ISLAMABAD: Every university has the right to establish its disciplinary and other policies in accordance with law and unless a policy offends the basic rights of students or violates a law, the courts must exercise restraint in such matters, the Supreme Court said in a judgment.
“The academic, administrative and disciplinary autonomy of a university must therefore be respected,” observed Judge Syed Mansoor Ali Shah in the judgment.
The verdict was given on a motion filed by Khyber Medical University (KMU) against a judgment of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) issued on March 25, 2021.
In its decision, the PHC had reduced the sentence imposed by the university on Aimal Khan, a fourth-semester student in BS-Paramedics (Dental Technology).
Judgment says courts should show restraint in cases of educational institutions
The student was apprehended pretending to be a student while appearing on her behalf in the second semester Human Physiology exam paper.
Consequently, he was prosecuted by KMU under Regulation 32(c) of Khyber University Examination Regulations, 2017 and was disqualified for three years by its Unfair Means (UFM) Committee on December 16. 2020.
The student then challenged the punishment to the PHC, who accepted the position that the student had been caught committing identity theft, but reduced the sentence from three years to one by taking a lenient stance. and feeling that the punishment was a bit harsh and subject to rectification.
Later, the KMU moved the Supreme Court, whose plea was heard by a bench consisting of Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. The bench reversed the high court’s decision and reinstated the UFM committee’s sanction.
In its judgment, the Supreme Court found that courts should interfere sparingly in the internal governance and affairs of educational institutions and avoid dislodging the decisions of university authorities, who have technical expertise and operational experience. real daily life of educational establishments.
Every university had the right to establish its disciplinary and other policies in accordance with law and unless such a policy infringes the fundamental rights of students or violates a law, interference by the courts disrupts the proper functioning and governance of the university, underlines the judgement.
This moderation of the courts in matters of educational institutions was based on the wisdom that academic freedom and the institutional autonomy of universities must be protected and safeguarded.
“Academic freedom is not simply the freedom from all restriction of thought, expression and association at the university, but also that the university should have the freedom to make decisions on educational matters, including disciplinary matters,” the judgment said.
Democracy, human rights and the rule of law can only become and remain a reality if higher education institutions, their staff and students enjoy academic freedom and institutional autonomy, a- he declared.
“Conversely, we can only have true democracy if the higher education and research community is able to investigate freely,” Judge Shah observed, adding that higher education institutions were places that were to be imbued with democratic culture and which, in turn, helped to promote democratic values in society.
Courts exist to resolve disputes brought before them, the judgment noted, adding that it was not their constitutional mandate to direct and manage public or private institutions or to micromanage them or interfere in their politics and their internal administrative affairs, he said.
Our constitutional democracy was ruled by laws and not by men, according to the judgment. Judges were expected to decide disputes before them in accordance with the constitution and law, not on the basis of their whims, likes and dislikes, or personal feelings.
“A good judge intelligently balances law and fairness to ensure that justice is tempered with mercy, but never at the expense of the letter of the law,” he said, pointing out that compassion, which could be considered a nuance of, and had Accordingly, the rules of equity could not take precedence and supersede the clear mandate of the law.
Therefore, compassion and hardship could be considered by the courts to grant relief to an aggrieved person, but only when the relevant law allows it to do so, and not in violation of the law.
Therefore, the reduction of the disqualification period by the PHC violated the relevant law and was an example of judicial override or judicial override, where the law is ignored or changed by the court to give way to personal emotions and the feeling of compassion and such exercise of judicial power was not permissible, the judgment said.
Posted in Dawn, January 16, 2022