The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government to submit a copy of Justice A K Kalaiarasan’s inquiry report to MK Surappa, former vice-chancellor of the premier technical varsity, Anna University.
Disposing of a writ petition from Surappa, the court directed the state higher education department, which by an order dated November 11, 2020 constituted the Commission to go into the allegations levelled against the former VC, to furnish a copy of the report dated June 28, 2021 along with the enclosures to him within 15 days.
“It is very strange that the government, for no valid reason, has come up with a rigid stand against furnishing of a report to the petitioner, unmindful of its legal implication that any decision taken at the end of the day would certainly become too vulnerable to judicial interference. The view of the government is antithetical to the concept of reasonableness and fairness in action as embedded in Article 14 of the Constitution,” Justice V Parthiban said.
On receipt of the report with enclosures, it is open to the petitioner to submit his objections/explanation within four weeks thereafter. In case the government is still interested in pursuing the matter, any action culminating in the advice to the Chancellor in terms of Section 11(4B) of the Anna University Act, 1978, the same shall be done after receipt of the objections/explanation from the petitioner within the time stipulated by this Court as above, the judge said.
The court also observed that the requirement to comply with the fundamental principles of natural justice, namely that no one should be condemned unheard, is not optional. In the absence of specific provision, the principle must be read into every statute and regulations as held by the courts.
“As a matter of fact, this Court does not see any rationale as to why the government is shying away from furnishing a copy of the report to the petitioner when in every departmental disciplinary proceedings, the procedure towards furnishing of inquiry report is being followed scrupulously, fearing judicial intervention. When such is the practice and the procedure adopted, the contrived stand of the government in this case is unacceptable in law, presumably because the person involved is the former Vice Chancellor of the State University. The Constitution and the laws of the land are applicable across the spectrum regardless of the position the litigant holds,” the judge said.
Failure to furnish the inquiry report at this stage would inexorably lead to travesty of justice, opposed to fair play and good conscience. Last but not the least, what adverse action could be taken presently after demitting office by the petitioner in April 2021, is in the realm of speculation.
Nevertheless, on the face of certain detrimental findings in the report, the petitioner’s explanation and his version must be part of the inquiry proceedings, as his vindication, the judge added.
Originally, Surappa filed his petition seeking to quash the GO dated November 11, 2020 of the Higher Education department, which constituted Justice Kalaiarasan panel of inquiry. Later, amending the prayer, he stated that it was enough if the government furnished a copy of the findings of the Commission to him.News, States