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Court intervenes in SNDT University-Gujarat college row

What started as a protracted court battle between SNDT Women’s University and Ahmedabad-based Mehsana Patan Jilla Kelavani Mandal appears to have turned into a tussle between the orders of the Gujarat High Court and the Bombay High Court.

On Friday, the Bombay High Court stayed non-bailable warrants issued by the Gujarat High Court against SNDT’s Controller of Examinations and Registrar for their repeated failure to appear before it.

The division bench of Justices Naresh Patil and AR Joshi stayed the execution of the non-bailable warrants against Dr Kumudhavalli S, Registrar of SNDT Women’s University, and Pandurang Mandhare, the Controller of Examinations. Noting that both of them occupied important statutory positions, the court granted them interim relief.

The court observed, “After considering the submissions advanced and perusal of the record and the judgments cited before us, we are inclined to grant protection to the petitioners for a limited duration.” Both Dr Kumudhavalli and Mandhare will now have to appear before the Gujarat High Court before January 9 to avoid falling foul of that court.

On November 8, Justice KS Jhaveri of the Gujarat HC noted in his order, “This is an unfortunate case wherein in spite of several orders and assurances given by the lawyer for the respondent University, they successfully flouted the court’s order to show that court cannot do anything.” Several court orders show that the duo have been avoiding court appearances.

On July 9 last year, the Gujarat HC had ordered the University to take in 20 BEd students in their management quota so that they could appear for their examinations slated to take place the next day. The court had also ordered that if this was not possible, the University could make examination arrangements for the students from August 6 onwards.

On August 29, the court took on record an examination timetable prepared by Mandhare. An affidavit filed in that court by Dr Kumudhavalli had noted that a college could not secure admission for its students beyond the prescribed limit of 50 per cent students from outside Gujarat. Moreover, after the admission date elapses, all vacant seats, including management seats, come back to the University. Therefore, not a single student was entitled to sit for the examination, even on the management quota.

Justice Jhaveri noted, “It seems that the University has not implemented the order but treated and interpreted the order of the court in a manner which suits them.” The court then gave the University additional time to obey its order, but despite several dates elapsing, neither Mandhare and Dr Kumudhavalli, nor their lawyers appeared before the court, prompting the issuance of non-bailable warrants. 

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