Kitara David Lagoro v Gulu Univsersity (Miscellaneous Civil Cause No. 10 of 2017) [2019] UGHCCD 58 (12 February 2019)

Administrative Law|Civil Procedure
Case summary
It was held that a viva voce Committee was the forum in which the candidate and his or her ideas that are assessed. It was not thefunction  of  the  viva  voce  Committee  to determine whether  or  not  the  candidatemerits the  award. That the  committee  of  reviewerssubmitted  to  the  Graduate  School  provided  a  detailed  review  of  the  areas  inwhich the thesis, even after the corrections were made, was deficient and a clearexplanation as to why it was not able to approve the dissertation for the award ofPHD. Therefore that  the  applicant  had  not  established  a  case  of  illegality  in  theactions taken by either the viva voce panel, the review committee or other organof the respondent.   On whether there was any procedural impropriety in the processleading up to the decision of the review committee of therespondent. It was contended by the applicant  that he was subjected  to unfair treatment in theprocess leading up to the decision of the review committee of the respondent, notto  approve  his  dissertation  for  the  award  of  PHD. Court held that procedural impropriety may arise from one of three possible sources; either from (i) failure to adhere to procedural rules laid out by statute, or (ii) failure to observethe principles of natural justice; or (ii) failure to act fairly.   It was held that theduty resting upon the review committee did not include “to hear and decide” or "to give audience to.”  That the  respondent  had  no  procedural  duty  to  give  the applicant  the  opportunity  for  adequately  presenting  his  corrections,  save  inwriting.  That The  requirement  of  fairness  in  academic  assessment  is   et  when  it  isdemonstrated  that  the  decision  was  not  taken  capriciously  or  arbitrarily. It was further  held that the  review  committee  fully  informed  the  applicant  of  itsdissatisfaction with  his  research.  Theultimate decision not to approve it wastaken after careful and deliberate analysis. Therefore court found that the  respondent'sanctions were sufficient  to  meet the  demands  of procedural fairness in what was otherwise purely an academic assessment   Court considered whether the decision of the respondent's review committee to make aninquiry into the applicant's conduct of the study was irrational and outsideits mandate. Court stated that in  judicial  review,  reasonableness  is  concerned  mostly  with  the  existence  ofjustification, transparency and intelligibility within the decision-making process.Judicial  review  ofdeterminations  regarding  academic  standards  is  limited  to  the  questions  ofwhether  the  challenged  determination  was  arbitrary  and  capricious,  irrational,made  in  bad  faith,  or  contrary  to  a  Constitutional  provision  or  a  statute. Additionally, court upheld judicial positions holding that both,  the  determinant  of  reasonableness  inacademic  assessment  hinged  on  the question  whether  or  not  the decision wastaken with a sound basis in reason or with regard to the facts.   It was held that the  validity  of  the  reasons  that  led  the  review  committee to  take the  course  ofaction it did and  eventually to  make the recommendation that  it did in relation tothe applicant's thesis, was a matter of academic judgment with which it would beinappropriate for this court to interfere. That court will not interfere unless bias,  or  unfairness,  or  prejudice  on  the  part  of  thereview committee, or on the part any other member of the respondent's staff, orany procedural  irregularity  at  any  stage of  the academic assessment. Accordingly that No compelling reasonshave been proved in the instant application to justify the court's interference.   Whether the circumstances of this case otherwise justified exercise ofthe court'sdiscretion to grant the prerogative orders sought. Court emphasized thatthe  grant  of  remedies  under  judicial  review  was  at  the  discretion  of  the  court. court  was of  theview that when dealing with decisions taken by tertiary institutions, judicial reviewought  to  be a  remedy  of  last  resort:  alternative  remedies  should  be  exhausted first. It was held that the applicant had not exhausted the alternative remediesas provided for under the laws governing the respondent university or its internal neither did he demonstrate that they were ineffective  or  inappropriate  to address  the  substance  of  the  complaints  at  issue  so  as  to  invite  court'sintervention, exceptionally.   Ultimately court held that it was  entitled to refuse certiorari and mandamus to  an applicant if the  applicant has  been guilty of  unreasonable delay  or  misconduct,  notwithstanding  that  the  applicant  may  have  proved  ausurpation  of  jurisdiction  by  the  domestic  tribunal  or  an  omission  to  perform  apublic this instance that the applicant had filed for judicial review almost one year after the said decision which was beyond the statutory 3 months period when to file for judicial review and had not afforded substantial grounds for extension.   Accordingly the application was dismissed.

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