Twelve minority colleges affiliated to the Mahatma Gandhi University have approached the Kerala High Court seeking to quash the powers of the Board for Adjudication of Students Grievances to veto disciplinary action taken by the management against students.
The board, which was constituted as per provisions prescribed in Chapter 27 of the Mahatma Gandhi University Statute, 1997, remains the appellate authority having the powers to set aside, modify or cancel the disciplinary action. A student, against whom the disciplinary orders had been passed, has the right to appeal to the board within 30 days from the date of receipt of the order.
Curiously, the managements seem to be pushing an argument that the constitutional guarantee to have exclusive right to administer the minority educational institutions implies that they also have the right to take disciplinary action against its students and staff members.
The colleges that have approached the court include Baselius College, Kottayam; Catholicate College, Pathanamthitta; Kuriakose Gregorius College, Pampady (under Corporate Management of M. O. C. Colleges, Kottayam); St. George College, Aruvithura; St. Dominic College, Kanjirapally; St. Thomas College, Pala; St. Stephen’s College, Uzhavoor; B. C. M. College, Kottayam (under Corporate Educational Agency of Colleges, Archdiocese of Kottayam); Deva Matha College, Kuravilangad; Union Christian College, Aluva; Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha and Newman College, Thodupuzha (under Diocese of Kothamangalam).
Adverse affect cited
The petitioners pointed out that the powers of the Board for Adjudication of Students Grievances to cancel the disciplinary action taken by the principal against a student would adversely affect the disciplinary control of a minority educational institution.
“Only reasonable regulations can be read into the administrative powers of a minority educational institution and it should be aimed in such a way that right to administer may be better exercised for the benefit of the institution,” it said.
Interestingly, the Mahatma Gandhi University Act and Statutes govern the petitioner colleges in various matters including affiliation, condition of service of teaching and non-teaching staff and admission of students.
As per the university statute, the Board for Adjudication of Students Grievances consists of the vice chancellor (Chairman); dean of students; three members of whom one shall be a principal or a college nominated by the vice chancellor from among the members of the syndicate; the chairman of university union, if any; two chairmen of the college unions nominated by the vice chancellor; two members of whom one shall by a principal of a college nominated by the vice chancellor from among the members of the academic council and the Registrar.