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St. Michael's Education Foundation and Ors. Vs. Lt. Governor and Ors. (25.02.1983 - DELHC) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberC.W.P. 2465 of 1981
Judge
Reported in23(1983)DLT359
ActsDelhi Education Rules, 1973 - Rule 56; Delhi Education Act, 1973 - Sections 20
AppellantSt. Michael's Education Foundation and Ors.
RespondentLt. Governor and Ors.
Appellant Advocate Mukul Rohatgi and; S. Mukherjee, Advs
Respondent Advocate D.S. Narula and ; Jagjit Singh, Advs.
DispositionPetition allowed
Cases ReferredIn S.L. Kapoor v. Jagmohan and Ors.
Excerpt:
- - to the teachers, non confirmation of teachers and removal of teachers, mis-utilisation of funds, failure to produce account books and the minute books of the meetings of the managing committee before the authorities etc. the petitioners challenged the order on merits as well as on legal grounds. they are :(a) section 20 of the delhi education act, 1973 was ultra virus being vocative of articles 14, 19 and 31. (b) the order violated the principles of natural justice as no opportunity of being heard was given to the petitioners ;(c) the order was bad for non-application of mind and was mala fide. this failure on the part of the administrator is in breach of the principles of natural justice and has resulted into denial of proper opportunity of being heard to the petitioners......grammer school. this is a private un-aided school recognised by delhi administration under delhi school education act. on some complaints the director of education ordered a statutory enquiry in the alleged mal-practices in this school. one shri k.g. singh, deputy director was appointed as an enquiry officer. the director of education considered the report of the enquiry officer and decided that the recognition of the school should be withdrawn under rule 56 of the delhi school educationrules, 1973. a show cause notice was issued to the petitioners on 3-5-1980. broadly the allegations in the show cause notice pertain to non-payment of the salaries, provident fund etc. to the teachers, non confirmation of teachers and removal of teachers, mis-utilisation of funds, failure to produce.....
Judgment:

S.B. Wad, J.

1. The petitioner Foundation runs a school by name St. Michael's Grammer School. This is a private un-aided school recognised by Delhi Administration under Delhi School Education Act. On some complaints the Director of Education ordered a statutory enquiry in the alleged mal-practices in this school. One Shri K.G. Singh, Deputy Director was appointed as an Enquiry Officer. The Director of Education considered the report of the Enquiry Officer and decided that the recognition of the school should be withdrawn under Rule 56 of the Delhi School EducationRules, 1973. A Show Cause Notice was issued to the petitioners on 3-5-1980. Broadly the allegations in the Show Cause Notice pertain to non-payment of the salaries, provident fund etc. to the teachers, non confirmation of teachers and removal of teachers, mis-utilisation of funds, failure to produce account books and the minute books of the meetings of the Managing Committee before the Authorities etc. On 27-5-1980 the petitioners sent their reply to-the Show Cause Notice denying the allegations. Nothing was heard by the petitioners thereafter till 14-8-1980. On that date another Show Cause Notice was issued by the Director of Education to the petitioners. This notice was under S. 20 of the Delhi Education Act for showing cause as to why the school should not be taken over by the Administration. The grounds stated in the said notice were exactly identical to the grounds stated in the earlier notice dated 3-5-1980 under Rule 56. On 29-8-1980 the petitioners sent their reply to the Show Cause Notice. On 26-9-1980 the Lt. Governor passed an order taking over the school. The petitioners filed C.W.P. 1344 of 1980 challenging the said order of taking over the school. The petitioners challenged the order on merits as well as on legal grounds. One of the legal grounds of challenge was that the order was a non-speaking order. On 13-7-1981 this Court quashed the order dated 26-9-1980 being a non speaking order. No fresh Show Cause Notice was issued but a second order, purportedly a speaking order, was passed by the Lt. Governor on 24-9-1981 for taking over the school. A second Writ Petition was1 filed by the petitioners being C.W.P. 2238/81. After amendment of the said petition it was re-numbered as C.W.P. No. 2465 of 1981. The Division Bench issued Rule on 26-5-1982 and passed an order imposing a scheme of management for a period of six months as it had directed the early hearing of the writ petition.

2. The impugned order is challenged by the petitioners on several grounds. They are :

(a) Section 20 of the Delhi Education Act, 1973 was ultra virus being vocative of Articles 14, 19 and 31.

(b) The order violated the principles of natural justice as no opportunity of being heard was given to the petitioners ;

(c) The order was bad for non-application of mind and was mala fide.

(d) The order was bad because the copies of the reports and the evidence relied upon in the impugned order were not supplied to the petitioners and the petitioners were denied the opportunity of being heard effectively ;

(e) On merits the allegations are wrong. The inferences drawn by the Administration were not based on evidence and were in the nature of more conjecture.

3. I do not think it necessary to go into all the grounds of challenge because I am of the opinion that the petitioners should succeed on the ground of the violation of the principles of natural justice.

4. The impugned order shows that the Administrator had relied upon the report of K..C. Singh, Deputy Director of Education dated 8-4-1980. He had also relied upon the reports of the former Director of Education and the Director of Education at the time of the impugned order was issued. The order refers to overwhelming documentary and oral evidence. Noneof the said reports or the documentary evidence was made available to the petitioners. There was no oral hearing. It is not known what oral evidence, the Administrator is referring to, in his order. If these are the statements recorded by the Enquiry Officer or some persons before the show cause notice was issued, the copies of the statements should have been furnished to the petitioners. This failure on the part of the Administrator is in breach of the principles of natural justice and has resulted into denial of proper opportunity of being heard to the petitioners. As held by the Supreme Court in The Kesava Mills Go. Ltd. and another v. Union of India and others, : [1973]3SCR22 the Administrative Authority should act fairly, impartially and reasonably. That is the requirement of natural justice. The requirements of natural justice depend on the circumstances of the case, the nature of the enquiry, the rules under which the Tribunal is acting, the subject-matter etc. It may be noted that the initial show cause notice was issued under Rule 56 for withdrawing the recognition of the school. A second show cause notice under Section 20 of the Act was issued on the same allegations. But this time the proposed action was to take over the administration of the school. This was the most drastic action and a terminal action permitted by the Act. The petitioners could not have shown proper cause to the notice without the supply of the material relied upon by the Administrator.

5. It is submitted on behalf of the Administrator that before the show cause notice was issued, at the stage of enquiry, the petitioner was heard. thereforee, there was no prejudice caused to the petitioners. The argument is mis-conceived. As stated, before, the first show cause notice was only in relation to the proposed penalty of withdrawal of the recognition. If the Administrator changed his mind and decided to take over the administration, it cannot be said that the petitioners were heard in regard to that penalty. Moreover, the report of the Enquiry Officer, not being made available to the petitioners, they would not be in a position to know which of their defenses are rejected and why. Effective opportunity of being heard in such a case would mean supply of tentative conclusions in the report with proper material when the show cause notice is issued. In S.L. Kapoor v. Jagmohan and Ors. : [1981]1SCR746 the Supreme Court has held :

'The principles of natural justice know of no exclusionary rule dependent on whether it would have made any difference if natural justice had been observed. The non-observance of natural justice is itself prejudice to any man and proof of prejudice independently of proof of denial of natural justice is unnecessary'.

6. The counsel for the Respondents, however, submitted that the entire proceeding should not be quashed and the Respondents should be permitted to pass an order again after supplying the said documents to the petitioners. On the facts of this case I do not think that this course should be followed. At the earlier stage when Justice Kirpal allowed the petition the Respondents were given liberty to issue a fresh show cause notice or to restart the proceedings after the stage of show cause notice. The original show cause notice was for the action of non-recognition of the school. It was subsequently converted into a show cause notice for taking over of the administration. The petitioners had to go through multiplicity of proceedings before the Authority and before this Court. On these facts the submission of the Respondents cannot be accepted.

7. The impugned order of the Administrator dated 24-9-1981 is quashed and set aside. The interim arrangement made by the order of the Division Bench dated 26-5-1982 shall, however, continue for a period of one month from today. The Writ Petition ii allowed with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 750/-. The Rule is made absolute.


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