Report No. 123
Data Collection and its Inadequacy
3.1. At the outset, it must be confessed that the effort to collect up-to-date data relating to the number of matters pending in courts at various levels, the time spent in litigating processes, the cost involved in processing the litigation and its overall effect on educational institutions is an uphill task. The Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi, had taken the task to collect the data and to furnish it to the Law Commission for its consideration. The Commission is awaiting the information. But it cannot standstill. From a study1 undertaken to assess the impact of litigation on university autonomy, keeping in view the magnitude of litigation to which the universities are exposed, some information is available. The study covers four universities.
Allahabad University was impleaded in 124 writ petitions, 15 appeals and 56 civil suits between 1969 and 1980. According to the Registrar of Kerala University, roughly 70 to 100 cases challenging actions of the University were currently on the file of the Kerala High Court. The Madras High Court Advocates Association estimated that the High Court receives about 20 matters per year involving universities. The figure given by the consulting attorney of the university was approximately 300 potential and actual legal cases during the period of four years prior to 1981. The Pune University had about 60 cases by the end of 1980. These statistics pertain to the matters brought before High Courts. But numerous cases are filed in subordinate courts also, of which it is difficult to gather information.
1. Elizabeth C. Wright Court and Universities: Impact of Litigation on University Autonomy, 1985, Vol. 27, JILI, p. 35.
3.2. Some scanty material is available relating to expenditure incurred by a few universities in litigation. To illustrate, Pune University had provided in its budget an amount of Rs. 5,000 in the year 1975 in expenses on fees payable to lawyers. By the year 1981, the provision had to rise up to Rs. 20,000. In fact, it is pointed out that an amount of Rs. 30,000 had to be paid to a firm of lawyers at Bombay in one case. Kerala University exceeded its budget allocation of Rs. 30,000 for fees payable to lawyers even before the expiry of the fiscal year 1981.
There is thus a constant struggle for allocation of scarce resources of the university to unproductive litigation costs. It is difficult to assess the time spent by university officials cooling their heels in courts to the detriment of university administration. As far back as 1966, a serious grievance was voiced in a Conference of Vice-Chancellors that multiplying litigation impeded their ability to maintain discipline on campuses.1
1. Vice-Chancellors' Conference, September 1967, New Delhi, UGC Report, p. 43.