A man who sued the University of Nairobi (UoN) for confiscating his degree certificate on claims that he hacked the university’s computer system to print himself fake transcripts has been denied Sh500,000 awarded by the High Court.
The Court of Appeal judgment came after the University appealed against the award, saying it was excessive and generic.
They also said it would “set a dangerous precedent, opening a door for inept students to claim violations for rights for their failure to fulfill the requirements of attaining a degree legitimately.”
Inganga Alfred Arunga, a UoN Kisumu campus student, had been awarded the sum as general damages for the delay which frustrated his academic journey to join Kenya School of Law (KSL) on claims from a whistleblower stating he faked his way to obtaining the degree.
Court of Appeal judges in Kisumu bought the argument by the University, reasoning that the confiscation was not injurious enough to deserve the High Court award.
“I do not think the circumstances in this case warranted the award of Sh500,000 as general damages for Arunga’s violation of the right to fair administrative action,” said Justice Joel Ngugi in a judgment endorsed by his peers Francis Tuiyott and Jamila Mohammed.
“Not every constitutional violation warrants monetary compensation. Given the expedition with which the whole matter was handled, and given that Arunga did not demonstrate the university's internal grievance (solving) mechanisms were inadequate.”
They said Arunga, who did not join the law school as desired, also failed to sufficiently demonstrate that he suffered emotional distress or other consequences to warrant the award.
The student was provoked to sue the institution after he went to collect transcripts on January 23, 2017 after graduating with a Bachelors of Laws (LLB) degree in December 2016, only to find what he termed “an unpleasant surprise” awaiting him.
“While there, my degree certificate was confiscated by an official of the University who informed me that he had a tip from an anonymous source that I graduated through deceit and fraud,” he said.
Dr Henry Mutoro the University’s Academic Vice Chancellor (VC) countered his argument saying that an anonymous whistleblower exposed him through an email to the University’s VC dated December 5, 2016.
“He said the student hacked the University’s transcript software, faked its rubber stamp and signature of the University’s Dean-School of Law which he used to generate his transcripts fraudulently,” said Mutoro.