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Jkuat conferred degrees ‘pursuant to orders of the court’ and a judge is not happy

A High Court judge has condemned a public  university for purporting to issue its degrees “pursuant to orders of the court”.

In his ruling, Justice Anyara Emukule hit out at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (Jkuat) and the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM), a former constituent college of Jkuat, for intending to do so in an attempt to obey a court order that required the two institutions to allow some of its students who had been locked out from graduating to be considered with immediate effect.

Eighty-three engineering students from TUM had sued both institutions for denying them the all-important opportunity to graduate last year.

And Lady Justice Mary Kasango first ruled in 2015 that it was indeed their right to graduate and had ordered Jkuat to accord them all the necessary assistance.

CITED FOR CONTEMPT

With the court ruling in their favour at the time, the students later complained to the court that the two institutions had ignored the orders issued, forcing Jkuat’s Vice Chancellor Mabel Imbuga and the Chief legal officer to be cited for contempt.

The university subsequently issued the students with degrees, but with the words “pursuant to orders of the court”.

Earlier this month, Justice Emukule blamed Jkuat for attempting to enforce the court order in the wrong way before sparing the two from going to jail.

“I will however put on record that Jkuat acted in bad faith by purporting to issue its degrees ‘pursuant to orders of court’,” he said.

SATISFACTORILY PASSED

He explained that the earlier orders were premised on the information that the students had satisfied the Senate of Jkuat in all the subjects for the award of an engineering degree but it turned out that only 18 had satisfactorily passed.

“It is the standard worldwide that universities issue degrees subject to each student satisfying the conditions and examinations of the university as well as an approval by the Senate or other governing bodies …. to say that a degree is issued ‘pursuant to an order of court’ is elevating the court to the status of the ‘Senate’, which is not,” he said.

While noting the role played by engineering professionals in the society, the judge emphasized that all students who graduate from technical schools, colleges or universities must first be properly certified.

BONE OF CONTENTION

The bone of contention between the students and their learning institutions started when the 83 wanted TUM compelled to forward their names to Jkuat for inclusion in the 2015 graduation list after the latter refused.

The students who had been admitted in 2009 for their undergraduate course, claimed that they had not received information on graduation from the two.

Whilst Jkuat prepared and approved the syllabus that lecturers taught them, TUM had not been accredited by the Engineering Registration Board hence the standoff.

“In the circumstances, I am unable to say that Jkuat or its personnel acted in contempt of the court’s order. I think, they were in a dilemma and purported to carry out the court’s orders by issuing degrees,” Justice Emukule said.

COMPLETE COURSE

He then ordered that only 64 who opt to complete their course be admitted by either of the two without being charged any tuition fees.

He also ordered the institutions to act in good faith, facilitate their registration without undue technicalities as well as let them graduate after successfully completing their studies.

“Degrees studied by these students are critical to the technological and industrial development of our country, region and continent, it is therefore paramount that they are ultimately earned, not court transmitted since the loser is not JKUAT,” the judge ruled.

Both the students and the institutions will now have to confirm to court that the verdict issued has been complied with and implemented by the end of March next year.