Providing relief to a first year law student who was debarred from a law college in Mumbai’s Vile Parle for allegedly smoking cannabis inside the college premises, Justice Gautam S Patel of the Bombay High Court through videoconferencing hearing accessible to public on the Zoom application allowed her to give internal exams until further orders.
In a first, nearly 500 participants along with lawyers, journalists and High court staff had joined live streaming on experimental basis for nearly 10 cases listed before Justice Patel which was done in order to maintain social distancing due to COVID-19 lockdown and ensure de-congestion of court.
The HC Justice Patel in the first videoconferencing hearing held on Thursday, granted ad-interim relief to the student on her plea that the college had taken arbitrary and disproportionate action with conjecture and suspicion without providing reasoning to the student.
Advocate Mohit Bhardwaj, on behalf of the student, submitted that she was denied the opportunity to represent herself and hampered her right to be heard. Apart from the petitioner, one other student was also rusticated last month, whereas, 18 others were temporarily suspended by the college for consuming cannabis inside the campus.
The student sought to know the basis on which the action was taken against her and said that she was falsely implicated.
When Justice Patel inquired through the lawyer appearing for the Kirit P Mehta School of law run by Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), advocate Manorama Mohanty argued that even though the exact reason reason has not been specified in the response to the plea as to why she was debarred, the college has relief upon a social media post on Instagram which apparently shows students consuming prohibited material inside the campus.
However, owing to the lockdown restrictions due to which the college is closed, authorities are unable to access photographs and other documents relied upon, Mohanty claimed. She added that the material was shown to the petitioner before
She also said that the material was shown to the petitioner before she was implicated and that the student was not disclosing facts to the Court.
After hearing submissions, the judge observed that since the material pertaining to social media posts and other documents could not be accessed by the college at the moment, it cannot pass an order on merits of the plea and in the meantime, the petitioner was granted ad-interim relief.
“Thus, it is imperative that some relief is granted as a rollback at a later stage would be impossible,” Justice Patel noted in the order.
He added that the ad-interim order will be active until further interim hearing takes place once the regular court resumes post current situation. The court also allowed a request made by student to appear for internal exams until further orders.
Granting relief to the student, the court said, “If it is later found that the petitioner does not have case for prima facie relief, then petitioner will have to deal with the consequences.”
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