Apprentice Lawyer

That “epitome of injustice” comment on GNLU? Division Bench directs independent inquiry (Petition + Order)

Anuj Agrawal

Weeks after Justice ZK Saiyed of the Gujarat High Court described the Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar as the “epitome of injustice”, a Division Bench has passed a consent order in the case.

Justices MR Shah and AS Supehia have, amongst other things, directed a fresh inquiry to be conducted into the matter.

The inquiry will be conducted by Mukesh Patel, an income tax practitioner and Amal Dhru, a chartered accountant.

As reported by Bar & Bench, at the heart of the matter lies charges of using unfair means during an examination, charges levelled against a third-year student. Following a process that the High Court would label as denial of “basic human rights”, the University went on to hold that the student was guilty of unfair means and directed the student to sit through the third year again.

Represented by counsel Gurusharan H Virk, the student appealed against the University’s decision (read full petition below), with the single bench eventually ruling in favour of the student.

Apart from the comments mentioned above, the single bench held that the examination results must be declared within four weeks. Last month, the High Court refused to grant a stay of its order.

Which is when GNLU, and Director Bimal Patel, sought to file an appeal.

Represented by senior counsel Mihir Thakore briefed by Dharmishta Raval, it appears that GNLU had sought to hold an inquiry as contemplated under the relevant Regulations. Interestingly, these very regulations were amended in February this year [pdf], two of which are extremely relevant.

One, Regulation 38(b)(v) now says that the findings of an enquiry committee against a student would be placed before the Director and not the Executive Council. Two, Regulation 44(f) now says that it is the Director, and not the Executive Council, that may impose measures based on the finding of the examination committee.

Essentially, the Executive Council’s powers in these two circumstances were handed over to the Director.

But these regulations will not apply in the present case. As per the consent order, it is the unamended Regulations that will apply, meaning that the final decision will be taken by the Executive Council and not the Director.

The High Court has also said that the recommendation of the independent committee will be provided by July 31, and that the Executive Council would take a final decision within 30 days of receiving recommendations. Furthermore, the student will be allowed to attend the fourth year classes. Lastly, the Division Bench has set aside the observations made against GNLU’s lawyer in paragraph 22 the Single Bench decision .

No other observations have been set aside by the Division Bench.

Given that this is a consent order, neither of the parties involved are likely to go in further appeal. The matter, then, appears to be have been put to rest. Of course, the larger question really is one about litigations between students and the very institutes they are studying in.

Read the order and the student’s petition below:

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news