1. I have had the advantage of perusing the judgment of my learned brother, which discusses all relevant aspects of these Writ Appeals, in considerable detail. I am in entire agreement with his conclusions, and, if I am appending a brief, separate judgment, it is only because of the importance of the vital aspect.
2. The facts on the record themselves are incontrovertibly established, and, indeed, there are no two views permissible on the facts. Briefly stated, in making the appointment of the first respondent to the office of the Public Prosecutor, North Arcot Sessions Division, the State was not appointing a person who had been nominated bv the Collector, or was any nominee of the Collector, under Rule 45 of the Criminal Rules of Practice. The view to the contrary, taken by the learned Judge (Kailasam, J.) is clearly based on a misconception of the actual facts of the record, as my learned brother has so plainly shown.
3. On this aspect, which is the factual aspect, it is sufficient to be very brief. As the rule makes it mandatory for the Collector to consult the Sessions Judge, what actually happened was that the Collector referred the names of 17 Advocates, furnished by the Bar Association, to the District and Sessions Judge, to enable him to propose names, separately, for the office of the Public Prosecutor and the Office of Government Pleader, as the Collector had justification to assume that separate incumbents would have to be appointed for the two offices. The District and Sessions Judge furnished two distinct panels of names, and the appointee-respondent was included in the panel of names for the office of the Government Pleader, which does not now concern us at all. It is not in dispute that the name of the appellant was included by District and Sessions Judge in the panel of names for the office of Public Prosecutor. The Collector forwarded his nomination to Government in compliance with Rule 45, making the specific recommendation or nomination, whichever it might be termed, that the appellant, who was then Additional Public Prosecutor, be appointed Public Prosecutor, North Arcot Sessions Court. The appointee-respondent was not nominated by the Collector for this office, in any sense. If the nomination of the Collector had been accepted by Government, the appointment of the appellant to that office would necessarily have created a vacancy in the office of Additional Public Prosecutor, a distinct office, the filling up of which was not then imminent. The Collector expressed his opinion that that office could be given to the respondent-appointee, so that he could pick up work, and equip himself for greater responsibilities.
As mv learned brother has shown, the actual appointing authority under Section 492 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is the State Government, and Rule 45 of the Criminal Rules of Practice is only the mode by which this power is to be exercised. The Collector is not the appointing authority, and, hence, the Government could well require the Collector not merely to nominate one person, but to submit a panel of nominees. Further, where the Government are unable, for any proper reason, to accept a single nomination of the Collector, if it happened to be a single nomination as in this case, the Government would further correspond with the Collector, with a view to obtaining a nomination, which might seem to be acceptable, in public interest. If the rule were to be taken as implying that the Collector need make only one nomination, even if Government were Unable to accept that nomination this would imply that the virtual crux of the power would be with the Collector, and not the State Government, which is not the intendment of Section 492 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
4. Hence, in the context of these facts, I propose to deal, very briefly, with the following questions:--
1. Is the Office of Public Prosecutor, a public office, within the ambit of quo warranto jurisdiction?
2. Is Rule 45 of the Criminal Rules of Practice not merely an administrative rule of directory significance, but a statutory or law-based mandatory rule, which the State Government must conform to, until end unless the content of the rule be changed?
I. Is the State Government bound to conform to the rule and prescribed procedure, in making such an appointment to a public office, as part of the incidents of the rule of law
5. It appears to me, very clearly, that the answers to all these questions must be in the affirmative. Not merely is the office of Public Prosecutor a public office, but, in my view, it is a public office of considerable significance, for the integrity and efficiency of the administration of criminal justice. Any one appointed to this office must, in the interests of the public, have a high degree of efficiency, and knowledge of the law of Crimes and the Criminal Procedure: he must have character and integrity, that are irrepro-chable and above suspicion; he must have a sense of his duty to the public and to the Court, as overriding considerations. As can be immediately realised, if these requisites are lacking, the incumbent to such an office can gravely injure the administration of criminal justice.
The ideal Public Prosecutor is not surely concerned with securing convictions, or with satisfying the departments of the State Government, with which he has to be in contact. He must consider himself as an agent of Justice, and, as my learned brother has pointed out, his discretion to apply to the Court for its consent to withdraw from any prosecution, is a vital one. It is in the interests of the State and the Public, that any selection to such an office must be based on the most pertinent considerations, without prejudice or favour, and that only the best person or persons should be appointed.
6. I propose to deal very briefly with the second question, namely, the binding character of Rule 45 of the Criminal Rules of Practice. My learned brother has traced the lineage of this rule, and I need not recapitulate that aspect. But I do not see how it could be seriously disputed, that the preamble to the rules, published in 1958, is conclusive that Article 227 of the Constitution of India is the foundation for this rule, particularly Article 227(2)(b), which invests the High Court with Dower to make and issue rules 'for regulating the practice and proceedings of such Courts', It must be noticed that the Government promulgated the Rule, after the High Court had framed it and after Government had accorded their prior sanction. As my learned brother has stressed, the relevant part of the Proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution could equally, be regarded as the foundation of the Rule. No doubt, the rule can be changed, if, in practice, there are difficulties experienced in the working of the rule. But, unless and until the rule is changed, in accordance with due procedure, it is a law-based rule, which Government must adhere to. It cannot be set at naught, or flouted, in an individual case, merely because of caprice, or in an arbitrary manner. If that happens, the Courts are bound to Interfere, though if may be open to Government to modify or alter the rule, for future contingencies.
7. This brings me to the last aspect of the matter, namely, whether it is open to the State Government to claim that, since it is the appointing authority with the power to appoint a person to the concerned office, and the Collector is a subordinate of Government, the Government may appoint whoever they like, irrespective of the procedure laid down by Rule 45, or the nomination of the Collector, because the power is unfettered. It is here that the observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Jaisinghani v. Union of India : 65ITR34(SC) , which were also relied on by the Kerala High Court in K.M. Joseph v. State of Kerala : (1969)IILLJ475Ker , appear to be not merely pertinent, but to bear upon a situation of that kind, with the weight and solemnity of basic legal principle. Not merely are the Executive Authorities, that is, the State in its executive aspect, bound to conform to the rule of law, but such a requirement is even more obligatory on the State, than on any private citizen. Any such decision should be predictable, and in conformity with principle: it should both appear to conform, and, also in the spirit as well as the letter, should subserve the rule of law. Arbitrariness in any such sphere, if countenanced or tolerated, will gravely jeopardise the rule of law, and may even bring it to an end.
8. For the reasons set forth by my learned brother, I entirely agree that the order appointing the first respondent as the Public Prosecutor of North Arcot District must be set aside, and that the State Government should now take up the question for consideration and due action, in the light of principles that we have stated. The appellant may claim that he has every right to be considered for the post, but he has certainly no right now to the appointment per se; the due appointment must be made afresh by Government, In conformity with the procedure established by law.
9. The appellant In these appeals is an Advocate of the Madras High Court practising at Vellore, North Arcot District, and an aspirant for the post of Public Prosecutor, North Arcot Sessions Division, which fell vacant on 31st August, 1967. By G. O. Ms. No. 231, dated 30th January, 1968 the Government appointed the first respondent herein as the Public Prosecutor and the appellant challenging the legality of the appointment moved this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution by two petitions, one for a writ of quo warranto directed against the first respondent requiring him to show cause, by what authority he claims to bold the office of Public Prosecutor, North Arcot, and another for a writ of mandamus requiring the State of Madras, the 2nd respondent herein, to appoint the appellant as Public Prosecutor. The substantial ground of challenge to the appointment and the basis of the appellant's claim for the post is. that statutori-ly the appointment by Government can only be on the nomination of the District Collector in consultation with the Sessions Judge of the Division and that the Col-lertor nominated the appellant only for the post. Our learned brother, Kailasam, J., before whom the petition came up for hearing, while holding that the appointment to the post of Public Prosecutor is governed by statutory requirements, proceeded in the view that the requirements of the rule have been complied with and dismissed the applications.
10. The function of a writ of quo warranto under the Constitution is summed up by Gajendragadkar, J., (as he then was) as follows in University of Mysore v. Govinda Rao : 4SCR575 :
'Broadly stated, the quo warranto proceeding affords a judicial inquiry in which any person holding an independent substantive public office, or franchise, or liberty, is called upon to show by what right he holds the said office, franchise or liberty; if the inquiry leads to the finding that the holder of the office has no valid title to it, the issue of the writ of quo warranto ousts him from that office. In other words, the procedure of quo warranto confers jurisdiction and authority on the judiciary to control executive action in the matter of making appointments to public offices against the relevant statutory provisions: it also protects a citizen from being deprived of public office to which he may have a right'. To sustain a quo warranto writ, the applicant has to satisfy the Court that the office in question is a substantive public office and that the incumbent whose position is questioned is holding the post without legal authority, that is, in appointing him the Government has contravened statutory provisions or binding rules.
That the office of Public Prosecutor Es a public office, is not questioned before us for the respondents. Section 4 (t) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (V of 1898) defines 'Public Prosecutor' thus;
''Public Prosecutor' means any person appointed under Section 492, and includes any person acting under the directions of a Public Prosecutor and any person conducting a prosecution on behalf of Government in any High Court in the exercise of its original criminal jurisdiction'. Section 492 of the Criminal P. C. providing for the appointment of Public Prosecutor by the Government is found in Part IX, Supplementary Provisions. Chapter XXVIII, under the heading 'of the Public Prosecutor' and runs thus: '(1) The State Government may appoint, generally, or in any case, or for any specified class of cases, in any local area, one or more officers to be called Public Prosecutors,
(2) The District Magistrate, or, subject to the control of the District Magistrate, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, may, in the absence of the Public Prosecutor, or where no Public Prosecutor has been appointed, appoint any other person, not being an officer of Police below such rank as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf to be Public Prosecutor for the purpose of any case'.
The procedure as to appointment Is Rule 45 of the Criminal Rules of Practice which reads:--
'A Public Prosecutor may be appointed for each Sessions Division. The appointment may be made for a period of three years on the nomination of the Collector who shall consult the Sessions Judge before submitting his nomination to Government but the Government is not precluded from reconsidering the appointment, if it thinks fit, before the close of that period.'
[Indubitably the office of Public Prosecutor involves duties of public nature and of vital interest to the public. Under Section 417, Criminal Procedure Code, the State Government may direct the Public Prosecutor to present an appeal to the High Court from an original or appellate order, of acquittal passed by any Court other than a High Court, under Section 493, Criminal Procedure Code, the Public Prosecutor may appear and plead without any written authority before any Court in which any case of which he has charge is under inquiry, trial or appeal, and if any private person instructs a pleader to prosecute in any Court any person in any such case, the Public Prosecutor shall conduct the prosecution and the pleader so instructed shall act under his directions. The Public Prosecutor may appear to conduct a prosecution only under instructions from the
Collector, and other officers who require his assitance in the conduct of criminal cases, should communicate with the collector. He is the person to whom notice of appeal shall be given by Court of Session under Section 422 of the Code. The Public Prosecutor is not just an Advocate engaged by the State to conduct its prosecutions. The importance of the office from the point of view of the State and the community, is brought out in Section 494, Criminal P. C., which vests |in the Public Prosecutor a discretion to apply to the Court for its consent to withdraw from the prosecution of any person. The consent, if granted, has to be followed up by the discharge of the person or his acquittal, as the case may be.
It is relevant in this context to cite the following observations of the Supreme Court in State of Bihar v. Ram Naresh : 1957CriLJ567 about the position of Public Prosecutor:--
'In this context it Is right to remember that the Public Prosecutor (though an executive officer as stated by the Privy Council in Faqir Singh v. Emperor , is, in a larger sense, also an officer of the Court and that he is bound to assist the Court with his fairly considered view and the Court is entitled to have the benefit of the fair exercise of his function. It has also to be appreciated that in this country the scheme of the administration of criminal justice is that the primary responsibility of prosecuting serious offences (which are classified as cognizable offences) is on the Executive Authorities'.
Manifestly the public would, in a large measure be interested in the manner in which he discharges his duties, and he, could properly be considered, to be a person employed in connection with the affairs of the State. The Collector determines the fee payable to him under the relevant rules and he is remunerated by the State.
In Ramachandran v. Alagiriswami : AIR1961Mad450 , this Court observed:--
'Nobody seriously doubts that the State Prosecutor in the City and Public Prosecutors in the mofussil are holders of public offices'.
11. The next question for consideration is whether the appointment of Public Prosecutor is governed by any statutory provision or rule. Our learned brother Kailasam, J., has traced the rules as to the appointment of Public Prosecutor from 1895. The Office is of ancient origin. Government Order dated 1st September, 1866, states that in every District Court there is a Government Pleader who is usually also the Public Prosecutor, and that he is nominated by the Collector and appointed by the Government. The rule, more or less in the form now we have providing for consultation of the Sessions Judge before the nomination is submitted to the Government, is found as Rule 142 in the Criminal Rules of Practice and Executive Orders published in 1910. The authority for the rule is G. O. No. 1232 Judicial dated 12th August, 1901. The rule became Rule 30 in the Criminal Rules of Practice and Circular Orders issued in 1931, after approval bv the Government in G. O. Ms. No. 2420, dated 9th June, 1930. It is placed in Part I of the Rules consisting of rules under or in matter relating to the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The latest Criminal Rules of Practice and Circular Orders, 1958, received the approval of the Government in G. O. Ms. No. 978, dated 10th April, 1957 which runs as follows:--
'The passing of the Indian Constitution and the Adaptation of Laws Order, as amended bv the Adaptation of Laws (Amendment) Order, 1950, the Cri. P. C. (Amendment) Act, 1955 (Central Act 26 of 1955), the Cri. P. C. (Madras Amendment) Act, 1955 (Madras Act 34 of 1955), Separation of the Judiciary from the Executive in this State, have necessitated the revision of the present edition of the Criminal Rules of Practice and Circular Orders, 1931. The High Court. Madras has forwarded to Government for approval a revised set of draft rules. Judicial, Presidency Magistrate Court and Administrative Forms, Rules and Orders under the Special enactments and also important circulars and orders issued by the High Court in matters relating to the Judiciary.
In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 227 of the Constitution of India and of all other powers hereunto enabling, the Governor of Madras hereby approves the revised rules, forms, circulars, etc., forwarded by the High Court, Madras, with modifications as set out in the Appendix in these proceedings. The rules, forms, etc., in the Appendix will be published in the Fort St. George Gazette as rules mad by High Court with the previous approval of the Government of Madras',
The Preamble to the Rules published in 1958 reads:--
'Whereas it is expedient to amend, consolidate and bring up to date the Criminal Rules of Practice and Orders. 1931, and incorporate therein the Orders, Notifications and Administrative instructions issued from time to time by the Government and the High Court, in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 227 of the Constitution of India and of all others powers hereunto enabling, and with the previous approval of the Governor of Madras, the High Court hereby makes the following Rules and Orders for the guidance of all criminal Courts in the State'.
The Governor of Madras who approves the rules forwarded by the High Court, purports to exercise the powers conferred ay Article 227 of the Constitution and all enabling powers. It is necessary to set out the material part of Clause (2) and the related Proviso to Article 227 which invests the High Court with power of superintendence over all Courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction:
'(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision, the High Court may
(a) call for returns from such Courts;
(b) make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of such Courts; and
(c) prescribe forms in which books, entries and accounts shall be kept by the officers of any such Courts.
Provided that any rules made, forms prescribed or tables settled under Clause (2) or Clause (3) shall not be inconsistent with the provision of any law for the time being in force, and shall require the previous approval of the Governor'.
We are in entire agreement with the learned Judge. Kailasam, J., that the procedure relating to the appointment of Public Prosecutor can be said to relate to practice and proceedings of the Court. We have already referred to some of the important functions of the Public Prosecutor in the Districts with reference to criminal proceedings in Courts. The power to frame rules for regulating the practice and proceedings of criminal Courts can. in our view, property include the qualifications of the person who has to function as Public Prosecutor in Criminal Courts. Rule 45 cannot be considered inconsistent with the provision of Section 492. Criminal P. C., vesting the power of appointment of Public Prosecutor in the State Government. The rule does not, in the least, detract from the power of Government to appoint Public Prosecutor. It only sets out the procedure which the Government will follow in making the appointment. Notwithstanding the rule, the power to appoint Public Prosecutor still vests in the State Government and so the requirement of Article 227 for validity of the rule that it shall not be inconsistent with the provision of any law for the time being in force, is fully satisfied.
12. It appears to us that this rule could be sustained also under the Proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution. Under that Article, the appropriate Legislature may regulate the recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to, public services. The Proviso to Article 309 enables the Executive also to make rule;-regulating the recruitment and the conditions of service, until provision in that behali is made by an Act of the Legislature. The relevant part of the Proviso to Article 309 runs thus:
'Provided that it shall be competent ..... for the Governor of a State or such person as he may direct in the case of services and posts in connection with the affairs of the State, to make rules regulating the recruitment and the conditions of service of persons appointed, to such services and posts until provision to that behalf is made by or under an Act of the appropriate Legislature under this Article, and any rules so made shall have effect subject to the provisions of any such Act'.
No doubt the rule in question does not purport to have been made under power conferred by Article 309. Usually when Government issues an order on the basis of a statutory provision, the provision of the Statute in pursuance of which the order is made is specified. But the omission of the authority for the order or rule is not decisive. While approving the rules forwarded to Government by the High Court, it is proclaimed that they have been approved by the Governor of Madras in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 227 of the Constitution and all other powers hereunto enabling. The Criminal Rules of Practice contain provisions regarding various matters--rules relating to criminal procedure, judicial forms, etc. and within, we find this rule relating to the appointment of Public Prosecutor with an ancient lineage of Government Orders dating back to 1866. If the High Court under Article 227 may not properly frame a rule with reference to the appointment of Public Prosecutor as a matter relating to practice and proceedings of Criminal Courts the rule should be deemed to have been made under the proviso to Article 309 which enables the Governor or such person as he may direct to make rules regulating the recruitment and the conditions of service to posts in connection with the affairs o the State.
Sub-section (4) of Section 96-B of Government of India Act, 1919 provided that all rules in operation at the time of passing of that Act, whether made by the Secretary of State in Council or any other authority relating to the several servicts of the Crown in India were duly made in accordance with the powers in that behalf and confirmed the rules. The original rule regarding the appointment of Public Prosecutor had acquired statutory force by virtue of Section 96-B(4) of the Government of India Act, 1919. May be that the original rule is not continued. But in examining the character of the present rule, it is a factor to be taken into consideration Why should we devalue after the Constitution when citizens are assured of the sovereignty of the Rule of Law, a rule that had statutory force, to an administrative direction to be followed at the discretion of the authority, when statutory basis could be found for the rule? When the Government approved the revised publication of the Criminal Rules of Practice and Orders, 1931 in G. O. No. 2420 dated 9th June, 1930, it is stated:--
'Under Section 107 of the Government of India Act, and Section 554 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and all other powers enabling him on this behalf, the Governor-in-Council is pleased to sanction, subject to the alterations mentioned below, the rules in Part I of the Criminal Rules of Practice and Orders and the forms thereunto appended.'
Section 107 of the Government of India Act 1919 subject to certain modifications is similar to Section 224 of the Government of India Act, 1935. Article 227 of the Constitution is a reproduction of Section 224 with certain changes.
The submission that rule is only for guidance of the Executive and non-adherence to the rule is not justiciable, is untenable. In State of Uttar Pradesh v. Baburam : 1961CriLJ773 Subba Rao. J., (as he then' was.) speaking for the majority, observed that statutory rules cannot be described, as or equated with administrative directions. Of course, the Court was considering the Police Acts and Rules made thereunder for the appointment of Police Officers and prescribing procedure for their removal. The clear and unambiguous expression in Article 309 of the Constitution that rules made by the Governor or such person as he may direct regulating the recruitment and the conditions of service of persons appointed, until provision in that behalf is made by or under an Act, shall have effect subject to the provisions of any such Act, must be given its full and unrestricted meaning. Having regard to the history of the rule regarding the appointment of Public Prosecutor, in our opinion, the rule has been made under constitutional powers and so has statutory force, whether it is Article 227 or the Proviso to Article 309 that is relied upon. The appointment of Public Prosecutor for the district does not rest solely on Standing Orders of the Government as was the case of the Government Pleader for Madras in : AIR1961Mad450
13. We have next to determine whether the appointment in this case is one, that has been made without any regard to the statutory provisions. It is on this we have to differ with respect from our learned brother Kailasam, J. The relevant file has been produced for our perusal and we find the claim of the appellant justified that the appointee has not been' nominated by the Collector for the post of public Prosecutor and that it is the appellant that was recommended for the post. The counter-affidavit filed in this case, in fact, do not dispute the position. It is seen from the file that, in July, 1967, applications were called for the post of Government Pleader-cum-Public Prosecutor which was originally in vogue in the district. The District Bar Association furnished to the Collector names of 17 Advocates for consideration. There was then a proposal for bifurcation and appointment of separate individuals for the posts of Government Pleader and Public Prosecutor. The Collector referred the names of 17 Advocates given to him by the Bar Association to the District and Sessions Judge, North Arcot, to propose names for the posts of Government Pleader and Public Prosecutor separately on the assumption that there would be separate incumbents for the posts. The District and Sessions Judge furnished two distinct panels of names under the two heads, a panel of names for the appointment of Government Pleader and another for the appointment of Public Prosecutor each panel containing five names. The present appointee's name is found only in the panel of names for the appointment of Government Pleader and the appellant's name, in the panel of names for the appointment of Public Prosecutor. With reference to the present appointee who had a standing of six years and 4 months at the Bar, the learned District Judge recommended the relaxation of the provision in a Standing Order requiring seven years' standing at the Bar, there being a precedent for such relaxation. The appellant was appointed as Additional Public Prosecutor, Vellore, in 1962 relaxing the requirement. The District and Sessions Judge, in recommending the present appointee for the post of Government Pleader, pointed out that the appointee was Standing Counsel for the Vellore Municipality and competent in his work,
14. The Collector in forwarding his nomination to the Government while expressing his agreement with the panels given by the District and Sessions Judge, specifically recommended that the appellant who was then Additional Public Prosecutor be appointed Public Prosecutor, No alternative name was given by the Collector for the post. As regards the present appointee, the Collector added that he may be appointed as Additional Public Prosecutor. The post of Additional Public Prosecutor would fall vacant if the present appellant was appointed as Public Prosecutor. The Collector expressed his view that the post of Additional Public Prosecutor should go to a young Advocate, so that he might be groomed and trained to become Public Prosecutor in course of time. He remarked that the present appointee could conveniently pick up work under the guidance of the Public Prosecutor and equip himself for further responsibility in due course. It is clear from the note of the District Collector that for the post of Public Prosecutor he nominated only one individual, that is, the appellant. Far from sending up the name of present appointee for the post even alternatively, he indicated that the present appointee has to abide his time.
Our learned brother Kailasam, J., proceeded in the view that the letter of the District Judge to the Collector was not clear as to whether he recommended a person out of five names in the list to be appointed as Government Pleader and another person from the second list of five persons to be appointed as Public Prosecutor, and that the letter of the District Judge could be construed as recommending any one of the ten persons for appointment for either of the posts. If that were so, it is a matter for consideration. But as pointed out above, there is no ambiguity either in the panel of names sent by the Sessions Judge or, in the nomination made by the Collector. The Collector's recommendation and the letter of the Sessions Judge on the consultation, are precise as to what they state. That apart, Under the rule it is the Collector that has to make the nomination. It must also be noticed that while the Collector has not recommended the present appointee for either of the posts then vacant, the District Judge who was consulted recommended the present appointee only for the post of Government Pleader. So neither the authority that has to be consulted under the rule, nor the authority that has to nominate, recommended the present appointee for the post of Public Prosecutor.
15. It was faintly argued on behalf of the respondents that the Collector only suggested the appointment of the appellant as Public Prosecutor and not nominated him. To nominate, as may be seen from any dictionary, means, to name or designate by name for office or place. Webster's New 20th Century Dictionary gives the word 'nomination' among other meanings, 'the naming or appointing a person to an office; the naming of a person as a candidate for election or appointment to an office'. A meaning of the word 'nominate' is 'to propose for office', In the counter affidavit of the Secretary to the Government, Home Department, it is stated that the word 'nomination' can only mean, naming, that is, recommending. Clearly, whether it is naming, proposing or recommending, the Collector does name, propose or recommend only the appellant for the office, and he does not name, propose or recommend the present appointee for the post,
16. If Rule 45 has statutory force unquestionably there is violation of the rule, in that the present appointee has not been appointed on the nomination of the Collector. The rule enjoins that the appointment be made on the nomination of the Collector. As precondition to nomination a duty is cast on the Collector to consult the Sessions Judge before submitting his nomination to the Government. The appointment by Government of a Public Prosecutor for the District is thus conditioned by two requisites. Firstly the Collector should consult the Sessions Judge. Secondly, after such consultation; the Collector should submit his nomination to the Government. This does not mean that the Government is bound to accept the nomination sent up by the Collector. It is not the requirement of the rule that there can be only one nomination, and, once a nomination is sent up, it must be accepted by the Government. To interpret the rule in that manner would be to make the Collector the appointing authority, and that he is not, under Section 492, Criminal P. C. And such an interpretation would make the rule ultra vires, whether it is a rule under Article 227 or Article 309. The Government is the appointing authority and it is the Government that has to take the final decision. It may not approve of a nomination sent by the Collector. It may require the Collector to make a fresh nomination or call for a panel of names with his recommendation in consultation with the Sessions Judge, Only, for appointment not to contravene the rule, it must be a nominee of the Collector that should be appointed for the post.
17. The object of the requirements of the rule is self evident. The subject-matter is such that the requirements of the rule cannot he considered to be empty formalities. They are intended to secure to the Government, the appointing authority, real assistance. The Sessions Judge is expected to know the suitability or otherwise of the members of the Bar in his Sessions Division for the post. He has opportunities to appraise their fitness having regard to their standing in the Bar and the confidence they command. The Collector, the executive head in the district, may be properly expected to offer his advice in the matter. He is required under the rule to act in consultation with the Sessions Judge, the appropriate authority, to give advice for the selection. The consultation which has to precede nomination by the Collector is obviously intended to secure a conference of two minds eminently fitted for the task.
In Pushpam v. State of Madras : AIR1953Mad392 , Subba Rao, J., (as he then was) observed:
'Many instances may be found In statutes when an authority entrusted with a duty is directed to perform the same in consultation with another authority which is qualified to give advice in respect of that duty. It is true that the final order Is made and the ultimate responsibility rests with the former authority. But it will not and cannot be, performance of duty if no consultation is made, and even if made, is only in formal compliance with the provisions'.
It is manifest on the facts that Rule 45 has been violated.
18. It is submitted that the appointment is an executive or administrative act of the Govt. and so is not justiciable. True the appointment is an administrative act. But if it contravenes the law, Courts can intervene even with an act of the Executive Authority, Here no absolute discretion is vested in the Govt. for making the appointment The appointment has to be made in accordance with a rule, and a procedure prescribed has to precede the appointment Having regard to the post to be filled up, the procedure prescribed cannot be considered to be purely directory. While the decision is that of the Government and it may be an executive decision, the discretion given to the Government in the matter is circumscribed by the rule and it is within the four corners of the rule that the discretion must be exercised.
As pointed out by Lord Greene, M. R. in Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd. v. Wednesbury Corporation, (1948) 1 KB 223 the exercise of such discretion must be a real exercise of the discretion. The Master of the Rolls said:
'If in a statute conferring the discretion there are to be found expressly or by implication matters which the authority exercising the discretion ought to have regard to, then in exercising the discretion it must have regard to those matters'.
Rules made under statutory powers, unless they are constitutionally invalid, must be adhered to. Statutory rules which are functional in character are not made to be violated at the caprice of the Executive Authority concerned. There is no such thing as absolute or untrammelled discretion, the nursery of despotic power, in a democracy based on the rule of law. Doughlas, J., in United States v. M. Wunderlich, (1951) 342 US 98 expressed in language which must ever be borne in mind by those that would govern and the governed:
'Law has reached its finest moments when it has freed man from the unlimited discretion of some ruler. Where discretion is absolute man has always suffered'.
In : 65ITR34(SC) , the Supreme Court spoke for our Constitution in these words:--
'In this context it is Important to emphasise that the absence of arbitrary power is the first essential of the rule of law upon which our own Constitutional system is based. In a system governed by rule of law, discretion, when conferred upon Executive Authorities, must be confined within clearly defined limits. The rule of law from this point of view means that decisions should be made by the application of known principles and rules and, in general, such decisions should be predictable and citizen should know where he is. If a decision is taken without any principle or without any rule it is unpredictable and such a decision is the antithesis of a decision taken in accordance with the rule of law'.
Learned Counsel for the appellant drew our attention also to the decision of the Kerala High Court in : (1969)IILLJ475Ker , where, relying on the observations of the Supreme Court quoted above, it was held that the right of a State to make appointments to its service is not arbitrary.
19. A subsidiary point was raised for the appellant that the appointment was made on extraneous considerations and so can be quashed even if the rule has no statutory force. It is alleged in the affidavit in support of the application for quo warranto that the only consideration which weighed with the Government is that the present appointee is an active member of a particular political party. The argument based on this is, that considerations wholly not germane have weighed with the appointing authority, and, even if there is wide executive discretion in the matter of the appointment, the discretion is vitiated.
20. The Court's province in this regard is well settled. In Raja Anand v. State of U. P. : 1SCR373 , the Supreme Court observed:
'It is true that the opinion of the State Government which is a condition for the exercise of the power under Section 17(4) of the Act (Land Acquisition Act), is subjective and a Court cannot normally en-quire whether there were sufficient grounds for justification of the opinion formed by the State Government under Section 17(4) ............... But even though the power of the State Government has been formulated under Section 17(4) of the Act in subjective terms the expression of opinion of the State Government can be challenged as ultra vires in a Court of law if it could be shown that the State Government never applied its mind to the matter or that the action of the State Government is mala fide.'
If people who have to exercise a public duty by exercising their discretion take into account matter which the Courts consider not to be proper for the guidance of their discretion, then in the eye of law they have not exercised that discretion. e Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes, llth Edition, page 118. When considerations extraneous to the suitability of a person for appointment are taken into account in making an appointment, there is an abuse of discretionary power, and so the exercise of power exceeds the bounds of authority. The other aspirants for the office would have been left out of consideration on totally irrelevant grounds. It could then well be said that Article 16 which provides that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State and Article 14 are violated. While the| fitness of a person to an office may be solely within the discretion of the appointing authority, the discretion, as has been repeatedly pointed out. must be exercised bona fide.
Wade, in his Administrative Law, at page 59 quotes Lord Halsbury's remark:--
'..... 'discretion' means when it is said that something is to be done within the discretion of the authorities that that something is to be done according to the rules of reason and justice, not according to private opinion.....according to law, and not humour. It is to be, not arbitrary, vague and fanciful, but legal and regular'.
Arbitrary discarding of existing rules, be they administrative, and improvising ad hoc procedure for particular cases, is a dangerously unhealthy trend, as it may descend to 'ad hominum' procedure cases, and give room for comments of favoured treatment violative of Article 16. While Courts will not interfere with the choice of an individual with reference to an appointment made in the due exercise of its discretion by the Government without shutting out of consideration the claims of others for the post. Courts will certainly stand guard and are bound to do so in a democracy, against flagrant abuse of powers on the simple and sound principle that the Constitution 'cannot have intended powers to be abused beyond what might be called the inevitable area where opinions may legitimately differ'.
21. While the principles which the appellant seeks to invoke are well settled, in our opinion, there is no room in this case for striking down the appointment in question on principle of arbitrary or capricious exercise of discretion and favoured treatment without any regard to established norms in the matter of the appointment. The appellant seeks to clutch at an averment made in the counter affidavit of the Secretary to the Government, Home Department, while denying the charge that active association of the appointee with the party In power is the basis of the appointment. Unfortunately, and as it strikes us, without appreciating the inference which the language employed could lead to the denial is thus expressed: 'It is specifically denied that the only consideration that weighed with the Government in exempting the first respondent was his association with the D. M. K.' But reading this averment in the light of the allegation in, the affidavit which is traversed thereby and the setting in which it is found in the counter affidavit, it is clear that the statement in the counter affidavit was not meant to be an acknowledgment that the affiliation with the party in power was one of the considerations for the appointment, though not the only one. The record and the file relating to the appointment which we have perused, do not Warrant judicial inference of extraneous consideration like the one alleged by the appellant to have been the basis of the choice. The fact that an aspirant for office happens to be an active member of a political party in power by itself should not and cannot disqualify him if otherwise suitable for being appointed to a post. To make that a point against him when there is no legal bar, would be to exclude him from consideration for the post on wholly irrelevant grounds. The present appointment has to go on the sole ground that the appointee is not a nominee for the post sent up by the Collector. Neither the nomination of the Collector, nor the recommendations of the Sessions Judge which accompanied it has manifestly been relevant material in deciding on the appointment
22. A point was taken for the appellant questioning the exemption granted to the appointee in respect of the requirement as to seven years standing at the Bar. This requirement is to be found in the Standing Orders relating to the appointment of Law Officers in the mofussil. It is not made out that this Standing Order has any statutory force, and it may be pointed out that the appellant himself got exemption when he was appointed as Additional Public Prosecutor. In : AIR1961Mad450 , the Division Bench points out that such Standing Orders of the Government regarding appointment to an office are devoid of statutory force and remain merely as declarations no doubt public and explicit declarations--but still only declarations by Government of their intention and line of conduct. Such Standing Orders have no legal sanction behind them and the Government may, in suitable cases in the exercise of discretion, relax the rules.
23. Learned Counsel for the first respondent submitted that the appellant Invoking the special extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court has not come with clean hands and is therefore, disentitled to relief. It is urged that in his affidavit the appellant stated that the first respondent has not been enrolled in the Madras High Court and he is an Advocate of the Mysore High Court. This is clearly contrary to facts, and, in his reply affidavit, the appellant contented himself with the statement that in view of the assertion of the first respondent he withdrew this contention. The appellant, in his reply affidavit, did not categorically admit the true position. The learned Judge, Kallasam. J., points out that, if the appellant had taken some care and looked into the list of the Bar Council. Madras, he would not have made the allegation, and that, in any event, after the specific statement by the first respondent, the appellant could have withdrawn his allegation without any qualification. However, before the learned Judge, Counsel for the appellant submitted that the defect in pleadings in this regard was unintentional. Unqualified regret on behalf of the appellant was expressed and the learned Judge who dealt with the writ petition, did not think it necessary to pursue the matter any further.
Learned Counsel for the first respondent submitted that before granting a writ of quo warranto, it is necessary to see that the relator is a fit person to be entrusted with the writ and reference was made to the decision in Miss Cama v. Banwarilal, AIR 1953 Nag 8i, for the proposition that a relator must not be disqualified by having acquiesced or concurred in the act which he comes to complain of. We fail to see the relevance of the decision in the context of this case. True, an averment, has been made in the affidavit in an irresponsible manner while challenging the validity of the first respondent's appointment. A little care and attention and a sense of responsibility in making the averment against a brother member of the Bar would have avoided this. One may say that the allegation has been made recklessly. But it has been atoned for by unqualified regret at the hearing and the learned Judge has accepted the same. Though the appellant himself is personally interested in the proceeding, being an aspirant for the office, still we cannot ignore the fact that the matter is one in which the public can be said to be equally interested and concerns the administration of justice.
24. It follows that the order of the Government G. O. Ms. No. 231. Home Department, dated 30th January, 1968 appointing the first respondent as Public Prosecutor for the North Arcot Sessions Division has to be quashed. The Government will have to proceed afresh in the matter to fill up in accordance with law the post which thus falls vacant. The appellant has applied for mandamus to act upon the only nomination sent up by the Collector and appoint him as Public Prosecutor for the term. This relief, he cannot have. As observed earlier, the Government is not bound to accept a nomination sent up by the Collector. It cannot be contended by the appellant that the Government is withholding from him a post to which he is entitled to, for the issue of a writ of mandamus. The appellant can claim only that he should be considered for the post. We should here observe that in these proceedings we are not concerned, in the least, with the merits or qualification of either the appellant or the first respondent. The suitability of an applicant is for the authorities to decide.
25. We accordingly allow W. P. No. 436 of 1968, quashing the order appointing the first respondent as Public Prosecutor. The question of filling up the post of Public Prosecutor, North Arcot District will be taken up by the Government for consideration in the light of the observations made herein. W. A. No. 179 of 1968 is therefore, allowed and W. A. No. 180 of 1968 dismissed. The parties will bear their respective costs throughout.