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Distance Education degree not eligible for LLB

Vineet Kumar ,
  04 April 2014       Share Bookmark

Court :
High Court of Kerala
Brief :
Justice K. Vinod Chandran has held that that the graduate degree obtained through the distance education mode, can not be considered as an eligible qualification for admission to three year LL.B course.
Citation :







           THURSDAY, THE 27TH DAY OF MARCH 2014/6TH CHAITHRA, 1936


                               W.P.(C).No.113 of 2014 (L)








           THIRUVANANTHAPURAM - 695 017.




                         SRI.SIDHARTH A.MENON








           PIN - 695 001.


        2. THE PRINCIPAL,








        4. STATE OF KERALA,



           THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, PIN - 695 001.







19-03-2014, ALONG WITH WP(C).NO.114/2014, THE COURT ON 27-03-2014


WP(C).No.113 of 2014 (L)













                   WITH THE COPY OF THE CIRCULAR.

EXT.P5(a):         COPY OF THE CIRCULAR DATED 13/06/2013.


                   DATED 14/10/2013.


                   HON'BLE LOK AYUKTA DATED 24/10/2013.





EXT.R3(a)          TRUE COPY OF THE SAID MEMO NO.Ac.C/26316/2012

                   DATED 11.4.2013.



vku/-                                      ( true copy )



                            K. Vinod Chandran, J


              W.P.(C).Nos.113 of 2014-L & 114 of 2014-L


                 Dated this the 27th day of March, 2014




            Identical question is raised in both the writ petitions;


whether the graduate degree obtained by the petitioners, being


Bachelor of Business Administration offered by the Madras University


through its Distance Education Programme, could be considered as


an eligible qualification for admission to the Government Law College,


Thiruvananthapuram, affiliated to the University of Kerala, the 3rd


respondent; to its Three Year LL.B Course.


            2. Both the petitioners appeared in the Common Entrance


Examination conducted by the 1st respondent, the Commissioner for


Entrance Examinations, as per the "Prospectus for Admission to


Three Year LL.B. Course, Kerala 2013-14", produced as Exhibit P3.


The graduate course carried on by the petitioners was successfully


completed and the same has been recognized as equivalent by the


Mahatma Gandhi University, as is evident from Exhibit P4. The cause


of action for the writ petitions arose when the 2nd respondent, the

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014         - 2 -




Principal of the College, refused to admit the petitioners for want of an


Eligibility Certificate from the 3rd respondent-University. The Eligibility


Certificate required, was to be issued by the respondent-University,


certifying that such degree offered by the Madras University is


equivalent to the BBA of the 3rd respondent, so as to enable the


student to enroll for higher studies in the 3rd respondent-University.


             3. The prospectus issued by the 1st respondent provides


by Clause 6(ii) that the candidate seeking admission to the course


should be a graduate in any faculty of any University in Kerala or of


any other Universities, recognized by any of the Universities in Kerala


as equivalent thereto. It is the contention of the learned counsel for


the petitioners that the graduate qualification of the petitioners having


been recognized by the Mahatma Gandhi University, they were


entitled to appear for and get allotment of the seat in the Common


Entrance Examination for admission to the Three Year LL.B. Course




             4. The petitioners were also permitted to be admitted to


the Three Year LL.B. course by an interim order dated 02.01.2014.


The petitioners rely on Thomas M.Koshy v. Commissioner for


Entrance Examination [2013 (2) KLT 770], which considered the

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014       - 3 -




prospectus of the earlier years, wherein the stipulation was the


production of Eligibility Certificate from the University concerned.


This Court held that the same can only be a 'draftsman's error' and it


was observed that it was for the Commissioner for Entrance


Examinations to make proper corrections in the prospectus to the


appropriate extent, lest the anomaly should prevail. It was in the


context of this judgment, it is argued, that the prospectus has now


been changed to Eligibility Certificate from a University in Kerala in


Clause 16(viii) of the prospectus under the heading "documents to be


produced at the time of admission". The petitioners seek for a


declaration that, in view of the Eligibility Certificate regarding their


graduate degree granted by the Mahatma Gandhi University, they are


entitled to be admitted to the Three Year LL.B. course carried on by


the University of Kerala also, going by the clear terms in Exhibit P3




            5. The learned counsel for the University, however, asserts


their supremacy in prescribing eligibility conditions to be enrolled for


higher studies in their University. The Academic Council of the 3rd


respondent-University has such powers, of deciding the eligibility of a


course carried on by any University outside the State of Kerala and it

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014        - 4 -




cannot depend on the decision of an Academic Council of another


University within Kerala and it will not lie in the mouth of the 1st


respondent to prescribe or alter the conditions of eligibility.


            6. The Entrance Examination is conducted for admission


to the four Government Law Colleges and one private Self-financing


Law College, the latter presumably by agreement entered into by the


State with the private management, as a measure to ensure that merit


is not diluted. The Government Law Colleges, obviously are, directly


under the State and though the State has the power to regulate


admissions, to their colleges and those colleges under the private


managements which have entered into agreements with the State,


that cannot lead to any dilution of standards prescribed by the


respondent-University. The respondent-University maintains that


unless and until a qualifying degree has been recognized by the


respondent-University, no person can carry on any course offered by


it. The learned Standing Counsel also relies on a Division Bench


decision of this Court, reported in Varghese v. Director of Medical


Education [1987 (2) KLT 673], to contend that the prospectus cannot


override the University Statutes and administrative instructions, will


not cure, ineligibility as per the University Statutes.

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014      - 5 -




            7. Before looking at the legal issue, this Court has to look


at the various clauses in the prospectus. The academic eligibility for


admission, as has been indicated under Clause 6(ii), is a graduate


degree recognised by any of the Universities in Kerala. The Eligibility


Certificate, included in the documents to be produced at the time of


admission, was also, the Eligibility Certificate from a University in


Kerala. It is to be noticed that the Government Law Colleges at


Thiruvananthapuram,      Ernakulam, Thrissur     and   Kozhikode     are


respectively under three Universities in Kerala. The one at


Thiruvananthapuram under the University of Kerala, those at


Ernakulam and Thrissur under the Mahatma Gandhi University and


the one at Kozhikode under the Calicut University. It is to be


immediately noticed in this context that the petitioners, if they were


fortuitously allotted to the two Government Colleges under the


Mahatma Gandhi University or the private self-financing college, also


under the very same University; then they would have been entitled to


continue the Three Year LL.B. course. On completion of such course,


the immediate end result of enrolment to the Bar Council of Kerala


would also follow and they would be treated as equivalent to the LL.B


graduates all over the State, nay country.

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014         - 6 -




              8. The prospectus,       under      Clause   15,   speaks    of


'Centralised Allotment Process and Online Submission of Options',


thus enabling the students to make an option, in accordance with their


choice for allotment to either of the collegs stipulated thereunder. The


eligibility for registering options under Clause 15.1(e) prescribes that


the    eligibility  conditions,   regarding      nativity   and   academic


qualifications, of the prospectus should be ensured and that such


academic eligibility should be satisfied on the date of admission to the


course. It is also stipulated that the Principal/Head of the Institution


will be responsible for verification of eligibility conditions as prescribed


in the prospectus, at the time of admission and only those candidates


who are qualified as prescribed, shall be admitted, irrespective of the


fact of allotment. It is also highlighted, by way of a note under Clause


15.1,     that   since   different  Universities    are   offering  different


subjects/papers for the LL.B Courses, the candidate should ascertain


from the colleges regarding the courses and subjects offered by the


respective Universities before submitting options.


              9. Looking at the entire provisions in the prospectus, a


candidate proposing to seek admission to the Three Year LL.B


Course would normally be held to understand that the academic

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014       - 7 -




eligibility conditions are only those, stated in the prospectus. The


controversy itself would not have arisen if the 1st respondent was


careful to include a clause in the prospectus that despite allotment as


per the prospectus, the eligibility for admission would depend on the


conditions prescribed by each University, upon which necessarily a


candidate would have had to enquire about the same, before


exercising his option.


             10. The Bench decision of this Court cited by the


University [Varghese (supra)], declared that the University Statutes


are not overridden by the contrary provisions in the prospectus. The


said case arose with respect to a dispute between the 1st and 3rd rank


holder in an Entrance Examination, to the one seat available, for


admission to the Post Graduate Course in Dentistry. While the 1st rank


holder was a Graduate in Dental Surgery from the Annamalai


University in Tamil Nadu, the 3rd respondent had such degree from the


Kerala University. The Selection Committee, decided that the


admission of graduates from outside University would depend upon


recognition of their degrees by the Kerala University. The 3rd rank


holder challenged the admission on the ground that the 1st rank


holder's degree was not recognized by the Kerala University.

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014         - 8 -




Subsequently, the degree was recognized by the University, which


gave rise to a controversy as to whether the eligibility should be on


the date of application or could be later on. This Court is not


concerned with that controversy.


            11. The prospectus in that case, issued by the


Government, prescribed as eligibility; a graduate degree in Dentistry


from the Kerala University or any University recognized by the Kerala


University    with    not   less     than    one     year    experience  in


clinical/teaching/House Surgeoncy. The Kerala University Statues,


however, provided that the threshold eligiblity for a candidate having


graduate degree from an outside University, recognized by the


University of Kerala, would be that; such graduate qualification was


acquired two years prior to seeking admission, to the M.D.S. Course.


The 1st rank holder in the Entrance Examination admittedly had not


completed two years after obtaining his graduate qualification from an


outside University. The Division Bench held so:


        "When the Academic body like the University prescribes the


        conditions for eligibility for admission to a Post graduate


        course, it would be wholly "inappropriate for the High Court"


        to mitigate the rigour of the rule by any interpretative device.


        When, therefore, the person who has to his credit only an

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014        - 9 -




       equivalent Degree or qualification and the University insists


       that he becomes eligible only after two years of 'maturity', it


       is the mandate of an academic body, the demand of the


       University statutes. No person can gain admission to a post


       Graduate course in medicine or Dental Science unless he


       fulfils the conditions stipulated under the University Act,


       Statutes or Regulations".


The Division Bench in coming to such a finding, relied on a decision of


the Hon'ble Supreme Court in D.N.Chanchala v. State of Mysore


[AIR 1971 SC 1762], which held so:


       "The medical colleges in question are not university colleges


       but have been set up and are being maintained by the State


       Government from out of public funds. Since they are affiliated


       to one or the other of the three universities, the Government


       cannot frame rules or act inconsistently with the ordinances or


       the regulations of the universities laying down standards of


       eligibility" [para 16].


It is to be noticed that the learned Single Judge, who dealt with


Thomas M.Koshy (supra) was not apprised of the Division Bench


Judgment or the Supreme Court judgment.


             12. Thomas M.Koshy dealt with a similar controversy as


in the instant case, but the roles of the respective Universities were


reversed. The petitioner therein was agraduate from Sambalpur

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014           - 10 -




University, having obtained the graduate degree in a two year duration


course. This degree was recognized by the Kerala University; but the


candidate was allotted to a college under the Mahatma Gandhi


University, which University declined admission for reason of there


being no recognition of the Academic Council of that University. The


learned Single Judge had, in fact, elaborately examined the


provisions of the prospectus and also noticed the circumstance of a


candidate alloted to a college under one University being declined of


admission for reason of his graduate qualification not having been


recognized by that University, while a similar candidate, who has


identical qualification, would be accepted by another University within


the State. It was in this context that the learned Single Judge held so


in paragraph 17:-


               "17. The usage of the 'definite article' in Clause 17(viii)


       as to the Eligibility Certificate to be obtained, referring to "the


       University concerned", can only be the 'draft man's error'


       and it should be read and understood so as to mean that the


       'Eligibility Certificate' can be obtained from any of the


       Universities in Kerala. It is for the first respondent to make


       proper correction in the prospectus to the appropriate extent,


       lest the anomaly should prevail, leading to unnecessary



WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014       - 11 -




             13. It is the case of the petitioners that this had prompted


the first respondent to have changed the stipulation in the prospectus,


to Eligibility Certificate of a University in Kerala. One has to


pointedly notice the observation of the Division Bench extracted


herein above that the rigour prescribed by the statutes cannot be


mitigated by the High Court by an interpretative device.


             14. With due respect, I concede inability to persuade


myself to accept the dictum laid down in Thomas M.Koshy (supra)


and also the change in the prospectus suggested. What was intended


earlier was that the academic eligibility would depend upon the


prescription by the respective Universities. What was required in the


earlier years, was an Eligibility Certificate from the University, which


words though anomalous, was supposed to indicate the primacy of


the respective University Statutes, over the provisions of the


prospectus, declared by the Division Bench of this Court as also the


Hon'ble Supreme Court.


             15. The Commissioner for Entrance Examination had even


specified in the prospectus, that the syllabi of the course conducted


by the respective colleges would have to be ascertained by each


candidate before exercising option. In my view, it would have been

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014     - 12 -




appropriate to have included a specification that the eligibility of a


graduate degree from an outside University, should be ensured from


the respective Universities. The option then would be exercised only


on that basis. It is evident that the judgment in Thomas M.Koshy


(supra) was rendered without noticing the Division Bench decision of


this Court in Varghese (supra) and that of the Supreme Court in


D.N.Chanchala (supra). Going by the binding judgments of a Division


Bench of this Court and the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the prospectus


cannot override the University Statutes or the Regulations brought in,


under the Statute. As far as the BBA Degree of Madras University,


through distance education, the same has been declined equivalence


by the 3rd respondent-University on the application by another student


[Exhibit R3(a)]. Hence, the denial of the Principal to admit the


petitioners to the Three Year LL.B course is in accordance with the


regulations of the 3rd respondent-University; which action cannot be


faulted. Now the question is as to whether the petitioners, who were


provisionally admitted, could be continued.


            16. The Supreme Court has in a number of decisions,


considered the question of eligibility and the principles of equity, in


directing continuance in a course even when the candidate does not

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014          - 13 -




fulfil the eligibility criteria, when such action has been in consequence


of a default on the part of the University. In Shri Krishnan v.


Kurukshetra University [(1976) 1 SCC 311] the University had


issued admission card to a student to appear in Part I Law


examination and the admission was challenged only at the time of


Part II of the Law examination, that too on a ground that the


candidate, who was employed under the Government, had not


produced a Consent Certificate from his employer. The Hon'ble


Supreme Court found that such a stipulation was not there and also


held that it was the duty of the College as also the University to


scrutinise the papers as to the threshold requirement and no


subsequent cancellation can be made on the ground of non-fulfilment


of requirements. Sanatan Gauda v. Berhampur University [(1990) 3


SCC 23] was a case in which the candidate was admitted by the Law


College and the University and also permitted to appear for pre-Law


and Intermediate Law examinations. The College and the University


were held to be estopped from refusing to declare the results of the


examination on the ground of his ineligibility for admission to the Law


course. Guru Nanak Dev University v. Sanjay Kumar Katwal


[(2009) 1 SCC 610] was a case in which the appellant-University had

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014      - 14 -




recognized the regular courses and the correspondence courses in


M.A. conducted by Annamalai University; but, however, had declined


such recognition to M.A. (OUS) Course through Distance Education


[Open University System]. It was held so in paragraphs 15 and 16:


             15. The first respondent has passed his MA (OUS) from


      Annamalai     University    through    distance    education.


      Equivalence is a technical academic matter. It cannot be


      implied or assumed. Any decision of the academic body of


      the university relating to equivalence should be by a specific


      order or resolution, duly published. The first respondent has


      not been able to produce any document to show that the


      appellant University has recognised MA (English) (OUS) of


      Annamalai    University   through   distance    education  as


      equivalent to MA of appellant University. Thus, it has to be


      held that the first respondent does not fulfil the eligibility


      criterion of the appellant University for admission to the


      three year law course.



             16. The first respondent made a faint attempt to


      contend that the distance education system includes


      "correspondence courses" and therefore, recognition of MA


      (correspondence course) as equivalent to MA course of the


      appellant University would amount to recognition of MA, OUS


      (distance education) course, as an equivalent. For this


      purpose, he relied upon the definition of "distance education


      system" in Section 2(e) of the Indira Gandhi National Open

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014        - 15 -




       University Act, 1985. But there is nothing to show that


       Annamalai University has treated correspondence course and


       OUS (distance education) course as the same. What is more


       important is that the appellant University does not wish to


       treat the correspondence course and distance education


       course as being the same. That is a matter of policy. Courts


       will not interfere with the said policy relating to an academic






            17. It is to be specifically noticed that in Gurunanak


University (supra), despite the above finding, the respondent therein


was permitted to continue the course on the peculiar facts of the


case. The Hon'ble Supreme Court considered the fact that the student


was admitted through a common entrance test and was allowed to


write the 1st Semester Examination and the student was not guilty of


any suppression or misrepresentation. The petitioner's admission and


continuance was due to some confusion in the University itself, as to


the recognition of the course. The cancellation of his admission, after


the 1st Semester Examination was challenged before the High Court


successfully. The Supreme Court was dealing with the appeal after


four years when the candidate had completed the course. In that


circumstance, it was held to be unfair and unjust to deny the benefit of

WP(C).Nos.113 & 114 of 2014        - 16 -




admission which was initially accepted and recognized by the




             18. In the present case, the College and the University


had, at the first instance itself declined admission on the question of


eligibility. The petitioners had prayed for a provisional order of


admission, which was granted by this Court in January, 2014. It is


also in such circumstance that this Court heard the matter out of turn


and with expediency. No grounds exist on equity. Binding precedents


would command this Court to steer away from interfering in an


academic matter, where the University has a fair amount of


supremacy in deciding on eligibility conditions. On the strength of the


binding precedents, it has to be held that the petitioners are


unqualified to be admitted to the Three Year LL.B Course of the


Kerala University.


             Writ petitions are dismissed. No costs.



                                           K.Vinod Chandran



                               ( true copy )


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