005 Kavita Dhawan v. Delhi University, the impugned letters dated 15th October, 2004 and 5th December, 2004 are hereby set aside and quashed and the respondents are directed to issue the final degree to the petitioner as having passed the B.A.(Hon.) English Course in accordance with law.
81. The petitions are allowed in the aforestated terms.
82. The petitioners shall be entitled to the costs of the present petitions which are quantified at Rs.5,500/- each.