1. The Bullion and Agricultural produce Exchange Private Limited, petitioner No. 1, obtained a certificate of registration on 15th Dec. 1962 under Section 14A of the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') from the Forward Markets Commission (hereinafter referred to as 'the Commission') established under Section 3 of the said Act. This certificate entitled petitioner No. 1 to carry on business in Arhar Ki Chooni. Condition No. 2(ii) of the Certificate, a copy whereof has been filed as annexure 'I' to the writ petition, was to the following effect:
'(ii) that the said association shall not conduct forward trading in any commodity other than those specified hereunder except with the previous approval of the Forward Markets Commission.'
2. It appears that forward trading in Arhar Ki Chooni was banned by a notification issued under the Act and thereafter petitioner No. 1 made an application to the Commission for permission to carry on forward trading business in linseed oilcake. This application had been apparently made in pursuance of Condition No. 2(ii) of the certificate of registration issued to petitioner No. 1 as stated above. The Commission by its order dated 14th July, 1977, a copy whereof has been filed as annexure '4' to the writ petition, refused permission to petitioner No. 1 to organize forward trading in linseed Oilcake. It is this order which is sought to be quashed in the present writ petition,
3. It was urged by counsel for the petitioners that opportunity of being heard in the matter before refusing to grant the permission as contemplated by Section 14B of the Act was not given to thepetitioners nor does the order of refusal give reasons for such refusal and the said order being a quasi-judicial one is accordingly vitiated. For the respondent, on the other hand, it was urged that opportunity of being heard in the matter as contemplated by Section 14B of the Act was to be given only before refusing to grant certificate of registration under Section 14A. In the instant case, since a Certificate of registration had already been granted earlier and the application which was dismissed by the impugned order not being an application for grant of a certificate but for permission to condupt forward trading in another commodity namely, Linseed Oilcake in pursuance of Condition No. 2(ii) of the certificate of registration the proviso to Section 14B of the Act was not applicable. In order to deal with the respective submissions made by counsel for the parties, it would be necessary to keep in mind the nature of the jurisdiction exercised by the Commission under Section 14A of the Act which deals with certificate of registration to be obtained by all associations. The said section, inter alia, contemplates that no association concerned with the regulation and control of business relating to Forward Contracts, shall after the commencement of the Forward Contracts (Regula-lation) Amendment Act, 1960 carry on such business except under and in accordance with the conditions of a certificate of registration granted under this Act by the Commission. The following observations in regard to the rights of an Association in the matter of carrying on business made by the Supreme Court in A. I. B. E. Association v. National Industrial Tribunal (AIR 1962 SC 171) will be relevant (at p. 180) :--'The resulting position may be illustrated thus; If an association were formed for the purpose of carrying on business, the right to form it would be guaranteed by Sub-clause (c) of Clause (1) of Article 19 subject to any law restricting that right conforming to Clause (4) of Article 19. As regards its business activities, however, and the achievement of the objects for which it was brought into existence its rights would be those guaranteed by Sub-clause (g) of Clause (1) of Article 19 subject to any relevant law on the matter conforming to Clause (6) of Article 19; while the property which the association acquires or possesses would be protected by Sub-clause (f) of Clause (1) of Article 19 subject to legislation within the limits laid down by Clause (5) of the Article 19'.
The right of petitioner No. 1 consequentlyto conduct forward trading in Linseed Oilcake was subject to the restriction placed by Section 14A of the Act. In regard to the nature of jurisdiction exercised by the Commission a Division Bench of this Court in Union of India v. Bullion and Agricultural Produce Exchange Ltd. (1972 All LJ 847) : (AIR 1973 All 205) held (at p. 210 of AIR):
'The Commission is a high powered body of experts. All its proceedings are judicial. It is deemed to be a civil court. It is obvious that it is plainly ordained to pass order on objective considerations in the light of various other provisions of the Act'.
4. In regard to the submission made by counsel for the respondent that the requirement of the proviso to Section 14B of the Act of giving an oportunity of being heard in the matter was not applicable to the facts of the instant case, inasmuch as the application which had been dismissed by the impugned order was not an application for certificate of registration, it was urged by counsel for the petitioners that the said requirement would still be applicable in view of Section 21 of the General Clauses Act, 1897. In our opintion, Section 21 of the General Clauses Act may not apply inasmuch as that section does not obviously confer a power of review on an authority exercising judicial or quasi-judicial power. Judicial or quasi-judicial authorities can review their order only if such power is specifically provided for. These authorities in certain contingencies have inherent power also to review their decision. It is on this principle that Sec. 21 of the General Clauses Act may not apply to the facts of the instant case in view of the decision of this Court in Union of India v. Bullion and Agricultural Produce Exchange Ltd. (supra) where it was held as already pointed out above that the proceedings of the Forward Markets Commission are judicial and it is deemed to be a civil court.
5. The question as to whether Section 21 of the General Clauses Act applied in respect of a registration certificate granted under the Citizenship Act came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in Ghaurul Hasan v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1967 SC 107) and it was held that the orders mentioned in Section 21 of the General Clauses Act are not orders of the kind contemplated under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act.
6. Notwithstanding the fact that Section 21 of the General Clauses Act may not apply, we however are of opinion that keeping in view that the bar created by Section 14A of the Act disentitles an Association to conduct forward trading in any commodity other than the commodity in respect of which certificate of registration may have been granted and that the proceedings before the Commission are judicial in nature the application made for permission to conduct forward trading in Linseed Oilcake by petitioner No. 1 in pursuance of Clause (2)(ii) of the certificate of registration would necessarily partake of the same judicial nature.
7. At this place we may point out that the view taken by this Court in Union of India v. Bullion and Agricultural Exchange Ltd, (AIR 1973 All 205)(supra) that the Commission while granting certificate of registration is competent to specify the commodities in which the persons asking for registration will deal in and that condition No. 2(ii) aforesaid was valid was approved by the Supreme Court in 'Union of India v. Rajdhani Grains and Jaggery Exchange Ltd. (AIR 1975 SC 1218) and upheld in Mahabir Beopar Mandal Ltd. v. Forward Markets Commission (AIR 1977 SC 1562).
8. In view of what has been pointed out above it is apparent that granting of permission to petitioner No. 1 for conducting forward trading in Linseed Oilcake in pursuance of condition No. 2(ii) virtually stands on the same footing as granting a certificate of registration in respect of the said commodity inasmuch as without such permission being granted the petitioner No. 1 would in view of the bar created by Section 14A of the Act not be entitled to carry on the said activity. Consequently even if the requirement of the proviso to Section 14B of giving an opportunity of being heard in the matter may not strictly apply to the disposal of an application for permission the principle behind the said proviso would, in our opinion be applicable. Likewise the proceedings being of a civil nature compliance of the requirements of giving reasons for refusal of the permission would also be necessary. As such if the Commission on an application for permission as aforesaid being made to it is tentatively of the opinion that the permission is to be refused it has to inform the applicant the grounds on which it is tentatively of the opinion that the permission is to be refused. For it goes without saying that when a tentative decision is taken to refuse permission it must be based on some grounds particularly when these matters are to be decided as seen above on objective considerations. If reply to a show cause notice issued in such a manner is submitted by the applicant and the same is not acceptable to the Commission it should record reasons as to why they are not acceptable. Even if no reply is submitted the order refusing permission should still indicate reasons for the findings on the basis of which permission has been refused.
9. Now we revert to the facts of the instant case. Annexure '3' to the writ petition which is a copy of the show cause notice dated 19th April, 1977 served by the Commission on petitioner No, 1 indicates that the said notice was given under Section 14B of the Act. The ground on which permission was sought to be refused was stated to be:
'And whereas, on an examination ofthis issue, the Commission considers that there is no need, presently at any rate, for conducting forward trading in Linseed oilcake under the auspices of an Association, particularly when party to party contracts have not been prohibited',
10. It would be seen that Section 14A bars an Association only to enter into such contracts as are contemplated by the said section and it does not prohibit party to party contracts. When the section itself does not prohibit party to party contracts this circumstance apparently could not constitute a reason for refusing permission. The only other ground on which the permission was sought to be refused was that 'there is no need, presently at any rate, for conducting forward trading in linseed oilcake under the auspices of an Association.' The same has been shown to be the reason for refusing permission in the impugned order dated 14th July, 1977. The whole question, therefore, is whether it fulfils the requirement of being heard in the matter as well as of recording reasons for refusal of the permission. It is true as pointed out by the Supreme Court in Union of India v. Rajdhani Grains and Jaggery Exchange Ltd, (AIR 1975 SC 1218)(supra) that the conditions in the market dealing with for ward contract do not remain static. They change. It is also true that in view of Section 4(b) of the Act the Commission is to keep forward markets under observation and to take such action in relation tothat as it may consider necessary in exercise of the power assigned to it by or under this Act. The question which, however, remains to be considered is whether a bald assertion that there is no need, presently at any rate, for conducting forward trading in linseed oilcake under the auspices of an Association is sufficient compliance of the requirement of law or not. In so far as giving an opportunity is concerned we are of opinion that the question has to be answered in the context of each case keeping in view the principle of natural justice. Consequently the show cause notice in the instant case should have conveyed so much information as was necessary to enable the petitioner No. 1 to meet the facts on the basis of which permission was sought to be refused by the Commission. As such merely saying that the Commission considered that there was no need, presently at any rate, for conducting forward trading in linseed oilcake under the auspices of an Association was not enough. How from this bald assertion the petitioner No. 1 could know as to what was the basis for this tentative opinion of the Commission and what reply could the petitioner No. 1 give in respect of this assertion? The ground on |the basis of which this tentative opinion had been formed by the Commission should have been disclosed to the petitioner No. 1 and it is only then that it could furnish material in reply if it was possible to do so. In the absence of such ground being indicated in the notice it cannot be said that any real opportunity was given to petitioner No. 1 to show cause why the permission prayed for may not be refused.
11. Since the same infirmity occurs in the impugned order dated 14th July, 1977 the said order cannot be construed to contain reasons as are necessary for a judicial or quasi-judicial order. What has been stated in the impugned order, namely, that the Commission 'has come to the conclusion that presently there is no need for organising forward trading in linseed oilcake under the auspices of an association at Agra'' is really the conclusion or finding of the Commission. Indeed the impugned order specifically states so. It cannot be doubted that there is apparently a distinction between a finding or conclusion and the reasons for the said finding or conclusion. In Mahabir Prasad v. State of U.P. (AIR 1970 SC 1302) it was held (at p. 1304):
'It must appear not merely that the authority entrusted with quasi-judicial authority has reached a conclusion on the problem before him; it must appear that he has reached a conclusion which is according to law and just, and for ensuring that end he must record the ultimate mental process leading from the dispute to its solution. Satisfactory decision of a disputed claim may be reached only if it be supported by the most cogent reasons that appeal to the authority. Recording of reasons in support of a decision on a disputed claim by a quasi-judicial authority ensures that the decision is reached according to law and is not the result of caprice, whim or fancy or reached on grounds of policy or expediency. A party to the dispute is ordinarily entitled to know the grounds on which the authority has rejected his claim. If the order is subject to appeal, the necessity to record reasons is greater, for without recorded reasons the appellate authority has no material on which it may determine whether the facts were properly ascertained, the relevant law was correctly applied and the decision was just.'
12. Even if no appeal lies against the order recording of reason would still be necessary if such order is amenable to the writ jurisdiction of this Court. In State of U.P. v. Managing Committee (1973 All LJ 282) : (AIR 1973 All 458) a Division Bench of this Court held that for want of reason this Court is also disabled from satisfactorily exercising its supervisory power under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution. In Ajantha Industries v. Central Board of Direct Taxes (AIR 1976 SC 437) dealing with a case of income-tax, it was held (at p. 440):
'The reason for recording of reasons in the order and making these reasons known to the assessee is to enable an opportunity to the assessee to approach the High Court under its writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, or even this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution in an appropriate case for challenging the order inter alia, either on the ground that it is mala fide or arbitrary or that it is based on irrelevant and extraneous considerations.'
13. While considering the question as to what are the requirements of reasons, it was held by the Supreme Court in Union of India v. M.L. Kapoor (AIR 1974 SC 87)(at p. 98):
'Reasons are the links between the materials on which certain conclusionsare based and the actual conclusions. They disclose how the mind is applied to the subject-matter for a decision whether it is purely administrative or quasi-judicial. They should reveal a rational nexus between the facts considered and the conclusions reached. Only in this way can opinions or decisions recorded be shown to be manifestly just and reasonable.'
14. In Siemens Engineering and Manufacturing Company v. Union of India (AIR 1976 SC 1785), it was held (at page 1789):
'If courts of law are to be replaced by administrative authorities and tribunals, as indeed, in some kinds of cases, with the proliferation of administrative law, they may have to be so replaced, it is essential that administrative authorities and tribunals should accord fair and proper hearing to the persons sought to be affected by their orders and give sufficiently clear and explicit reasons in support of the orders made by them. Then alone administrative authorities and tribunals exercising quasi-judicial function will be able to justify their existence and carry credibility with the people by inspiring confidence in the adjudicatory process. The rule requiring reasons to be given in support of an order is, like the principle of audi alteram partem, a basic principle of natural justice which must inform every quasi-judicial process and this rule must be observed in its proper spirit and mere pretence of compliance with it would not satisfy the requirement of law.'
15. In view of the law laid down in the aforesaid cases it is apparent that the impugned order does not conform with the requirement of giving reasons. It just contains the conclusion of the Commission with no reason supporting the said conclusion.
16. In the result the writ petition succeeds and is allowed and the impugned order dated 14th July, 1977 is quashed and the respondent Forward Markets Commission is directed to dispose of the application made by the petitioners on which the impugned order was passed afresh in accordance with law keeping in mind the observations made above. There will be no order as to costs.