A medical student was unsuccesful in his application for the prerogative writ of certiorari as it is only available to a student who has been denied natural justice in the course of academic examinations

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – University Committees – Rules and by-laws – Universities – Students – Assessment of grades – Judicial review – Jurisdiction – Procedural requirements and fairness – Remedies – Certiorari

Sahi v. University of Saskatchewan, [2011] S.J. No. 59, 2011 SKQB 49, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, January 28, 2011, R.C. Mills J.

Mr. Sahi, the applicant, was an undergraduate medical student at the University of Saskatchewan who was forced to discontinue his studies for failure to meet academic standards. The applicant appealed his expulsion to the proper university forums, the Bylaws Committee of Council (“Bylaws Committee”) and the College of Medicine Academic Appeal Committee, but was unsuccessful. The applicant then commenced a certiorari application seeking the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench to quash the decisions of the said committees on the basis that the bodies did not follow the proper procedures.

Both parties accepted that the standards for a university degree and the assessment of a student’s work are clearly vested in each university and that the prerogative writ of certiorari is only available to a student that has been denied natural justice. The applicant argued, inter alia, that the Bylaws Committee exceeded its jurisdiction by reviewing the merits of the appeal (which was beyond its scope of power) as opposed to assessing whether further appeal was within its mandate. The Court accepted this argument and remitted the matter back to the Bylaws Committee for the determination as to whether the applicant’s appeal fell within the policy on student appeals in academic matters.

In the meanwhile, the Court did not reinstate the applicant to his studies pending determination of his case because the Court found no special or exceptional circumstances existed. The Court held that to do otherwise would be inappropriate considering: (1) the applicant had a marginal academic record and (2) to reinstate him would potentially displace another student or would require the College of Medicine to train a potentially temporary student.

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