A. K. Kraipak & Ors Vs. Union of
India & Ors  INSC 129 (29 April 1969)
Natural Justice-Applicability of principles
to Administrative proceedings-Violation of principles by first authority-Effect
on ultimate decision.
In pursuance of the Indian Forest Service
(Initial Recruitment) Regulation, 1966, framed under r. 4(1) of the Indian
Forest Service (Recruitment) Rules made under the All India Services Act, 1951,
a Special Selection Board was constituted for selecting officers to the Indian
Forest Service in the senior and junior scales from officers serving in the
forest department of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. One of the members of the
Board was the Chief Conservator of Forests of the State, as )required by the
Regulations. He was a Conservator of forests appointed as Acting Chief
Conservator superseding another Conservator of Forests whose appeal to the
State Government against his supersession was pending at the time the
selections by the Board were made. The Acting Chief Conservator was also one of
the candidates seeking to be selected to the Indian Forest Service. The Board
made the 'selection of officers in the senior and junior scales. The Acting
Chief Conservator's name was at the top of the list of selected officers, while
the names of three conservators, (including the officer who was superseded),
who were the Acting Chief Conservator's rivals, were omitted. The Acting Chief
Conservator did not sit in the Selection Board at the time his name was
considered, but participated in the deliberations when the names of his rivals
He -also participated in the Board's
deliberations while preparing the list of selected candidates in order of
preference. The list and the records were sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs
and the Ministry of Home Affairs forwarded the list with its observations to
the Union Public Service Commission, as required by the Regulations, and the
U.P.S.C. examined the records of the officers afresh and made its
recommendations. The Government of India thereafter notified the list. The
three conservators, whose names were not included in the list, and other
aggrieved officers filed a petition in this Court under Art. 32 for quashing
On the questions : (1) Assuming that the
proceedings in the present case were administrative proceedings, whether
principles of natural justice applied to them; (2) Whether there was a
violation of such principles of natural justice in the present case; (3) Since
the recommendations of the Board were first considered by the Home Ministry and
the final recommendations were made by the U.P.S.C., whether there was any
basis for the petitioners' grievances; (4) Whether there were grounds for
setting aside the selection of all the officers including those in the junior
HELD : (1) The rules of natural justice
operate in areas not covered by any law validly made, that is, they do not
supplant the law of the land but supplement it. They are not embodied rules and
their aim is to secure justice or to prevent miscarriage of justice. If that is
their purpose, there is no reason why they should not be made applicable to
administrative proceeding also, especially when it is not easy to draw the line
that 458 demarcates administrative enquiries from quasi-judicial ones, and an
unjust decision in an administrative enquiry may have a more far-reaching
effect than a decision in a quasi-judicial enquiry. [468F-G; 469B-D] Suresh
Koshy George v. The University of Kerala,  1 S.C.R. 317, State of Orissa
v. Dr., (Miss) Binapani Dei  2 S.C.R. 625 and In re : H. K. (An Infant)
 2 Q.B. 617, 630, referred to.
(2) The concept of natural justice has
undergone a great deal of change in recent years. What particular rule of
natural justice should apply to a given case must depend to a great extent on
the facts and circumstances of that case, the framework of the law under which
the enquiry is held and the constitution of the Tribunal or the body of persons
appointed for that purpose. Whenever a complaint is made before a court that
some principle of natural justice had been contravened, the court has to decide
whether the observance of that rule was necessary for a just decision on the
facts of that case. The rule that enquiries must be held in good faith and
without bias, and not arbitrarily or unreasonably, is now included among the
principles of natural justice. [468G-H; 469D-L-] In the present case. at the
time of selection, the other members of the Board did not know that the appeal
of the superseded conservator was pending before the State Government and hence
there was no occasion for them to distrust the opinion of the Acting Chief
Conservator. There was a conflict between his interest and duty and he was a
judge in his own cause. Taking into consideration human probabilities and the
ordinary course of human conduct, there was reasonable ground for believing
that the Acting Chief Conservator was likely to have been biased. He did not
participate in some of the deliberations of the Board, but the facts that he
was a member of the Board and that he participated in the deliberations when
the claims of his rivals were considered and in the preparation of the list,
must have had its impact on the selection, as the Board, in making the
selection, must necessarily have given weight to his opinion. In judging the
suitability of the candidates the members of the Board must have had mutual
discussions and though the other members filed affidavits stating that the
Acting Chief Conservator in no manner influenced their decision, in group
discussions, each member was bound to influence the others in a subtle manner
and without their being aware of such influence. [466D-G; 467A-D] In the
circumstances of the case, the selection by the Board, could not be considered
to have been taken fairly and justly as it was influenced by a member who was
biased. [470 C-E] (3) The Selection Board was undoubtedly a high powered body,
and its recommendations must have had considerable weight with the U.P.S.C. The
recommendation made by the U.P.S.C. could not be dissociated from the selection
made by the Selection Board which was the foundation for the recommendations of
the U.P.S.C. Therefore, if the selection by the Selection Board was held to be
vitiated, the final recommendation by the U.P.S.C, must also be held to have
been vitiated. [462 G-H; 469G-H] Regina v. Criminal Injuries Compensation
Board, Ex Parte Lain,  2 Q.B. 864, 881, applied.
Sumer Chand Jain v. Union of India W.P. No.
237 of 1966, dated 4-5-1967, distinguished.
459 (4) The selections to both senior and
junior scales were made from the same pool and so, it was not possible to
separate the two sets of Officers. Therefore, it was not sufficient to merely
direct the Selection Board to consider the cases of the three conservators who
were excluded, but all the selections had to be set aside. [470 G-H; 471A]
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petitions Nos.
173 to 175 of 1967.
Petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution of
India for enforcement of the fundamental rights.
A. K. Sen -and E. C. Agrawala, for the
petitioners (in W.P. No. 173 of 1967).
Frank Anthony, E. C. Agrawala and A. T. M.
Sampat, for the petitioners (in W.P. No. 174 of 1967).
C. K. Daphtary, E. C. Agrawala, A. T. M.
Sampat, S. R. Agarwala and Champat Rai, for the petitioners (in W.P. No. 175 of
Niren De, Attorney-General, N. S. Bindra and
R. N. Sachthey, for respondents Nos. 1 to 6 (in all the petitions).
H. R. Gokhale and Harbans Singh, for
respondents Nos. 7 and 26 (in all the petitions).
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Hegde, J. These petitions are brought by some of the Gazetted Officers serving
in the forest department of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Some of them are
serving as Conservators of Forests, some as Divisional Forest Officers and
others as Assistant Conservators of Forests. All of them feel aggrieved by the
selections made from among the officers serving in the forest department of the
State of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Forest Service, a service constituted
in 1966 under s. 3(1) of the All India Services Act, 1951 and the rules framed
thereunder. Hence they have moved this Court to quash notification No.
3/24/66-A-15(IV) dated the 29th July 1967 issued by the Government of India,
Ministry of Home Affairs, as according to them the selections notified in the
said notification are violative of Arts. 14 and 16 of the Constitution and on
the further ground that the selections in question are vitiated by the
contravention of the principles of natural justice. They are also challenging
the vires of s. 3 of the All India Services Act, rule 4 of the rules framed
under that Act and Regulation 5 of the Indian Forest Service (Initial
Recruitment) Regulations 1966, framed under the aforementioned rule 4.
Section 2(A) of the All India Services Act,
1951 authorises the Central Government to constitute three new All India
Services 460 including the Indian Forest Service. Section 3 provides that the
Central Government shall after consulting the Government of the States concerned
including that of the State of -Jammu and Kashmir to make rules for the
regulation of recruitment and the conditions of service of persons appointed to
those All India Services. Sub-s. (2) of S. 2 prescribes that all rules made
under that section "shall be laid for not less than fourteen days before
Parliament as soon as possible after -they are made, and shall be subject to
such modifications, whether by way of repeal or amendment, as Parliament may
make on a motion made during the session in which they are so laid." In
pursuance of the power given under S. 3, rules for the recruitment to the
Indian Forest Service were made in 1966Indian Forest Service (Recruitment)
Rules, 1966. The only rule relevant for our present purpose is rule 4(1) which
"As soon as may be, after the
commencement of these rules, the Central Government 'May recruit to the service
any person from amongst the members of the State Forest Service adjudged
suitable in accordance with such Regulations as the Central Government may make
in consultation with the State Governments and the Commission." The
Commission referred to in the above rule is the Union Public Service
Commission. The Proviso to that sub rule is not relevant for our present
purpose. We may next come to the Regulations framed under rule 4(1). Those
Regulations are known as the Indian Forest Service (Initial Recruitment)
Regulations, 1966. They are deemed to have come into force on July 1, 1966.
Regulation 2 defines certain expressions.
Regulation 3 provides for the constitution of
a special selection board. It says that the purpose of making selection to
State cadre, the Central Government shall constitute a special selection board
consisting of the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission or his nominee,
the Inspector General of Forests of the Government of India, ad officer of the
Government of India not below the rank of Joint Secretary, the Chief Secretary
to the State Government concerned or the Secretary of that Government dealing
with the forests and the Chief Conservator of Forests of the State Government
Regulation 4 prescribes the conditions of
eligibility. That Regulation contemplates the formation of a service in the
senior scale and a service in the junior scale. Regulation 5 is important for
our present purpose. It deals with the -preparation of the list of suitable
candidates. It reads :
"(1) The Board shall prepare, in the
order of preference, a list of such officers of State Forest Service who 461
satisfy the conditions specified in regulation 4 and who are adjudged by the
Board suitable for appointment to posts in the senior and junior scales of the
(2) The list prepared in accordance with
sub-regulation (1) shall then be referred to the Commission for advice, by the
Central Government along with :(a) the records of all officers of State Forest
Service included in the list;
(b) the records of all other eligible
officers of the State Forest Service who are not adjudged suitable for
inclusion in the list, together with the reasons as recorded by the Board for
their non-inclusion in the list; and (c) the observations, if any, of the
Ministry of Home Affairs on the recommendations of the Board.
3. On receipt of the list, along with the
other documents received from the Central Government the Commission shall
forward its recommendations to that Government." Regulation 6 stipulates
that the officers recommended by the Commission under sub-r. (3) of Regulation
5 shall be appointed to the service by the Central Government subject to the
availability of vacancies in the State cadre concerned.
In pursuance of the Regulation mentioned
above, the Central Government constituted a special selection board for selecting
officers to the Indian Forest Service in the senior scale as well as in the
junior scale from those serving in the forest department of the State of Jammu
The nominee of the Chairman of the Union
Public Service Commission, one M. A. Venkataraman was the Chairman of the
board. The other members of the board were the Inspector General of Forests of
the Government of India, one of the Joint Secretaries in the Government of
India, the Chief Secretary to the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir and
Naqishbund, the Acting Chief Conservator of Forests of Jammu and Kashmir.
The selection board met at Srinagar in May,
1967 and selected respondents 7 to 31 in Writ Petition No. 173 of 1967.
The cases of respondents Nos. 32 to 37 were
reserved for further consideration. The selections in question are said to have
been made solely on the basis of the records -of officers. Their suitability
was not tested by any examination, written or oral., Nor were they interviewed.
For several years before that selection the
adverse entries made in the character rolls of the officers had not been 462
communicated to them and their explanation called for. In doing so quite
clearly the authorities concerned had contravened the instructions issued by
the Chief Secretary of the State. Sometime after the afore-mentioned selections
were made, at the instance of the Government of India, the adverse remarks made
in the course of years against those officers who had not been selected were
communicated to them and their explanations called for. Those explanations were
considered by the State Government and on the basis of the same, some of the
adverse remarks made against some of the officers were removed. Thereafter the
selection board reviewed the cases of officers not selected earlier as a result
of which a few more officers were selected. The selections as finally made by
the board were accepted by the Commission. On the basis of the recommendations
of the Commission, the impugned list was published. Even after the review Basu,
Baig and Kaul were not selected. It may also be noted that Naqishbund's name is
placed at the top of the -list of selected officers.
Naqishbund had been promoted as Chief
Conservator of Forests in the year 1964. He is not yet confirmed in that post.
H. Basu, Conservator of Forests in the
Kashmir Forest Service who is admittedly senior to Naqishbund had appealed to
the State Government against his supersession and that appeal was pending with
the State Government at the time the impugned selections were made. M. I. Baig
and A. N. Kaul Conservators of Forests also claim that they are seniors to
Naqishbund but that fact is denied by Naqishbund. Kaul had also appealed
against his alleged supersession but it is alleged that appeal had been
rejected by the State Government.
Naqishbund was also one of the candidates
seeking to be selected to the All India Forest Service. We were told and we
take it to be correct that he did not sit in the selection board at the time
his name was considered for selection but admittedly he did sit in the board
and participate in its deliberations when the names of Basu, Baig and Kaul, his
rivals, were considered for selection.
It is further admitted that he did
participate in the deliberations of the board while preparing the list of
selected candidates in order of preference, as required by Regulation 5.
The selection board was undoubtedly a high
That much was conceded by the learned
Attorney-General who appeared for the Union Government as well as the State
Government. It is true that the list prepared by the selection board was not
the last word in the matter of the selection -in -question. That list along
with the records of the officers in the concerned cadre selected as well as not
selected had to be sent to the Minis463 try of Home Affairs. We shall assume that
as required by Regulation 5, the Ministry of Home Affairs had forwarded that
list with its observations to the Commission and the Commission had examined
the records of all the officers afresh before making its recommendation. But it
is obvious that the recommendations made by the selection board should have
weighed with the Commission. Undoubtedly the adjudging of the merits of the
candidates by the selection board was an extremely important step in the
It was contended before us that s. 3 of the
All India Services Act, rule 4 of the rules framed there under and Regulation 5
of the Indian Forest Service (Initial Recruitment) Regulations 1966 are void as
those provisions confer unguided, uncontrolled and uncanalised power on the
concerned delegates. So far as the vires of s. 3 of the Indian Administrative
Act is concerned, the question is no more res integra. It is concluded by the
decision of this Court in D. S. Garewal v. The State of Punjab and Anr.(1) We
have not thought it necessary to go into the question of the vires of rule 4
and Regulation 5, as we have come to the conclusion that the impugned
selections must be struck down for the reasons to be presently stated.
There was considerable controversy before us
as to the nature of the power conferred on the selection board under rule 4
read with Regulation 5. It was contended on behalf of the petitioners that that
power was a quasi-judicial power whereas the case for the contesting
respondents was that it was a purely administrative power. In support of the
contention that the power in question was a quasi-judicial power emphasis was
laid on the language of rule 4 as well as Regulation 5 which prescribe that the
selections should be made after adjudging the suitability of the officers belonging
to the State service. The word adjudge' we were told means "to judge or
decide". It was contended that such a power is essentially a judicial
power and the same had to be exercised in accordance with the well accepted
rules relating to the exercise of such a power. Emphasis was also laid on the
fact that the power in question was exercised by a statutory body and a wrong
exercise of that power is likely to affect adversely the careers of the
officers not selected. On the other hand it was contended by the learned
Attorney-General that though the selection board was a statutory body, as it
was not required to decide about any right, the proceedings before it cannot be
considered quasijudicial; its duty was merely to select officers who in its
opinion were suitable for being absorbed in the Indian Forest Service.
According to him the word 'adjudge' in rule 4 as well as Regulation 5 means
"found worthy of selection".
(1)  1 Supp. S.C.R. 792.
464 The dividing line between an
administrative power and a quasi-judicial power is quite thin and is being
gradually obliterated. For determining whether a power is an administrative
power or a quasi-judicial power one has to look to the nature of the power
conferred, the person or persons on whom it is conferred, the framework of the
law conferring that power, the consequences ensuing from the exercise of that
power and the manner in which that power is expected to be exercised. Under our
Constitution the rule of law pervades over the entire field of administration.
Every organ of the State under our
Constitution is regulated and controlled by the rule of law. In a welfare State
like ours it is inevitable that the jurisdiction of the administrative bodies
is increasing at a rapid rate. The concept of rule of law would lose its
vitality if the instrumentalities of the State are not charged with the duty of
discharging their functions in a fair and just manner.
The requirement of acting judicially in
essence is nothing but a requirement to act justly and fairly and not arbitrarily
or capriciously. The procedures which are considered inherent in the exercise
of a judicial power are merely those which facilitate if not ensure a just and
fair decision. In recent years the concept of quasi-judicial power has been undergoing
a radical change. What was considered as an administrative power some years
back is now being considered as a quasi-judicial power. 'Me following
observations of Lord Parker C.J. in Regina v. Criminal Injuries Compensation
Board, Ex. Parte Lain(1) are instructive.
"With regard to Mr. Bridge's second
point I cannot think that Atkin, L.J. intended to confine his principle to
cases in which the determination affected rights in the sense of enforceable
rights. Indeed, in the Electricity Commissioners case, the rights determined
were at any rate not immediately enforceable rights since the scheme laid down
by the commissioners had to be approved by the Minister of Transport and by
resolutions of Parliament. The commissioners nevertheless were held amenable to
the jurisdiction of this court. Moreover, as can be seen from Rex. v.
Postmaster-General, Ex-parte Carmichael (2 )
and Rex. v. Boycott Ex parte Keasley(3) the remedy is available even though the
decision is merely a step as a result of which legally enforceable rights may
The position as I see it is that the exact
limits of the ancient remedy by way of certiorari have never been and ought not
to be specifically defined. They have varied (1)  2 Q.B. 864, 881.
(2)  1 K.B.291.
(3)  2 K.B. 651.
465 from time to time being extended to meet
changing conditions. At one time the writ only went to an inferior court. Later
its ambit was extended to statutory tribunals determining a lis inter parties.
Later again it extended to cases where there was no lis in the strict sense of
the word but where immediate or subsequent rights of a citizen were affected.
The only constant limits throughout were that it was performing -a public duty.
Private or domestic tribunals have always been outside the scope of certiorari
since their authority is derived solely from contract, that is, from the agreement
of the parties concerned.
Finally, it is to be observed that the remedy
has now been extended, see Reg. v. Manchester Legal Aid Committee, Ex parte R.
A. Brand & Co. Ltd.(1) to cases in which the decision of an administrative
officer is only arrived at after an inquiry or process of a judicial or
quasi-judicial character. In such a case this court has jurisdiction to
supervise that process.
We have as it seems to me reached the
position when the ambit of certiorari can be said to cover every case in which
a body of persons of a public as opposed to a purely private or domestic
character has to determine matters affecting subjects provided always that it
has a duty to act judicially. Looked at in this way the board in my judgment
comes fairly and squarely, within the jurisdiction of this court. It is as Mr.
Bridge said, 'a servant of the Crown charged by the Crown, by executive
instruction, with the duty of distributing the bounty of the Crown.
' It is clearly, therefore, performing public
duties." The Court of Appeal of New Zealand has held that the power to
make a zoning order under Dairy Factory Supply Regulation 1936 has to be
exercised judicially, see New Zealand and Dairy Board v. Okita Co-operative
Dairy Co. Ltd. (2). This Court in The Purtabpore Co. Ltd. v. Cane Commissioner
of Bihar and Ors.(3) held that the power to alter the area reserved under the
Sugar Cane (Control) Order 1966 is a quasi-judicial power. With the increase of
the power of the administrative bodies it has become necessary to provide
guidelines for the just exercise of their power. To prevent the abuse of that
power and to see that it does not become a new despotism, courts are gradually
evolving (1)  2 Q.B. 413;
(2)  New Zealand Law Reports p. 366.
(3)  2 S.C.R. 807.
466 the principles to be observed while
exercising such powers.
In matters like these, public good is not
advanced by a rigid adherence to precedents. New problems call for new
solutions. It is neither possible nor desirable to fix the limits of a
quasi-judicial power. But for the purpose of the present case we shall ,assume
that the power exercised by the selection board was an administrative power and
test the validity of the impugned selections on that basis.
It is unfortunate that Naquishbund was
appointed as one of the members of the selection board. It is true that
ordinarily the Chief Conservator of Forests in a State should be considered as
the most -appropriate person to be in the selection board. He must be expected
to know his officers thoroughly, their weaknesses as well as their strength.
His opinion as regards their suitability for selection to the All India Service
is entitled to great weight. But then under the circumstances it was improper
to have included Naquishbund as a member of the selection board. He was one of
the persons to be considered for selection. It is against all canons of justice
to make a man judge in his own cause. It is true that he did not participate in
the deliberations of the committee when his name was considered. But then the
very fact that he was a member of the selection board must have had its own
impact on the decision of the selection board. Further admittedly he
participated in the deliberations of the selection board when the claims of his
rivals particularly that of Basu was considered. He was also party to the
preparation of the list of selected candidates in order of preference. At every
stage of this participation in the deliberations of the selection board there
was a conflict between his interest and duty. Under those circumstances it is
difficult to believe that he could have been impartial. The real question is
not whether he was biased. It is difficult to prove the state of mind of a
person. Therefore what we have to see is whether there is reasonable ground for
believing that he was likely to have been biased. We agree with the learned
Attorney General that a mere suspicion of bias is not sufficient. There must be
a reasonable likelihood of bias. In deciding the question of bias we have to
take into consideration human probabilities and ordinary course of human
conduct. It was in the interest of Naqishbund to keen out his rivals in order
to secure his position from further challenge. Naturally he was also interested
in safeguarding his position while preparing the list of selected candidates.
The members of the selection board other than
Naqishbund, each one of them separately, have filed affidavits in this Court
swearing that Naqishbund in no manner influenced their decision in making the
selections. In a group deliberation each member 467 of the group is bound to
influence the others, more so, if the member concerned is a person with special
knowledge. Ms bias is likely to operate in a subtle manner. It is no wonder
that the other members of the selection board are unaware of the extent to
which his opinion influenced their conclusions. We are unable to accept the
contention that in adjudging the suitability of the candidates the members of
the board did not have any mutual discussion. It is not as if the records spoke
of themselves. We are unable to believe that the members of selection board
functioned like computers. At this stage it may also be noted that at the time
the selections were made, the members of the selection board other than
Naqishbund were not likely to have known that Basu had appealed against his
supersession and that his appeal was pending before the State Government.
Therefore there was no occasion for them to distrust the opinion expressed by
Naqishbund. Hence the board in making the selections must necessarily have
given weight to the opinion expressed by Naqishbund.
This takes us to the question whether the
principles of natural justice apply to administrative proceedings similar to
that with which we are concerned in these cases.
According to the learned Attorney General
those principles have no bearing in determining the validity of the impugned
selections. In support of his contention he read to us several decisions. It is
not necessary to examine those decisions as there is a great deal of fresh
thinking on the subject. The horizon of natural justice is constanlty
expanding. The question how far the principles of natural justice govern
administrative enquiries came up for consideration before the Queens Bench
Division in In re : H.
K. (An Infant) (1). Therein the validity of
the action taken by an Immigration Officer came up for consideration.
In the course of his judgment Lord Parker,
C.J. observed thus :
"But at the same time, I myself think
that even if an immigration officer is not in a judicial or quasi-judicial
capacity, he must at any rate give the immigrant an opportunity of satisfying
him of the matters in the subsection, and for that purpose let the immigrant
know what his immediate impression is so that the immigrant can disabuse him.
That is not, as I see it, a question of
acting or being required to act judicially, but of being required to act
fairly. Good administration and an honest or bona fide decision must, as it
seems to me, require not merely impartiality, nor merely bringing one's mind to
bear on the problem, but acting fairly; and to the limited extent that the
circumstances of any particular case allow, and within the legislative frame
work under (1)  2 Q.B. 617, 630.
468 which the administrator is working, only
to that limited extent do the so-called rules of natural justice apply, which
in a case such as this is merely a duty to act fairly. I appreciate that in
saying that it may be said that one is going further than is permitted on the
decided cases because heretofore at any rate the decisions of the courts do
seem to have drawn a strict line in these matters according to whether there is
or is not a duty to act judicially or quasi-judicially." In the same case
Blain, J. observed thus "I would only say that an immigration officer
having assumed the jurisdiction granted by those provisions is in a position
where it is his duty to exercise that assumed jurisdiction whether it be
administrative, executive or quasi-judicial, fairly, by which I mean applying
his mind dispassionately to a fair analysis of the particular problem and the
information available to him in analysing it.
If in any hypothetical case, and in any real
case, this court was satisfied that an immigration officer was not so doing,
then in my view mandamus would lie." In State of Orissa v. Dr. (Miss)
Binapani Dei and Ors.(1) Shah, J. speaking for the Court, dealing with an
enquiry made as regards the correct age of a government servant, observed thus
"We think that such an enquiry and decision were contrary to the basic
concept of justice and cannot have any value. It is true that the order is
administrative in character but even an administrative order which involves
civil consequences as already stated, must be made consistently with the rules
of natural justice after informing the first respondent of the case of the
State The aim of the rules of natural justice is to secure justice or to put it
negatively to prevent miscarriage of justice.
These rules can operate only in areas not
covered by any law validly made. In other words they do not supplant the law of
the land but supplement it.-The concept of natural justice has undergone a
great deal of change in recent years. In the past it was thought that it
included just two rules namely (1) no one shall be a judge in his own case
(Nemo debet esse judex propria causa) and (2) no decision shall be given
against a party without affording him a reasonable hearing (audi alteram
partem). Very soon thereafter a third rule was envisaged and that is that quasijudicial
enquiries must be held in good faith, without bias and not arbitrarily (1)
 2 S.C.R. 625.
469 or unreasonably. But in the course of
years many more subsidiary rules came to be added to the rules of natural
justice. Till very recently it was the opinion of the courts that unless the
authority concerned was required by the law under which it functioned to act
judicially there was no room for the application of the rules of natural
justice. The validity of that limitation is now questioned.
If the purpose of the rules of natural
justice is to prevent miscarriage of justice one fails to see why those rules
should be made inapplicable to administrative enquiries.
Often times it is not easy to draw the line
that demarcates administrative enquiries from quasi-judicial enquiries.
Enquiries which were considered
administrative at one time are now being considered as quasijudicial in
Arriving at a just decision is the aim of
both quasijudicial enquiries as well as administrative enquiries. An unjust
decision in an administrative enquiry may have more far reaching effect than a
decison in a quasi-judicial enquiry. As observed by this Court in Suresh Koshy
George v. The University of Kerala and Ors.(1) the rules of natural justice are
not embodied rules. What particular rule of natural justice should apply to a
given case must depend to a great extent on the facts and circumstances of that
case, the framework of the law under which the enquiry is held and the
constitution of the Tribunal or body of persons appointed for that purpose.
Whenever a cornplaint is made before a court that some principle of natural
justice had been contravened the court has to decide whether the observance of
that was necessary for a just decision on the facts of that case.
It was next urged by the learned
Attorney-General that after all the selection board was only a recommendatory
body. Its recommendations had first to be considered by the Home Ministry and
*.hereafter by the U.P.S.C. The final recommendations were made by the U.P.S.C.
Hence grievances of the petitioners have no real basis. According to him while
considering the validity of administrative actions taken, all that we have to
see is whether the ultimate decision is just or not. We are unable to agree
with the learned Attorney-General that the recommendations made by the
selection board were of little consequence. Looking at the composition of the
board and the nature of the duties entrusted to it we have no doubt that its
recommendations should have carried considerable weight with the U.P.S.C. If
the decision of the selection board is held to have been vitiated, it is -clear
to our mind that the final recommendation made by the Commission must also be
held to have been vitiated. The recommendations made by the Union Public
Service Commission cannot be disassociated from the selections made by the
selection board which (1)  1 S.C.R. 317.
470 is the foundation for the recommendations
of the Union Public Service Commission. In this connection reference may be
usefully made to the decision in Regina v. Criminal Injuries Compensation Board
Ex. Parte Lain(1).
It was next urged by the learned
Attorney-General that the mere fact that one of the members of the Board was
biased against some of the petitioners cannot vitiate the entire proceedings.
In this connection he invited our attention to the decision of this Court in
Sumer Chand Jain v. Union of India and another(2). Therein the Court repelled
the contention that the proceedings of a departmental promotion committee were
vitiated as one of the members of that committee was favourably disposed
towards one of the selected candidates. The question before the Court was
whether the plea of mala fides was established. The Court came to the
conclusion that on the material on record it was unable to uphold that plea. In
that case there was no question of any conflict between duty and interest nor
any members of the departmental promotion committee was a judge in his own
case. The only thing complained of was that one of the members of the promotion
committee was favourably disposed towards one of the competitors. As mentioned
earlier in this case we are essentially concerned with the question whether the
decision taken by the board can be considered as having been taken fairly and
One more argument of the learned
Attorney-General remains to be considered. He urged that even if we are to hold
that Naqishbund should not have participated in the deliberations of the
selection board while it considered the suitability of Basu, Baig and Kaul,
there is no ground to set aside the selection of other officers. According to
him it will be sufficient in the interest of justice if we direct that the
cases of Basu, Baig and Kaul be reconsidered by a Board of which Naqishbund is
not a member. Proceeding further he urged that under any circumstance no case
is made out for disturbing the selection of the officers in the junior scale.
We are unable to accept either of these contentions.
As seen earlier Naqishbund was a party to the
preparation of the select list in order of preference and that he is shown as
No. 1 in the list. To that extent he was undoubtedly a judge in his own case, a
circumstance which is abhorrent to our concept of justice. Now coming to the
selection of the officers in the. junior scale service, the selections to both
senior scale service as well as junior scale service were made from the same
pool. Every officer who had put in a service of 8 years or more, even if he was
holding the post of an Assistant Conservator of Forests was eligible for being
selected for the senior scale service. In fact some (1)  2 Q.B. 864.
(2) Writ Petition No. 237/1966 decided on
471 Assistant Conservators have been selected
for the senior scale service. At the same time some of the officers who had put
in more than eight years of service had been selected for the junior scale
service. Hence it is not possible to separate the two sets of officers.
For the reasons mentioned above these
petitions are allowed and the impugned selections set aside. The Union
Government and the State Government shall pay the costs of the petitioners.
V.P.S. Petitions allowed.