In the case of State of Gujarat v/s Mansukhbhai Kanjibhai Shah [Criminal Appeal No.989 of 2018, decided on 27.04.2020], a Deemed University, the accused took a bribe to allow a student to take her MBBS degree examinations. While hearing the appeal in the instant case, the Hon‘ble Supreme Court, was deciding the question whether a trustee of a trust running a Deemed University can be considered a ‘public servant‘ as envisaged by Section 2 (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (“Act”) and whether a Deemed University can be considered a University under the ambit of the word ‘University‘ as placed by the legislature in Section 2 (c) of the Act.
Answering the first question, the Hon‘ble Supreme Court observed that for a University, any person who is a vice-chancellor, a member of the governing body, professor, reader, lecturer, faculty, and employee of the University, by any designation, is a public servant. As regards the second question, the Hon‘ble Supreme Court took note of the rising menace of corruption in Deemed Universities across the country and took view that when the scope and view of legislations are different, meaning accorded to a word in one statute cannot be used to interpret the word in question in the other statute, in effect concluding that the word ‘University‘ was to be interpreted keeping in mind solely, the purpose of the Act.
Establishing the above, the Hon‘ble Supreme Court concluded that an official of a Deemed University when discharging a public function, as in the present case, when dealing with the students and conducting public examinations acts as a public servant.