1+3 Judges Disagree With Justice Chelameswar on ‘Cheating Students’

Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board ridded certain students of their results, awarded in their professional MBBS course, on the ground that, they had gained admission to the course by resorting to unfair means.

Hon’ble Justice Chelameswar (Presiding Judge) had expressed the view, complete justice in the matter would be rendered, if the qualifications successfully acquired by the students were not annulled and the knowledge gained by them was not wasted. This for the simple reason, knowledge could not be transferred to those who had been wrongfully deprived of admission and cancellation of the results of the students would not serve any purpose. Hon’ble Justice Sapre (Companion Judge) expressed his disinclination for invoking jurisdiction under Article 142, to sustain the benefit of education acquired by the students. Those who had adopted unfair means, could not be extended any indulgence. On account of the divergence of opinion expressed by the (Former) Division Bench, Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India constituted a Larger Bench of 3, to deal with the matter.

Stated simply, nothing obtained by fraud can be sustained. Fraud unravels everything. It was undisputed, the students ‘planned’ and ‘orchestrated’ a fraud. According to Mr. Fali S. Nariman, it would be possible to overlook the consequences of fraud in case sufficient justification was shown for taking a different course. Mr. Nariman put forth the suggestion, the Supreme Court must be ‘trusted’ and the Court can even ignore statutory law, in the overriding interest of doing complete justice, under Article 142. The said view was sought to be extended even to a declared pronouncement of law under Article 141, in addition to statutory law. [Note to Self: A Pathbreaking Argument]

The Larger Bench unanimously rejected Senior Nariman’s suggestion in Nidhi Kaim v. State of Madhya Pradesh [Civil Appeal No. 1727 of 2016]. In their considered view: the hypothesis, the Supreme Court can do justice as it perceives, even when contrary to statute (and, declared pronouncement of law), ‘should never as a rule’ be entertained by any Court/Judge, however high or noble. Keeping in mind the conscious involvement of the students in gaining admission to the MBBS course by means of a fraudulent stratagem of trickery, it was not possible to ignore or overlook the declaration of law with reference to fraud. Conferring rights or benefits on the students would amount to espousing the cause of the unfair. It would seem like allowing a thief to retain the stolen property. It would seem as if, the Court was not supportive of the cause of those who had adopted and followed rightful means. Such a course would cause people to question the credibility of the justice delivery system itself. The present case, unfolded a mass fraud. The jurisdiction exercisable by the Court, under Article 142, could not ever be invoked to salvage and legitimize acts of fraudulent character.

“For the reasons recorded in the Judgment, we respectfully concur with the Judgment rendered by the Hon’ble Companion Judge of the Former Division Bench.”