The Bombay High Court recently held that the registration of FIR cannot be regarded as gospel truth and be a reason for expelling a student, as it is against principles of natural justice.
A bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice SK Shinde was hearing a petition filed by a 21-year-old student of Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering College affiliated to Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS).
Case BackgroundIt was the petitioner’s case that he was a meritorious student and because of this, he was nominated by his institute for a summer school event conducted between June 30 and July 13, 2017. However, an FIR was registered against the petitioner for offences punishable under sections 376 (2)(n), 417, 323 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code. It was alleged by the complainant that the petitioner had committed sexual assault on her on the pretext of marriage, but later refused.
The petitioner was arrested on July 31 but released on bail the same day. Following this, NMIMS suspended the petitioner on August 2 until further orders, only to expel him three days lateron August 5.
The petitioner challenged these two orders in the high court. Senior advocate Mihir Desai appeared for him and advocate AP Singh appeared for the respondent institute. It was argued on behalf of NMIMS that according to their own rulebook, the petitioner student was liable to face action as sexual harassment would not be tolerated.
Final JudgmentThe court noted that the actions of NMIMS were against principles of natural justice.
It appears that before expelling the petitioner, he was not afforded any opportunity either by issuing any show causenotice or otherwise. The Institute admittedly acted upon the FIR registered against the petitioner and expelled him from the Institute obviously without holding any enquiry. In other words, the petitioner has been punished and kept away from pursuing the further studies without hearing him. Thus, the order of the respondent, Institute was in violation of principles of natural justice, the court said.
It was of the view that registration of a crime cannot be taken as a gospel truth and held out to be a foundation to expel the petitioner: “It is not the case of the Institute that the petitioner has indulged into illegal activities in the campus in relation to its students and/or Institute. No doubt, the offence registered against the petitioner is serious in nature, however, the alleged incident was neither indiscipline, harassment, misbehaviour nor amounting to indulgence in unethical practices as defined in Clause-2.15 of the Students Recourse Book. Respondent no.2 expelled the petitioner from the Institute merely on the ground that FIR is being registered against him by the complainant who is no way concerned with the Institute.”
Thus, both the orders of suspension as well as expulsion were set aside and the petitioner was permitted to resume his studies at the institute.