Equivalent citations: 1965 AIR 491, 1964 SCR (4) 576 Petitioner: The University Of Mysore And Anr Respondent: C. D. Govinda Rao And Anr Date of Judgement: 26/08/1963 Bench: Gajendragadkar, P.B., Subbarao, K., Wanchoo, K.N., Ayyangar, N. Rajagopala, Mudholkar, J.R.
The petition was filed by C. D. Govinda Rao, in the Mysore High Court under art. 226 of the Constitution. C.D. Govinda Rao wanted by that petition, that a writ of quo warranto should be issued, to call upon Anniah Gowda to show the authority under which he was holding the post of a Research Reader in English in the Central College, Bangalore. It was further prayed that a writ of mandamus be granted calling upon the University of Mysore to appoint him as the Research Reader.
There were certain qualifications to be appointed as the research reader. The qualifications are(a) A First or High Second Class Master’s Degree of an Indian University of an equivalent qualification of a Foreign University in the subject concerned; (b) A Research Degree of a Doctorate Standard or published work of a high Standard; (c) Ordinarily, ten years (not less than five years in any case) experience of teaching post-graduate classes and guiding research in the case of Professors and at least five years’ experience of teaching degree classes and independent research in the case of Readers (d) The knowledge of regional language Kannada is considered as a desirable qualification. Preference will be given to candidates who have had experience in teaching and organisation of research and have also done advanced research work.” According to him, appointment of Anniah Gowda to the post of Research Reader was illegal in the face of the prescribed qualifications and that he was qualified to be appointed to that post.
Therefore, he wanted that the appointment of Anniah Gowda should be quashed. He thus asked for a writ to direct the University to appoint him in that post.
Whether writs of mandamus and quo warranto can be issued by the court?
Mr. S. K. Venkataranga Iyengar, on behalf of the respondent contended that the appointment of Anniah Gowda was made in contravention of the statutory rules and ordinances framed by the university. He attempted to argue that he had referred to the statutory rules and ordinances in the High Court, but, unfortunately, the same had not been mentioned or discussed in the judgment.
The court had carefully considered the affidavits filed by both the parties in the present proceedings and it had no hesitation in holding that at no stage it appears to have been urged by the respondent before the High Court that the infirmity in the appointment of Anniah Gowda proceeded from the fact that the statutory rules and ordinances made by University had been contravened.
The affidavit filed by the respondent in support of his petition merely described the appointment of Anniah Gowda as being illegal, and significantly added that the said appointment and the failure the University to appoint the respondent, were illegal in the face of the prescribed qualifications, and these qualifications in the context undoubtedly referred to the qualifications published in the notification by which the relevant post had been advertised.
The court recalled the four qualifications prescribed by the notification. The last one which related to the knowledge of the Kannada language was found out not to be in dispute and was left out of consideration. The first qualification was that the applicant must have a First or a high Second Class Master’s Degree of an Indian University or an equivalent qualification of a foreign University in the subject concerned. It appears that Anniah Gowda secured 50.2 per cent marks in his Master’s Degree examination.
It was urged by the respondent before the High Court that when 50 per cent is the minimum required for securing a second class, it would be idle to suggest that a candidate, who obtains 50.2 per cent, has secured a high Second – Class Master’s Degree, and so the respondent pleaded that the first condition had not been satisfied by the Anniah Gowda. The High Court has upheld this plea. In regard to the second qualification, it appears that Anniah Gowda has obtained a Degree of Master of Arts of the University of Durham. The High Court has held that in regard to this qualification, if the Board took the view that the Gowda satisfied that qualification, it would not be just for the Court to differ from the opinion. In other words, the High Court did not make a finding in favour of the respondent in regard to qualification No. 2.
In regard to the third qualification, the matter appears to have been debated at length before the High Court. Evidence was led by both the parties and the respondent seriously disputed the claim made by both the appellants that Gowda satisfied the test of five years’ experience of teaching Degree classes. The High Court examined this evidence and ultimately came to the conclusion that though the material adduced by the appellants on this point was unsatisfactory, it could not make a finding in favour of the respondent. In this connection, the High Court has severely criticised the conduct of Anniah Gowda to which we will refer later.
Thus, it is clear that substantially the High Court decided to quash the appointment of Gowda on the ground that it was plain that he did not satisfy the first qualification. In this connection, the High Court has also criticised the report made by the Board and has observed that the Members of the Board did not appear to have applied their minds to the question which they were called upon to consider.
In dealing with the case presented before it by the respondent, the High Court had criticised the report made by the Board and had observed that the circumstances disclosed by the report made it difficult for the High Court to treat the recommendations made by the experts with the respect that they generally deserve. Boards of Appointments are nominated by the Universities and when recommendations made by them and the appointments following on them, are challenged before courts, normally the court should try not to interfere with the opinions expressed by the experts. There is no allegation about mala fides against the experts who constituted the present Board.
The criticism made by the High Court against the report made by the Board seemed to suggest that the High Court thought that the Board was in the position of an executive authority, issuing an executive fiat, or was acting like a quasi-judicial tribunal, deciding disputes referred to it for its decisions. In dealing with complaints made by citizens in regard to appointments made by academic bodies, like the Universities, such an approach would not be reasonable or appropriate.
In fact, in issuing the writ, the High Court has made certain observation which show that the High Court applied tests which could legitimately be applied in the case of writ of certiorari. In the judgment, it has been observed that the error in this case is undoubtedly a manifest error. That is a consideration which is more germane and relevant in a procedure for a writ of certiorari.
The High Court should have considered the issue of whether the appointment made by the Chancellor was against any statutory or binding rule or ordinance. In doing so, the High Court should have shown due regard to the opinion expressed by the Board & its recommendations which the Chancellor has acted. In this connection, the High Court had failed to notice one very significant fact that when the Board considered the claims of the respective applicants, it examined them very carefully and actually came to the conclusion that none of them deserved to be appointed as a Professor in the University.
These recommendations made by the Board clearly show that they considered the relevant factors carefully and ultimately came to the conclusion that Anniah Gowda should be recommended for the post of Reader. Therefore, the court satisfied that the criticism made by the High Court against the Board and its deliberations is not justified.
The appeals were allowed and the order passed by the High Court was set aside. The writ petition filed by the respondent was dismissed with costs throughout. It was held that there will be one set of hearing fees in both the appeals filed by the two appellants.
The writ of quo warranto proceeding help in affording a judicial remedy by which any person, who holds an independent substantive public office or franchise or liberty, is called upon to show by what right he holds the said office, franchise or liberty, so that his title to it may be duly determined, and in case the finding is that the holder of the office has not title, he would be ousted from that office by judicial order.
This means that in other words, by the procedure of quo warranto, judiciary is given the power to control the executive from making appointment to public office against the prescribed law. It also helps to protect a citizen from being deprived of public office to which he has a right. These proceedings also tend to protect the public from usurpers of public office, who might be allowed to continue either with the connivance of the Executive or by reason of its apathy.
It will, thus, be seen that a person has to satisfy the court, that the office in question is a public office and is held by a usurper without legal authority before he or she can effectively claim a writ of quo warranto. He also has to prove that it would inevitably lead to the enquiry as to whether the appointment of the alleged usurper has been made in accordance with law or not.