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Report No. 69

IX. Whether Act Should Apply to Administrative Tribunals

6.19. Act not necessarily applicable to administrative tribunals.-

While many of these tribunals, boards and other authorities certainly perform judicial functions, must observe the rules of natural justice and are subject to the special appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, that does not conclude the matter as regards the need for applying or not applying the Evidence Act to them.

Nor does the power conferred on them to summon witnesses and examine them on oath conclude the matter, because that only means that persons who make false statements before them could be prosecuted for the offence of giving false evidence, having regard to the legal obligation imposed on them by the oath to state the truth. The essence of the matter is that these tribunals are not necessarily places where "justice is judicially administered", and even if they very nearly resemble courts-to borrow the language used by Kania, C.J., in the Bharat Bank case,1 they cannot, merely on that ground, be equated to courts for the purposes of the Evidence Act.

This is apparent from the fact that the relevant statutes, or rules made thereunder, usually contain provisions deeming them to be civil courts for certain purposes only, and deeming their proceedings also to be judicial proceedings for certain purposes only. It is for this reason that in the absence of specific provision, a general provision which would apply the Act automatically to them is not required.

1. Bharat Bank v. Employees of Bharat Bank, AIR 1950 SC 188.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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