1.This appeal by certificate arises from consolidation proceedings regarding Khata No. 24 in Village Keoli Khurd, Tehsil Khurja District Bullandshahr. The appellant contended in the said proceedings that he was a co-tenant with respondents Jyoti Prasad and Sonpal and therefore he is entitled to half share in the property included in Khata No. 24. Jyoti Prasad and Sonpal denied his claim. The Consolidation Officer accepted the claim made by the appellant. Jyoti Prasad and Sonpal appealed against that order to the Settlement Officer (Consolidation), Rampur. He dismissed that appeal. As against that order, Jyoti Prasad and Sonpal went up in revision to the Dy. Director of Consolidation, U.P. The revision petition was fixed for hearing on May 12, 1967. On that day the appellant's counsel moved an application before the Deputy Director of Consolidation seeking an adjournment of the case firstly on the ground that the appellant was ill and secondly on the allegation that the petitioners' Counsel Sri Babu Ram Gupta was a relation of the Deputy Director of Consolidation and as such the appellant wanted to move the District Dy. Director of Consolidation for transfer of the case from the file of Deputy Director of Consolidation. The Deputy Director of Consolidation refused to grant the adjournment prayed for. Thereupon the appellant's counsel left the court. Thereafter the Deputy Director of Consolidation heard the revision petition and allowed the same. The then Deputy Director of Consolidation was Sri Satya Prakash. The appellant then moved the Deputy Director of Consolidation to review his order. That application came up before Shri Sharma who rejected the same on the ground that he had no jurisdiction to review the order once made. Aggrieved by that decision, the appellant moved the High Court of Allahabad under Article 226 of the Constitution to quash the order of the Deputy Director of Consolidation on the ground that in making the order, the Deputy Director had contravened the principles of natural justice inasmuch as he did not give reasonable opportunity to the appellant to move the appropriate authorities to transfer the case to the file of some other competent officer on the ground that the counsel for the contesting respondents and the Deputy Director are relations and as such the appellant is not likely to get justice at his hands. The High Court summarily dismissed that petition. Hence this appeal.
2. The appellant's allegation that the contesting respondents' counsel and the Deputy Director of Consolidation were relations stands unrefuted. The Deputy Director did not make any formal order rejecting the prayer for adjournment of the case nor did he record in his order in the revision petition that there was no basis for the allegation that the contesting respondents' counsel was his relation. In fact his order does not even refer to the prayer made by the counsel for the appellant for adjournment of the case and his refusal to grant the same. It merely mentions that when the case was taken up for hearing, the appellant's counsel went away. But all the relevant facts are available from the order made by Mr Sharma on the review application. We think that the Deputy Director of Consolidation was not well advised in refusing to grant the adjournment asked for particularly in view of the fact that he did not deny that the counsel for the contesting respondents was his relation. Naturally the appellant had reason to believe that he may not get justice at the hands of Sri Satya Prakash. It is a common saying that justice must not only be done but it must appear to have been done.
3. From the facts of this case, it is clear that the appellant had no reasonable opportunity to present his case in the revision application filed by Jyoti Prasad and Sonpal. On the facts of this case we are unable to hold that the appellant's suspicion about the impartiality of Sri Satya Prakash was either baseless or unfounded. It may be that despite the fact that the contesting respondents' counsel was his relation, Sri Satya Prakash might have decided the case on its own merits but that is not the same thing as saying that the appellant had no reasonable ground to move for the transfer of the case. Sri Satya Prakash should have left it to the appropriate authorities to decide whether the case should be tried by him or by some other competent officer. He should not have taken upon himself the responsibility of deciding the case despite the apprehensions expressed by the appellant.
4. We are clearly of the opinion that the High Court was not justified in summarily dismissing the writ petition of the appellant. There was basis for the allegation of the appellant that the principles of natural justice had been contravened while deciding the revision petition inasmuch as he was not given a reasonable opportunity to present his case.
5. In the result this appeal is allowed, the order of the High Court as well as that of the Deputy Director of Consolidation are set aside and the case remitted to the District Deputy Director of Consolidation, Bullandshahr for being heard by him or some other Deputy Director other than Sri Satya Prakash in accordance with law. In the circumstances of the case we make no order as to costs.