Report No. 69
XI. Some Statutory Provisions in India as to Administrative Courts
6.22. Local laws.-
In general, in India also, administrative tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies are not required to adhere to strict rules of evidence. The position depends on the provision in the parent Act. It may be noted that many local laws have often provided for the adjudication of claims in respect of taxation or valuation by tribunals.
For example, the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act,1 provides for the hearing of various proceedings-such as, election enquiries, references to the judge, appeals against valuation and taxes, appeals against certain orders of the Municipal Commissioner to the Judge or the District Court, references to magistrates in respect of certain matters, and the like. The Act2 makes specific provisions as to the application of the Code of Civil Procedure, the law of limitation, execution of orders and, when appropriate, the application of the Code of Criminal Procedure, to enquiries and proceedings before magistrates.
Similarly, the Bombay Public Trusts Act3 empowers the Charity Commissioner appointed under the Act to frame certain schemes for the governance of public trusts. He has power to summon and examine witnesses etc. on oath. The Act also contains provisions as to, for what purposes, such enquiries shall be deemed to be judicial proceedings within the Penal Code.4
1. Sections 403 to 437, Bombay Municipal Corporations Act (Bombay Act 59 of 1949).
2. Sections 434 to 437, Bombay Municipal Corporations Act (Bombay Act 59 of 1949).
3 Section 50A and sections 73, 74, Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 (Bombay Act 29 of 1950).
4 Section 74, Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950.
6.23. Power to make rules as to evidence conferred by parent Act.-
Often, the parent Act confers power on the appropriate authority-sometimes even on the tribunal-to make rules regulating its procedure. The Unlawful Activities Tribunal Rules, made under the Unlawful Activities Act, 1967, provide that in respect of inquiries and proceedings concerning the disposal of applications, the Tribunal should follow, "as far as practicable", the rules of evidence set out in the Evidence Act, 1872.1 It has also been provided that the Tribunal may require the Central Government to produce documents claimed to be confidentia1.2
1 Rule 3(1), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Rules, 1968.
2 Rule 3(2), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Rules, 1968.
6.24. The Railway Rates Tribunal1 is governed by the rules made under the parent Act.2 Rules 43 and 44 of the Rules read:
"43. The provisions of the Indian Evidence Act shall generally be followed in proceedings before the Tribunal: Provided that in the discretion of the Tribunal, any of its provisions may be relaxed in order that needful and proper evidence may be conveniently, inexpensively and speedily produced in the interests of justice, while preserving the substantial rights of the parties."
"44. (i) The evidence at the hearing of a complaint may be taken either by affidavit or by viva voce; or partly by affidavit and partly by viva voce: Provided that if either party intends to rely on any evidence, he shall send or deliver to the other party a copy of the affidavit, failing which he shall not be allowed to use the same except by special leave of the Tribunal.
(ii) Either party may send or deliver by registered post to the other party a notice requiring the deponent to be produced at hearing of the complaint for cross-examination
(iii) For the purpose of any affidavit to be sworn in any proceedings before the Tribunal, the Chairman may empower any official to administer an oath to the deponent of the affidavit."
1 The Railway Rates Tribunal Rules, 1959.
2 See sections 34-44, Indian Railways Act, 1890.