The Patna High Court in All India Students Federation vs. State of Bihar, has observed that lack of adequate attendance must not be read as exclusive circumstance for debarring a student from taking his examinations and only when it is coupled with other circumstances, showing a general derelict behaviour, may be proper reason for debarring.
The Court also directed the Principal of Patna Women’s College and Vice Chancellor of Patna University to condone the attendance shortage of all those students, who have inadequate attendance to the extent of 60%. These directions were issued by a Division Bench comprising of the Chief Justice I. A. Ansari and Justice Anjana Mishra on a writ petition by All India Students Federation. The Students Federation had alleged improper exercise of discretion by the Principal of the college in the matter of condoning the attendance shortage and usurping the jurisdiction vested in the Vice Chancellor by the Principal by deciding the condonation applications of students with attendance less than 70%. The petitioners attributed the attendance shortage to the strike that took place in the College against a Teacher who was accused of assaulting a girl student.
The Court observed that, when the absence from classes was not in defiance of the Authority or a deliberate conduct on the part of the student, the discretion to condone the attendance has to be, ordinarily, exercised in favour of the student in view of the severe consequences likely to follow if such discretion is not exercised. The Bench further remarked “A Teacher, let us bear in mind, faces the challenge of shaping the career of students so that they can become useful citizens of the Nation and, thus, contribute towards its development.
In view of the responsibility cast upon the Teacher, whenever circumstances arises for taking punitive measures against a student, he has to be very cautious in his approach, because the punitive measures may ruin the career of his students”. The Vice Chancellor and the Principal had taken a plea that the rejection of condonation applications is in order to ensure academic discipline, to complete curriculum within stipulated time frame, for those students who fail to attend the minimum required 75% classes it necessarily implies that they are not seriously undertaking his/her studies. Rejecting this contention, the Court observed “in no circumstances, it would mean that those students, who fail to attend the minimum required 75% classes, a necessary inference can or must be drawn that they are not seriously undertaking their studies.”
The Bench directing the Principal and Vice Chancellor to condone the attendance shortage, observed “In the present modern world, when a student’s attention remains attracted to multiple events taking place around him or her, steps, for counselling to correct every such conduct, which would mar his or her future, must be taken by the teachers, in general, and the Principal, in particular; or else, a proper and effective education system cannot be had. Colleges are not supposed to be manufacturing students merely with high academic records without making them good human beings.
A college is not only meant to ensure good academic achievement by its students, but also ensure that a student becomes a good human being, because without a good human being, he would not be a good citizen and would, therefore, instead of being useful to the society and the nation, may become a cause of its destruction. Hence, the Principal or a teacher has to be mindful of his or her duty to take care of his/her students in such a manner that they become useful citizens and, therefore, has to treat the students with sensitivity, utmost care and humane approach so that they blossom into good noble souls.”
SOURCE: LIVE LAW