P.D. Kudal, J.
1. This special appeal is directed against the judgment of the learned Single Judge dated 2nd November, 1977, whereby the Civil Writ Petition filed by the appellant was dismissed.
2. The brief facts of the case, which are relevant for the disposal of this special appeal, are that the appellant was the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat Pahel. He was removed from the office of the Sarpanch by the State Government vide order dated 26th February, 1977, under the provisions of Section 17 (4) of the Rajasthan Panchayat Act, 1953 (hereinafter referred to as the Act).
3. Certain complaints were made against the appellant on the basis of which the following charges were framed against him:--
1- Jh lR; ukjk;.k ljiap xzkeiapk;r igys iapk;r lfefr eq.Mkoj dk tcjnLrh ls efUnj Jh ujflag th egkjkt dks cUndj fn;k gS A iqtkjh dh ek tks efUnj esa jgrh Fkh mldks ckgj fudky fn;k rFkk ufdlh xzke oklh dks n'kZu djus tkrs nsrk gS vkSj efZUnj ds vUnj ds tkus ij xkyhnsrk gS A
2- Jh lR; ukjk;.k ljiap xzke igysiapk;r lfefr eq.Mkoj xzke dh xjhc turk dh xk;ks dks tcjnLrh dkth gkml esa cUn djjsV ls vf/kd :i;s clwy dj de :i;k dh jlhn nsdj iapk;r esa xcu dj jgk gS A
3- Jh lR; ukjk;.k ljiap leLr igysdh turk dks ijs'kku djrk gS /kefd;k nsrk gS A ,oa ekjrk ihVrk gS A bl izdkjlkjs xkao dks vkrafdr dj j[kk gS A
4- Jh lR;ukjk;.k ljiap xzke iapk;r igys iapk;r QthZ dk;Zokgh djrk gS ,oa nLrkostksa dksQkM nsrk gS A
5- Jh lR;ukjk;.k ljiap xzke iapk;r igys milfpo dks ekjihV dj Qjth dk;Zogkgh djrk gS A
4. An enquiry into these charges were made by the Assistant Secretary (Enquiry), Panchayat and Community Development Department Rajasthan, Jaipur, It is said that according to his report charge No. 1 was not proved against the petitioner and was thus dropped. In the preliminary report, it was held that the charges Nos. 2 to 5 were proved against the appellant. The contention of the appellant was that during the course of the enquiry, the Enquiry Officer did not afford him any opportunity to submit his defence after the evidence was re-opened, and the evidence of Babu Lal and Shiv Lal recorded behind his back, and he was not given an opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses. The State Government after taking into consideration the entire material, namely registers, minutes books of the Gram Panchayat, books relating to the cattle pound and other material placed by the petitioner, came to the conclusion that none of the allegations, as aforesaid, are found proved against the appellant. In view of this, the enquiry proceedings against the appellant were closed by the State Government by its order dated 22nd May, 1975, drawn on the order-sheet. An order to this effect was issued on 7th June, 1975, a copy of which has been produced along with the writ petition as Annexure P/1. Non-petitioner No. 3 Babulal moved a review petition on 3rd September, 1975, under Section 70-B of the Act.
On receipt of a copy of the review petition, the appellant submitted his reply on 26th August, 1976. The contention of the appellant was that the review petition contained allegations which were wholly irrelevant with regard to the scope of the enquiry conducted under Section 17(4) of the Act, and had no relevancy with the charges levelled against the petitioner. It was also contended that certain allegations made by the non-petitioner Babu Lal were the subject-matter of a writ petition before this Court. It was further contended that S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 708/1973, Satya Narain v. Munsif, Kishangarhbas is already pending before this Court withregard to the matters arising out of the election petition. The other matters with regard to the encroachment on the land of Gram Panchayat made by Babulal is already sub judice before this Court in S, B. Civil Writ Petition No. 1702 of 1973, Gram Panchayat Pahel v. Collector Alwar. The State Government vide order dated 26th February, 1977 reviewed its previous order dated 7th June, 1975, and ordered the removal of the appellant from the office of the Sarpanch. It was against this order that the writ petition was filed. The learned Single Judge dismissed this writ petition by his order dated 2nd November, 1977.
5. On behalf of the appellant, it wascontended that the State Government seriously erred in law in reviewing its order dated 7th June, 1975, and in removing the appellant from the office of the Sarpanch vide its order dated 26th February, 1977. It was also contended that the review petition did not contain any such allegations which could attract the provisions of Section 70-B of the Act. It was also contended that the review petition was patently barred by time, and the State Government seriously erred in law and acted without jurisdiction in entertaining the time-barred review petition. It was also contended that the order of the State Government dated 26th February, 1977, is neither a reasoned order, nor a speaking order and, as such, the State Government has exercised its jurisdiction in a capricious and arbitrary manner resulting in failure of justice. It was also contended that the learned Single Judge seriously erred in law in holding that the review petition was within time by virtue of Article 166 of the Constitution of India.
It was strenuously argued that Article 166 of the Constitution of India has absolutely no applicability to the facts of the present case. It was further contended that a review lies under the provisions of Section 70-B of the Act, if an order was passed under any mistake, whether of law or of fact, or in ignorance of any material fact. It was contended that as no such mistake of law or fact was committed, and the order passed by the State Government on review was, thus, absolutely without jurisdiction and in contravention of the madatory provisions of Section 70-B of the Act. It wasalso contended that all these very charges were examined by the State Government before the issuance of the order dated 7th June, 1975, and on the application of the non-petitioner Babulal, the State Government reviewed its previous order. It was also contended that the non-petitioner Babulal was not a person affected and he had no locus standi to file a review petition and the State Government acted without jurisdiction in entertaining his review petition and in reviewing its previous order dated 7th June, 1975.
6. On behalf of the non-petitioners it was contended that the order dated 7th June, 1975 itself was a perfunctory order and no reasons were given for exonerating the appellant. It was, therefore, contended that the State Government was fully justified in reviewing its order, and that the order dated 26th February, 1977 does not suffer from any infirmity. It was also contended that as the State Government did not take into consideration the complete material on record while passing the order dated 7th June, 1975 and thus there was a mistake of fact which has now been rectified by the order dated 26th February, 1977, which has been passed after taking into consideration the entire material placed on record. It was, therefore, contended that there is absolutely no case for any interference by invoking the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
7. The respective contentions of the learned counsel for the parties have been considered and the record of the case carefully perused.
8. Section 70-B of the Act reads as wider :--
'70-B. Power of review by Government. -- (1) The State Government may cf its own motion at any time or on an application received from any person affected within 90 days of the passing of an order under Sub-section (4) of Section 17 or the proviso thereto, as the case may be, review any such order if it was passed under any mistake, whether of law or of lact, or in ignorance of any material fact.
9. In Bhagat Raja v. Union of India, AIR 1967 SC 1606, it was held as under (at p. 1610):--
'The decisions of tribunals in India are subject to the supervisory powers of the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution and of appellate powers of Supreme Court under Article 136. It goeswithout saying that both the High Court and the Supreme 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'. Ordinarily, if the State Government gives sufficient reasons for accepting the application of one party and rejecting that of the others, as it must, and the Central Government adopts the reasoning of the State Government, Supreme Court may proceed to examine whether the reasons given are sufficient for the purpose of upholding the decision. But, when the reasons given in the order of the State Government are scrappy or nebulous and the Central Government makes no attempt to clarify the same, Supreme Court, in appeal may have to examine the case de novo without anybody being the wiser for the review by the Central Government. If the State Government gives a number of reasons some of which are good and some are not. and the Central Government merely endorses the order of the State Government without specifying those reasons which according to it are sufficient to uphold the order of the State Government, Supreme Court, in appeal may find it difficult to ascertain which are the grounds which weighed with the Central Government in upholding the order of the State Government. In such circumstances, what is known as a 'speaking order', is called for.'
10. In Mahabir Prasad v. State of U. P., AIR 1970 SC 1302, it was held as under (at p. 1304) :--
'Opportunity to a party interested in the dispute to present his case on question of law as well as fact, ascertainment of facts from materials before the Tribunal after disclosing the materials to the party against whom it is intended to use them and adjudication by a reasoned judgment upon a finding of the facts in controversy and application of the law to the facts found, are attributes of even a quasi-judicial determination. Recording of reasons in support of a decision by a quasi-judicial authority is obligatory as it ensures that the decision is reached according to law and is not a result of caprice, whim or fancy or reached on ground of policy or expediency. The necessity to record reasons is greater if the order is subject to appeal.'
11. In Testeels Ltd. v. N. M. Desai, AIR 1970 Guj 1 (FB), it was held as under (at pp. 4, 7 and 10) :--
'Both on principle and on authority, Every administrative officer exercising quasi-judicial functions is bound to give reasons in support of the order ha makes, A Conciliation Officer exercises quasi-judicial function while hearing and disposing of an application by the employer under the proviso to Section 33(2)(b) of the Industrial Disputes Act by which he seeks the approval of the Conciliation Officer for discharging its employee during the pendency of an industrial dispute before the said authority. Hence, he is bound to make an order either giving his approval or refusing it stating reasons in support thereof. Where the order said nothing more than that the Officer did not approve of the action of the employer, held, that the order was liable to be quashed.'
12. In Ajantha Industries v. C. Board, Direct Taxes, AIR 1976 SC 437, it was held as under (at pp. 440-41) :--
'The requirement of recording reasons under Section 127(1) is a mandatory direction under the law and non-communication thereof is not saved by showing that the reasons exist in the file although not communicated to the assessee or that the reasons were given in the prior show cause notice issued to the assessee against the proposed transfer.'
'When law requires reasons to be recorded in a particular order affecting prejudicially the interests of any person, who can challenge the order in Court, it ceases to be a mere administrative order and the vice of violation of the principles of natural justice on account of omission to communicate the reasons is not expiated.'
13. In Siemens Engg. & Mfg. Co. v. Union of India, AIR 1976 SC 1785, it was held as under (at p. 1789) :--
'It is now settled law that where an authority makes an order in exercise of a quasi-judicial function, it must record its reasons in support of the order it makes. Every quasi-judicial order must be supported by reasons.
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.'
14. We have carefully examined the order of the State Government dated26th February, 1977. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant that this order of the State Government is neither a reasoned order nor a speaking order, cannot be overruled. Out of the five charges which were levelled against the appellant, it is stated in the order that four charges stood proved. From the perusal of this order, it cannot be said that the evidence on record was properly marshalled and the conclusion was arrived at by the process of reasoning. As this order was going to affect the rights of the appellant, it was incumbent upon the State Government to have written out a speaking and reasoned order which could have enabled this Court to ascertain whether the ultimate conclusion has been arrived at by a process of rational and intelligent reasoning. It was essential under the provisions of Section 70-B of the Act. From the order, it is also not clear whether the objections filed by the appellant, to the review petition were at all considered or not. The order also does not state what mistake of law or fact had been committed while passing the order dated 7-6-1975. It does not state that the order dated 7th June, 1975 was passed in ignorance of any material fact which was on record while passing the order.
From the perusal of the order dated 26th February, 1977, it appears that out of 14 dates of hearing, the appellant attended 12 hearings, and could not attend the last two hearings that is on 4th November, 1976 and 8th Dec., 1976 on the ground of his illness as alleged by him. It was strenuously contended on behalf of the appellant that most of the grounds raised by the non-petitioner Babulal in the review petition were sub judice before this Court in S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 708 of 1973 and S. B. Civil Writ Petition No. 1702 of 1973. The order of the State Government does not state whether these allegations of Babulal were taken into consideration or not, while passing the impugned order dated 26th February, 1977. In our considered opinion, the order of the State Government dated 26th Feb., 1977 seriously offends against the principles of natural justice and can by no stretch of imagination be said to be either a speaking order or a reasoned order.
15. The order also does not state whether the non-petitioner Babulal had any locus standi to file the review petition and how was he affected by theorder dated 7th June, 1975. A review petition could be filed within 90 days. A serious question of limitation had been raised before the State Government by the appellant, which has not been decided and if the review petition was barred by time, the State Government lacked inherent jurisdiction to entertain the review petition and in reviewing its order dated 7th June, 1975.
16. For the reasons stated above, we have absolutely no hesitation in holding that the order of the State Government dated 26th February, 1977, cannot be legally sustained. Consequently, the special appeal filed by the appellant is hereby allowed, and the judgment of the learned Single Judge dated 2nd November, 1977 and the order of the State Government dated 26th February, 1977, are hereby set aside. The case is remanded to the State Government for re-examining the case on merits after affording an opportunity of hearing to the parties. The appellant shall be entitled to urge before the State Government that the non-petitioner Babulal is not a person affected within the meaning of Section 70-B of the Act and that the review petition was barred by time.
17. Looking to the facts and circumstances of the case, the parties are left to bear their own costs.