S.N. Katju and S.D. Khare, JJ.
1. The following two questions have been referred to this Bench for opinion. :
1. Whether the State Government acts as a quasi-judicial authority when deciding a case relating to the allotment of an accommodation?
2. Whether the State Government is bound to give reasons for its order in a case for the allotment of accommodation?
2. We have had the advantage of going through the judgment prepared by brother G. C. Mathur, J., and with great respect we agree that for reasons given by him the First question should be answered in the affirmative.
3. For reasons already given by us in Civil Misc. Writ No. 3755 of 1967* and Special Appeal No. 429 of 1967 our opinion is that the second question should be answered in the negative.
G.C. Mathur, J.
4. The following two questions have been referred to this Bench for opinion:--
1. Whether the State Government acts as a quasi-judicial authority when deciding a case relating to the allotment of an accommodation?
2. Whether the State Government is bound to give reasons for its order in a case for the allotment of an accommodation?
5. What is popularly called an 'allotment order' is really an order' to let an accommodation to a particular person and is made under Section 7 (2) of the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act, 1947. Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 7, which are relevant to the questions referred are in these words:--
'7 (1) (a) -- Every landlord shall within 7 days after an accommodation becomes vacant by his ceasing to occupy it or by the tenant vacating it or otherwise ceasing to occupy it or by termination of a tenancy or by release from requisition or in any other manner whatsoever, give notice of the vacancy in writing to the District Magistrate.
(b) -- Every tenant occupying accommodation shall, within 7 days of vacation of such accommodation, or ceasing to occupy it, give notice thereof in writing to the District Magistrate.
(c) -- The notice given under Clause (a) or (b) shall contain such particulars as may be prescribed.
(2) The District Magistrate may, by general or special order, require a landlord to let or not to let to any person any accommodation which is or has fallen vacant or is about to fall vacant.' The general order contemplated in subsection (2) is an order by the District Magistrate forbidding all landlords from letting out any accommodation to any person without his permission and the special order is one by which the District Magistrate directs a particular landlord to let out a particular accommodation to a particular person. An order under Section 7 (2) is not revisable by the Commissioner but only by the State Government under Sec. 7-F of the Act. Section 7-F provides:
'7-F. The State Government may call for the record of any case granting or refusing to grant permission for the filing of a suit for eviction referred to in Section 3 or requiring any accommodation to be let or not to be let to any person under Section 7 or directing a person to vacate any accommodation under Section 7-A and may make such order as appears to it necessary for the ends of justice.'
6. Before considering whether the State Government is required to act quasi-judicially in deciding a case under Section 7-F arising out of an order under Section 7 (2), it is necessary to determine whether the District Magistrate is required to act quasi-judicially in making an order under Section 7 (2). The decisions of the Supreme Court have laiddown the following three tests for determining whether a statutory authority is required to act in a quasi-judicial manner or not:--
(i) That if a statute empowers an authority, not being a court in the ordinary sense, to decide disputes arising out of a claim made by one party under the statute which claim is opposed by another party and to determine the respective rights of the contesting parties who are opposed to each other, there is a lis and prima facie and in the absence of anything in the statute to the contrary, it is the duty of the authority to act judicially and the decision of the authority is a quasi-judicial act;
(ii) that if a statutory authority has power to do any act which will prejudicially affect the subject, then, although there are not two parties apart from the authority and the contest is between the authority proposing to do the act and the subject opposing it, the final determination of the authority will yet be a quasi-judicial act, provided the authority is required by the statute to act judicially; and
(iii) that if the nature of the duties and functions to be exercised by the authority is such that they cannot but be exercised in a judicial or quasi-judicial manner, the authority must act in a quasi-judicial manner.
7. If any of these tests is satisfied, it must be held that the authority must act quasi-judicially. So far as the first test is concerned, it has been frankly conceded by Sri V. P. Misra appearing for the appellant that, in allotment proceedings, there is no lis between the parties. Even apart from this concession, it is apparent that, in such proceedings, no claim in respect of any right is made by any party which is disputed by any other party. None of the persons, who apply for allotment, has any right in or to the accommodation or to its allotment; there is really no dispute inter se the various applicants for allotment. The first test is, therefore, not satisfied in cases of allotment.
8. For the applicability of the second test, we have to see whether the Act or the rules framed there under, expressly or by necessary intendment, provide that the District Magistrate should act judicially. The Act itself lays down no procedure for the exercise of the power under Section 7 (2) by the District Magistrate and gives no indication whatever that he is required to act quasi-judicially. The rules also do not lay down any procedure for the exercise of the power or for the giving of any hearing or opportunity to any of the applicants for allotment. Sri Misra placed reliance on the provisions of Sections 7-G of the Act for showing that the Act required the District Magistrate to act judicially. Section 7-G runs as follows; '7-G (1) -- For purposes of any inquiry under this Act, the District Magistrate may--
(a) enter, inspect or authorise any officer subordinate to him to enter and inspect any accommodation at any time between sunrise and sunset; or
(b) by written order require any person to produce for his inspection such rent receipts, books or other documents relevant to the enquiry at such time and at such place specified in the order:
Provided that no premises shall be entered under Clause (a) without the consent of the occupier, unless at least 24 hours' previous notice in writing has been given.
(2) The District Magistrate shall, In so far as such powers are necessary for carrying out the different provisions of this Act, have power to summon and enforce the attendance of witnesses and to compel the production of documents in so far as may be in the same manner as is provided in the case of a Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.'
Section 7-G does not really prescribe any procedure for the exercise of the power under Section 7 (2) but merely confers power on the District Magistrate to enter and inspect any accommodation and to require any person to produce documents. Such powers are also conferred on purely administrative bodies which are not required to act quasi-judicially. The conferment of the power under Section 7-G gives no indication that the District Magistrate in exercising power under Section 7 (2), must act quasi-judicially. There is thus no indication either in the Act or in the rules that the District Magistrate is required to act quasi-judicially. The second test is also not satisfied.
9. So far as the applicability ofthe third test is concerned, it was contended by learned counsel that, even in allotment proceedings, the District Magistrate may be called upon to determine two jurisdictional questions, i. e., (i) whether the Act is applicable to the accommodation; and (ii) whether there is any vacancy or not; and that these two questions cannot but be determined objectively and, therefore, the District Magistrate must act quasi-judicially. Reliance is placed on the decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Property Agents v. Shamsher Bahadur : AIR1966All424 . This case does support the contention to some extent but, in view of the decisions of the Supreme Court, this contention cannot be accepted. In Province of Bombay v. Khushaldas S. Advani : 1SCR621 , it was held that the argument that whenever there is a determination of a fact which affects the rights of parties, the decision is quasi-judicial is not sound. It was observed that the argument overlooked the aspect that every decision of the executive generally is a decision of fact and, in most cases, affects the rights of some one or the other. Because an executive authority has to determine certain objective facts as a preliminary step in the discharge of an executive function, it does not follow that he must determine those facts judicially.
In Radhyeshyam Khare v. State of Madhya Pradesh : 1SCR1440 the Supreme Court reiterated its view that the mere fact that an administrative or executive authority is required by the statute to determine some questions of fact does not necessarily require the authority to act quasi-judicially. Therefore, the mere fact that the District Magistrate may, in certain cases, have to determine the question whether the act was applicable to the accommodation and whether the accommodation was vacant is no indication that the Legislature required the District Magistrate to act quasi-judicially. The nature of the power exercised by the District Magistrate under Section 7 (2) is also not such that it cannot but be exercised in a judicial or quasi-judicial manner. In fact, the District Magistrate is not called upon to determine any rights of any parties. Allotment proceedings are akin to proceedings for the grant of permits for the supply of a controlled commodity. It cannot be said to have any serious consequences because out of several applicants the accommodation can be allotted only to one of them and the consequences, serious or otherwise, are inevitable for the remaining applicants. The proceedings cannot be compared with proceedings for disciplinary action, or with proceedings taken against examinees who are alleged to have resorted to unfair means. The third test is also not satisfied in the case of allotment proceedings. Since neither of the three tests is satisfied, it must be held that the District Magistrate, in exercising his power under Section 7 (2) of the Act, is not required to act quasi-judicially. The same view has been taken earlier by this Court in Mahabir Prasad v. District Magistrate, Kanpur : AIR1955All501 ; Suraj Narain v. District Magistrate, Kanpur, 1958 All LJ 283 and Sri Krishna Khanna v. Addl. District Magistrate, Kanpur, 1964 All LJ 710.
10. The next question, which arises for consideration, is whether the State Government is required to actquasi-judicially in exercising its power of revision under Section 7-F in respect of orders of allotment. It is contended that the re visional or appellate power has to be exercised judicially even when it is exercised in respect of a purely administrative order unless the statute conferring the revisional or appellate power indicates to the contrary. The contention appears to be well founded. In Halsbury's Laws of England, Volume II, Third Edition, it is stated at page 56:
'Thus, if in order to arrive at the decision, the body concerned had to consider proposals and objections and consider evidence if at some stage of the proceedings leading upto the decision there was something in the nature of a lis before it, then in the course of such consideration and at that stage the body would be under a duty to act judicially.' Lord Haldane observed in Local Govt. Board v. Arlidge, 1915 AC 120.
'My Lords, when the duty of deciding an appeal is imposed, those whose duty it is to decide it must act judicially. They must deal with the question referred to them without bias, and they must give to each of the parties the opportunity of adequately presenting the case made. The decision must be come to in the spirit and with the sense of responsibility of a tribunal whose duty it is to mete out justice.'
A question arose before the Supreme Court in Nagendra Nath Bora v. Commr. of Hills Division : 1SCR1240 whether the Commissioner exercising appellate power under the Eastern Bengal and Assam Excise Act was required to act quasi-judicially. Holding that it was required to act quasi-judicially, the Supreme Court said:
'Where there is a right vested in an authority created by statute, be it quasi-judicial or administrative, to hear appeals and revisions, it becomes its duty to hear judicially, that is to say, in an objective manner, impartially and after giving reasonable opportunity to the parties concerned in the dispute to place their respective cases before it.'
In Shivji Nathubhai v. Union of India : 2SCR775 , a question arose before the Supreme Court whether, in considering a review application under Rule 53 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1949, against an order of the State Government granting a mining lease, the Central Government was required to act judicially or not. Holding that it was, the Supreme Court observed:--
'Now when a lease is granted by the State Government, it is quite possible that there may be no application for review by those whose applications have been refused. In such a case theorder of the State Government would be final. It would not, therefore, be, in our opinion, right to say that no right of any kind is created in favour of a person to whom the lease is granted by the State Government.......... At any ratewhen the statutory rule grants a right to any party aggrieved to make a review application to the Central Government, it certainly follows that the person in whose favour the order is made has also a right to represent his case before the authority to whom the review application is made. It is in the circumstances apparent that as soon as rule 52 gives a right to an aggrieved party to apply for review, a lis is created between him and the party in whose favour the grant has been made. Unless therefore, there is anything in the statute to the contrary, it will be the duty of the authority to act judicially and its decision would be a quasi-judicial act.'
In P. L. Lakhanpal v. Union of India : 3SCR114 , the Supreme Court had to consider the question whether the Central Government was required to Exercise its power to review a detention order judicially. Rule 30 (1) (b) of the Defence of India Rules empowered the Central Government and the State Government to detain any person in certain circumstances and Rule 30-A (9) required that every detention order made by the Central Government or the State Government shall be reviewed at intervals of not more than six months by the Government who made the order and, upon such review, that Government shall decide whether the order should be continued or cancelled. The Supreme Court held that, though the power under Rule 30 (1) (b), which was to be exercised upon the subjective opinion of the Government, was purely administrative, the power of review had to be exercised judicially. It said;--
'It is equally obvious that the manner, in which the question of continuation of detention enjoined upon by Rule 30-A (9) has to be determined is by applying the objective standard as against the subjective opinion or the belief of the detaining authority, i. e., by weighing evidence brought before or collected by such authority relevant to the purposes under Rule 30 (1) (b) and Rule 30-A (9) and then coming to a decision whether the order of detention needs continuation or not. How can such an authority come to its decision honestly and properly unless it is certain that the materials before it are true and dependable. How is that certainty to be derived unless the person concerned is given an opportunity to correct or contradict such evidence either by explanation or through other materialswhich he can place before the authority.'
In the State of Assam v. Hari Singh, Civil Appeal No. 1066 of 1966, D/- 16-7-1969 = (reported in AIR 1969 NSC 129) the question which arose for consideration before the Supreme Court, was whether the Conservator of Forests dealing with an appeal by one party against the order of the Divisional Forest Officer accepting the tender of another party for the purchase of forest produce was required to act judicially. The Supreme Court held:
'The Conservator of Forests is invested with power to hear an appeal against an order which is administrative in character, but, in the absence of any clear indication to the contrary, he is, when hearing the appeal under a duty to act judicially.'
Then referring to its previous decisions in : 1SCR621 ; : 1SCR1240 and : 2SCR775 it observed:--
'It is, therefore, clear that the duty of an authority invested with power to decide a question to act judicially need not arise from express enactment; it may result from necessary implication of the statute.
In the present case, the Divisional Forest Officer had accepted the tender of the first respondent. If the first respondent carried out the conditions, he was entitled to call upon the Divisional Forest Officer to settle the forest produce in his favour. The order was according to the conditions of sale, subject to appeal and on that account liable to be set aside by the Conservator of Forests. But, when deciding an appeal against the order of the Divisional Forest Officer, the Conservator of Forests had to act fairly and in a manner consistent with the rules of natural justice, that is, to consider the respective claims after giving an opportunity to the persons directly interested in the result of the appeal, to make their representations and to consider them objectively. Investment of power to entertain an appeal with authority to pass an order to the prejudice of one of the claimants prima facie implies a duty to act judicially, and there is nothing in the Act which negatives that implication.'
11. Recent decisions show that gradually the concept of quasi-judicial power is being widened and the functions, which were formerly considered to be purely administrative, are now considered to be quasi-judicial. In A. K. Kraipak v. Union of India : 1SCR457 the Supreme Court made the following observation:--
'The dividing line between an administrative power and a quasi-judicial power is quite thin and is being gradually obliterated. For determining whether a power is an administrative power or a quasi-judicial power one has to look to the nature of the power conferred, the person or persons on whom it is conferred, the framework of the law conferring that power, the consequences ensuing from the exercise of that power and the manner in which that power is expected to be exercised. Under our Constitution, the rule of law pervades over the entire field of administration Every organ of the State under our Constitution is regulated and controlled by the rule of law. In a welfare State like ours it is inevitable that the jurisdiction of the administrative bodies is increaseing at a rapid rate. The concept of rule of law would lose its vitality if the instrumentalities of the State are not charged with the duty of discharging their functions in a fair and just manner. The requirement of acting judicially in essence is nothing but a requirement to act justly and fairly and not -arbitrarily or capriciously. The procedures, which are considered inherent in the exercise of a judicial power, are merely those which facilitate, if not ensure, a just and fair decision. In recent years, the concept of quasi-judicial power has been undergoing a radical change. What was considered as an administrative power some years back is now being considered as a quasi-judicial power.'
12. Keeping these principles in mind, let us now examine the nature of the functions exercised by the State Government under Section 7-F of the Act. The examination reveals four things, viz.
(i) that the power under Section 7-F is a supervisory or appellate power to cancel, modify or affirm an order of allotment made in favour of a party;
(ii) that, as a result of the order of allotment, the allottee acquires a right to become a tenant of the accommodation and this right is disputed or challenged by another party before the State Government by an application under Section 7-F;
(iii) that the dispute is a private dispute between two parties which the State Government has to adjudicate upon; and
(iv) that the matter has to be decided on merits and objectively and not on grounds of policy or expediency. It thus appears that there is some sort of a lis before the State Government in deciding which it has to act justly and fairly and not arbitrarily or capriciously For these reasons, I am of the opinionthat, in deciding a case under Sec. 7-F relating to the allotment of an accommodation, the State Government has to act judicially. I would accordingly answer the first question in the affirmative.
13. The second question referred is whether the State Government is bound to give reasons for its order in a case relating to allotment of an accommodation. In answers to questions referred to this Bench in Writ Petn. No. 3755 of 1967, I have expressed the opinion that the State Government, passing an order under Section 7-F in a ease arising out of proceedings for the grant of permission under Section 3 of the act to file a suit for eviction of a tenant, is bound to give reasons for its order. Since I am of the opinion that the State Government is required to act quasi-judicially in deciding a case under Section 7-F relating to the allotment of an accommodation, it is bound, for the reasons already expressed in my answers to the reference in the writ petition, to give reasons for its order. I would accordingly answer the second question referred also in the affirmative.
H.N. Seth, J.
14. I agree.
Hamid Hussain, J.
15. I agree.
BY THE COURT
16. In accordance with the opinion of the majority, the answers to the questions referred to the Full Bench are:
(1) the State Government acts as a quasi-judicial authority when deciding a case under Section 7-F of the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent And Eviction Act relating to the allotment of an accommodation; and
(2) the State Government is bound] to give reasons for its order under Section 7-F of the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act in a case for the allotment of an accommodation.