Gopalakrishnan Nair, J.
1. The petitioner asks for a writ of certiorari under the following circumstances: He was a Telugu pandit in the employment of District Board, Nellore, till the year 1962 or so when he retired. He alleges that even before the year 1955 he had completed more than fifteen years of continuous service as a grade I pandit, and that therefore he applied to the district board on 22 September 1955 for a higher scale of pay which is known as the L.T. scale, in pursuance of G.O. Ms. No. 626. His request was granted and he was placed in the higher scale of pay. However, on 1 May 1959, the special officer of the district board served the impugned order on him reverting him to grade II and also asking him to reimburse to the Government the difference between grade I and the grade II salary, which he had overdrawn from 1 January 1918. This excessive drawal was mentioned in the order to have aggregated to Rs. 2,513.10. This came as a surprise to the petitioner as be had not any prior inkling of it; he received no notice of the proposed action, nor was any opportunity given to him for making his representations against it.
2. What is more, the impugned order which was served upon the petitioner by the special officer of the district board, suggested that it was passed on the instructions of the Director of Public Instruction, Andhra Pradesh, who is really the appellate authority from the special officer. Yet, the petitioner was obliged to appeal to the Director of Public Instruction, and his appeal was dismissed. Thereafter, he filed an appeal to the Government sometime in October 1959. That appeal does not appear to have, in any way, helped the petitioner. Therefore, he has come to this Court, asking for a writ of mandamus to compel the Government to restore him to grade I scale, and to repair the injury that is alleged to have been caused by the impugned order.
3. The material facts alleged by the petitioner in this writ petition are not denied by the respondents, viz., the State of Andhra Pradesh, the Director of Public Instruction, and the Zilla Parishad, Nellore. It is, therefore, apparent that an order, which was undoubtedly prejudicial to the petitioner, had been passed without any notice to him and without affording him even the slightest opportunity of being heard against the action proposed to be taken against him. This plainly is a negation of the principles of natural justice. It is not permitted in law to condemn a person unheard and behind his back. This ground alone is sufficient for setting aside the order in question.
4. Although the petitioner originally asked for a writ of mandamus as the main relief in this petition, he was permitted by this Court to amend the prayer into one for a writ of certiorari to quash the order complained of. Even without this formal amendment the broad relief he had claimed for the issue of 'appropriate writ or direction' would perhaps have been sufficient for his purpose.
5. The learned Government Pleader has tried to resist this writ petition on the ground that the order sought to be impugned is purely administrative in character and as such cannot be set aside by this Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. It appears to me well-settled that when the Government or any other authority empowered in that behalf reverts its servant to a lower post or a lower grade, or directs him to pay back substantial sums of money to It, it would be acting not in a purely administrative capacity, but in a quasi-judicial capacity. The rights of the employee cannot be dealt with according to the whims and fancies of the statutory authorities, be it the Government or any other body. Anything in the nature of a deprivation, which substantially affects an employee, can be ordered only after a reasonable opportunity is given to the employee to show cause against it. It is, therefore quite futile to contend that the special officer of the district board in the instant case has issued a valid and legally permissible order. The truth of the master is that the order was passed in plain disregard of all canons of natural justice and fair-play, and to make matters worse it was passed by an authority who ought to have acted in a quasi-judicial manner. I, therefore, have no hesitation in quashing the impugned order. It is left to the authorities concerned to decide whether a fresh order should be pasted on a proper enquiry after giving fair notice to the petitioner and according him a reasonable opportunity to make his representations against any action that may be proposed to be taken against him. I make no order as to costs.