(1) The petitioners who are five members of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, seek a declaration that the proceedings of the Andhra Pradesh Regional Committee, dated 10-7-1964 at the 19th Meeting are null and void and further ask for an order of direction under Art. 226 of the Constitution to compel the Chairman of the said Committee to convene a fresh Meeting of the Committee after issuing proper notice to all the Members thereof including the petitioners for considering the Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayat Amendment Bill, 1964 which had been referred to it by the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly. Along with this petition under Art. 226, the petitioners have filed a C. M. P. to restrain, until disposal of the main Petition, the Council of Ministers represented by the Chief Minister, from presenting the two Bills to the Governor under Art. 200 of the Constitution. The main Petition and the C. M. P. have been heard together as desired by both sides and can, therefore, be disposed of by a common judgment.
(2) Before proceeding further/, it is necessary to refer to Art. 371(1) of the Constitution which was substituted by the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956. It reads :
'Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the President may, by order made with respect to the State of Andhra Pradesh or Punjab, provide for the constitution and functions of regional committees of the Legislative Assembly of the State, for the modifications to be made in the rules of business of the Government and in the rules of procedure of the Legislative Assembly of the State and for any special responsibility of the Governor in order to secure the proper functioning of the regional committees'.
In exercise of the powers conferred by this constitutional provision, the President made the Andhra Pradesh Regional Committee Order, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as the Order). By paragraph 3 of this Order, a Regional Committee of the Assembly for the Telangana region consisting of the members of the Assembly who for the time being represent the constituencies within that region was constituted. Every bill affecting the Telangana region which is not a Money bill and contains mainly provisions dealing with any of the matters enumerated in the first schedule to the Order, is required, upon introduction in the Assembly, to be referred to the Regional Committee for consideration and report to the Assembly, vide paragraph 5 of the Order. Paragraph 6 of the Order provides that any Bill so referred to the Regional committee may, if so recommended by it, be passed by the Assembly with such variations as may be necessary in its application to the Telangana region. Paragraph 8 required that the modifications directed in the second schedule to the Order shall be made in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly Rules and shall not in any way be affected by an amendment that may hereafter be made in the said Rules by the Assembly under Art. 208 of the Constitution. The last paragraph of the Order, Viz., paragraph 10 lays down that the Governor shall have special responsibility for securing the proper functioning of the Regional Committee in accordance with the provisions of the Order.
(3) The Andhra Pradesh Gram Panchayats Amendment Bill, 1964 and the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Samithis and Zilla Parishads Amendment Bill, 1964 already referred to, related to the first item enumerated in the first schedule to the Order and also affected the Telangana region. They were, therefore, 'Regional Bills' within the meaning of Rule 2 (k) of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly Rules as amended by the second schedule to the President's Order. These Bills were, therefore, referred to the Regional Committee under paragraph 5 of the President's Order read with R. 128-B of the Assembly Rules. The Regional Committee considered these two Bills and the Chairman of the Committee presented the report of the Committee to the Assembly as contemplated by R. 164-K of the Assembly Rules. Assembly R. 164-J directed that as soon as may be, after a Bill has been referred to the Regional Committee, the Regional Committee shall meet, from to time, in accordance with R. 164-G to consider the Bill and shall make a report thereon within the time fixed by the Assembly. The Regional Committee accordingly considered the Bills and presented its report to the Assembly as contemplated by R. 164-K. Thereafter, the Assemble proceeded with the Bills in accordance with the prescribed rules of procedure and finally passed them. The present Petition under Art. 226 was filed after the Bills were thus passed by the Legislative Assembly.
(4) The complain of the petitioners is that no intimation was given to them as to the date and place appointed for the meeting of the Regional Committee. They did not, therefore, participate in the deliberations of the Committee. It is argued on their behalf that the absence of notice to them of the meeting of the Committee invalidated the meeting and rendered the proceedings of the Committee, and the report made by it to the Assembly null and void. This is the ground on which the Petition is founded.
(5) In support of their contention, the petitioners have placed considerable reliance on R. 164-O of the Assembly Rules under which the Regional Committee is empowered to make bye-laws 'not inconsistent with these rules, to regulate its own procedure and the procedure of its sub-committee'. In exercise of this power, the Committee made bye-law No. 4 which says that 'the Secretary shall intimate to each Member the date and place appointed for a meeting of the committee.'
(6) The answer of the respondents is that notice was given to the Members of the Regional Committee in conformity with bye-law No. 4 and R. 35 of the Assembly Rules. The learned Advocate General on behalf of the respondents has urged that the powers of the Regional Committee to make bye-laws is subject to the over-riding requirement that the bye-laws so made should not be inconsistent with the Assembly Rules, and according to him bye-law No. 4 is not really inconsistent with the Assembly Rules 35 relating to notice, if it is properly construed and understood. It is well to remember in this context that the second schedule to the President's Order has modified the Assembly Rules by inserting certain new Rules therein. These new Rules thereby became part and parcel of the Assembly Rules. Therefore, when the new R. 164-O speaks of 'these rules', it undoubtedly refers to the Assembly Rules as a whole and not only to the new Rules which were added to the Assembly Rules under the second schedule to the Order. Now, the bye-laws made under R. 164-O do not prescribe the mode or manner in which the Secretary has to be intimate the date and place of the meeting of the Regional Committee. It is, therefore, valid and reasonably to refer to the relevant Assembly Rules relating to the mode and manner in which intimation of the date and place of the meeting is to be given to the Members. I may state here that the reference in bye-law No. 4 regarding the intimation of the place of the Meeting appears to be somewhat otiose because under R. 146-G, the sittings of the Regional Committee shall be held within the precincts of the Assembly building. Intimation of the date of the meeting, therefore, appears to be more important. In this regard, it is well to refer to R. 35 of the Assembly Rules which is under;
'Notice to members: Unless otherwise requested by a Member in writing, every notice or other communication issued to him by the Assembly office shall:
(a) On two days before the Commencement of a meeting, be sent to his address at the place of meeting of the Assembly, and
(b) on the days be sent to his permanent address, as registered in the Assembly Office:
Provided that on meeting days such notice or other communication may be placed in the Notice Office or distributed to the members in the House.'
(7) The proviso to this Rule has an important bearing on the instant case. It is common ground that the two Bills were referred to the Regional committee and the Regional Committee met and considered them at a time when the Legislative Assembly was in session, that is, 'on meeting days' use the language of the proviso to R. 35. The Assistant Secretary to the Legislative Assembly who is in charge of the meetings of the Regional Committee, has sworn to an affidavit that notice of the date and place of the meetings of the Regional Committee was placed in the Notice Office as required by the proviso to R. 35. He has further stated that notices were also left in the pigeon-holes assigned to each Member of the Legislative Assembly for keeping the letters and communications intended for him. This part of the averments in the affidavit is controverted on behalf of the petitioners. But there does not appear to be any denial of the averment of the Assistant Secretary that notice was placed in the Notice Office. In the absence of any express Rules or Bye-law requiring anything more or anything else to be done, I do not think it can be held that the mode prescribed in the proviso to R. 35 is not sufficient to give valid intimation to the Members of the Regional Committee of the date and place of the meeting of the Committee.
Four out of five petitioners attended the meetings of the Legislative Assembly at the relevant period. It is, therefore, probable that they knew of the date of the meeting of the Regional Committee or could easily have known it, if they had exercised ordinary care. A motion to refer the two Bills in question to the Regional Committee was made in the Legislative Assembly. It is admitted on both sides that these two Bills were somewhat controversial measures and had received considerable attention at the hands of the Members of the Legislature. In the circumstances, I am not satisfied as a matter of fact that the petitioners can be held to have been wholly ignorant of the meeting of the Regional Committee and the consideration of the Bills by it. But it is urged that the second petitioner did not attend the Assembly session on any of the days and that, therefore, notice to him ought to have sent separately to his residence. But R. 35 does not provide for this contingency. It seems to expect every Member of the Assembly, to turn up to participate in the deliberations of the Assembly and, therefore, contents itself with placing the notice 'on meeting days' in the Notice Office, or in the alternative with distributing the notice to the Members in the Assembly Secretariat that he would not attend the session and communications meant for him should be sent to his residence in the muffasil.
(8) It is also well to notice here that a large majority of the Members of the Regional Committee participated in the Committee meeting and the consideration of the Bill referred to it. A section of these Members made their minutes of dissent and the report of the Regional Committee on the Bills together with the minutes of dissent presented to the Legislative Assembly under R. 164-K. The Assembly, after discussion, accepted the majority report without any amendment, and this paved the way to the passage of the Bills in the Assembly.
(9) Even so, Mr. Chowdary for the petitioners strenuously argues that the petitioners were not aware of the date of the meeting of the Regional Committee, that they did not participate in the deliberations of the Committee and that in any event, the second petitioner was not at all intimated about the meeting of the Committee and that this alone is sufficient to invalidate the meeting of the Committee, and all that was done at the meeting. He seeks to derive support for his contention from certain decisions of English Courts which have dealt with the meetings of incorporated Companies, Local Authorities or registered Societies. He calls in aid particularly R. v. Langhorn (1836) 4 Accused & El 538 and in In re Portuguese Consolidated Copper Mines. Ltd., (1889) 42 Ch D 160. In the former case the regulations of a certain authority provided that every resident burgess was to be served personally with notice of a meeting. One of such burgesses informed an official of the Corporation that he need not trouble to send him notices as he was often away, and these instructions were duly acted upon. At a meeting at which the said burgess was absent, although he could have attended had he received the requisite notice, a mayor was elected, but as notice had not been served on the absent burgess, the proceedings were held to be void. In the latter case, a director of a Company on being told a meeting would be held next week, said, 'I cannot be there'. It was held that this could not be relied on as a waiver of his right to notice, and as no notice was sent to him the meeting was declared invalid.
(10) I am not satisfied this class of cases can apply to Legislature and their Committees perform sovereign functions under the Constitution. They form an integral part of the constitutional machinery. They cannot be placed on a par with local bodies, registered societies and limited companies. These are inferior bodies, creatures of statutes passed by the Legislature and wholly subservient to those statutes and the regulations made thereunder and rigidly governed and limited by them. They do not posses any vestige of sovereign power or authority. The rules and regulations governing them are their inexorable masters. But in the case of Legislature and its Committees, the rules of procedure made by them are merely their handmaids. They can ignore them with impunity, if they so decide. They are their own masters in this matter. They are no subservient bodies. They possess a large measure of inherent rights and privileges and immunity from interference by Courts in their internal proceedings. So, they stand on a fundamentally different footing from a local authority. The decisions of Courts rendered in respect of these inferior and subservient bodies cannot, therefore, be applied to the Legislature or its Committees.
(11) Besides, in every one of the cases cited by Mr. Chowdary, there was an express Article of Association or Regulation or statutory provision which mandatorily required notice of the meeting to be given to such member in a specified manner. That was an inescapable position. The Courts, therefore, held that as it was obligatory upon the Company or Local Authority to act according to the Regulations to which it was subservient and as it failed to comply with them, any action taken pursuant to such non-compliance was invalid. These cases, therefore, turned on the particular Article of Association, or statutory provision. If the Article of Association, Rule or Regulation provided that the absence of notice to one or a specified number of Members would not invalidate the meeting, the decisions would surely have been different. Or, if there was provision governing the Company or the local authority that any procedural irregularity in the convening of the meetings due to want of notice to the members would not invalidate the meetings, then also, the Courts would not have held that want of notice to the members affected the validity of the meetings.
This aspect of the matter assumes importance in the instant case by virtue of Art. 212(1) of the Constitution. It expressly enjoins that the validity of any proceedings in the Legislature of a State shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure. I have scarcely any doubt in holding that the matter of giving notice in pursuance of bye-law No. 4 already adverted to is essentially a matter of procedure. But it is contended that it is a matter of procedure relating to the Regional Committee and not to the Legislature as such. This contention is easily answered. A Committee of the Legislature is only an agency or instrument through which the Legislature functions. The proceedings of a Committee are there in substance and effect the proceedings of the Legislature itself. Art. 212, therefore, applies equally to both the proceedings. This well established parliamentary concept is not affected by anything in Art. 371 or in the President's Order. Besides, the report of the Regional Committee was received and acted upon by the Legislative Assembly. If that report was vitiated by any procedural irregularity, it was transmitted to the proceedings of the Assembly which adopted the report and acted upon it. In view of the events that have already taken place, it is idle to seek to isolate the deliberations of the Regional Committee in the instant case from the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly based upon the report of that Committee. In fact the report of the Committee passed into and merged in the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly which culminated in the passage of the Bills in question. It is, therefore, impossible effectively to impugn the proceedings of the Committee and the report which it presented to the Legislative Assembly without challenging the validity of the proceedings of the Assembly itself. It is here that Art. 212 comes into play.
The object of the petitioners is obviously to nullify the passage of the Bills in the Legislature by seeking to call in question the validity of the report presented to the Assembly by the Regional Committee on the basis of which the further proceedings of the Assembly took place. Now, it is a well settled proposition of law that what you cannot do directly, you cannot be permitted to do indirectly. What is perhaps equally important is that in construing and giving effect to the provisions of the Constitution, a narrow and pedantic view should not be adopted. On the other hand, the right approach would be too place a liberal construction on the provisions of the Constitution in order to effectuate the contention of the Constitution makers and to ensure the smooth and satisfactory functioning of the constitutional machinery of the State. In the present case, if the passage of the Bills in the Legislative Assembly is held to be beyond question by a Court of law, no useful purpose is served by pausing to consider whether the report presented to the Legislative Assembly by the Regional Committee is vitiated by any procedural irregularity. The deliberations and the report of the Regional Committee, constituted as it were, a tributory which joined the main broad stream of the proceedings in the Legislative Assembly. It is now too late to seek to stop the tributory from joining the main stream after the confluence, has already flowed on beyond the Legislative Assembly .
(12) The learned Advocate-General has strenuously contended that the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and of the Regional Committee are immune from scrutiny by Courts of law at this stage of the career of the Bills in question. He relies on Art. 194(3) of the Constitution which preserves to a House of the Legislature of a State, its members and committees, the powers, privileges and immunities enjoyed by the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and its members and committees as at the commencement of our Constitution. This takes us to a consideration of the powers, privilege and immunities enjoyed by the House of Commons at the beginning of the year 1950. In the Fifteenth (1950) Edition of May's Treatise on the Law, Privileges Proceedings and Usage of Parliament which appear to have been brought out after January, 1950 it is stated at p. 40 of Chapter III :
'Parliamentary privilege is the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by each House collectively as a constituent part of the High Court of Parliament, and by members of each House individually, without which they could not discharge their functions and which exceed those possessed by other bodies or individuals. Thus privilege, though part of the law of the land, is to a certain extent an exemption from the ordinary law ..............'
(13) The particular privileges of the Common have been defined as :
'The sum of the fundamental rights of the House and of its individual Members as against the prerogatives of the Crown, the authority of the ordinary Courts of law and the special rights of the House of Lords.'
'Article 9 of the Bill of Rights (1 William and Mary, sec. 2, cl. 2) confirming the long-standing claims of each House of Parliament to exclude all outside interference within its own walls - claims which had only been seriously challenged in the case of the House of Commons - lays down that 'freedom of speech and debate or proceedings in Parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court or place outside Parliament.'
May points out that there are three principal matters involved in the statement of the law contained in this Article : -
'1. The right of each House to be the sole judge of the lawfulness of its own proceedings ;
2. The right implied to punish its own Members for their conduct in Parliament ;
Further there is the question.
3. What is the precise meaning of the term 'proceedings in Parliament' .............. * * * * '
Another collective right of the House is to settle its own code of procedure. This is such an obvious right - it has never been directly disputed - that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon it except to say that the House is not responsible to any external authority for following the rules it lays down for itself, but may depart from them at its own discretion. This is equally the case whether a House is dealing with a matter which is finally decided by its sole authority, such as an order or resolution, or whether, like a bill, it is the joint concern of both Houses. This holds good even where the procedure of a House or the right of its members to take part in its proceedings is dependent on statute. For such purposes, the House can 'practically change or practically supersede the law'.
In Bradlaugh v. Gossett, (1884) 12 QBD 271 (278), Mr. Justice Stephen defined the relation between the jurisdiction of the Courts and that of the House of Commons over the internal proceedings of the House as follows : -
'Suppose that the house of Commons forbids one of its members to do that which an Act of Parliament requires him to do, and, in order to enforce its prohibition , directs its executive officer to exclude him from the House by force if necessary, is such an order one which we can declare to be void and restrain the executive officer of the House from carrying out In my opinion, we have no such power. I think that the House of Commons is not subject to the control of Her Majesty's Courts in its administration of that part of the statute-law which has relation to its own internal proceedings.'
Again, at pp. 280-1, he observed :
' ................................ It seems to follow that the House of Commons has the exclusive power of interpreting the statute, so far as the regulation of its own proceedings within its own walls is concerned ; and that, even if that interpretation should be erroneous, this Court has no power to interfere with it directly or indirectly'.
He proceeded to point out at p. 285 :
'The House of Commons is not a Court of Justice; but the effect of its privilege to regulate its own internal concerns practically invests it with a judicial character when it has to apply to particular cases the provisions of Acts of Parliament. We must presume that it discharge this function properly and with due regard to the laws, in the making of which it has so great a share. If its determination is not in accordance with law, this resembles the case of an error by a Judge whose decision is not subject to appeal. There is nothing starting in the recognition of the fact that such an error is possible...............'
The position is stated in Coke, 1 inst. 15 in the following words :
'Every Court of Justice hath rules and customs for its direction ............ so the High Court of Parliament suis porpris legibus et consuetudinibus subsist it. It is lex et consuetudo parliamenti that all weighty matters in any Parliament moved concerning the peers of the realm, or commons in Parliament assembled, ought to be determined, adjudged, and discussed by the course of the Parliament, not by the civil law, not yet by the common laws of this realm used in more inferior Courts. Not only, therefore, had each House extensive privileges, the relation of which to Common Law was undefined, but it acted as a tribunal for their interpretation and enforcement.'
As early as 1842, Lord Campbell in Edynburgh and Delkeith Rly. Co. v. Wauchope, (1842) 8 CL & Fin 710 at p. 724, said :
'I think it right to say a word or two upon the point that has been raised with regard to an Act of Parliament being held inoperative by Court of justice because the forms prescribed by the two Houses to be observed in the passing of a Bill have not been exactly followed ..................... I cannot but express my surprise that such a notion should have prevailed. There is no foundation for it. All that a Court of justice can do is to look to the Parliamentary Roll; if from that it should appear that a Bill has passed both Houses and received the royal assent, no Court of Justice can inquire into the mode in which it was introduced into Parliament, nor into what was done previous to its introduction, or what passed in Parliament during its progress in its various stages through both Houses.'
Mr. Chowdary for the petitioners, however, relies upon the decision of the Privy Council in Attorney General for New South Wales v. Trethowan, 1832 AC 526. But it has to be remembered that the Australian States, although no longer colonies, remained subject to the Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865, S. 5 of this Act allows representative colonial Legislature to pass laws respecting their own Constitution, powers and procedure provided that such laws are passed 'in such manner and form as may from time to time be required' by any law for the time being in force in the Colony. The Privy Council, therefore, held in 1932 AC 526 (supra) that the New South Wales Legislature had no power in 1930 to abolish the Legislative Council (the Upper House) except after a referendum as prescribed by New South Wales Legislation of 1929. Hood Philips in the Constitutional Law of Great Britain and the Commonwealth (Second Edition) points out page 58 of his introduction that
'that decision was expressly based on the ground that the New South Wales Parliament was a subordinate Legislature, and it, therefore, gives no support for the view that the sovereign Parliament of the United Kingdom could so bind itself by requiring a referendum before changes in the law are made'.
Dixon, J., in the Australian High Court in, In re Trethowan's case (Attorney General for the State of New South Wales v. Trethowan, (1931) 44 CLR 394), suggested, however, that it an Act were passed by the British Parliament expressly making it unlawful to present a certain kind of Bill to the Crown unless some special procedure such as a referendum had been compiled with, English Courts might have to consider its effect and the answer was not clear. It might be argued that, there a referendum was prescribed, 'Parliament' in future would consist of the Queen, the two Houses and the Electorate, so that the Courts would not regard the Act concerned as validly passed unless the Electorate had approved it in a referendum. But it is much more likely that the Courts would regard the provision for a referendum not a change in the composition of Parliament, but as a matter of procedure. This does not mean that the provision would be 'void'. It would be valid and effective while it remained in force, so that steps could properly be taken to hold a referendum. But the provision would not be 'BINDING' on Parliament, which could legislate on the given topic without holding a referendum. This passage shows that the decision in 1932 AC 526, does not bear upon the privilege, sovereignty or immunity of the House of Commons. It is also well to point out in this connection that Dixon, as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, expressed grave doubts about the correctness of the view expressed by him earlier, vide Mughee and Vallie Propriety Ltd. v. Gair, (1953-54) 90 CLR 203 (204-205). I do not, therefore think that the decision in (1931) 44 CLR 394 or the decision in 1932 AC 526 is of any assistance to the petitioners in the instant case.
(14) Mr. Chowdary then relied upon Harper v. Home Secretary, 1955, Ch 238, where Roxburgh, J., granted an injunction to restrain the Home Secretary from proceeding to present to the Queen in Council a draft Order approved by both Houses of Parliament. This was an ex parte order passed on a Friday. The next Monday, the Court of Appeal set it aside in Harper v. Secy. of State for the Home Department, (1955) 1 All ER 331, Sir Raymond Evershed, M. R. at the page 338 expressed himself to be in agreement with the view expressed by Harman, J., in Hammersmith Borough Council v. Boundary Commission for England, (Unreported) which related to an earlier stage of the Boundary Commission's report. Harman, J. there said :
'This is not a matter in which I ought to be asked to interfere or in which any good purpose would be served by my seeking to do so. I do no think questions of jurisdiction really need be debated at this stage. I shall assume that I can, if necessary, express an opinion as to the proceedings of the Boundary Commission, without going beyond the functions of this Court, but I am satisfied that I should certainly serve no useful object by doing so, and that the machinery set up under this Act does not leave any room which makes it appropriate for the Court to intervene at this or at any other stage.'
Before the Court of Appeal, the counsel for the plaintiffs (respondents) relied upon 1932 AC 526 for the purpose of showing that the Court in appropriate cases will grant them relief to prevent someone in the position of Minister from taking a bill or order, whatever it might be, to the sovereign or the sovereign's representative for the purpose of its becoming law. But the Master of Rolls distinguished that case as follows :-
'But that was a case where the legislature concerned, viz., the legislature of New South Wales, had under the Australian Constitution strictly limited legislative functions; and, it having being shown that the proposal Act of Parliament had disregarded the provision in the Constitution which required a particular sanction on the part of the electronic, the courts in Australia (and the Privy Council affirmed them) restrained members of the Legislative Council, other than the plaintiffs who were suing, from proceeding to take the measure for the approval of the Governor-General. That seems to me quite a different case from the present. We are in no sense here concerned with a Parliament or legislature having limited legislative functions according to the Constitution.'
It is well to recall here that a State Legislature under our Constitution has plenty powers and is supreme within the sphere allotted to it under the Constitution. The Bills in question in the present proceedings undoubtedly fall within the supreme legislative powers of the State Legislature and consequently the decision in 1932 AC 526 or (1931) 44 CLR 394 is not apposite here.
(15) Returning to the unreported decision in Hammersmith Borough Council v. Boundary Commissioner for England, rendered by Harman, J., which was virtually approved by the Court of Appeal in (1955) 1 All ER 331 and the decision in (1955) Ch 238 which was reversed by the Court of Appeal in the same decision, one may perceive some similarity in the effort made by the plaintiff' in those cases and the petitioners in the present case. In the Boundary Commission cases, the remedy of injunction was sought to nip in the bud a legislative process and thereby to prevent it from vitalising into law. Under the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act, 1949, periodical revisions, necessary owing to changes of population, are made of electoral constituencies. The Boundary Commission makes proposals which it reports to the Home Secretary. He may, if he wishes, suggest modifications and it is then obligatory on him to submit the report with or without proposed amendment to Parliament, together with a draft order for each constituency affected. If the Orders are approved by both Houses, they must go forward to the Queen in Council, and it is specially provided that once they have been confirmed as Orders in Council, they cannot be challenged 'in any legal proceedings whatever'. Therefore, anybody who wishes to assail the validity of the proposed orders must hasten to do so before they mature into orders in council.
In Hammersmith Borough Council v. Boundary Commission for England (unreported) some of the electors of the affected constituencies Hammersmith and Fulham complained that the commission adopted methods and calculations not authorised by the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act, 1949. They moved for a mandatory injunction addressed to the Commission with a view to rendering their report a nullity. The matter came up before Harman, J., and he refused it. He pointed out that even if he granted an injunction, and even if it were obeyed if he granted an injunction, and even if it were obeyed, the Home Secretary and Parliament could, if they wished, simply ignore it and proceed to legislate; and he considered the whole matter 'entirely unsuited to judicial intervention' vide Law and Order by Allen (second edition, page 171). It was this view of Harman, J., that was approved by the Master of Rolls in (1955) 1 All ER 331 (supra).
(16) Applying the view of Harman, J., to the instant case, it appears to me that even if the Regional Committee's Report to the Legislative Assembly was bad for non-compliance with correct procedure or non-observance of a bye-law, the Legislative Assembly could still in its wisdom accept that report and make it the basis of its legislation. In such a case, I think it will be futile for a Court of law to decide the report of the Regional Committee to be bad, for, that would be ineffective declaration, a mere Brutum Fulmen and a court of law will surely not make an order which it knows will be ineffective.
(17) It is however urged for the petitioners that the decision of the Court of Appeal in (1955) 1 All ER 331 does not say that in a case like the present a Court cannot effectively intervene. But there are strong indications in it that a Court will decline to interfere with a purely legislative process in the formative stages of making the law.
(18) The last argument of Mr. Chowdary for the petitioners is that the Regional Committee must not be regarded as a mere Committee must not be regarded as a mere Committee of the Legislative Assembly but that it has the status of a separate House of Legislature or a necessary component part of the State Legislature. From this premise, he argues that as the meetings and the deliberations of the Regional Committee are not valid in law, the position is as if a component part of the Legislature has not recorded its assent separately and consequently any measure which may be passed by the other parts of the Legislature cannot be held to be valid. In support of this line of reasoning, he cites a passage from an easy on 'Sovereignty' by Mr. R. P. F. V. Heuston compiled in the Oxford Essays in Jurisprudence edited by A. G. Guest. At p. 215 the author says :
'It may be conceded at once that no Court could or should inquire whether a Bill had received the appropriate number of readings required by Standing Orders, for that is entirely a matter of internal procedure (foot note reads 'It is said that on V. E. day one Bill received four readings in the Commons. If true this could not be made a ground of complaint'). But it is quite another thing to deny that a Court has jurisdiction to inquire whether each component part of the legislature has recorded its assent separately; for in this case the constitutional rights of the subject are involved ............ Regularity of internal proceedings is one thing, the constitutional rights of the subject are another, and it is the latter which are in issue in such a case. No doubt a Judge would hesitate before granting an injunction and in such case but we must not confuse the factors which may relevant in deciding whether to exercise a discretionary jurisdiction with the factors which may be relevant in deciding whether such a jurisdiction exists.'
As a proposition of constitutional law, no exception can be taken to this view. Lord Denman, C. J., in the celebrated case of Stockdale v. Hansard, (1839) 9 A & E 1, pointed out :
'That sovereign power can make or unmake the laws; but the concurrence of the three legislative estates is necessary; the resolution of any one of them cannot alter the law or place anyone beyond its control.'
While this statement of the law is unexceptionable, the difficulty arises in appreciating how it arises in the present case. The argument put forward on behalf of the petitioners is built upon certain bold suppositions. The first is that the Regional Committee is not a Committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State and must be regarded as a separate House of the Legislature of the State. This contention is plainly opposed to the explicit terms of Art. 371(1) which speaks of the Regional Committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State. Furthermore, in many cardinal respects the Regional Committee is different from a House of the Legislature contemplated by the Constitution . The members of the Committee are members of the Legislative Assembly and they share the rights and privileges of the members of that House and are amenable to its discipline and jurisdiction. The primary legislative activities of the members of the Committee are performed in the Legislative Assembly as members thereof. The Committee is only an agency through which the Assembly functions. It is, therefore, not tenable to say that the Regional Committee itself is a separate House of the State Legislature.
The second assumption is that treating the Regional Committee as a House of the Legislature, its meeting without complying literally with bye-law No. 4 framed by it for regulating its own procedure would entitle the Court to intervene and declare its meeting and proceedings invalid. This assumption is quite opposed to Art. 212(1) of the Constitution . The petitioners cannot have it both ways at the same time. They cannot say that Art. 212 does not in terms apply to the Regional Committee because it is not a House of the legislature and at the same time ask that the Regional Committee should be regarded as a House of the legislature. If it is a House of the legislature, then Art. 212 cannot be escaped by the petitioners. They cannot get round it by adopting inconsistent and mutually destructive arguments.
I have already dealt with the position that the Regional Committee is only a Committee of the Legislative Assembly set up by the President's order under Art. 371 of the Constitution. Discussing the matter from that angle, I have indicated that the relief asked for by the petitioners in the present proceedings cannot properly be granted to them. But then it is urged that the Regional Committee is a House of the legislature itself. If so, the absence of intimation under bye-law No. 4 to the petitioners who are members of that Committee will be only an irregularity of procedure on which an attack against the validity of its proceedings cannot be grounded in view of Art. 212(1). So, from either point of view, the contention of the petitioners does not advance their case.
(19) The attempt of the petitioners is to persuade this Court to interfere with the proceedings of the Legislature in the formative stages of an enactment. I do not think this Court can or should accede to this request. This sovereignty of the legislature vouchsafed by Art. 194, 208 and 212, not to speak of the general scheme and structure of our Constitution, is a potent factor and a decisive answer against the petitioners in this regard. In several cases, the High Courts in India, have refused to interfere with the legislative processes in the passage of Bills in the Legislature. It is unnecessary to dwell upon these decisions at length. The view adopted by the High Courts is against interference with the internal procedure of the Legislature, vide Chotey Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh, : AIR1951All228 , Hem Chandra v. Speaker Legislative Assembly, West Bengal, (S) : AIR1956Cal378 and K. P. K. Thirumulpad v. State of Kerala, : AIR1961Ker324 , in which a number of decisions on the point have been noticed.
(20) The Supreme Court in M. S. M. Sharma v. Dr. Shree Krishna Singh, : 1SCR96 , has stated the law thus :
'It was contended that the procedure adopted inside the House of the Legislature was not regular and not strictly in accordance with law. There are two answers to this contention, firstly, that according to the previous decision of this Court, the petitioner has not the fundamental right claimed by him. He is, therefore, out of Court. Secondly, the validity of the proceedings inside the Legislature of a State cannot be called in question on the allegation that the procedure laid down by the law had not been strictly followed. Art. 212 of the Constitution is a complete answer to this part of the contention raised on behalf of the petitioner. No Court can go into those questions which are within the special jurisdiction of the Legislature itself, which has the power to conduct its own business. Possibly, a third answer to this part of the contention raised on behalf of the petitioner is that it is yet premature to consider the question of procedure as the Committee is yet to conclude its proceedings. It must also be observed that once it has been held that the Legislature has the jurisdiction to control the publication of its proceedings and to go into the question whether there has been any breach of its privileges, the Legislature is vested with complete jurisdiction to carry on its proceedings in accordance with its rules of business. Even though it may not have strictly complied with the requirements of the procedural law laid down for conducting its business, that cannot be a ground for interference by this Court under Art. 32 of the Constitution. Courts have always recognised the basic difference between complete want of jurisdiction and improper or irregular exercise of jurisdiction. Mere non-compliance with rules of procedure cannot be a ground for issuing a writ under Art. 32 of the Constitution, vide : Janardhan Reddy v. State of Hyderabad, : 2SCR344 '. This decision clearly negatives a good part of the contentions advanced on behalf of the petitioners.
(21) Under Art. 168 of the Constitution, the Governor is an essential part of the State Legislature. Art. 200 enjoins that a Bill passed by both Houses of Legislature of the State shall be presented to the Governor. This is undoubtedly an essential legislative process and a Court of law will not interfere with it. It is then argued that the Court is moved only to grant an injunction against the Council of Ministers represented by the Chief Minister. But the obvious object of this prayer cannot be overlooked. It is only to prevent the Bill from being presented to the Governor as one of the three legislative estates of the State, to borrow the phraseology of Lord Denman, C. J. , in object of preventing the presentation of Bills under Art. 200 of the Governor of the State will be a clear interference with a necessary legislative process and will seek to interdict what the Constitution mandatorily enjoins. This, a Court will not do. Moreover, it does not appear that the responsibility of presenting the Bills to the Governor under Art. 200 is cast by the Constitution on the Council of Ministers. Assembly Rule 147-A which deals with submission of Bills under Art. 200 reads :
'When a Bill which has been introduced in the Assembly has been passed or is deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Legislature, it shall be signed by the Speaker and the Chairman and shall be submitted to the Governor for his assent.'
There does not appear to be any other provision in the Rules of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council which specifies the agency which should be entrusted with the duty of presenting a Bill to the Governor. Rule 147-A perfectly accord with the view that it is for the Houses of the Legislature represented by its Presiding Officers to submit a Bill to the Governor. It is a matter of internal arrangement whether the responsibility for submission of a Bill to the Governor should be placed on the Speaker or his Secretariat.
(22) A close reading of art. 200 also indicates that it is duty of the Houses of the State Legislature or the Legislature Secretariat to present a Bill to the Governor, for the first proviso to Art. 200 deals with a contingency of the Bill presented to the Governor being RETURNED by him with a message that the House or Houses will reconsider the Bill or any specified provisions thereof. It holds to acceptable canons of construction and also squares with common sense that a thing is 'returned' only to the person who has given it or sent it. Otherwise, the word 'return' may not be appropriate. You return a thing to a person from whom you got it, or took it. You do not take a thing from A and say that you have returned it to B. The ordinary meaning of the word 'return' is 'come back, or go back' ; revert to, put back, send back or pay back'. Therefore, when the first proviso to Art. 200 provides for the return of a Bill by the Governor to the Houses of the Legislature with a message, it appears to assume that the Bill was submitted to the Governor by the legislative and not by the executive authority.
As against this, Mr. Chowdary for the petitioners has drawn my attention to R. 51 of the Andhra Pradesh Government Business Rules and Secretariat Instructions which says that when a Bill has been passed by the Legislature it shall be examined by the Law Department in consultation with the administrative department concerned and shall be forwarded to the Governor with (a) a report of the Secretary of the department concerned as to the reasons, if any, why the Governor's assent should not be given ; and (b) a report of the Law Secretary as to the reasons, if any, why the Governor's assent should not be given or the Bill should not be reserved for the consideration of the President.
The learned Advocate-General has rightly argued that this Business Rule does not directly fall within the scope and ambit of art. 166 of the Constitution under which it is admittedly made. Art. 166(3) empowers the Governor to make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of the State and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business in so far as it is not business with respect to which the Governor is by or under the Constitution required to act in his discretion. I do not think the presenting of a Bill to the Governor under Art. 200 is a business of the Government of the State. The legislative process is a continuous one beginning with the introduction of a Bill in a House of Legislature and ending with the submission to the Governor of the Bill passed by both Houses of the legislature and the assent of the Governor to it. I am inclined to agree with the learned Advocate-General that in this continuous legislative process, there can be no interposition or intervention of the executive. Whatever it be, it is difficult to say that under R. 51 of the Andhra Pradesh Government Business Rules and Secretariat Instructions, the Council of Ministers are charged with the duty of presenting a Bill to the Governor. If such an interpretation is sought to be placed upon this Rule on the ground that the Secretaries to the Government are executive officers of the administrative departments of the Government which are entrusted to the care and charge of the council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister, one will have to say that the duties cast upon the Secretaries of the Law and the concerned administrative department under R. 51 are not executive duties simpliciter but are legislative duties of tendering advice to the Governor on specified legislative matters. They should, therefore, be held to function under Business Rule 51 not as executive officials but as persons specifically designated by the Governor to perform certain duties appertaining to the legislative sphere. I do not, therefore, consider that the relief sought by the petitioners against the Council of Ministers is either appropriate or effective.
(23) In view of the foregoing, the Writ Petition and the C. M. P. fail and they are dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 150.
(24) Petitions dismissed.