The Bombay High Court has granted partial relief to a Mumbai resident who has been accused by a city-based institute of having secured admissions in its postgraduate management programme through “unfair
A bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre quashed and set aside an order issued by the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) on July 30, 2013, cancelling the degree it had conferred upon the petitioner (name withheld) earlier that year.
The bench held that such order by the college authorities had been issued in breach of principles of natural justice since they did not offer a fair chance to the petitioner to present his side of the arguments.
The bench, however, directed the college authorities to conduct a time-bound and fair inquiry into the incident.
If the petitioner is found guilty in such an enquiry, the college authorities are free to take appropriate action.
However, if the same revealed that the allegations against the petitioner are false, the college authorities would have to drop all punitive action taken against the
petitioner, the judges said.
As per the plea, the petitioner had participated in the official selection exam- the NMAT Test- conducted by NMIMS in November 2010 in Indore and secured admissions to its two-year post-graduate degree course in management for the year 2011-13 in Mumbai.
He completed the course and was conferred upon a degree by the college authorities in April 2013. He then began working with a private firm in Mumbai, it said.
However, he received a show cause notice on June 26, 2013 from NMIMS asking why his degree must not be cancelled “since it had come to light that he had made a dummy candidate appear for the entrance test in Indore on his behalf”, the plea said.
The petitioner denied the allegation and cited his meritorious record during the two-year course to argue that he did not need a dummy candidate to help him clear the entrance exam, as per the plea.
The petitioner also asked the college authorities to provide him the documentary evidence against him.
However, the authorities refused to do so and on July 30, 2013, issued an order notifying the petitioner that his degree had been cancelled and his admissions, his exam results etc. therefore, were rendered null and void, the plea said.
The petitioner then approached the High Court through senior advocate Mihir Desai denying allegations of fraud against him and arguing that the college authorities had been unfair in not permitting him to defend himself before issuing the July 30 order.
NMIMS argued that an inquiry conducted by the company that had helped conduct the entrance test in 2010 had revealed that several candidates had employed “unfair means” to secure admissions.
The name of the petitioner had figured in the list of the flagged candidates and an FIR had also been registered with the city police, the NMIMS said.
It further argued that since the petitioner had employed unfair means, he did not deserve a prior notice, or a hearing to enable him to present his side of the arguments.
The bench said, “It is no doubt true that if such a fraud has been unearthed, it has to be dealt with sternly. However, in the present case, it is noted that apart from filing the FIR which has resulted into filing of the
chargesheet, the respondent no 1 (NMIMS) has only issued a show cause notice to the petitioner.
“No document/material was supplied to the petitioner which would have afforded him a chance to deal with the allegations levelled against him. Since the institute is a state-recognised institute, all its actions must be governed by the doctrine of equality and fair play as incorporated under Article 14 of the Constitution. Its decisions are liable to be tested on the anvil of the principles of natural justice,” the bench said.
It directed NMIMS to initiate and conclude a fair inquiry into the incident in a time-bound manner.