Supreme Court refuses relief to NLSIU student who wasn't promoted due to uncleared exams

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant any relief to a student of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), who wasn’t promoted to her final year in a B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) (5-year) course due to a backlog of uncleared exams. 

The two-judge bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh said, “How long you want that courts should run the institutions/universities and why should we interfere?” while relying on the contentions of the petitioner's counsel to promote her to final year by way of an opportunity.

Senior Advocate Paramjit Patwalia said, “To make the student sit at home will not achieve any purpose.”

“Sympathy shows concession and if you are not clearing your exams, university is giving you the opportunity to clear these backlogs,” retorted the bench. 

The petitioner was aggrieved by an order of Karnataka High Court, wherein the High Court had allowed an appeal filed by the NLSIU against the relief granted by a single-judge bench to the student, who had failed in five subjects till her third year and with a concession granted to appear in her fourth year. 

Admitted to B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) Program at National Law School of India University(NLSIU) in 2017, she had F grades at the end of 2019-20 in 5 subjects: (i) Economics-II (first trimester) (ii) History-II (second-year third trimester) (iii) Criminal Law-III (Cr.P.C.) (third-year first trimester) (iv) Law of Evidence (third-year first trimester) (v) CPC- II (third-year second trimester). This meant a total backlog of five subjects.

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At the time, when she was admitted to the University, the B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) Academic and Examination Regulations, 2009 were in force. The University introduced new Regulations, that is Academic and Examination regulations, 2020 and as large number of students were having backlogs, a one-time opportunity was granted to students to appear in the backlog examinations subject to certain terms and conditions.

As per Academic and Examination regulations, 2020 the percentage for passing a subject was reduced from 50 to 40 and the petitioner, who had “F” grade in 5 subjects was given the benefit by the University in one of the subjects. In spite of the aforesaid examination, she had 4 “F” grades/backlogs and was not promoted to 4th year.

She came up before the Karnataka High Court by filing a W.P. No. 10165/2020 and the learned single Judge allowed the Petition by order dated 17.11.2020 in view of the judgment delivered in Aakashdeep Singh v. NLSIU in W.P. No.11287/2020 on 02.11.2020 granted the petitioner to appear in all subjects in which he was having “F” grade.  

The University preferred an appeal against the order dated 17.11.2020 passed by the learned Single Judge in W.P. No.10165/2020 under section 4 of the Karnataka High Court Act, 1961 and Rule 27 of the Writ Proceedings Rules, 1977.

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The High Court observed that petitioner was having total 4 “F” grades and there was certainly a “F” grade in respect of carried over courses of the previous year as she was having 4 “F” grades. Therefore, in the light of AER 2020, unless and until the petitioner clears the subjects, the questions of promoting her to the next academic year, that is 4th year does not arise.

Further, the division bench of the High Court left it to the direction of the University and to the wisdom of the VC keeping in view the past incidents in which students having more than 3 carried over subjects were promoted in the next academic year.

The Division Bench set aside the order of single judge and had held that the Court cannot grant a relief contrary to the statutory provisions as the statute does not provide for promoting her to fourth year.