Rajasthan High Court: In a case where NOC was cancelled by Commissioner, Commissionerate College Education and Technical Education Department, (‘Respondent 2′) granted to Maharaja Hameer College (‘petitioner-college’) Mahender Kumar Goyal J. quashed the cancellation order as there has been wholesale violation of the cardinal principles of natural justice while withdrawing the NOC granted in favour of the petitioners.
The Jamway Educational Trust, a registered society under the Rajasthan Societies Registration Act, 1958, is running the petitioner-college which was granted temporary NOC in 2010 by respondent 2 for running B.A. Course in Arts faculty for the academic Sessions 2010-2011, 2011- 2012 and 2012-2013 which came to be extended from time to time and was later granted permanent NOC vide order dated 09-06-2015. However, Respondent 2 cancelled the permanent NOC vide order dated 21-02-2022 from the Academic Sessions 2022-2023.
The cancellation order was assailed which was disposed by this Court and was given a liberty to pass a fresh reasoned order after affording the petitioner-institution an opportunity of hearing, which led to withdrawal of application. A notice was further issued by Respondent 2 to the petitioner seeking personal appearance, pursuant to which the petitioner through its President/Secretary met respondent 2 in person and submitted a letter dated 24-04-2022 requesting therein to supply copies of the enquiry reports along with documents, part of the reports as the same were not submitted before this Court in the earlier round of litigation.
The petitioner submitted that even after repeated request being made regarding supplying requisite documents and affording it an opportunity of hearing, NOC was permanently cancelled without vide order impugned dated 02-05-2022.
Respondent 2 submitted that several deficiencies and discrepancies were found by the respondents in the petitioner college such as lack of basic infrastructure like library, laboratories, drinking water, toilet, table, chairs and playground etc. It was also found that students of two independent colleges i.e., Maharaja Hameer College & Jamway Kanya College were found to be studying in one building only.
The Court noted that neither the documents appended with the enquiry reports were placed on record by the respondents nor were the petitioners supplied with either copies of the enquiry reports or the documents appended therewith.
The Court further noted that the reason assigned by the respondents that the letter dated 24-04-2022 was dispatched on 25-04-2022 and the receipt of the registered post does not reveal the address of the recipient clearly and hence, it could not be replied by them does not hold merit because there is no categorical denial in the reply that the respondents did not receive the letter and it’s a matter of fact that the President/Secretary personally approached the respondent 2.
The Court observed that the respondents were under an obligation to supply the petitioners’ complete copies of the enquiry reports including the documents appended therewith as these have been made basis of passing the impugned order and failure on their part to supply the same, has definitely prejudiced the rights of the petitioners.
It was further observed that a perusal of the order dated 02-05-2022 does not reveal application of mind by the respondent 2 before cancelling the NOC. It simply says that on account of serious irregularities pointed out in the enquiry reports and on failure of the petitioners to submit their response, the NOC is cancelled. Thus, in a society governed by rule of law, such casual approach of the respondents is totally unwarranted. If the petitioners were to be punished merely on the basis of the findings of the Enquiry Committees, there would be no occasion for issuance of a show cause notice or giving the petitioners an opportunity to submit their response and an opportunity of hearing.
The Court remarked “It is bereft of even a whisper of reason for cancelling the permanent NOC granted in favour of the petitioners-institutions. Even, the original record of the case does not reveal any deliberation by the competent authority on the findings of the enquiry Committees or its satisfaction as to veracity of the allegations levelled against the petitioners-institutions in the show cause notice being cancelling the NOC.”
The Court held that however while setting aside the order passed by the State/Public Authority in violation of principles of natural justice, the matter is remanded back for decision afresh but in the present case as the respondents withdrew their first application and was given another opportunity to pass a reasoned order and has failed again, thus, no opportunity to be provided for fresh orders and the impugned order(s) under challenge stands quashed and set aside.
[Maharaja Hameer College v. State of Rajasthan, 2022 SCC OnLine Raj 1206, decided on 03-08-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. R.N. Mathur, Sr. Adv. With Mr. Shovit Jhajharia and Mr. Hemant Singh Yadav Mr. R.B. Mathur, Sr. Adv. With Mr. Dheeraj Palia & Mr. Salim Khan Gori & Mr. Amit Malani, Advocates, for the Petitioner;
Dr. Vibhuti Bhushan Sharma, AAG with Ms. Charvi Patni Mr. R.A. Katta Mr. Vishesh Sharma, Mr. Y.C. Sharma, Mr. R.K. Paliwal, Mr. M.K. Dhakad, Ms. Sweta Pareek, Advocates, for the Respondent.
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.