A.N. Bhandari, C.J.
(1) This appeal under clause 10 of the Letters Patent raises the question whether the Director, consolidation of Holdings, was justified in reviewing an order passed by him under S. 42 of the Consolidation of Holdings Act of 1948.
(2) During the course of consolidation proceedings in village Manga of the Hoshiarpur district a plot of land towards the east of a village-path was allotted to Ujagar Singh, Raja and Khushia respondents Nos. 2, 3 and 4 while two plots of land, one on the eastern side of the path and the other on the western side of the path were allotted to Uttam Singh petitioner. Uttam Singh objected to this allotment on the ground that his land had been split up into two portions by the path in question but these objections were overruled by the Consolidation Officer.
On appeal by Uttam Singh the Settlement Officer directed that respondents 2 to 4 should be given land both on the eastern and western sides of the said path in lieu of the land which had already been allotted to them. The respondents preferred an appeal to the Additional Assistant Director but were unable to secure a reversal of the order passed by the Settlement Officer. Having failed to obtain the redress to which they considered themselves entitled, the respondents presented two applications to the Minister of Constitution of Holdings. The Minister forwarded one of these applications to the Director on 30-7-1947 and retained the other with himself. He sent for the records of the case and when he visited Hoshiarpur on 29-11-1957 he afforded a hearing to the landowners concerned in the presence of the Director.
On 3-12-1957 he forwarded the second application presented by respondents Nos. 2 to 4 to the Director and asked the latter to dispose of the applications under S. 42 of the statute after affording the respondents an opportunity of being heard. On or about the 3rd December, therefore both the applications presented by respondents 2 to 4 to the Minister were in the hands of the Director. On the 26th March he dismissed the application which was forwarded to him by the Minister on 30-7-1957 by means of a short order which was in the following terms:
'Seen. The order of Assistant Director, Consolidation of Holdings under S. 21(4) need not be amended. File and inform'.
He later summoned the parties and after hearing them at some length passed another order on the 16th July 1958 by virtue of which he set aside the order of the Additional Assistant Director under S. 42 and restored that the Consolidation Officer. During the course of this order the Director observed as follows:
'The C. H. M. had heard this case on 29-11-1957 at Hosiarpur and had expressed his opinion that it would be better to shift the petitioners to one side of the path as before'.
The petitioner challenged the validity of the order passed by the Director on 16-7-1958 by means of a petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution, the principal ground being that the Director having once passed an order under S. 42 on 26-3-1957, had no power to vacate it. The learned Single Judge before whom this petition was put up for consideration, admitted that the powers of an administrative officer to review an order passed by him are extremely limited, but he held that the Director did not send for or examine the records of the case before passing his order dated the 26th Mach 1958, that the said order cannot be deemed to have been passed under s. 42 of the statute and consequently that the said order could not prevent the Director from passing an order on 16-7-1958. The petitioner had preferred an appeal under clause 10 of the Letters Patent.
(3) Section 42 of the Act of 1948 is in the following terms.
'42. The State Government may at any time for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety of any order passed by any officer under this Act, call for and examine the record of any case pending before or disposed of by such officer and may pass such order in reference thereto as it thinks fit ...........
43. Except as provided in this Act no appeal or revision shall lie from any order passed under this Act'.
(4) It is impossible to make a broad general statement which is applicable to all administrative tribunals and to all situations as to whether it is or is not within the power of an administrative officer to re-hear, to reconsider or to modify an administrative decision made by him. According to certain authorities, administrative officers charged with quasi-judicial duties have inherent power to correct clerical errors in their determinations, or to consider of modify them on the ground of fraud, mistake or inadvertence or on account of newly discovered evidence. According to others, an administrative tribunal has no power to review a final determination made by it unless power of review is conferred by the statute either expressly or by necessary implication. Be that as it may, the face remains that even if an administrative tribunal has inherent power to review its own order, it cannot exercise this power arbitrarily and without reason.
(5) The first point for decision in the present case is whether the first order passed by the Director can be said to be an order passed under S. 42 of the statute. It is true that S. 42 empowers the State Government to call for and examine the record of any case pending before all dispose of by any officer & to pass such order in reference thereto as it thinks fit, but it is not necessary that an order under section 42 should be passed only after the records have been sent for and examined. It is a matter o everyday experience that Courts of law often dismiss applications for revision summarily without sending for or examining the records. If therefore the Director dismissed the respondents' application 26-3-1958 in limine and without examining the records, it cannot be said that his order was void and of no effect. The order dated 26-3-1958 was clearly an order under S. 42 of the statute.
(6) This brings me to consideration of the second question which has arisen in the prevent case, namely whether a tribunal constituted by the Act of 1948 has been invested with the power to vacate an order passed by it and to replace it by another order. The answer is clearly in the negative. Even if a tribunal possesses some inherent power, the Director has given no reason for recalling his previous order and for passing a new one.
(7) For these reasons I would allow the appeal, set aside the order of the learned Single Judge and declare that the order passed by the Director on 16-7-1958 was wholly null and void. The successful party will be entitled to the costs of this Court.
D. Falshaw, J.
(8) I agree.
(9) Appeal allowed.