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The petitioner was warned by the 1 st respondent University based onthe aforementioned circumstances and now I would turn to examine whetherthere was any infringement of the petitioner’s fundamental rights, on theaforementioned position taken by the 1 st respondent University.
Learned President’s Counsel for the respondents drew our attention toparagraph 8:1:1 of Chapter XXII of the University Establishments Code inthis respect. Chapter XXII deals with the Disciplinary Procedure of theUniversities. Paragraph 8:1:1 of the said Chapter deals with the procedureof a preliminary investigation and states that such an investigation is purelya fact finding process. In terms of the provisions of the said paragraphthere is no doubt that the preliminary investigation is meant to be a searchfor material which may disclose an employee’s guilt or provide evidencefor any charges that may be framed against the person suspected of theoffence.

Thereafter on 24.02.2003, at its 208th meeting, the Council had decidedto warn the petitioner. This decision was based on the recommendation ofthe Committee appointed by the Council on 16.12.2002 . The relevantminute reads as follows:
Chandrasirl v.
University of Ruhuna and Others (Bandaranayake, J.)
Be that as it may, it is to be noted that, based on the results of thepreliminary investigation a decision would have to be taken as to theprocedure thereafter, in relation to the allegation against a person.According to paragraph 8.2, if the preliminary investigation discloses aprima facie case against the person who is suspected for an offence, acharge sheet will have to be issued calling upon him to show cause as towhy he should not be punished.
The Establishment Code however is silent regarding asituation whereat the preliminary investigation it is found that there is no prima facie caseagainst the suspected person. In that event, I shall now turn to examinethe position, when there is no provision to take action against a personwhere no prima facie case is disclosed.
It is common ground that the Council of the 1 st respondent University,at its 206th meeting held on 08.08.2000, decided to appoint a Committeeto ascertain whether there is a prima facie case to hold a disciplinaryinquiry against the petitioner (1R2). Paragraph 8:1 of the ExtablishmentCode deals with appointments of such Committees, and clearly describesunder what circumstances that such a Committee could be appointed.The said paragraph is in the following terms:
“8.1 When disciplinary action is contemplated against anemployee in connection with any offence warranting one ofthe major punishments listed in sub-para 4.1.2, or for a minoroffence in respect of which summary procedure under para 7is not applicable to the person concerned, the Chairman ofthe Commission or the Principal Executive Officer of the HigherEducational Institution/lnstitute will cause to be made suchpreliminary investigations as are necessary.”
Paragraph 8:1:1 describes the procedure of a preliminary investigationand reads thus:
“A prliminary investigation is purely a fact finding process. It ismeant to be search for material that may disclose anemployee’s guilt or provide evidence for any charges that maybe framed against the person suspected of the offience…”
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Paragraph 8, which deals with a formal disciplinary inquiry in subparagraph 8:2 refers to the specific steps that have to be taken where aprima facie case is disclosed. This would include furnishing a chargesheet and calling upon the person in question to show cause as to why heshould not be punished. However, it is pertinent to note that, there is nosuch provision to indicate that, if a prima facie case against the suspectedperson is not disclosed at the preliminary investigation, the PrincipalExecutive Officer of the Higher Educational Institution/lnstitute has theauthority to warn the suepected person.
Warning is referred to in paragraph 4:4 of the Establishments Code andit is to be borne in mind that paragraph 4 of the said Establishments Codedeals with punishments. It is to be noted that the Establishements Codestates that warning is not a punishment. Paragraph 4:4, therefore readsas follows:
“A warning” is not a punishment, but is administered to cautionthe person concerned aginst the repetition of an act or anomission which may lead to disciplinary action. A warningshould be administered by the Disciplinary Authority, and acopy of the letter conveying the warning should be filed ofrecord in the personal file of the person concerned.”
The question which arises at this point is whether it is possible to warnan academic without holding any kind of an investigation. The respondentscontended that even without the preliminary investigation conducted bythe Sub-Committee the petitioner could have been warned by the Council.In terms of the Establishments Code, the Vice Chancellor is the DisciplinaryAuthority regarding disciplinary matters connected with the Academic Staff.Therefore in terms of paragraph 4:4, it appears that the Vice Chancellor ofa University has the discretion to issue a letter of warning.
Article 12(1) of the Constitution states that “all persons are equal beforethe law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law,” and therebyensures equality and protection for persons who are similarly placed againstdiscriminatory treatment. When the Vice Chanceller is empowered with awide discretion regarding a warning to be given to a person against whomallegations are being made, it is necessary that there should be certainsafeguards in the exercise of such discretion. It is apparent that paragraph4:4 of the Establishment Code does not give any guidelines as to the
Chandrasiri v.
University of Ruhuna and Others (Bandaranayake, J.)
exercise of the power given to the disciplinary authority. In suchcircumstances, it is clear that the power given to the disciplinary authorityis not only arbitary, but also carries uncontrolled discretion. In Ram KrishnaDalmia vS. R. Tendolkar(') it was clearly stated that the vesting of discretionwith officials in the exercise of power under a statute alone will notcontravene the equal protection clause. What is objectionable is theconferment of arbitrary and uncontrolled discretion without any guidelinesfor the exercise of that discretion. By allowing an official to exercise hisauthority, without adhering to any guidelines, norms or principles, andonly according to his wishes , a situation is created for. decision to betaken arbitrarily. Absolute or uncontrolled discretion given to an authoritywould nagate equal protection, as such authority could be exercisedarbitrarily infringing the equal rights guaranteed in terms of Article 12(1) ofthe Constitution. Considering this kind of a situation, in Saman Gupta vJammu and Kashmirs the Court was of the view that,
“The exercise of all administrative power vested in publicauthority must be structured within a system of controls,informed by both relevance and reason- relevance in relationto the object which it seeks to serve, and reason in regard tothe manner in which it attempts to do so. Wherever the exerciseof such power affects individual rights, there can be no greaterassurance protecting its valid exercise than its governance bythese twin tests.”
The rejection of the concept of unfettered discretion was vividly describedwith reference to the landmark decision in Padfieldv Minister of Agriculture<3) by Lord Denning, in Breen v Amalgamated Engineering Union(4) in thefollowing terms:
“The discretion of a statutory body is never unfettered. It is adiscretion which is to be exercised according to law. Thatmeans at least this : the statutory body must be guided byrelevant considerations and not by irrelevant. If its decision isinfluenced by extraneous considerations which it ought notto have taken into account, then the decision cannot stand.No matter that the statutory body may have acted in goodfaith; nevertheless the decision will be set aside. That isestablished by Padfieldv Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries andfood, which is a landmark in modern administrative law.”
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Having said that the said Committee had proceeded to recommendthat the petitioner should be served with a letter of warning. The questionwhich arises at this juncture is whether the said Committee had the man-date to make such recommendation.
It is quite clear that the mandate given to the said Committee by theCouncil of the 1 st respondent University was“ to ascertain whether thereis material to hold a preliminary investigation against the petitioner'’ (1R3).Accordingly, in terms of the mandate given to the Committee, they onlyhad to inform the Council of the 1 st respondent University the outcome ofthe inquiry. This would have included an answer in the affirmative or in thenagative to the questing directed at them.
Thus when the Committee recommended that the petitioner be warned,it had, in my view, acted without any authority or jurisdiction. It is trite lawthat when a Committee acts beyond the mandate/terms of reference onwhich it was appointed, it clearly lacks jurisdiction and such decisionshave no legal validity or effect as the Committee has acted outside itsgiven power. Referring to acts which have been carried out with excess ofpower, Wade (Administrative Law, 9th Edition, pp. 36-37) states that,
“Any administrative act or order which is ultra vires or outsidejurisdiction is void in law, /. e. deprived of legal effect.

Considering the several steps that were taken by the 1st respondentauthority, regarding the complaint made against the petitioner, it is clearthat the Council had decided to appoint a Committee to ascertain whetherthere is material to hold a preliminary investigation against the petitioner.The minutes of the 206th meeting of the University Council of 16.12.2004is quite clear that the mandate given to the Committee was to ascertainwhether there is material to hold a preliminary investigation against thepetitioner (1R2). The Committee had after several discussions and onperusal of all the available material had come to the conclusion that thereis no material to hold a disciplinary inquiry against the petitioner. Paragraph7 of the letter dated 10.02.2003 (1R3) thus stated that,
Chandrasiri v.
University of Ruhuna and Others (Bandaranayake, J.)
If it is not within the powers given by the Act, it has no leg tostand on. The situation is then as if nothing had happened, andthe unlawful act or decision may be replaced by a lawful one.”
Therefore, the decision of the Committee to warn the petitioner is not alawful one which has any validity and the action taken by the Council onthe basis of the said decision and/or recommendation of the Committee iswithout any legal effect. The said Committee therefore had clearly actedoutside their terms of reference and thereby their actions become arbi-trary as well as discriminatory and is violative of the provisions of Article12(1) of the Constitution.
It is also to be borne in mind that petitioner was never heard by theCommittee or by the Council in respect of the allegations made againsthim. Although the respondents claim that an explanation was called fromthe petitioner, it is to be noted that such direction came from the facultyBoard of the Faculty of Medicine and the Dean of the Faculty of Medicineof the 1 st respondent University and not from the disciplinary authority orfrom the Committee which was appointed to look into the allegations againstthe petitioner. Also, it is important to take into account that at no stage acharge sheet was issued against the petitioner.
Since that landmark decision in Ridge vBaldwin (5) (1964) A. C. (40) itis now a well accepted concept that rules of natural justice and fairness inprocedures should be applicable to administrative actions. There are nouniversally accepted principles or norms as to the type of procedure thatwould be followed in different kinds of inquires. However, what is neces-sary is that the inquiry should be carried out according to the basic normsof the rules of natural justice and fairness in procedure. Referring to thisquestion, Tucker L. J. in Russell v Duke of Norfolk (6)( 1949) 1 All E. R.109) stated that.
‘There areno words which are of universal applicationto every kind of inquiry and every kind of domestic tribunal.The requirements of natural justice must depend on thecircumstances of the case, the nature of the inquiry, the rulesunder which the tribunal is acting, the subject- matter that isbeing dealt with, and so forth.”
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The 1st respondent University, bearing in mind the concepts of goodadministration and governance, should have acted fairly towards the peti-tioner, who was one of its Senior Professors. Even if there was no require-ment to conduct an adversarial hearing before reaching a decision, therules of natural justice required the University to act fairly towards thepetitioner.
In view of the aforementioned finding it would not be necessary to con-sider the infringement in terms of Article 14(1 )(g) of the Constitution.
On a consideration of the totality of the circumstances in this applica-tion and for the aforementioned reasons, I declare that the 1 st respondentUniversity had acted arbitrarily and unreasonably and thereby had violatedthe petitioner’s fundamental rights guaranteed in terms of Article 12(1) ofthe Constitution. The decision of the 1 st respondent University containedin the document dated 21.05.2003 (P5) is therefore declared as null andvoid. I make order that the 1st respondent University shall pay the peti-tioner a sum of Rs.25,000 as compensation and costs. This amount to bepaid within 3 months from today.
T.B. WEERASURIYA, J. — I agree.
Relief granted.