The University Of Madras vs Shantha Bai And Anr.

The University Of Madras vs Shantha Bai And Anr.


Date of Judgment – 1 May, 1953

Equivalent citations: AIR 1954 Mad 67, (1953) IIMLJ 287

Bench (1): V Ayyar Rajamannar




  • The University of Madras issued an instruction to the affiliated colleges saying that girl students shall only be admitted after the sanction of the University Syndicate.
  • Admission to Intermediate classes was distinctly prohibited for females in co-educational colleges.
  • This was done post recommendations of a commission keeping in regard the inadequate facilities in co-educational colleges amid the increasing number of female applicants.
  • Shanta Bai applied for admission to an Intermediate class and was refused per said instructions.
  • She filed a petition challenging the directions of the University as discriminatory and prayed for a writ of mandamus against the Principal of the College.




  • Whether University of Madras is a State under Article 12?
  • Whether the right to admission to educational institutions are covered under Article 15 or 29?
  • Whether the directions are reasonable restrictions?




  • Following the Ejusdem Generis principle the court said the words ‘local or other authority’ mean authorities exercising governmental functions. They would not include persons (natural or Juristic) who cannot be regarded as Instrumentalities of the Government. The University of Madras is not charged with the execution of any Governmental functions. Its purpose is purely to promote education. Hence, it is not a State.
  • Differentiating between ‘State-aided’ and ‘State-maintained’ institutions, the university is state-aided and not maintained, and hence cannot be brought under the definition on that ground either.
  • It also held that the directions did not exclude women from any college and were reasonable restrictions. For all these reasons, the directions are not discriminatory.

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