K.N. Singh, J.
1. A Division Bench of this Court, expressing doubt about the correctness of the principles laid down by another Bench of this Court in Pra-bhat Kumar v. Board of High School and Intermediate Education (1971 All LJ 1391) referred the writ petition for decision to a larger Bench. Since the entire case has been referred to this Bench, it is essential to state necessary facts giving rise to this petition.
2. The petitioner appeared at the Intermediate Examination of 1973 held by the Board of High School and Intermediate Education (hereinafter referred to as the Board) from the Government Inter College, Banda. A complaint was recieved by the Board that unfair means was used by the examinees at large scales at the said centre in answering the question papers of Intermediate Examination of 1973. The Board appointed a Screening Committee of experts in various subjects to ascertain the correctness of the allegations. The Screening Committee on scrutiny of the answer books found that examinees who appeared from that centre, including the petitioner, had used unfair means. The Examinations Committee appointed a spot enquiry committee to enquire into the matter in detail and it approved a charge sheet in the form of a questionnaire for service of the same on the erring examinees. The spot enquiry committee served the charge sheet on the petitioner and obtained his explanation. The charge sheet alleged that in answering question No. 1 of Chemistry Second paper, the petitioner had used unfair means and in support of the charge it was alleged that the petitioner had arrived at the correct answer without going through the requisite working either in rough or in the answer itself which could not be possible, therefore the petitioner had answered the question with the aid of some outside agency. The petitioner denied the charge and asserted that arithmetical steps involved in the question were so simple that he solved the same orally and there was no necessity of doing any rough work, He further denied to have obtained any extraneous help directly or indirectly through any source. The Examination Committee did not find the petitioner's explanation satisfactory, it held the petitioner guilty of having used unfair means and it thereupon cancelled the petitioner's Intermediate Examination of 1973. Aggrieved, the petitioner filed this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the aforesaid order of the Board.
3. Learned counsel for the petitioner urged that there was no evidence to sustain the decision of the Examinations Committee that the petitioner had used unfair means. Absence of rough works or requisite working did not conclusively prove that the petitioner had used unfair means. The Examinations Committee could not draw inference of use of unfair means on account of the absence of rough work and requisite working. The principle of circumstantial evidence contemplates that the circumstances must conclusively point out the petitioner's guilt and if there is any possibility of petitioner's innocence the petitioner could not be held guilty. In this context learned counsel further urged that the decision of the Examinations Committee is arbitrary which no reasonable person could arrive at. Sri S, C. Verma, learned Standing Counsel appearing for the respondent-Board, urged that there was intrinsic evidence ip the petitioner's answer book which was sufficient to sustain the decision of the examinations committee. The Examinations Committee was justified in drawing inference from the circumstances available on record and the rule of circumstantial evidence as applicable to criminal trials is not applicable to proceedings before it.
4. Learned counsel further urged that while considering the validity of the decision of the Examinations Committee the High Court should not interfere with its order merely because a different view Is possible on the material on record.
5. Question No. 1 of Chemistry, II paper, was as follows:
"1. An organic compound containing carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen on analysis gave C=40.57%, H=8.53%, N = 23.65%; when treated with bromine and caustic potash, it gave a colour less gas like ammonia which produced white fumes with hydrochloric acid gas. This gas when treated with nitrous acid gave an alcohol and nitrogen. The molecular weight of the substance was found to be 59. Assign a structural formula to this compound."
6. The answer given by the petitioner was as under:-- "(1) Pratishat Matra:
C H N O
40.57 8.53 25.63 27.25
_____ ___ ____ _____
1.65 1.65 1.65 1.65
2: 5 ; 1: 1
C2 H5 N. O.
H - C - C -ON
If proper steps had been taken the question
Should have been solved in the
% of O2
100.72.75 = 27.25% of oxygen is present,
Therefore the empirical formula of the
C N H O
40.47 23.65 8.53 27.25
_____ _____ _____ _____
12 14 1 16 Approx. 3.38 1.66 8.53 1.7 To get the exact number of atoms the
above numbers are devided by a minimum
3.38 1.66 8.53 1.7 ____ _____ ____ _____
1.6 1.66 1.66 1.66 C=2 N=1 H=5 O=1 Therefore the empirical formula is C2 H5 NO. This may be written as Ch3 CONH2
Structurral Formula :-- (Acetamide)
H, C -- 11 H
On behalf of the respondent Board, it is
asserted that the steps 40.57
-------- =3 and
______ = 1 as contained in the petitioner's
answer have been arrived at by the petitioner with wrong working. It is further asserted that the working in finding out the correct answer 2: 5: 1: 1 has no where been shown. The petitioner wrote 1:65 without proper working. - As a matter of fact 40.57 should have been divided by 12, instead of 1.65 and 8.63 by 1 and 23-65 by 14. The working shown by the petitioner and the steps taken by him could not lead to the correct formula as derived by the petitioner. These facts clearly indicate that the petitioner had no knowledge of the question and he got the correct answer by taking wrong steps, on the basis of which the correct formula could not be derived. In view of these circumstances, the Examinations Committee drew an inference that the petitioner had used unfair means in answering the said question.
7. The question then arises as to whether it is open to this court under Article 226 of the Constitution to accept the petitioner's explanation or to interfere with the decision of the Examinations Committee on appraisal of petitioner's answers. Before we answer this question it is necessary to consider the scope of High Court's jurisdiction in a writ for certiorari. Under Article 226 the High Court has jurisdiction to quash the decision or orders of subordinate tribunals and statutory authorities entrusted with the quasi-judicial functions, if they act without jurisdiction or in excess of it or in violation of the principles of natural justice or if there is an error apparent on the face of the record. The jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is wide, yet it is limited as it exercises supervisory jurisdiction over the subordinate tribunals or courts and it does not exercise appellate jurisdiction. In G. Veerappa Pillai v. Raman and Raman Ltd. (AIR 1952 SC 192) the Supreme Court while considering the scope of Article 226 observed thus (at p. 196):
"However extensive the jurisdiction may be, it is not so wide or large as to enable the High Court to convert itself into a court of appeal and examine for itself the correctness of the decisions impugned and decide what is the proper view to be taken or the order to be made".
In Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaque (AIR 1955 SC 233), a constitution Bench of the Supreme Court laid down principles with regard to the character and scope of the writ of certiorari and the conditions under which it can be issued. The Supreme Court held (at p. 243):--
"The Court issuing a writ of certiorari acts in exercise of supervisory and not appellate jurisdiction. One consequence of this is that the court will not review findings of fact reached by the inferior court or Tribunal even if they be erroneous. This is on the principle that a court which has jurisdiction over a subject-matter has jurisdiction to decide wrong as well as right and when the legislature does not choose to confer a right of appeal against the decision it would be defeating its purpose and policy if a superior court were to re-hear the case on the evidence and substitute its own findings in certiorari."
These principles' were affirmed by the Supreme Court in Nagendra Nath v. Commissioner of Hills Division (AIR 1958 SC 398); Kaushalya Devi v. Bachittar Singh (AIR 1960 SC 1168); Major U. R. Bhatt v. Union of India (AIR 1962 SC 1344); State of Andhra Pradesh v. S, Sree Rama Rao (AIR 1963 SC 1723)5 Syed Yaqub v. K. S. Radha Krishna (AIR 1964 SC 477); State of Madras v. G. Sundaram (AIR 1965 SC 1103) and State of Andhra Pradesh v. C, Venkatrao (AIR 1975 SC 2151). It is not necessary to further multiply authorities as now it is well settled that the Court while exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution cannot sit in appeal over the findings recorded by Tribunals or quasi-judicial authorities and it has no jurisdiction to interfere with the order of quasi-judicial authorities if the decision is arrived at bona fide after complying with the principles of natural justice. The High Court cannot substitute its own opinion for that of the subordinate Tribunal or authority and it has no jurisdiction to interfere with the findings on appraisal of evidence even if those findings may be erroneous. No doubt, if the order is based on no evidence or if the findings are arbitrary and so capricious that no reasonable person could come to those findings, the order would be quashed. But the High Court cannot interfere with the order on the ground of probative value of evidence or adequacy or inadequacy of evidence. To judge the credibility of a particular piece of evidence is the function of an appellate court and that function does not fall within the supervisory jurisdiction of High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.
8. The Examinations Committee constituted under the Regulations framed under the Intermediate Education Act and similar other bodies like the Universities are entrusted with the duty of maintaining purity of examinations and if an examinee is found to have used unfair means at the examination, it is the duty of the Examinations Commit" tee to take action against the erring examinee to maintain the educational standard. Direct evidence is available in some cases but in a large number of cases direct evidence is not available. In that situation, the Examinations Committee has of necessity to rely on circumstantial evidence which may include the answer given by the examinee, the report of the Superintendent of the centre, the invigilator and the report of the experts and other attending circumstances. The Screening Committee constituted by the Examinations Committee consists of experts in the subject concerned who are possessed of technical knowledge and experience, and they are in a better position to consider the explanation of an examinee and to decide the question of use of unfair means. If the Examinations Committee, relying on the report of the Screening Committee as well as on the answers of an examinee: bona fide arrives at the conclusion that the examinee used unfair means in answering the questions, it is not open to the High Court to interfere with that decision merely because the High Court may take a different view on re-assessment of those circumstances. It is the function of the appellate court to take a different view of the evidence and not the function of a supervisory court to interfere with the order on the ground of a different possible view. While it is open to the High Court to interfere with the order of a quasi-judicial authority if it is not supported by any evidence or if the order is passed in contravention of the statutory provisions of law, or in violation of the principles of natural justice, but the court has no jurisdiction to interfere with the order merely on the ground that the evidence available on the record is insufficient or inadequate or on the ground that a different view could possibly be taken on the evidence available on the record. The Examinations Committee has jurisdiction to take decision in the matter of use of unfair means not only on direct evidence but also on probabilities and circumstantial evidence. There is no scope for importing the principles of criminal trial while considering the probative value of probabilities and circumstantial evidence. The quasi-judicial authorities including the Examinations Committee are not bound by technical rules of evidence and procedure as are applicable to courts,
9. In Board of High School and Intermediate Education v. Bagleshwar Prasad (AIR 1966 SC 875), the Supreme Court considered the precise question which we are considering. Gajendragadkar, J., speaking for the Court, spoke thus (at p. 878):
"In the matter of adoption of unfair means, direct evidence may sometimes be available, but cases may arise where direct evidence is not available and the question will have to be considered in the light of probabities and circumstantial evidence. This problem which the educational institutions have to face from time to tune is a serious problem and unless there is justification to do so, the courts should be slow to interfere with the decision of the domestic tribunals appointed by the educational bodies like University. In dealing with the validity of the impugned orders passed by Universities under Article 226, the High Court is not sitting in appeal over the decision in question, its jurisdiction is limited and though it is true that if the impugned order is not supported by any evidence at all, the High Court would be justified to quash that order. But the conclusion that the impugned order is not supported by any evidence must be reached after considering the question as to whether probabilities and circumstantial evidence do not justify the said conclusion."
Proceeding further the Supreme Court emphasised:
"...... but it would, we think, not be reasonable to import into these enquiries all considerations which govern criminal trials in ordinary courts of law. In the present case no animus is suggested and no mala fides have been pleaded. The enquiry has been fair and the respondent has had opportunity of making his defence. That being so, we think the High Court was not justified in interfering with the order passed against the respondent".
10. In Bagleshwar Prasad's case, the Examinations Committee of the Board of High School and Intermediate Education had cancelled the examination of Bagleshwar Prasad on the ground that he had used unfair means in answering question No. 4 of Hindi III paper. In doing so it relied on the answer given by another examinee containing identical mistakes. Bagleshwar Prasad denied that he had used any unfair means. The Examinations Committee was not satisfied with his explanation and it held him guilty even though there was no direct evidence to support its decision. On a petition of Bagleshwar Prasad under Article 226 of the Constitution, this court held that the conclusion of the Enquiry Committee that Bagleshwar Prasad had used unfair means was not supported by any evidence. In coming to that conclusion, the High Court had reassessed the circumstantial evidence. The Supreme Court did not approve of the procedure adopted by the High Court and laid down the principles as quoted earlier.
11. In Prabhat Kumar v. Board of High School (1971 All LJ 1391), Prabhat Kumar was alleged to have used unfair means in answering mathematics I paper. The charge alleged that there was unusual similarity including mistakes in his answers which has striking similarity to the mistakes committed by another examinee also. Prabhat Kumar denied the charge. The Examinations Committee did not find the explanation satisfactory. It cancelled his examination for the year 1970 and debarred him from appearing at the 1971 Examination. Before this court, Prabhat Kumar raised a plea that the Board was wrong in drawing an inference that he had used unfair means as the facts did not justify drawing of such an inference. A Division Bench of this Court held that merely by reason of similarity in answers to the questions as recorded by the two examinees, no reasonable person could come to the conclusion that Prabhat Kumar used unfair means in answering the relevant question. The Bench observed that there were various possibilities and likelihood was that the other examinee may have copied the answer which Prabhat Kumar may have recorded in his answer book, therefore it was difficult to deduce that both the petitioner and the other examinee had made use of some common source in answering the question. This decision no doubt supports the petitioner's contention, but (in) our opinion the view taken in Prabhat Kumar's case is contarry to the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in Bagleshwar Prasad's case, (AIR 1966 SC 875). The Bench referred to Bagleshwar Prasad's case but it failed to notice the import of the principles laid down by the Supreme Court. It appears that the Bench laid stress on principle of law applicable to criminal trials that no person could be held guilty on the basis of circumstantial evidence unless all other possibilities of his innocence are ruled out. As noted earlier, this principle is not applicable to enquiries held by quasi-judicial authorities and orders passed by them. A quasi-judicial authority and specially the Examinations Committee has jurisdiction to reach its conclusion on the basis of probabilities and circumstantial evidence and it is not bound by the technical rules of evidence and the principles of criminal trials do not apply to such enquiries. In our opinion, the Bench committed error in holding that unless the only reasonable inference of guilt was possible on the circumstances of the case, the Examinations Committee could not hold the examinee guilty of having used unfair means on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
12. What inference should be drawn from the available circumstances is essentially within the exclusive 'domain of a quasi-judicial authority or the tribunal and it is not open to the High Court to interfere with the drawing of inference under Article 226 of the Constitution if the inference drawn was possible on the material before the authority,
13. In Kaushalya Devi v. Bachittar Singh (AIR 1960 SC 1168) the Supreme Court set aside the order of the High Court interfering with the order of the Deputy Custodian General. The High Court held that there was no evidence in support of the order passed by the Custodian General and the inference drawn by him on the existing circumstances did not constitute evidence to support the order. The Supreme Court disapproved the High Court's judgment and observed:
"A finding based on no evidence is an error of law apparent on the face of the record but errors in appreciation of documentary evidence or errors in drawing inferences cannot be said to be errors of law and can be corrected only by a court sitting as a court of appeal and not under Article 226."
In State of Andh, Pra. v. S. Sree Rama Rao (AIR 1963 SC 1723), the Supreme Court set aside the order of the High Court interfering with the findings of the Enquiry Officer holding the public servant guilty at the departmental enquiry of certain charge. The court observed (at, pp. 1726, 1727):
"Where there is some evidence which the authority entrusted with the duty to hold enquiry has accepted and which evidence may reasonably support the conclusion that the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge, it is not the function of the High Court in a petition for a writ under Article 226 to review the evidence and to arrive at an independent finding on the evidence."
14. In Syed Yaqub v. K.S. Radha Krishna (AIR 1964 SC 477), the jurisdiction of the High Court to issue a writ of certiorari against the orders of the domestic tribunal was considered at length. The Supreme Court held that while exercising supervisory jurisdiction, it was not open to the High Court to interfere with the findings of fact reached by the inferior court or tribunal on appreciation of evidence as the error of law which is apparent on the face of the record can be corrected by a writ but not an error of fact, howsoever grave it may appear to be. The Court further held (at pp. 479, 480):
"A finding of fact recorded by the tribunal cannot, however, be challenged in proceedings for a writ of certiorari on the ground that the relevant and material evidence adduced before the Tribunal was insufficient or inadequate to sustain the impugned finding. The adequacy or sufficiency of evidence led on a point and the inference of fact to be drawn from the said finding being within the exclusive jurisdiction of the tribunal, the points cannot be agitated before a writ Court."
In State of Andhra Pradesh v. C. Venkatrao (AIR 1975 SC 2151) the Supreme Court set aside High Court's judgment interfering with the findings of the domestic tribunal during departmental enquiry against a public servant. The Tribunal held that the charge framed against the public servant was proved on circumstantial evidence. The High Court interfered with that finding of the Tribunal on the ground that the prosecution had utterly failed to adduce any evidence to exclude the possibilities of Venkat Rao's innocence. The Supreme Court re-affirmed the principles laid down in S. Sree Ramarao's case and observed (at p. 2154):
"First, there is no warrant for th" view that in considering whether a public officer is guilty of misconduct charged against him, the rule followed in criminal trials that an offence is not established unless proved by evidence beyond reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of the court must be applied. If that rule be not applied by a domestic tribunal of enquiry, the High Court in a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution is not competent to declare the order of the authority holding a departmental enquiry invalid. The High Court is not a court of appeal under Article 226 over the decision of the authorities holding departmental enquiry against a public servant............ where there is some evidence which the authorities entrusted with the duty to hold enquiry has accepted and which evidence may reasonably support the conclusion that the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge it is not the function of the High Court to review the evidence and to arrive at an independent finding on the evidence......... The departmental authorities are, if the enquiry is otherwise properly held, the sole judges of the facts and if there is some legal evidence on which their finding can be based the adequacy or reliability of that evidence is not a matter which can be permitted to be canvassed before the High Court In a proceeding under Article 226."
15. The Examinations Committee constituted under the U. P. Intermediate Education Act, 1921, considers the case of unfair means at the examination under Regulation I (1) of Chapter VI of the Regulations framed under Chapter XV of the said Act. While dealing with the cases of use of unfair means the Examinations Committee is under a duty to act judicially as it has to decide objectively the question of use of unfair means. The Examinations Committee is, therefore, a quasi-judicial authority while exercising its powers and functions under Regulation I (1) of Chapter VI of the Regulations. See Board of High School and Intermediate Education v. Ghanshyam Das Gupta (AIR 1962 SC 1110). The principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the cases noted earlier would apply with full force to the decision of the Examinations Committee, also.
16. A Full Bench of our Court in Triambakpati Tripathi v. Board of High School, (AIR 1973 All 1) held that while considering the question of use of unfair means the Examinations Committee would be justified to draw inferences on the basis of answer books and other materials that the examinee had answered the question by adopting some improper method. The Examinations Committee is entitled to base its evidence (conclusion) on intrinsic evidence provided by the petitioner's own answer book. The Bench observed (at p. 7):--
"In dealing with the validity of the order passed by such authorities, the High Court does not sit in appeal over the decision of the authority concerned, its jurisdiction is limited and it is true that if the order in question is not supported by any evidence at all, the High Court may quash it, but the conclusion that the order is not supported by any evidence must be reached after considering the question as to whether probabilities and circumstantial evidence do not justify that conclusion." If the Examinations Committee relying on the probabilities and circumstantial evidence and the intrinsic evidence available in the answer book of the examinee conies to the conclusion that unfair means was used it is outside the jurisdiction of the High Court to reappraise and re-assess the evidentiary value of those circumstances to take a different view. The Examinations Committee and the Screening Committee are constituted of experts, they are the sole judges to determine the question of use of unfair means on the basis of materials present on record. Their decision cannot be interfered with by this court under Article 226 of the Constitution unless the decision is mala fide, arbitrary or capricious. Any decision of an authority, quasi judicial or, administrative, is vitiated on the ground of mala fides. Similarly, decision of a quasi judicial authority would be vitiated if it is based on no evidence or if it is arbitrary and the conclusion which the authority has arrived at could not be reached by any reasonable person or body of persons.
17. These principles are well settled but the real difficulty arises in their application to the particular facts of a case, While applying these principles it must be borne in mind that in case of no evidence the order would be vitiated only when there is not a single piece of evidence direct or indirect, oral or documentary, or even circumstantial evidence based on probabilities to sustain the decision of the authority concerned, but if there is some evidence of circumstantial nature, which may even include probabilities, it would not be a case of no evidence. Inadequacy of evidence does not fall within the principle of no evidence. If there be any evidence, howsoever weak it may be in its probative value, it will not be a case of no evidence and the High Court has no jurisdiction to interfere with the finding. Similarly, while considering the question of arbitrariness it must be kept in mind that if two views are possible on the material on record and if the Examinations Committee has bona fide taken one view, it is not open to the High Court to interfere with that finding merely because a different view is possible. The High Court can interfere if the order is wholly arbitrary and so capricious that no reasonable person could come to the conclusion on the material on record, but if a person can reasonably come to that conclusion, the High Court has no jurisdiction to interfere with the order. An arbitrary decision of a quasi judicial authority would be perverse and liable to be quashed. It is however not permissible to assume possibilities or circumstances in support of the examinee's innocence and then to interfere with the decision of the Examinations Committee on the ground that there was no conclusive evidence to hold the examinee guilty of the charge of use of unfair means. If several probabilities are available in the circumstances of a case, some of which support the examinee's innocence, while other circumstances support the decision of the Examinations Committee holding the examinee guilty, in that situation it is not permissible to interfere with the decision of the Examinations Committee as that would amount to appraisal of evidence.
18. Learned counsel for the petitioner placed reliance on a number of decisions of this Court in support of his contention that it is open to this Court to interfere with the decision of the Examinations Committee. These cases are Udai Prakash Guatam v. Board of High School and Intermediate Education (Writ Petn. No. 12048 of 1975) decided on August 26, 1977, Sarman Lal v. Board of High School and Intermediate Education (Writ Petn. No. 9538 of 1976) decided on 5th May, 1976, Prem Nath Khanna v. Board of High School and Intermediate Education (Writ Petn. No. 7372 of 1975) decided on 23rd January 1976, Promod Kumar Mittal v. State of U. P. (1973 All LJ 625) and Ajai Kumar v. Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad (AIR 1979 All 13).
19. In Udai Prakash Gautam's case a Division Bench of this Court quashed the order of the Examinations Committee punishing Udai Prakash Gautam for the use of unfair means. The charge against Udai Prakash Gautam was that he had used unfair means in answering certain questions of mathematics second paper and in support of the charge it was alleged that he had arrived at the correct answer although the requisite steps and working were incorrect. In his explanation Udai Prakash Gautam denied the charge. The Bench hearing the Writ Petition summoned the records and after persual of the petitioner's answer books held that even though it was correct that Gautam had omitted certain requisite intermediate steps, yet he had given correct answer, but that could be due to lapse of memory of the petitioner. The Bench further observed that mathematics is a subject which is very often learnt by heart, if a student misses certain links in the entire calculation, it does not necessarily lead to the inference that he had answered the question by adopting unfair means.
20. In Sarman Lal's case, the Examinations Committee had taken action against the petitioners of that case, and cancelled the examination on the charge of use of unfair means on the allegations that they had arrived at correct answer without going through the necessary steps and without undergoing necessary calculations. In coming to that decision the Examinations Committee had noted that the examinee had not made any calculations even on the left side of the answer book and therefore it drew an inference that the examinees answered the question correctly with the aid of some external source. A learned single Judge of this Court allowed the Writ Petition on the following findings.
"In my view, it cannot be said that a failure to record the calculation on the left hand side of the answer books would be conclusive proof of the fact that the student has used unfair means. It is not unusual for the students to learn by heart questions and answers. If while answering a question some of the steps are forgotten it is natural and normal for the students to omit those steps and to proceed with the rest of the steps before arriving at the final answer. Therefore, in my view an omission to record or to write down the intermediate steps before arriving at the conclusion does not necessarily imply that the student must have used unfair means. In other words, this circumstance alone is not sufficient to hold that unfair means must have been used by the first category of students." The second category of petitioners in that case were alleged to have used unfair means and in support of that charge the Examinations Committee had relied upon the striking similarity in the answer book of other examinees who had appeared from that centre. The learned Judge again held that similarity of answer alone could not be the basis for drawing an inference of use of unfair means. The learned Judge observed:
"Which of these two students copied from the other and which of them allowed the other student to copy the answer is in the realm of conjectures, I am not satisfied on the material placed before me that these petitioners have used unfair means".
21. In Prem Nath Khanna's case, another learned Single Judge of this Court quashed the order of the Examinations Committee as no direct evidence for use of unfair means was available and the circumstantial evidence was not sufficient to sustain the charge of use of unfair means. Repelling the contention raised on behalf of the Board that circumstantial evidence was sufficient to sustain the charge, the learned Judge observed:
"But apart from that in a case where the allegations of unfair means is sought to be established merely on the basis of circumstantial evidence, the rule of law is that such evidence should be consistent with only one possibility namely that the examinee must be held to have Used the unfair means,"
In Ajai Kumar v. Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad, (AIE 1979 All 13) a Division Bench of this Court quashed the order of the Examinations Committee on the ground that there was absolutely no evidence before the Committee to come to the conclusion that unfair means had been adopted by the petitioner while answering question No. 6 ga of Physics first paper. There was no direct evidence against Ajai Kumar petitioner in that case but the Examinations Committee had found him guilty on the intrinsic evidence available in his answer book and on the circumstantial evidence that he had omitted necessary steps in answering question No. 6 ga of Physics first paper, The Division Bench observed (at p, 15):--
"That omission could take place by inadvertence as has been suggested by the petitioner. It cannot be said to be a circumstance of conclusive nature compatible only with theory of use of unfair means by the petitioner, particularly when the petitioner was not caught while using unfair means nor any objectionable material was recovered from his possession, nor there was anything on record to show that the petitioner had copied out the answser of question No. 6 ga from a similar answer given by any other candidate which answer had, somehow or the other, become available to the petitioner."
As discussed earlier, It Is not open to this Court to interfere with the order of the Examinations Committee on the ground that another view could be taken on the material on record. In answering questions relating to mathematics and Physics or Chemistry if necessary answer is arrived at by an examinee through wrong working it would be reasonably possible for the Examinations Committee to draw an inference that the examinee had used unfair means. Even if it is possible that the examinee may have omitted the necessary steps due to inadvertence or certain reasons, it is for the Examinations Committee to consider that explanation and it is not open to this Court to reassess the circumstances and to interfere with the decision of the Examinations Committee. If the Examinations Committee relying upon the probabilities and circumstantial evidence comes to the conclusion that the examinee had used unfair means, it is not open to this Court to interfere with that order merely on the basis of other possibilities. In all the aforesaid oases relied upon by the petitioner this Court held that absence of certain requisite steps did not necessarily imply that the examinee must have used unfair means. In each of the aforesaid cases the principle of criminal trial was applied as it was held that omission to record requisite calculation or to take requisite steps could not be conclusive proof of the fact that the examinee had used unfair means. These decisions are in our opinion contrary to the principles laid down by the Supreme Court in the cases discussed earlier. For the same reason we do not approve the view taken by a learned Single Judge of this Court in Promod Kumar Mittal's case (1973 All LJ 625). In view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Bagleshwar Pra-sad's case (AIR 1966 SC 875) and the Full Bench decision of our Court in Triambakpati Tripathi's case, (AIR 1973 All 1) we are of the opinion that the cases relied upon by the petitioner, namely, Udai Prakash Gautam v. Board of High School, Sarman Lal v. Board of High School; Prem Nath Khanna v. Board of High Court; Promod Kumar Mittal v. State of U. P. and Ajai Kumar v. Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad, do not lay down correct law.
22. In the instant case the petitioner while answering question No. 1 of Chemistry Second Paper had not taken necessary steps, yet he arrived at the correct formula. We have earlier quoted the answer given by the petitioner and also the steps which were necessary to be undertaken before the formula could be arrived at. The petitioner without proper working and requisite steps arrived at the correct formula. The Screening Committee as well as the Examinations Committee both were of the opinion that the petitioner had no knowledge of the question and he got the correct answer by means of some external source. Therefore he was held guilty for having used unfair means. The petitioner's answer to question No. 1 contains intrinsic evidence to support the decision of the Examinations Committee. The inference drawn by the Examinations Committee that the petitioner solved the question by using unfair means is a reasonable inference which cannot be interfered with by this Court even if some other view is also possible. The petitioner's contention that the impugned order is not based on any evidence and there is no material on record to support the finding of the Examinations Committee is without any substance. 23, in view of the above discussion, we do not find any apparent error in the impugned order of the Board warranting interference under Article 226 of the Constitution. The petition fails and is accordingly dismissed, but there will be no order as to costs.