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Academic Authorities Can Frame Policies For Benefit Of Students Unless Found Contrary To Law: Gauhati High Court

12 May 2022 11:45 AM GMT
Academic Authorities Can Frame Policies For Benefit Of Students Unless Found Contrary To Law: Gauhati High Court

The Gauhati High Court recently dismissed a petition filed by a student challenging his college policy for allotment of marks to students who were scheduled to appear in the Higher Secondary Final examination, 2021 finding that unless found to be contrary to law, academic experts have the liberty to frame policies in the best interest of students.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed that :

"It is a well settled in law that unless it is shown to be contrary to a statute or the Rules, the academic authorities should be given their liberty to frame the policies which are based suited for conducting their functions and in the interest of the student community."

The petitioner had applied for a betterment examination but the College could not conduct it due to Covid 19 pandemic conditions in the country. Therefore, a notification dated 01.07.2021 was issued by the department laying down the manner in which marks are to be allotted to the students under various categories who were scheduled to appear in the Higher Secondary Final examination, 2021.

The petitioners were aggrieved by the process for the allotment of marks as per notification dated 01.07.2021.

They approached the department but to no avail, so the petitioners moved High Court. The Single Judge by order dated 09 September 2021, disposed of the petition without granting relief. Aggrieved by the same, they moved an appeal.

Senior counsel K. N. Choudhury assisted by Advocate R. Pr. Kakati urged before this Court that the entire process adopted by the Assam High Secondary Education Council as notified on 01.07.2021, is faulty and has not treated the appellants at par with the other examinees appearing under other categories although they were similarly situated, being not able to appear in the H.S. Final examination, 2021 due to COVID-19 situation.

He urged that the appellants ought to have been evaluated at par with the failed / repeat category students. It is urged that the appellants did not fail in the earlier examination but have only sought to improve their marks in certain subjects.

However, because of different methods of evaluation adopted by the H.S Council as notified vide the guideline dated 01.07.2021, the hopes and aspirations of the appellants that they would be able to improve upon the marks have been totally lost.

The Senior counsel urged the court to consider that for no fault of theirs, the appellants are not been treated at par with their peers because of the peculiar manner of allocation of marks. Such a disadvantage has been caused to the appellants as compared to their peers although they did not fail in any of the subjects but are merely seeking to enhance the marks which they had obtained earlier.

The counsel appearing for the Higher Secondary Council submitted that there is no infirmity in the order impugned in as much as the guidelines had been issued by the counsel on the basis of the report of the alternative method committee which had deliberated upon the evaluation of marks for H.S. Final examination, 2021.

The Standing counsel submits that it is not mandatory for the appellants to appear for betterment examination. It is an option offered and which had been availed of by the appellants. The appellants were given the opportunity to apply and submit their forms for the special examination in terms of the order passed by the learned Single Judge, however, they have failed to appear. Therefore, there is no infirmity in the order passed by the learned single judge and in the guidelines.

In the end, it was submitted that the guidelines are prepared on the basis of the report of the committee which was duly approved by the Government. There is no challenge to the said guidelines by the petitioners.

The Court noted that It is not the pleaded case that the guidelines or the notification are contrary to any existing statue or Rules of the department and a bare perusal of the notification reveals that the steps have been taken by the department in the peculiar circumstances under the COVID-19 situation.

It was observed that in deciding matters relating to Education or academics, writ courts should normally be slow to pass orders and the educational authorities should be normally left to their decision. Interference is called for only in the interest of justice.

"No material has been placed before us to suggest that the guidelines/notification relating to the process of evaluation has been arrived at without taking into consideration the relevant factors. There is also no material to suggest that the Alternative Method Committee (AMC) did not take into account relevant factors in the interest of student community in the report which have also been subsequently rectified by the department education and only pursuant to which the notification dated 01.07.2021 was issued."

In view of the above, the court found no infirmity in the order passed by the Single Judge and dismissed the petition.

Appellants were represented by advocates K.N. Choudhury, Senior Advocate assisted by Ms. R. Pr. Kakati. Respondents were represented by Advocate T.C. Chutia, standing counsel, AHSEC.

Case Title: Bistirna Hazarika and Ors. v The State of Assam & Anr., with connected matters

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Gau) 35

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

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