Skip to content


Bhagat Raja of Bombay Vs. Union of India Etc. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petition Nos. 1519 and 1520 of 1967
Judge
Reported inILR1976Delhi583; 1976RLR158
ActsMines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957- Sections 10 and 30; Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 - Rules 54 and 55
AppellantBhagat Raja of Bombay
RespondentUnion of India Etc.
Advocates: R.P. Bhatt,; J. Lal,; A.B. Saharia,;
Cases Referred and J. A. Trivedi v. Union of India
Excerpt:
(i) mines & minerals (regulation and development) act (1975) - sections 10, 11(3) & 30--mineral concession rules (1960), rules 54 & 58--application for the grant of mining lease--whether open to applicants to apply for mining lease of lesser area than notified--order of state government granting for lesser area--validity of.; in the present case, the petitioner, bhagat raja, applied for a mining lease of an area notified for such grant. the respondent no.3, tiffins barytes, asbestos & paints limited also applied for the mining lease, but in respect of a leser area. state government granted the lease to the respondent no. 3. on revision, the central government, and consequently the grant of mining lease to respondent no. 3. the court dismissed the petition, upholding the.....avadh behari rohatgi, j. (1) in these two writs bhagat raja is the petitioner. his name is well known in legal circles. in this very case he went to the supreme court in 1966. the supreme court decision entitled bhagat raja v. union of india, : [1967]3scr302 opened up a new field in administrative law. it is a leading decision on what is known as a 'speaking order'. this time bhagat raja has chosen to come to this court. these two writ petitions are an aftermath of the supreme court decision in every of the term. this judgment will govern both the cases.(2) by a notification dated january 8, 1964, published in the state gazette the andhra pradesh government notified that an area aggregating ac. 113.50 in village brahmanapalli and ac. 13.10 in village lppatta both in the district of.....
Judgment:

Avadh Behari Rohatgi, J.

(1) In these two writs Bhagat Raja is the petitioner. His name is well known in legal circles. In this very case he went to the Supreme Court in 1966. The Supreme Court decision entitled Bhagat Raja v. Union of India, : [1967]3SCR302 opened up a new field in administrative law. It is a leading decision on what is known as a 'speaking order'. This time Bhagat Raja has chosen to come to this court. These two writ petitions are an aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in every of the term. This judgment will govern both the cases.

(2) By a notification dated January 8, 1964, published in the State Gazette the Andhra Pradesh Government notified that an area aggregating Ac. 113.50 in village Brahmanapalli and Ac. 13.10 in village lppatta both in the district of Cudapah were available for regrant for mining asbestos. The State Government invited applications under r. 53 of the Mineral Concession Rules 1960 (the Rules) framed under the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act 1957 (the Act). In response to that notification the petitioner Bhagat Raja submitted two applications in the prescribed form, that is, form '1' on March 3, 1964, A company M/s. Tiffin's Barytes, Asbestos & Paints Limited of Madras (I will call it Tiffins) also made applications on the same date. One other person N. K. Kanhaiya made an application for a prospecting license, but that was rejected off-hand as in the presence of a mining license a prospecting license could not be granted to him. He is now out of the picture.

(3) As between Bhagat Raja and Tiffins the State Government preferred Tiffins. They passed the following order on October 19, 1964, in respect of the village Brahmanapalli :

'ASbetween the other applicants Sri Bhagat Rajah and M/s Tiffin's Barytes, Asbestos and Paints Ltd. the Government prefer M/s Tiffin's Barytes, Asbestos and Paints Ltd., as they are having adequate general experience and technical knowledge and are old lessee in the District, without any arrears of mineral due to the Government. The Mining Lease application of Sri Bhagat Rajah for the areas covered by the Mining Lease application of M/s. Tiffin's Barytes, Asbestos and Paints Ltd., is rejected.'

(4) The text of the order with regard to the village lppatta is practically the same.

(5) On December 14, 1964, Bhagat Raja made an application in revision under s. 30 of the Act read with R. 54 to the Central Government. He raised various grounds. Tiffins filed a counter-statement to the revision application in April 1965. In March 1966 Bhagat Raja received the comments of Andhra Pradesh Government in his revision application. He filed a rejoinder to the counter of Tiffins as well as State Government in April 1966. He also asked for the grant of a personal hearing.

(6) On June 22, 1966, the Central Government rejected the revision application. They passed the following order :

'New Delhi the 22nd June, 1966. in * * * * * I am directed to refer to your revision application dated 14-12-1964 and letter dated 28-1-1966 on the above subject and to say that after careful consideration of the grounds stated therein, the Central Government have come to the conclusion that there is no valid ground for interfering with the decision of the Government of Andhra Pradesh rejecting your application for grant of mining lease for asbestos over an area of Ac. 113.50 in Brahmanapalli village, Cuddapah District, Andhra Pradesh. Your application for revision is, thereforee, rejected.'

(7) The text of the order in the other case of lppatta is the same, the only difference being in site and the area in respec: of which the lease was applied for.

(8) Under Article 136 of the Constitution Bhagat Raja went to the Supreme Court, He filed two appeals against the orders of the Central Government after obtaining special leave. The main ground which was urged before the Supreme Court and on which special leave was granted was this : Was the Central Government in dismissing the revision applications bound to make a speaking order ?

(9) On March 29, 1967, the Supreme Court allowed the appeals. They held that in reacting the revision applications of Bhagat Raja the Central Government was bound to give reasons for its decision as it was exercising quasi-judicial powers under s. 30 of the Act read with rr. 54 and 55. Mitter J. speaking for the court said :

'THEdecisions of tribunals in India are subject to the supervisory powers of the High Courts under Art. 227 of the Constitution and of appellate powers of this Court under Art. 136. It goes without saying that both the High Court and this Court are placed under a great disadvantage if no reasons are given and the revision is dismissed curtly by the use of the single word 'rejected' or 'dismissed'. '

(10) He went on to say :

'AFTERall a tribunal which exercises judicial or quasi-judicial powers can certainly indicate its mind as 'to why it acts in a particular way and when important rights of partis of far-reaching consequence to them are adjudicated upon in a summary fashion, without giving a personal hearing where proposals and counter-proposals are made and examined, the least can be expected is that the tribunal should tell the party why the decision is going against him in all cases where the law gives a further right of appeal.'

(11) As a result the orders of the Central Government passed on June 22, 1966, were set aside. The Central Government was directed to decide the revision application afresh in the light of the observations made by the Supreme Court.

(12) When the matter went back to the Central Government, Bhagat Raja by his letter dated July 11, 1967, again asked for a personal hearing before any orders were passed in his applications. But a personal hearing was not granted.

(13) On July 31, 1967, the Central Government again rejected the two revision applications of Bhagat Raja. The text of the order is as follows :

'NEWDelhi, the 31-7-1967. Shri Bhagat Raja C/o. R. B. Raja & Co. Shri Krishna Niwas, 3rd floor New Silk Bazar Kalbadevi Road Bombay-2. Sub : Revision application under rule 54 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960. With reference to your revision application dated 14-12-64, filed against the order of the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh dated 19-10-64 rejecting your application for grant of mining lease for asbestos over an area of 113.50 acres in village Brahmanapalli, district Cuddappah, I am directed to say that, after considering all the material as presented by you, the State Government and the imp leaded party, viz., Tiffins Barytes Asbestos and Paints Ltd. and your counter coments, it has been observed that the State Government has given preference to M/s. Tiffins Barytes Asbestos and Paints Ltd. on grounds of their being a well established mining company with adequate general experience and technical knowledge of mining and mining business for a number of years. They are also reported to have better financial position and have been making payment of Government dues in time. The State Govt. thereforee do not seem to have erred in giving preference to M/s. Tiffins Barytes Asbestos and Paints Ltd. for grant of mineral concession over the area under Section 11(3) of the Mines and Minerals (R&D;) Act, 1957, The Central Government have no valid ground for interfering with the decision of the Government of Andhra Pradesh and they hereby reject your application for revision. Yours faithfully, sd/- A. Sethumadhavan. Under Secy. to the Govt. of India,'

(14) The other order in the case of village Ittappah is in the same terms except that area and the village are different.

(15) This was the first round of litigation. Now begins the second.

(16) In October 1967 Bhagat Raja brought two petitions in this court under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India. Again he impugns the orders passed by the Central Government in his two revision applications.

(17) First I take up Cwp No. 1519 of 1967 which relates to an area of Ac. 113.50 in village Brahmanapalli in District Cuddappah. The outstanding fact in this case is that on March 3, 1964, in response lo the notification dated January 8, 1964, Bhagat Raja made an application under r. 22(1) for the entire area of Ac. 113.50 while Tiffins made an application restricted to an area of 95.13 Ac. though it was also made on the same day. By order dated July 31, 1967, the Central Government has preferred Tiffins to Bhagat Raja as we have seen. Bhagat Raja challenges this order. His principal ground of challenge is that the application of Tiffins dated March 3, 1964, ought to have been rejected out of hand on the short ground that their application was not for the whole area advertised for regrant and thereforee was not competent. He says that he being the only person in the field who had applied for the entire area he should have been granted the mining lease.

(18) The argument in this writ petition centres round s. 11(3) of the Act. That section reads :

'11.(1)Where a prospecting license has been granted in respect of any land, the licensee shall have a preferential right for obtaining a mining lease in respect of that land over any other person : Provided that the State Government is satisfied that the licensee has not committed any breach of the terms and conditions of the prospecting license and is otherwise a fit person for being granted the mining lease.

(2)Subject to the provisions of sub-section (1), where two or more persons have applied for a prospecting license or a mining lease in respect of 'the same land, the applicant whose application was received earlier shall have a preferential right for the grant of the license or lease, as the case may be, over an applicant whose application was received later : Provided that where any such applications are received on the same day, the State Government, after taking into consideration the matters specified in sub-section ( 3 ), may grant the prospecting license or mining lease, as the case may be, to such one of the applicants as it may deem fit.

(3)The matters referred to in sub-section (2) are the following: (a) any special knowledge of, or experience in, prospecting operations or mining operations, as the case may be, possessed by the applicant; (b) the financial resources of the applicant; (c) the nature and quality of the technical staff employed or to be employed by the applicant; (d) such other matters as may be prescribed.

(4)Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (2) but subject to the provisions of sub-section (1), the State Government may for any special reasons to be recorded and with the previous approval of the Central Government, grant a prospecting license or a mining lease to an applicant whose application was received later in preference to an applicant whose application was received earlier.'

(19) The Central Government seem to have thought that this case was covered by s. 11(3). They say so in their order.

(20) Counsel for Bhagat Raja argued that in the notification issued by the State Government on January 8, 1964, under r. 58 it is unplicit (to use the counsel's words) that the applications are to be lor the total compact area of Ac. 113.50 which was advertised for mining. It was not open to an applicant, he said, to apply for less than the area advertised. I cannot accept this argument. In the notification there is nothing to show explicitly or implicitly that an applicant was bound to apply for whole of the area of Ac. 113.50. He could apply for less, if he so wished. If in response to the notification the State Government receives one application for the entire area and another application for lesser area than the whole then in that situation s. 11(3) has no application. Sub-rule (2) posits equality. 'Where there are equal equities the first in time shall prevail' is the maxim of equity. 'Equality is equity' is another maxim. S. 11 embodies the principle underlying these maxims of equity. In a word s. 11 applies to equals.

(21) To my mind it appears that the Central Government was wrong in considering the present case as a case falling under s. 11(3). S. 11(2) uses the expressions 'same land' and 'such applications'. 'Same land' obviously means that the extent of the area is the same. 'Such application' means applications for the same land. If the applications are for different areas one for more and the other for less as in this case then the case is governed by s. 10(3) of the Act. Under s. 10(1) an application for a mining license has to be made to the State Government in the prescribed form. Sub-s.(3) of , 10 runs as follows:

'ONreceipt of an application under this section, the State Government may, having regard to the provisions of this Act and any rules made there under, grant or refuse to grant the license or lease.'

(22) Within the statutory framework this sub-rule gives plenary power to the State Government. They may grant lease to Tiffins. They may refuse Bhagat Raja. Their decision cannot be challenged if 'having regard to the provisions of this Act and the Rules made there under' they decide to grant lease to one person and refuse to another. The Government as the owner of the land is prima facie entitled to lease it out to anybody and no person can claim that he has a right to have the land leased out to him : See Bhagwandas v. Union of India, : AIR1956SC175 .

(23) This writ petition, in my opinion, fails on the short ground that this case being covered by sub-s (3) of s. 10 Bhagat Raja has no right to challenge the decision of the Central Government on the grounds he has purported to raise in his writ petition. If it is a case under s. 10(3) as I hold it to be no other consideration will arise. It is unnecessary to examine the financial resources of the parties nor their experience nor the quality of their technical staff. Those considerations properly arise in a case where the applications are for the same land but not in a case falling under s. 10(3).

(24) But the Central Government has dealt with the case under s. 11(3). What is its effect I think it does not matter. The decision of the Government can be upheld if the source of power can be found in s. 10(3) and notin s. 11(3). In D.N. Roy v. State of Bihar, : [1971]2SCR522 the Supreme Court said :

'WEagree that if the exercise of a power can be traced to an existing power even though that power was not purported to have been exercised, under certain circumstances, the exercise of the power can be upheld on the strength of an undisclosed but undoubted power.'

(25) For these reasons I would dismiss Cwp No. 1519 of 1967.

(26) I now turn to the other writ petition (CWP No. 1520 of 1967). In pursuance to the notification Bhagat Raja as well as Tiffins made an application for the grant of mining lease for asbestos for the full notified area of 13.10 Ac. in village Ittappah, district Cuddappah, on March 3, 1964. By their order dated October 19, 1964, the State Government preferred Tiffins to Bhagat Raja. Bhagat Raja filed a revision application against the order of the State Government. The Central Government rejected the revision application on June 22, 1966. The Supreme Court set aside that order. After remand the Central Government again rejected the revision application on August 1, 1967. In this writ petition order dated August 1, 1967, is being challenged.

(27) The order dated August 1, 1967, has been made under s. 11(3) of the Act. The Central Government in their order say that Tiffins are 'a well established mining company with adequate general experience and technical knowledge of mining and mining business for a number of years. They are also reported to have better financial resources and have been making payments of Government dues in time. The State Government thereforee do not seem to have erred in giving preference to M/s. Tiffins Barytes Asbestos & Paints Ltd. for grant of Mineral Concession over the area under sec. 11(3) of the Mines and Mineral (R&D;) Act 1957'. The Central Government refused to interfere with the order of the State Government on the above grounds. Counsel for Bhagat Raja has attacked this order on a number of grounds.

(28) Firstly, it was said that this order is bad because it does not give any reasons. Counsel argued that the Central Government has flouted the orders of the Supreme Court and inspire of a positive direction by the court they have given scrappy and nebulous reasons without anybody being the wiser for the review a second time.

(29) In the second place he says that personal hearing asked for by Bhagat Raja on July 11, 1967, was denied to him and this was a violation of a principle of natural justice.

(30) In my opinion these objections are without substance. It is true that the least an administrative tribunal acting in a judicial for quasi-judicial capacity can do is to disclose its mind. It must give a brief statement of the reasons for arriving at a particular conclusion. Reasons may serve as a searchlight into obscure recesses of the authority's mind. Otherwise the 'court has to grope in the dark for finding out reasons for upholding or rejecting the decision of the reviewing authority.' (Bhagat Raja's case supra). It is true that the administrative tribunals may not write out a judgment as courts of law are wont to do. But they may state in outline their 'mental process', as Shah J. said in Travancore Rayons v. Union of India, : 1978(2)ELT378(SC) . The reasons may be short and concise. The administrative tribunals may practice austerity of the prose and the economy of words in expressing themselves. They may preserve a becoming brevity a brevity which excludes everything that is redundant and nothing that is significant. But if the order is laconic or delphic judicial review may become difficult if not altogether impossible. Judges are guided by the light of reason and no other consideration. Policy and expediency do not enter their verdict. They are votaries of reason. If the statutory authorities do not give reasons how are the appellate or supervisory courts to keep the tribunals within bounds ?

(31) In the case of Travancore Rayons (supra) Shah J. Said :

ECentral Government is by Section 36 invested with the judicial power of the State.'

(32) The wielders of judicial power must give sufficient reasons which disclose proper apprehension of the problem to be solved and the thought processes by which the conclusion is reached. And more so in cases where a non-judicial authority exercises judicial functions. Where the Central Government exercising powers in revision gives no reasons the order will be regarded as void (See Travancore Rayons' case, supra). A brief statement of reasons is the minimum requirement of a judicial approach. This has been held in a large number of decisions: See Travancore Rayons' Case' Supra and Siemens Engineering and Mfg. Co. v. Union of India. : AIR1976SC1785 (5). Why go to other cases. In this very case the Supreme Court held that the administrative authorities and tribunals should accord fair and proper hearing to the persons sought to be affected by their orders and give clear and explicit reasons in support of the orders made by them. The reasons need not be elaborate. But at the same time the order should not be expressed with Spartan brevity.

(33) In the case in hand the Central Government has given reasons. They upheld the order of the State Government on the ground that Tiffins are a company and they have previous experience being an old lessee of the State Government and that nothing is due from them on account of mineral dues. On the material before the Central Government they arrived as they were entitled to at these conclusions. In the supervisory jurisdiction under Art. 227 questions of fact cannot be investigated and it is not within the province of this court to make an enquiry into the correctness of these findings : See Chetkar v. Viswanath, : [1971]1SCR586 and Swaran Singh and another v. State of Punjab and others, : AIR1976SC232 .

(34) Counsel says that the financial condition of Bhagat Raja is better than Tiffins. He referred me to the explanatory note on the condition of the company dated January 20, 1964. He also invited my attention to the report of the Director of Mines and Geology dated October 1, 1964, who had recommended the case of Bhagat Raja for grant of mining lease in opposition to the report of the collector who had recommended Tiffins' case for grant. Then he said that an auditor's report on the financial condition of Tiffins was also placed by Bhagat Raja before the Central Government. He submitted that all this material has not been considered by the Central Government and its order discloses a non-application of mind as it contains no reference to these documents. I cannot accept this submission. Being a public company Tiffins were preferred because of their financial resources, past experience and their ability to employ technical staff. Financial resources include credit in the world and ability to borrow: See Goddard v. Minister of Housing and Local Government and another, (1958) 3 All E.R. 482.On a reading of the documents it appeared to me that the financial condition of the company was not as black and bleak as the counsel painted it to be. That Tiffins have been paying all Government dues regularly cannot be said to be an irrelevant consideration in determining the financial resources of a party.

(35) Tiffins being an old lessee are experienced in mining operations. Experience need not necessarily be in asbestos as was argued. It has to be in 'mineral operations', a term defined in s. 3(d) as including any operation for winning any mineral. Counsel said that the ground of being an old lessee was rejected by the Supreme Court when the case went to them in 1966. I do not agree. The Supreme Court was not then concerned with this aspect. I find nothing wrong in the Government preferring an old and experienced hand to another who may not be so well versed in the line in their judgment.

(36) The counsel then said that in the order the word 'reported' has been used. I cannot find fault with. this expression. The collector of the district reported the condition of Tiffins to the State Government in favorable terms. The State Government and the Central Government appear to have been impressed by the report of the collector.

(37) The counsel next argued that Bhagat Raja ought to have been afforded a personal hearing. In this connection he referred me to The Commissioner of Coal Mines Provident Fund Dhanbad and other v. J. P. Lalla and Sons, : (1976)IILLJ91SC , Indian Sugar & Refineries Ltd. v. Amarvathi Service Commissioner of Income Tax Society Ltd., : [1976]2SCR740 and State of Punjab v. K. R. Erry & Sobhag Rai Mehta, : (1973)ILLJ33SC . I do not think Bhagat Raja was entitled to an oral hearing. All that is required in the case of administrative tribunals and bodies is that the principles of natural justice should be observed. A personal hearing is not necessary as Bhagat Raja had said everything in his representations, comments and counter-comments. Judicial decisions have consistently held that there is no right to a personal hearing : See the case of The Commissioner of Coal Mines Provident Fund Dhanbad and other (supra), Rangnath v. Daulatrao and ors., : [1975]3SCR99 and Madhya Pradesh Bachawat J.

(38) That rules of natural justice govern and apply to the proceedings of administrative tribunals is now clearly established. The principles of natural justice are mainly three. The first and the most fundamental is that a man may not be a judge in his own cause. The mind of the judge must be free so that there is no possible element of bias. He must have no disqualifying interest whether pecuniary or otherwise.

(39) The second principle (applicable to quasi-judicial and to judicial decisions) is that no party ought to be condemned unheard and also ought to know in good time the case he has to meet. This is the very breath of natural justice. It is something basic and fundamental. Byles J. in Cooper v. Wandsworth Board of Works, 14 C.B. 180 called it the 'justice of the common law'. He referred to the long course of decisions which had established that though there are no positive words in a statute requiring that the party shall be heard yet the justice of the common law will supply the omission of the legislature. If some one has a right to be heard he must be entitled to know what he needs to be heard about. He must now what is the case against him. He must know what he has to meet.

(40) In its application to tribunals natural justice requires that the procedure belore any tribunal which is acting judicially should be fair in all the circumstances. That is the acid test. But there is no precise prescription. As Tucker Lj observed in Russell v. Duke of Norfolk, (1949) 1 All Er 109 :

'THEREare, in my view, no words which are of universal application to every kind of inquiry and every kind of domestic tribunal. The requirements of natural justice must depend on the circumstances of the case, the nature of the inquiry, the rules under which the tribunal is acting, the subject-matter that is being dealt with, and so forth. Accordingly, I do not derive much assistance from the definitions of natural justice which have been from time to time used, but, whatever standard is adopted, one essential is that the person concerned should have a reasonable opportunity of presenting his case.'

(41) This means that there are certain cannone of judicial conduct to which all tribunals and persons who have to give judicial and quasi-judicial decisions ought to conform.

(42) The third principle is that a party is entitled to know the reason for a decision. As Subba Rao J. said :

'THEleast a tribunal can do is to disclose its mind. The compulsion of disclosure guarantees consideration. The condition to give reasons introduces clarity and excludes or at any rate minimises arbitrariness; it gives satisfaction to the party against whom the order is made; and it also enables an appellate or supervisory court to keep the tribunals within bounds. A reasoned order is a desirable condition of judicial disposal............... When we insist upon reasons, we do not prescribe any particular form or the scale of reasons. The extent or nature of the reasons depend upon each case.'

(Case of Madhya Pradesh Industries Ltd. supra). Natural justice, it has been said, is only 'fair play in action' (Wiseman v. Borneman (1971) A. C. 297.The Lord Chancellor in a recent case Pearlberg v. Varty, (1972) 1 W.L.R. 534 referred to what he called the majestic conception of natural justice. Down the centuries and through the ages the judges have drunk at the fountain of justice which is 'in nature'. The ancestory of natural, justice can be traced to jus naturale of the Roman lawyers. It was that ideal body of right and reasonable principles which was common to all human beings in the universe over which the Roman Emperor ruled. Of Natural Justice Lord Morris has said :

'THOUGHit has often been pointed out that the phrase is sadly lacking in precision, it cannot be doubted that the principles which it enshrines have, particularly in recent years in the field of administrative law, been valiently and beneficently applied to defeat wrongful or inconsiderate exercises of power.'

(Natural Justice in Current Legal Problems 1973 p. 4).

(43) Natural justice is a term which summarises certain minimum standard of fairness upon the observance of which there can be insistence by the courts of law in the present day pattern of administrative bodies and tribunals. The truth is that its lack of rigidity is its virtue.

(44) The doctrine of natural justice has come in for increasing consideration in recent years, and the courts generally, both in England and India, have advanced its frontiers considerably. Ridoe v. Baldwin (1964) A.C. 40 is a memorable decision in England. In India Province of Bombay v. Kusaldas S. Advani, : [1950]1SCR621 , Board of High School & Intermediate Examination U.P. v. Ghanshyam Das Gupta, : AIR1962SC1110 , State of Orissa v. Dr. (Miss) Binapani Dei, : (1967)IILLJ266SC and A. K. Kraipak v. Union of India, : [1970]1SCR457 are some of the milestones upon the road giving full prominence to the principles of natural justice. In State of Punjab v. K. R. Erry, : (1973)ILLJ33SC these cases were exhaustively reviewed.

(45) In Siemens Engineering and Mfg. Co. v. Union of India : AIR1976SC1785 Bhagwati J. gave a timely warning. He said :

'IFcourts 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 audialteram 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.'

(46) I think the two requirements of natural justice, namely, first that the order must give reasons and secondly that no man should be condemned unheard have been fulfillled in this case. Reasons have been given. And in exercising its power of revision under r. 55 the Central Government has taken into consideration not only the material which was before the State Government but comments and counter comments which the parties made regarding the order of the State Government.

(47) Did the Central Government act unfairly in this case The counsel referred me to many decisions. But ultimately I consider that the decision depends upon whether in the particular circumstances of this case the tribunal acted unfairly so that it could be said that their procedure did not match with what justice demanded. Lord Reid has pointed out that natural justice requires that the procedure before any tribunal which is acting judicially should be fair in all the circumstances, but said that he would be sorry to see the fundamental general principle degenerate into a series of hard and fast rules. (Wiseman v. Borneman (Supra)). On the whole my conclusion is that there is nothing so unfair about the procedure as to entitle the court to say that the principles of natural justice were not followed.

(48) Nor do I think that Bhagat Raja was entitled to insist upon being heard orally by the Central Government. That there may be cases where an oral hearing may be desirable I do not deny. For example in Travancore Rayons' case (supra) the Supreme Court thought that the matter was complicated and technical and that a personal hearing was desirable. Shah J. said :

'IT is true that the rules do not require that personal hearing shall be given, but, if in appropriate cases where complex and difficult questions requiring familiarity with technical problems are raised, personal hearing is given, it would conduce to better administration and more satisfactory- disposal of the grievances of citizens.'

(49) Then there may be cases where in suo muto exercise of powers of revision under s. 30 the Central Government may feel it necessary to call upon the parties to satisfy them about the legality of the order of the State Government that an oral hearing may be considered necessary. But these are exceptional cases and a tribunal can deal with them as they think best. I do not think: that rules need be formulated and procedures laid down. The tribunal can take steps to eliminate unfairness if it thinks that a particular procedure is likely to lead to substantial injustice. But in the present case I have no doubt in my mind that Bhagat Raja was not entitled to a personal hearing.

(50) Lastly, the counsel turn Bhagat Raja argued that application of Tiffins was defective in several respects and thereforee it ought to have been rejected out of hand. He pointed out in this connection that power of attorney was not filed on behalf of Tiffins, seal of the company was not affixed, manager's name was not given and the certificate of approval was not filed. As regards the last contention suffice it to say that a certificate of approval was filed by the company. Counsel says that it showed Cuddappa as the office of the company instead of .Madras. I do not think this objection has any merit. As regards other defects pointed out by the counsel it is enough to say that none of them is fatal. On these flimsy grounds the State Government cannot reject the application. Their object is to grant a mining lease and not to reject an application on insubstantial grounds. These defects can also be remedied if the State Government so directs : See C. B. Rao v. Union of India. : [1972]3SCR665 and J. A. Trivedi v. Union of India, .

(51) For these reasons I would disamiss this writ petition also.

(52) In the result both the writ petitions are dismissed with costs. Counsel's lee Rs. 500.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //