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Denial of promotion to NLSIU student draws High Court’s ire

It was withheld on allegation of plagiarism without even holding preliminary inquiry

Taking serious note of National Law School of India University’s (NLSIU) conduct of denying promotion to a law student on the allegation of plagiarism without holding even a preliminary inquiry, the Karnataka High Court has said that it is high time that the university of repute be reminded that it is dealing with children and not others’ chattel.

“The entire episode of so called plagiarism is framed on the basis of a few notoriously cryptic mails exchanged between the course teacher and the Exam Department, detrimentally keeping the petitioner-student in darkness,” the court observed on the conduct of the university.

“There is absolutely no justification for not holding even a preliminary inquiry,” observed Justice Krishna S. Dixit while allowing the plea of 21-year-old Hruday P.B, a 3rd year law student.

The petitioner had sought promotion to 4th year law course while challenging the “F” grade given to him in the Child Rights Law examination held in March 2020 since he was not given any mark to the project work because of alleged plagiarism.

Though the university’s regulations prescribe elaborate procedure to deal with allegations of plagiarism that requires a process to be followed involving the subject teacher, the chairperson of University Grants Commission, the Vice-Chancellor of the NLSIU, and a review and investigation committee, the court said that the university has “not adhered to the minimum of the fairness standard enacted in the regulations.”

Though the university tried to defend its action citing that the petitioner had ‘admitted’ plagiarism in the two-email communication, the court pointed out that the petitioner has only explained why it is not plagiarism while denying allegations but the university, from the stray sentences of student’s emails tried to interpret it as “admission of plagiarism.”

“In Biblical literature, even God is said to have given an opportunity of hearing to Adam & Eve before punishing them for consuming the proscribed fruit, in the Eden Garden. Which heavens would have fallen down, had a reasonable opportunity of personal hearing been afforded [to petitioner], remains as a mystery rapped in enigma,” the court observed.

The petitioner claimed that he came to know of allegation of plagiarism only when he enquired with the university’s registry about non-declaration of his results.

The court directed the varsity to award marks to petitioner’s project work.

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