top of page

ANY ORDER PASSED BY AN AUTHORITY WITHOUT JURISDICTION IS REGARDED AS CORAM NON JUDICE -BOMBAY HC

DR.GEETA MALLIKARJUN PATIL V. VICE CHANCELLOR AND ORS W.P.No. 584 of 2018

Coram: Dipankar Datta, C.J. and S.V. Gangapurwala, J.

Decided On: 18th September, 2020.




The Petitioner who is a Professor in the Department of English of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad, has been designated as the Head of the Department of the English w.e.f. April 1, 2017 for a period of three years. Soon thereafter, a complaint has been filed against her alleging that she failed to perform her obligations. The vice-chancellor of the university then, has appointed an Enquiry Committee under section 106 of Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016 (referred to as “Act”) to look after the allegations that leveled up against her. Questioning such order, the petitioner has filed a writ petition. The Committee has submitted a report, which was accepted by the Vice Chancellor. The report said that the petitioner should be relieved of the responsibility of Head of the Department of English but she may continue to consider as the Professor in the Department of English. Upon such order the petitioner has filed for the amendment of prayer in writ petition which has been allowed. The Issue before the Court was:

Whether as to the constitution of the Enquiry Committee, the power under section 106 of the Act is reserved for the authorities of the University to exercise and may not have been exercised by the Vice Chancellor?
Whether taking into consideration and accepting the report of the Enquiry Committee, which is an important material, without even supplying the same to the petitioner amounts to the breach of the principles of natural justice?

The Vice Chancellor of the University in purported exercise of powers conferred by section 106 of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016 has constituted an Enquiry Committee, to inquire into the allegations leveled against the petitioner.

The petitioner Advocate has submitted that the Vice Chancellor is not an authority as defined in Section 26 of the Act and on contrary to that he is an officer of the University and his powers and duties are circumscribed by section 12 of the Act. In reply to the petitioner’s contention the respondent’s Advocate suggests that the Enquiry Committee was constituted by the Vice Chancellor in exercise of power conferred by Section 106 of the Act and not in terms of Section 12 (7) thereof, which provides for powers to be exercised in an emergency.


Section 106 confers powers on the authorities of the University to appoint a committee with suitable terms of reference for any specific task, and such committee shall consist of members of the same authority constituting such a committee and also of such other persons as that authority may nominate. (para 7)

Hence, in his usual fairness, the counsel for respondents has conceded the fact that the power under Section 106 of the Act is reserved for the authorities of the University to exercise and may not have been exercised by the Vice Chancellor.


Any order passed by an authority without jurisdiction is regarded as coram non judice. It is trite that if any material is sought to be considered against any person to his detriment by an authority, it would be the duty of such authority to furnish the same irrespective of whether it is asked for or not. (para 8).

The respondent’s Counsel has agreed with the submission of the Petitioner’s Counsel that the Vice Chancellor, before accepting the report of the enquiry, should have supplied the same to the petitioner. Without supplying copy of the report, the action taken by the Vice Chancellor appears to be in clear breach of the principles of natural justice.


The writ petition succeeds to the extent mentioned herein below:

The order of the Vice Chancellor constituting the Enquiry Committee, the report of such Committee and the order of the Vice Chancellor, stand set aside .

The aforesaid order would, however, not mean automatic re-designation of the petitioner as the Head of the Department of English, for, we find that Dr.Ambhore has been designated as the Head of the Department of English; therefore, it would not be desirable to disturb the present arrangement particularly when Dr.Ambhore is not before us as a party.

However, we make it clear that in the event the petitioner is otherwise qualified for being designated as the Head of Department once again, she shall be so designated on and from April 1, 2021, for the balance period of two years, such reinstatement shall be subject to the condition that there is no adverse report against the petitioner in the meanwhile.

We also make it clear that if indeed there is prima facie material against the petitioner to proceed against her departmentally, it shall be open to the University to follow the course mandated by the provisions of the Act.

Therefore, rule was made absolute on the above terms.



-Aanchal Tawry


View/Download Judgment:

WRIT PETITION NO. 584 OF 2018
.pdf
Download PDF • 122KB

Comments


Articles

bottom of page