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Court eases ban on students for theft, orders community service

January 17, 2024

The Bombay High Court bench in Goa has intervened in the case of two engineering students from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani, Goa campus, who were facing strict disciplinary action for allegedly stealing items during a college conference. The court set aside the institute’s decision to debar the students from their semester examination. Instead, the court directed the 18-year-old students to engage in community service for two hours daily for two months at an old-age home in Goa.

The case involved five students, including the petitioners, accused of stealing various items such as potato chips, chocolates, pens, sanitizers, notepads, cellphone stands, desk lamps, and Bluetooth speakers from stalls during a conference on the college campus in November 2023. The students claimed they believed the items were abandoned. After being caught, they returned the items and issued written apologies.

The institute’s standing panel initially debarred all five students from registration for three semesters and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on each. The director of the institution later revoked the cancellation of semesters for three students but maintained the fine. For the two petitioners, the director upheld the Rs 50,000 fine and prohibited them from taking exams during the first semester of the academic year 2023-24.

The students approached the Bombay High Court, which deferred its decision twice to allow the institute to reconsider the punishment. However, as no change occurred, the court intervened. In its final order, the court expressed concern about the institute’s discriminatory actions and directed the petitioners to engage in community service as a part of their disciplinary action, emphasizing the importance of adhering to principles of natural justice and fair play.

Source: PTI

Also read: Global: Cheating epidemic

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