Board of High School &
Intermediate Education, U. P Vs. Ghanshyam Das Gupta & Ors  INSC 43
(6 February 1962)
AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA
CITATION: 1962 AIR 1110 1962 SCR Supl. (3) 36
CITATOR INFO :
F 1962 SC1217 (3A) R 1964 SC 436 (8) RF 1966
SC 81 (5) R 1967 SC1507 (6,7) R 1969 SC 401 (4) D 1970 SC1269 (6,14) APL 1970
SC1896 (19) RF 1971 SC1005 (2) R 1973 SC 834 (20) R 1974 SC 87 (11) RF 1975 SC
596 (3) F 1976 SC 667 (4) R 1978 SC 851 (69)
Examination Committee-Cancelling examination
results-No opportunity given to examinees of being heard-Natural justice-if
violated-Committee, if must act judicially-U. P.
Intermediate Education Act,' 1921 (U. P. 2 of
1921), s. 15Regulations, Ch. VI, r. 1 (1).
The three respondents were declared by the
appellant to have passed the Intermediate examination. Thereafter they
prosecuted further studies and subsequently the fathers and guardians of the
respondents were informed that the Examination Committee of the Board had
cancelled the examination results of the respondents and that they were
debarred from appearing at the next examination. The respondents filed a writ
petition in the High Court of Allahabad contending that since the Examination
Committee had never afforded any opportunity to them to rebut the allegations
made against them the Examination Committee had violated the principles of
natural justice. They also contended that the Committee had violated the provisions
of the U. P. Intermediate Education Act, 192 1. The appellant while admitting
that no opportunity had been afforded to the respondents to rebut the
allegations against them, contended that the Examination Committee was only an
administrative body acting merely administratively and it was not bound to give
a hearing to a party who might be affected by its decision. The Single judge
who heard the writ petition held that the Committee was not bound to act
judicially and there was no statutory obligation on the Committee to give an
opportunity to be heard.. The respondents appealed to a Division Bench and one
of the judges of Bench held that even though the Committee was not bound to act
judicially or quasi-judicially and it was acting administratively it ought to
have given an opportunity to the respondents of being heard. The other judge
was of the opinion that since the committee was acting only administratively it
was not bound to give a hearing. The matter then went before a third judge who
held that even though the Committee was acting merely administratively the
respondents were entitled to a hearing. The appellant thereupon appealed to
The appellant contended that the Committee
was only a body a ing administratively and that the principles of natura 37
justice, including the maxim audi alteram partem apply only to judicial or
quasi-judicial bodies. The respondents contended that the High Court was wrong
in holding that the Committee was only an administrative body. It was further
submitted by them that the mere fact that there was nothing express in the Act
or the Regulations framed there under which might make it obligatory for the
Committee to call for an explanation and to hear the examinee whose case it was
required to enquire into was not wholly determinative of the question whether a
duty is cast on the Committee in cases like this to act judicially.
Held, that the inference whether the
authority acting under a statute, where it is silent, has the duty to act
judicially will depend on the express provisions of the statute read along with
the nature of the rights affected, the manner of disposal provided, the
objective criterion if any to be adopted, the effect of the decision on the
persons affected and other indicia afforded by the statute. The mere fact that
the Act in question or the relevant Regulations do not make it obligatory on
the Committee to call for an explanation and to bear the examinee is not
conclusive on the question whether the Committee acts as a quasi-judicial body
when exercising its powers under Ch. VI, r. 1 (1), of the Regulations. It is
obvious that the Committee when it proceeds to decide matters covered by r. 1
(1) will have to depend upon materials placed before it and before it decides
to award any penalty it has to come to an objective determination on certain
facts and this is the only manner in which it can carry out the duties imposed
on it. Even though there is no lis in the present case in the sense that there
are not two contending parties before it the Committee should hear the
examinees whose lives may be seriously affected by its decision even subjecting
them in some cases to criminal prosecution on charges of impersonation, fraud
and perjury. Though therefore there is nothing express one way or other in the
Act or the Regulation casting a duty on the Committee to act judicially, the
manner of the disposal and the serious effects of the decision of the Committee
lead to the conclusion that a duty to act judicially is cast on the Committee
and the Committee when it acts under r. 1 (1) is acting quasi-judicially and
the principles of natural justice will apply to its proceedings.
Province of Bombay v. Kusaldas S. Advani,
 S.C.R. 621, Yagendranath Bora v. Commissioner of Ilills Division &
Appeals, Assam,  S. C. R. 1240. Shri Radheshyam Khore v. State of Madhya
Pradesh,  S. C. R. 1440, Gullapalli Nageswara Rao v. Andhra Pradesh State
Road Transport Corporation,  Stipp. 1 S. C. R. 319 and Nathubhai v. Union
(if India, (1960) 2 S. C. R. 775, followed.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No., 132 of 1959.
Appeal from the judgment and decree dated
March 23, 1956 of the Allahabad High Court in Special Appeal No. 291 of 1955.
Veda Vyasa and C. P. Lal, for the appellant.
J. P. Goyal, for the respondents.
1962. February 6. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by WANCHOO, J.-This is an appeal on a certificate granted by the
Allahabad High Court. The brief facts necessary for present purposes are these.
The three respondents were students of G. S. Hindu Intermediate College at
Sikandrarao and appeared at the Intermediate (Commerce) Examination conducted
by the appellant in the year 1954. On June 12, 1954, the result of the
examination was published in newspapers and the three respondents passed in the
Thereafter they prosecuted further studies.
But in December 1954, their fathers and guardians received information from the
Principal of the G. S. Hindu Intermediate College that the Examinations'
Committee of the appellant (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) had
cancelled the result of the respondents for the examination of 1954 and further
that they had been debarred from appearing at the examination of 1955.
Thereupon the respondents filed a write petition in the High Court contending
that the Committee had never afforded any opportunity to them to rebut the
allegations made against them and that they were never informed about the
nature of the unfair means used by them in the said examination and the first
thing they come to know was the resolution of the Committee canceling their
results and debating them from appearing in the examination of 1955.
They therefore contended that they were
entitled to an opportunity being 39 afforded to them to meet the case against
them of using unfair means at the examination before the appellant took action
against them by canceling their results and debarring them from appearing at
the examination of 1955. The procedure thus adopted by the appellant was said
to be in violation of the principles of natural justice inasmuch as they were
given no opportunity whatsoever to defend themselves and to show cause against
the action contemplated against them. It was further contended that the
procedure adopted by the appellant violated the provisions of the U.
P. Intermediate Education Act, No. II of 1921
(hereinafter referred to as the Act) and the U. P. Education Code, and
therefore, the resolution canceling their results and debarring them from
appearing in the later examination was without jurisdiction and illegal. They
therefore prayed for a proper writ or order canceling the resolution of the
The appellant opposed the application and its
case was that the respondents had used unfair means at the examination and
their cases were reported to the Committee under the Regulations and the
Committee had acted under the, powers conferred on it under the Act and the
Regulations framed thereunder after a thorough inquiry. It was not disputed,
however, that no opportunity had been afforded to the respondents to rebut the
allegations against them in the inquiry made by the Committee which resulted in
the resolution canceling the results of the examination.
A large number of contentions appear to have
been urged in the High Court; but we are here only concerned with one of them,
namely, whether the respondents were entitled to a hearing before the appellant
decided to cancel the results.
The contention on behalf of the respondents
before the learned Single Judge was that the appellant was Under a duty to act
judicially and therefore the 40 respondents should have been given a hearing
before any order was passed , against them. The learned Single Judge held that
no duty was cast on the Committee to act judicially and there was no statutory
obligation on the Committee to give an opportunity to every examine to be
heard; therefore he rejected the petition.
The respondents then went in appeal which was
heared by Dayal and Brijmohan Lall, JJ., who however differed.
Brijmohan Lall, J., was of opinion that the
Committee was not required to act judicially or quasijudicially when it
considered cases of this kind and was acting merely administratively; be
nevertheless was of the opinion that one of the rules of natural justice contained
in the maxim audi alteram partem would apply in this case, even though the
Committee was acting administratively. He was therefore in favour of allowing
the appeal. Dayal J., agreed with the view of Brijmohan Lall, J., that in the
present case no duty was cast on the Committee to act judicially and that the
action of the Committee was merely administrative. He however did not agree
that the Committee acted in violation of the principles of natural justice
inasmuch as it did not give a hearing to the respondents. He was of the view
that.-is the Committee was acting merely administratively it was not bound to
give a hearing, as the maxim audi alteram partem applied only to judicial or
The two learned Judges also differed on two other
points with which we are not concerned. Eventually they referred three
questions to be answered by another learned Judge and one of these questions
was whether the failure of the Committee to provide an opportunity to the
respondents of being heard vitiated its order, which was of an administrative
The matter then camo before a third learned
Judge, Agarwala, J. He was doubtful whether the 41 view of the bench that there
was no duty cast on the Committee to act judicially in the present case was
but as on that matter the two learned Judges
were in agreement, he dealt with the case on the basis that the Committee was
acting merely administratively, Even so, he came to the conclusion that the
respondents were entitled to a hearing and agreed with the view of Brijmohan
Consequently, the appeal was placed before
the Bench again and in accordance with the opinion of the third Judge it was
allowed. Then followed an application by the appellant for leave to appeal to
this court, which was granted; and that is how the matter has come up before
The main contention on behalf of the
appellant is that the High Court was wrong in the view it took that an
opportunity for hearing was necessary in this case even though the Committee
acted merely administratively. It is contended that where a body is acting
merely administratively, it is not necessary that it should give a hearing to a
party who might be affected by its decision and that the principles of natural
justice, including the maxim, audi alteram partem, apply only to judicial or
quasi-judicial bodies, i.e., bodies on whom a duty is cast to act judicially.
It is submitted that where no such duty is cast on a body and it is acting
merely administratively there is no necessity for it to hear the person who
might be affected by it,., order.
The respondents on the other hand contend
that though the final decision of the High Court is correct, the High Court was
not right in holding that the Committee was acting merely administratively in a
matter of this kind; they contend that considering the entire circumstances
which operate in cases of this kind, the High Court should have held that there
was a duty to act judicially and therefore it was necessary to give an
opportunity to the respondents to be heard before action was taken against
them. It is submitted that the 42 mere fact that there was nothing express in
the Act or the Regulations framed thereunder which might make it obligatory for
the Committee to call for an explanation and to hear the examinees whose cases
it was required to enquire into was not wholly determinative of the question
whether a duty was cast on the Committee in cases like this to act judicially.
The first question therefore which falls for
consideration is whether any duty is cast on the Committee under the Act and
Regulations to act judicially and therefore it is a quasi-judicial body. What
constitutes ,'a quasi-judicial act" was discussed in the Province or
Bombay v. Kusaldas S. Advani.(1) The principle, have been summarised by Das, J.
(as he was then), at p. 725 in these words:"The
principles, as I apprehend them are:
(i) that if a statute empowers an authority,
not being a court in the ordinary sense, to decide disputes arising out of a
claim made by one party under the statute which claim is opposed by another
party and to determine the respective rights of the contesting parties who are
opposed to each other, there is a vis and prima farcie and in the absence of
any thing in the statute to the contrary it is the duty of the authority to act
judicially and the decision of the authority is a quasijudicial act ; and (ii)
that if a statutory 'authority has power to do any act which will prejudicially
affect the subject, then, although there are not two parties apart from the
authority and the contest is between the authority proposing to do the act and
the subject opposing it, the final determination of the authority Will yet be a
quasi. judicial act provided the authority is required by the statute to act judicially.
(1)  S.C.R, 621, 725.
43 In other words, while the presence of two
parties besides the deciding authority will prima facie and in the absence of
any other factor impose upon the authority the duty to act judicially, the
absence of two such parties is not decisive in taking the act of the authority
out of the category of quasijudicial act if the authority is nevertheless
required by the statute to act judicially." These principles have been
acted upon by this Court in latter cases: see Nagendra Nath Bora v. The
Commissioner of Hills Division & Appeals, Assam(1), Shri Radheshyam Khare
v. The State of Madhya Pradesh(2), Gullapalli Nageswara Rao v. Andhra Pradesh
State Road Transport Corporation("), and Shivaji Nathubhai v. The Union of
India(4). Now it may be mentioned that the statute is not likely to provide in
so many words that the authority passing the order is required to act
judicially; that can only be inferred from the express provisions of the
statute in the first instance in each case and no one circumstance alone will
be determinative of the question whether the authority set up by the statute
has the duty to act judicially or not. The inference whether the authority
acting under a statute where it is silent has the duty to act. judicially will
depend, on the express provisions of the statute read along with the nature of
the rights affected, the manner of the disposal provided the objective
criterion if any to be adopted, the effect of the decision on the person
affected and other indicia afforded by the statute. A duty to act judicially
may arise in widely different circumstances which it will be impossible and
indeed inadvisable to attempt to define exhaustively:(vide observations of
Parker, J. in R. v. Manchester Legal Aid Committee)(5).
(1)  S.C.R. 1240.
(2)  S.C.R. 1440.
(3)  Supp. 1 S.C.R. 319.
(4)  2 S.C.R. 775.
(5)  2 Q.B. 413, 44 We must therefore
proceed to examine the pro. visions of the Act and the Regulations framed there
under in connection with matters of this kind to determine whether the
Committee can be said to have the duty to act judicially when it deals with
cases of examines using unfair means in examination halls. Under s.7 of the
Act, the Board constituted there under has inter alia powers to prescribe
courses of instruction, to grant diplomas and certificates, to conduct
examinations to admit candidates to its examinations to publish the results of
its examinations, and to do all such things as may be requisite in order to further
the objects of the Board as a body constituted for regulating and supervising
High School and Intermediate education. Under s. 1 3, the Board has power to
appoint and constitute various committees, including the examinations'
committee, and under s. 14, the Board can delegate its power.-; by Regulations
to such committees. Section 15 gives power to the Board to make Regulations
with respect to the constitution, powers and duties of committees, the conduct
of examinations, and all matters which by the Act may be provided for by
Regulations. Section 20 gives power to the Board and its committees to make
bye-laws consistent with the Act and the Regulations.
It will be clear from the above that the Act
makes no express provisions as to the powers of the committees and the
procedure to be adopted by them in carrying out their duties, which are left to
be provided by Regulations, and we have therefore to look to the Regulations
framed under s. 15 to see. what powers and duties have been conferred on various
committees constituted under the Regulations.
Section 13 (1) makes it incumbent on the
Board to appoint the Committee and Chap. VI of the Regulations deals with the
powers and duties of the Committee. Rule 1 (1) of Chap.
VI with which we are particularly concerned
reads as 45 follows:-"It shall be the duty of the Examinations' Committee
subject to sanction and control of the Board." "(1) to consider cases
where examines have concealed any fact or made a false statement ill their
application forms or a breach of rules and regulations to secure undue admission
to an examination or used unfair means or committed fraud (including
impersonation) at the examination or are guilty or a moral offence or
indiscipline and to award penalty which may be one or more of the following
:--(1) withdrawal of certificate of having passed the examination ;
(2) cancellation of the examination;
(3) exclusion from the examination."
There is however no provision in Chap. VI as to how the Committee will carry
out the duty imposed on it by r. 1 (1).
Further, there is no express provision in the
Act or the Regulations casting a duty on the Committee to act judicially when
exercising its powers under r. 1 (1); and the question whether the Committee
has to act judicially when exercising these powers will have to 'be decided on
an examination of all the circumstances relevant in the matter.
At the same time, there is nothing express in
the Act from which it can be said that the Committee is not under a duty to act
judicially. It is true that there is no procedure provided as to how the
Committee will act in exercising its powers under r. 1 (1) and it is. further
true that there is no express provision in that rule requiring the Committee to
call for an explanation from the examines concerned and to hear the examines
whose case,% ;it is required to consider.
But we are of opinion that the mere fact that
the Act or the Regulations do not make it obligatory on the Committee to call
for an explanation and to 46 hear the examiner is not conclusive on the
question whether the Committee acts as a quasi-judicial body in exercising its
powers under r. 1 (1). Even though calling for an explanation and hearing the examiner
may not have been made expressly oblitory by the Act or the Regulations, it is
obvious that the Committee when it proceeds to decide matters covered by r. 1
(1) will have to depend upon materials placed before it, in coming to its
decision. Before the Committee decides to award any penalty it has to come to
an objective determination on certain facts and only when it comes to the
conclusion that those facts are established that it can proceed to punish the
examinee concerned. The facts which the Committee has to find before it takes
action are (i) whether the examinee has concealed any fact or made a false
statement in his application form; or (ii) whether the examinee has made a
breach of the Rules and Regulations to secure under admission to an examination
; or (iii) whether the examinee has used unfair means at the examination ; or
(iv) whether the examinee has committed fraud (including impersonation) at the
or (v) whether the examinee is guilty of
moral offence or indiscipline.
Until one or other of the five facts is
established before the Committee, it cannot proceed to take action under r. 1
(1). In order to come to the conclusion that one or other of these facts is
established, the Committee will have to depend upon materials placed before it,
for in the very nature of things it has no personal knowledge in the matter.
Therefore, though the Act or the Regulations
do 47 not make it obligatory on the Committee to call for an explanation and
hear the examinee, it is implicit in the provisions of r. 1 (1) that the
Committee must satisfy itself on materials placed before it that one or other
of the facts is established to enable it to take action in the matter. It will
not be possible for the Committee to proceed at all unless materials are placed
before it to determine whether the examinee concerned has committed some
misconduct or the other which is the basis of the action to 1 be taken under r.
1 (1). It is clear therefore that consideration of materials placed before it
is necessary before the Committee can come to any decision in the exercise of
its powers under r. 1 (1) and this can be the only manner in which the Commit,
tee can carry out the duties imposed on it.
We thus see that the Committee can only carry
out its duties under r. 1 (1) by judging the Materials, placed before it.
It is true that there is no lis in the
present case, in the sense that there are not two contesting parties before the
Committee and the matter rests between the Committee and the examinee; at the
same time considering that materials will have to be placed before the Committee
to enable it to decide whether action should be taken under r. 1 (1), it seems
to us only fair that the examinee against whom the Committee is proceeding
should also be heard. The effect of the decision of the Committee may in an
extreme case blast the career of a young student for life and in any case will
put a serious stigma on the examinee concerned which may damage him in later
life. The nature of misconduct which the Committee has to find under r. 1 (1)
in some cases is of a serious nature, for example, impersonation, commission of
fraud, and perjury; and the Committee's decision in matters of such seriousness
may even lead in some cages to the prosecution of the examinee in courts.
Considering therefore the serious following the 48 decision of the Committee
and the serious nature of the misconduct which may be found in some cases under
r. t (1), it seems to us that the Committee must be held to act judicially in
circumstances as these. Though therefore there is nothing express one way or
the other in the Act or the Regulations casting a duty on the Committee to act
judicially, the manner of the disposal, based as it must be on materials placed
before it and the serious effects of the decision of the Committee on the
examinee concerned, must lead to the conclusion that a duty is cast on the
Committee to act judicially in this matter particularly as it has to decide
objectively certain facts which may seriously affect the rights and careers of
examinees, before it can take any action in the exercise or its power under r.
1 (1). We are therefore of opinion that the Committee when it exercises its
powers under r. 1 (1) is acting quasijudicially and the principles of natural
justice which require that the other party, (namely, the examinee in this case)
must be heard, will apply to the proceedings before the Committee. This view
was taken by the Calcutta High Court in Dipa Pul v. University of Calcutta, (1)
and B. C. Das Gupta v. Bijoyranjan Rakshit, in similar circumstances and is in
our opinion correct.
It is urged on behalf of the appellant that
there are a large number of cases which come up before the Committee under r. 1
(1), and if the Committee is hold to act judicially as a quasi-judicial
tribunal in the matter it will find it impossible to carry on its task. This in
our opinion is no criterion for deciding whether a duty is cast to act
judicially in view of all the circumstances of the case. There is no doubt in
our mind that considering the totality of circumstances the Committee has to
act judicially when taking action under r. 1 (1). As to the manner in which it
should give an opportunity to the examinee concerned to be (1) A. I. R. 1952
(2) A. 1. R. 1953 Cal. 212.
49 heard, that is a matter which can be
provided by Regulations or Bye-laws if necessary. As was pointed out in Local
Government Board v. Alridge, (1) all that is required is that the other party
shall have an opportunity of adequately presenting his case. But what the
procedure should be in detail will depend on the nature of the tribunal. There
is no doubt that many of the powers of the Committee under Chap. VI are of
administrative nature; but where quasi-judicial duties are entrusted to
administrative body like this it becomes a quasi-judicial body for performing
these duties and it can prescribe its own procedure so long as the principles
of natural justice are followed and adequate opportunity of presenting his case
is given to the examinee.
It is not however necessary to pursue this
matter further, for it is not in dispute that no opportunity whatsoever was
given to the respondents in this case to give an explanation and present their
case before the Committee. We are therefore of opinion that though the view of
the High Court that the Committee was acting merely administratively when
proceeding under r. 1 (1) is not correct, its final decision allowing the writ
petition on the ground that no opportunity was given to the respondents to put
forward their cases before the Committee is correct. We therefore dismiss the
appeal. No order as to, in the circumstances.
(1)  A. C. 120.