Govinda Bhat, C.J.
1. At the preliminary hearing stage, we directed the learned High Court Government Advocate to take notice, and, with the consent of the learned counsel on both sides, the matter was finally heard today, as it is of some urgency.
2. The appeal is directed against the order of Jagannatha Shetty J., dated 8-4-1974, made in Writ Petition No. 1264 of 1974, dismissing the appellants' writ petition at the preliminary hearing stage on the ground that they have an adequate alternate remedy by way of appeal. The question is whether the learned Judge was right in declining to exercise his jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.
3. The matter arises in this way : On 18-12-1973, the Tahsildar of Hiriyur inspected the rice mill belonging to the second respondent and seized 2307 bags of paddy in exercise of the powers vested under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, hereinafter called the Act. The Deputy Commissioner, Chitradurga, who is the authority empowered under the Act to adjudicate confiscation, issued notice to the second respondent to show cause why the paddy seized should not be confiscated. In response to the said notice, the second respondent submitted in writing that 1044 bags out of 2307 bags of paddy seized, belonged to the appellants and disclaimed ownership in respect of the said stock. The second respondent further submitted before the first respondent that the paddy in question had been delivered to the mill by the appellants for the purpose of hulling. The first respondent without issuing notice to the appellants to show cause and affording them thereby an opportunity to make their representations, passed the order of confiscation of the paddy claimed by them. Aggrieved by the said order, the appellants preferred Writ Petition No. 1264 of 1974 in this Court, and, when the matter came up for preliminary hearing before Jagannatha Shetty, J., it was dismissed on the ground that the Act provides an adequate alternate remedy by way of appeal and therefore the writ petition is not maintainable. Aggrieved by the said order, the appellants have preferred the above appeal.
4. It is settled law that there is no rule with regard to certiorari as there is with mandamus, that it will lie only where there is no other equally effective remedy. The rule requiring the exhaustion of statutory remedies before the writ may be granted, is a rule of policy, convenience and discretion, rather than a rule of law. The High Court will readily issue a certiorari in a case where there has been a denial of natural justice before a Court of summary jurisdiction, vide, State of U. P. v. Mohammad Nooh, AIR 1998 SC 66 and A. V. Venkateswaran v. Ramchand Sobhraj Wadhwani, : 1983ECR2151D(SC) .
5. It has been held by the House of Lords in Ridge v. Baldwin, (1963) 2 WLR 936 that a decision given without regard to the principles of natural justice is void. This is what Lord Reid in his speech before the House has said (Page 953):
'Time and again in the cases I have cited it has been stated that a decision given without regard to the principles of natural justice is void and that was expressly decided in Wood v. Wood, ((1874) LR 9 Ex 190). I see no reason to doubt these authorities. The body with the power to decide cannot lawfully proceed to make a decision until it has afforded to the person affected a proper opportunity to state his case.'
6. It is seen from the undisputed facts that the proprietor of the second respondent mill, disclaimed all ownership to the paddy seized, and, it was his case that it belonged to the appellants. The Tahsildar who seized the paddy was also aware that the appellants claimed to be the owners of the paddy. In such a situation, no order of confiscation could have been made without affording an opportunity to the appellants to show cause as to why the paddy should not be confiscated. The order of the first respondent confiscating the paddy in disregard to the principles of natural justice is a void order. This court will not decline to exercise its jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the Constitution and issue a writ of certiorari against the order of the first respondent impugned where, the rule of natural justice had been disregarded and the decision of the statutory authority is I void. The learned single Judge was, therefore, in error in refusing to exercise I his jurisdiction.
7. Accordingly, we allow this appeal, quash the impugned order of the first respondent dated 19-3-1974, reserving liberty to make appropriate orders after affording the appellants a reasonable opportunity of being heard in the matter.
8. The paddy seized shall not be disposed of until such an order is made. It is ordered accordingly.
9. No costs.
10. Sri Chandrakantharaja Urs, learned High Court Government Advocate, is permitted to file his memo, of appearance within two weeks from today.
11. The copies of this order will be furnished to learned counsel for the parties.
12. Appeal allowed.