Academic Freedom is of Transcendent Value. It Must be Observed and Protected. Medical Profession Needs an Immense Care. A High Court can Treat a Complaint as a Writ Petition.

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Academic Freedom is of Transcendent Value. It Must be Observed and Protected. Medical Profession Needs an Immense Care. A High Court can Treat a Complaint as a Writ Petition.

The Supreme Court has discussed the above propositions in its recent judgment wherein MDCAT conducted in the year of 2023 in KP was under challenge. A complaint was filed to the Chief Justice Peshawar High Court that cheating has been observed on a higher scale in the recent MDCAT exam. The test was not transparent and the same shall be annulled.

The High Court converted the said complaint into Writ Petition and seized with the issue. Later, the KP Government also constituted a JIT and investigated the issue of using illegal means in the MDCAT exam. A big number of students were found involved in using illegal means in the exam. The KP Government rejected the results of the said exam and re-announced the said test with transparency. The PHC upheld the KP government decision and gave a detailed judgment. The same was challenged in the SC. The SC faced multiple propositions in the case in hand; whether a HC has Suo Moto powers U/A 199;ย  whether the KP Government decision was legally sound; whether a court can interfere with academic freedom, if so, to what extent; and whether converting a complaint into writ petition amounts to Suo Moto Notice.

The SC in short held that the KP Government decision is legally sound and tenable in the eye of law as the relevant legislation empowers the Government take such a step and decision. The Court further held that there is no doubt that a HC does not possess Suo Moto power under Article 199 of the Constitution. A HC cannot initiate a proceeding on its own, or on a note of Registrar or in any other way where a party is involved. But, a complaint filed to the Chief Justice may be treated as a writ petition. Entertaining such a complaint cannot be said to be a Suo Moto proceeding. A party other than the HC is involved as it is in the present case.

Similarly, the academic freedom is one of transcendent value. Universities and Colleges or all kinds of educational institutions must have right of academic freedom and the courts must show high level of restraint while adjudicating a matter which might impact academic freedom, but this rule is not absolute and unfettered. If there is deviation from the law and relevant statute on the part of an educational institution or the action of the such an institution does not conform with the law, a court must interfere and impede the illegal act. There must be a reasonable balance between non-interference and necessary intervention to safeguard the academic freedom.

The SC upheld the decision of the PHC and dismissed the Petitions.

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