IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.5889 OF 2012
(@ SPECIAL LEAVE TO APPEAL (CIVIL) NO. 32358 OF 2010)
VICE CHANCELLOR, GURU GHASIDAS
CRAIG MCLEOD …..Respondent
J U D G M E N T
Madan B. Lokur, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. The Vice Chancellor, Guru Ghasidas University is aggrieved by an
interim order dated 09.08.2010 passed by the High Court of Chhattisgarh at
Bilaspur in W.P.(C) No. 694 of 2010 filed by Craig Mcleod.
3. The subject matter of the impugned interim order, is three directions
given by the University on 02.02.2010. These three directions are: (1)
suspending Craig Mcleod from attending classes in the University of which
he is a student, (2) stopping him from availing the facilities of the
University till final orders are passed in respect of his alleged gross
misbehavior, and (3) restraining from entering the University premises.
4. All three directions were stayed by the High Court by the impugned
interim order till the disposal of the Writ Petition. The interim stay was
subject to the condition that Craig Mcleod gives an undertaking, inter
alia, of good behaviour. The impugned interim order also directed the
University not to pass a final order in respect of the alleged gross
misbehaviour of Craig Mcleod.
5. In our opinion the impugned interim order is not sustainable and
while passing final orders, we have taken subsequent developments into
6. It is alleged that on 02.02.2010 Craig Mcleod grossly misbehaved on
campus with two Professors of the University. As a result of the incident,
a First Information Report was lodged with the police and the Proctorial
Board of the University took an emergent decision to expel him from the
University for violating the code of conduct and for beating and
threatening a teacher. Pending a final decision on the allegations against
him, Craig Mcleod was suspended from attending his classes, stopped from
availing facilities of the University and restrained from entering the
University premises by an order dated 02.02.2010.
Proceedings in the High Court:
7. Feeling aggrieved, Craig Mcleod challenged the said order by filing
Writ Petition (C) No. 694 of 2010 in the High Court of Chhattisgarh. On
17.02.2010 notice was issued in the Writ Petition and in the interim, the
passing of an order of rustication was stayed. This interim order was
continued for a couple of months.
8. On 17.06.2010, the High Court granted liberty to the University to
take a final decision in the matter of the alleged gross misbehaviour of
Craig Mcleod within a week. In other words, the interim order was not
9. Soon thereafter, some developments appear to have taken place but
they are not clear from the record before us. Be that as it may, on
22.07.2010 the High Court recorded that Craig Mcleod had filed an affidavit
dated 21.07.2010 in the High Court tendering an unconditional apology to
the teacher concerned for the incident, which he stated was unintentional.
The order passed by the High Court also recorded that Craig Mcleod stated
that he would go to the University on 26.07.2010 and personally tender an
apology to the concerned teachers. The case was then adjourned to
10. When the matter was taken up on 06.08.2010, the High Court was
informed by the University and the concerned Professors that Craig Mcleod
did come to the University to tender an apology but he was accompanied by
several persons. It appears that an apology was not tendered by him and in
any event the apology, if tendered, was not sincere in view of the above
situation. This was, of course, contested by Craig Mcleod.
11. Based, however, on the affidavit of apology dated 21.07.2010, the
impugned interim order dated 09.08.2010 came to be passed by the High
Proceedings in this Court and pendent lite developments:
12. Feeling aggrieved by the impugned interim order dated 09.08.2010 the
University preferred a Petition for Special Leave to appeal (now a Civil
Appeal). On 29.11.2010, this Court passed the following order :
Interim stay of the impugned order of the High Court to the
extent it stays the passing of the final order in the
disciplinary enquiry against the respondent. Consequently, the
Enquiry Authority may submit his report, subject to final
13. When we took up the matter for final disposal, learned counsel for
the parties brought to our notice certain developments that had taken place
during the pendency of this appeal. Firstly, on 07.01.2011 an office order
was passed by the Vice Chancellor of the University rusticating Craig
Mcleod from the University for a period of 5 years. It was also ordered
that he was not entitled to get admission in any course in the University
or any affiliated college of University during this period of 5 years. The
operative portion of the order passed by the Vice Chancellor reads as
“The Shri Craig Mcleod S/o Shri Rodney Mcleod, a student of B.E.
(Computer Science and Engineering) is hereby rusticated from the
University for a period of 5 years w.e.f. today and further he
will not be entitled to get admission in any course in the
University or any affiliated college of the University during this
period of 5 years.”
14. Thereafter, Craig Mcleod challenged the order dated 07.01.2011 by
filing W.P.(C) No. 890 of 2012 in the High Court of Chhattisgarh. This
Writ Petition came up for hearing on 10.05.2012 when it was withdrawn by
him with liberty to move an appropriate application in this Court since
this appeal was still pending. The order passed by the High Court on
10.05.2010 reads as follows:-
“In view of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on
29/11/2010 in SLP(C) No. 32358/2010 arising out of an interim order
passed by this court on 09/08/2010 in W.P. (C) No. 694/2010, wherein
the Hon’ble Supreme Court directed that “the Enquiry Authority may
submit his report, subject to final decision”, learned counsel for the
petitioner seeks permission of the Court to withdraw the Writ Petition
with liberty to move appropriate application before Hon’ble Supreme
Accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn with
the liberty aforesaid.”
15. We may note that despite liberty having been granted to him, Craig
Mcleod has not filed any application in this Court. We have, however, heard
learned counsel for the parties.
16. It is only in an atypical case that this Court entertains a petition
against a discretionary interim order passed by the High Court (Southern
Petrochemical Industries Corpn. Ltd. v. Madras Refineries Ltd., (1998) 9
SCC 209, Maharashtra SEB v. Vaman, (1999) 3 SCC 132, and United Bank of
India v. Satyawati Tondon, (2010) 8 SCC 110) where, for example, the
repercussions are grave or the legal basis for passing the interim order
are obscure (Union of India v. Swadeshi Cotton Mills Co.Ltd., (1978) 4 SCC
295); or there is a miscarriage of justice (Joginder Nath Gupta v. Satish
Chander Gupta, (1983) 2 SCC 325); or it is imperative that this Court
exercises its corrective jurisdiction (Kishor Kirtilal Mehta and Ors. v.
Lilavati Kirtilal Mehta Medical Trust, (2007) 10 SCC 21).
17. There is, therefore, a self-imposed limited discretion for
interference available to this Court, and it would, generally, be more
appropriate for an aggrieved litigant to approach the High Court for
rectifying any error that may have been committed in passing (or declining
to pass) an interim order. Of course, in an emergent and appropriate
situation it is always open to a litigant to approach this Court in its
18. Insofar as the present case is concerned, Craig Mcleod was alleged to
have assaulted a professor on campus. This by itself is a rather serious
allegation. While appreciating this, the High Court had, on 7.6.2010,
permitted the University to take a final decision in respect of the alleged
gross misbehaviour of Craig Mcleod. About two months later, the High Court
completely changed its view apparently because in the meantime Craig Mcleod
had tendered an apology to the High Court (which was not necessary) and
then tendered or offered to tender an apology to the concerned Professor,
which he did not accept since it was not sincere.
19. The turn of events, given the lapse of time, did not form a legal
basis for interdicting completion of the inquiry against Craig Mcleod.
While the High Court may have intended to bring a quietus to the entire
episode, it should have kept in mind that maintenance of discipline in the
University is equally important for a conducive academic environment and
that the larger interests of the academic community are more central than
the individual interests of a student. In Varanaseya Sanskrit
Vishwavidyalaya and Another v. Rajkishore Tripathi (Dr.), (1977) 1 SCC 279
it was observed that in matters of discipline or administration of the
internal affairs of a University, the courts should be most reluctant to
20. It is under these circumstances that we have entertained this appeal
against an interim order.
21. Now, several significant developments have taken place overtaking the
‘cause of action’ for approaching this Court, particularly the passing of
the office order dated 07.01.2011 by Vice Chancellor of the University. In
our opinion, it is not necessary or even appropriate at this stage to judge
the validity of the office order dated 07.01.2011. We may only mention
that learned counsel for Craig Mcleod submitted that the order dated
07.01.2011 is in violation of the order passed by this Court on 29.11.2010.
22. Therefore, without going into the larger issues raised before us, we
grant liberty to Craig Mcleod to revive W.P.(C) No. 890 of 2012 filed (and
subsequently withdrawn) by him in the High Court challenging the office
order dated 07.01.2011 passed by the Vice Chancellor of the University. We
expect the High Court to permit revival of the Writ Petition and decide it
expeditiously since it is stated that Craig Mcleod has already lost two
years of his education as result of this litigation.
23. Under the circumstances, the impugned interim order is set aside and
this appeal is accordingly disposed of.
(Madan B. Lokur)
August 16, 2012