The High Court in Mzuzu on Tuesday upheld the suspension and other penalties which Mzuzu University (Mzuni) handed to nine students suspected to have taken a key role in demonstrations that allegedly cost the institution over K40 million.
Mzuni found 12 students to have been responsible for the riots on November 29 and December 1 in 2014, and a disciplinary committee recommended suspensions ranging from one to two years, withdrawal from university accommodation on return from suspension, and payment of fines for the offences and the damages caused.
But nine of the 12 took the university to court through lawyers Moses Chinkhuntha and George Kadzipatike, arguing that the decision to suspend them was illegal because it was made by a disciplinary committee which was improperly constituted.
However, the university argued that the vice-chancellor (VC) appointed the committee based on powers vested in him by Statute IV 4(a) and (c) of the Mzuni Act, which empower the VC to appoint members of the disciplinary committee as he deems appropriate.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Justice Dingiswayo Madise said the disciplinary committee was properly constituted, since a quorum was formed and correct procedures were followed during hearing.
He added that he was convinced that the outcome of the hearing and its recommendations to the VC were reasonable and did not violate any law.
“It is not the duty of this court to make administrative decisions. Our duty is to check that public bodies charged with a public duty follow the law in arriving at a decision. In these premises the motion for judicial review against the decision of the Respondent to suspend the Applicants must fail,” said Madise.
Kadzipatike said he does not agree with the judgement, adding that they would explore appealing the decision. n