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Reserve Bank of India and ors. Vs. R.N. Dutt and Sons and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectFERA
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberAppeal No. 236 of 1970
Judge
Reported inAIR1975Cal48
ActsForeign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 - Section 3(2); ;Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantReserve Bank of India and ors.
RespondentR.N. Dutt and Sons and ors.
Appellant AdvocateB. Das, ;Subrata K. Roy Chowdhury and ;Tapas Banerjee, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateR.C. Deb, ;Somnath Chatterjee and ;S.K. Dutt, Advs. (for No. 1) and ;A.K. Banerjee, Adv. (for No. 3)
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredController of Customs. Calcutta v. Biswanath Mukherjee
Excerpt:
- sabyasachi mukharji, j. 1. this appeal arises out of the judgment and order of p. k. banerjee, j. dated july 29, 1970 whereby the learned judge has set aside the order passed under section 3(2) of the foreign exchange regulation act. 1947 by the deputy controller, reserve bank of india, cancelling the authorisation in favour of the petitioner under section 3 (1) of the said act. it appears that since 1944 the petitioner had a licence to deal in foreign currency granted to the petitioner subject to such conditions as might from time to time be notified by the reserve bank of india. on march 25, 1947 the petitioner was granted an authorisation or a licence to deal in foreign currency by the reserve bank of india in exercise of the power conferred by section 3 of the foreign exchange.....
Judgment:

Sabyasachi Mukharji, J.

1. This appeal arises out of the judgment and order of P. K. Banerjee, J. dated July 29, 1970 whereby the learned Judge has set aside the order passed under Section 3(2) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. 1947 by the Deputy Controller, Reserve Bank of India, cancelling the authorisation in favour of the petitioner under Section 3 (1) of the said Act. It appears that since 1944 the petitioner had a licence to deal in foreign currency granted to the petitioner subject to such conditions as might from time to time be notified by the Reserve Bank of India. On March 25, 1947 the petitioner was granted an authorisation or a licence to deal in foreign currency by the Reserve Bank of India in exercise of the power conferred by Section 3 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. The said authorisation was to purchase and sell foreign currency notes and coins at 34, Garden Reach Road, Kidderpore and Dura Dum Airport, Calcutta, subject to such conditions as might be notified from time to time by the Reserve Bank of India. On January 9, 1968 it is alleged that one Mr. J. G. Bayliss had tendered at the Dum Dum Airport to the petitioner a sum of Rs. 792 for conversion into foreign currency and the petitioner firm gave him in exchange a sum of U. S Dollars 68 instead of U. S. Dollars 104 due to him at the prevalent rate. This allegation of Mr. Bayliss was contained in a letter dated January 22, 1968 written to the Finance Minister, Government of India, wherein he had stated that in the interest of India tourism action should be taken to rectify such conduct. In paragraph 5 of the petition it has been stated that in a letter dated February 6, 1968 the Reserve Bank of India Informed the petitioner firm about the allegation made by Mr. Bayliss in the aforesaid letter. On February 13, 1988 the petitioner firm wrote to the Reserve Bank of India stating that Bayliss had tendered only Rs. 578.80 paise and not Rs. 792 as stated by him and further stated that Mr. Bayliss should be asked to produce some evidence on the basis of which he had made the aforesaid allegation against the petitioner firm. On April 26, 1968 there were two authorisationsissued under Section 19-H and Section 19 (2) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act by the Deputy Controller. Reserve Bank of India, in favour of one Shri J. Ranganathan Rao, Assistant Controller of Exchange Control Department to investigate and inspect the accounts and affairs of the petitioner firm. The said inspection was carried out by the said J. Ranganathan Rao on April 26, 1968 and April 27, 1968. What happened therein has been reiterated by him in his affidavit affirmed in this proceeding on April 19, 1969. He stated, inter alia, that the petitioner firm has three booths, the first at the Dum Dum Airport, the second in the city at Stephen House, Dalhousie Square and the third at the Kidderpore Docks. He further stated that he went to the Dum Dum Airport to see the records there and asked the man in charge of the counter at the Airport of the petitioner firm to produce all the records relating to the sale of U. S. Dollars 68 on January 19, 1968 to Mr. J.G. Bayliss, J. Ranganathan Rao has further stated that after searching his records the person in charge of the petitioner's counter informed him in writing that the relevant records had been removed to the Stephen House and thereupon he went to the Stephen House office at about 3-45 p.m. It appears that the allegation of Mr. Bayliss was brought by the said J. Ranganathan Rao to the notice of the petitioner and the allegation was that on January 9. 1968 Bayliss had tendered Rs. 792 and he was given 68 U. S. Dollars and therefore he was short paid to the extent of 36 Dollars. The version of the petitioner was that he received a sum of Rs. 518.80 paise from the said Mr. J.G. Bayliss and accordingly he was paid 68 U. S. Dollars being the equivalent sum of rupees tendered. J. Ranganathan Rao inspected the account of register of daily sale and purchase of the foreign exchange and on perusal of the same he found that on January 9, there was a sale of 68 U. S. Dollars to Mr. J.G. Bayliss and the same was entered. The rupee equivalent on 68 U. S. Dollars purchased at the rate being 1 Dollar = Rs. 7.60 paise worked out to Rs. 516.80 and not Rupees 518.80 as the petitioner had stated in his letter dated February 13, 1968. Therefore, the petitioner firm was asked by J. Ranganathan Rao to have the calculation. The petitioner, it is asserted by J. Ranganathan Rao, sought to explain that he had recovered Rs. 2 as his commission in addition to the cost of exchange the value of exchange being Rs. 516.80 paise. Thereupon, attention, of the petitioner was drawn to footnote A to the Exchange Control Manual Paragraph 11 (ii) of Section XVIII in terms of which it was permissible for a money changer to recover commission of Rs. 2 where the value ofthe individual sale transaction of U. S. Dollar and Pounds did not exceed Rs. 300. It was stated on behalf of the petitioner that the commission had been recovered in the instant case through mistake. Thereafter, J. Ranganathan Rao has referred to the rate board exhibited at the money change counter at the Dum Dum Airport wherein it was stated inter alia 'Rs. 2 will be charged as commission on every transaction of sale of Sterling and Dollar currency.' Attention was drawn of the petitioner by the said J. Ranganathan Rap to the instruction issued to the authorised money changers to issue certificate to foreign tourists in respect of foreign currency notes on conversion of rupees at the time of departure from India. It was stated by the petitioner that such certificate had been issued to Mr. Bayliss, but no office copy could be supplied by the petitioner of such certificate granted to Mr. Bayliss. J. Ranganathan Rao has stated further in his affidavit that the petitioner was asked to state the nature of internal checks it exercised to verify the correctness of the sale transactions of foreign exchange handled by his staff. It was stated by the petitioner that the staff obtained from the tourist a receipt which indicated the amount of the exchange paid. A specimen copy was produced. It was further stated that these slips are cross-checked with the entries in the sale and purchase register. But such slips, it was further asserted were destroyed after a week or ten days. Therefore, the petitioner firm was unable to produce any such receipt in the case of Bayliss as more than ten days had elapsed at the time of inspection. The petitioner was asked to produce the cash book containing the entries of January 9, 1968 to see whether if any surplus rupee in cash had been received on that date. It was said that the said book was not in the Stephen House, but later what was produced was a sheet of paper containing cash transaction of January 9, 1968. It was stated by the petitioner that this was a provisional cash account and its Accountant wrote out the pucca cash account on the basis of these entries. The petitioner did not maintain a cash account in a pucca way on a daily basis and the rupee portion of the foreign exchange transactions account also merged with the personal account of the petitioner. From the said paper sheet dated January 9, 1968 it appears that the amount recorded in the sale register was U. S. Dollars 133.00 and this tallied with the entries of January 9, in the cash, account Next there was a checking up of the purchase of U. S. Dollars for January 9. 1968. The purchases, however, recorded for the day were U. S. Dollars 227 00 but the cash ac-count showed purchase to the extent of U. S. Dollars 247.00; therefore, there was an excess of 20 Dollars. The petitioner could not explain excess purchase There were certain other small purchase transactions as mentioned in the affidavit of J. Ranganathan Rao of about Rs. 23.75 p. It was stated that small changes represented tips to the airport staff who had attended on the tourists and usually exchanged the small changes at the petitioner's counter at the airport. Attention was drawn to the letter of February 13, 1968 addressed to the Bank in which the petitioner had reiterated that Mr. Bayliss had tendered Rs. 518.80 and not Rs. 792 and he was asked to produce some evidence on the basis of which this statement had been made. The petitioner said that he was unable to produce any evidence as he did not maintain a rupee account in respect of each individual sale or purchase transaction. He said that he merely applied the selling rate of U. S. Dollar 1 = Rs. 7.60 paise for converting U. S. 68 Dollars to the product of Rupees 516.80 paise and he added his commission of Rs. 2 which gave a total figure of Rs. 518.80. In this connection it has to be mentioned that in this proceeding on behalf of the petitioner a letter purporting to be a letter by two employees or porters at the airport addressed to the Manager of the petitioner was forwarded to the Reserve Bank of India and has been relied on, wherein it was stated by the said porters that they asked the petitioner to oblige them with Indian currency in exchange of the foreign currency paid to them by some foreign tourists who were in a hurry on January 9, 1968 in the evening on which they were on duty. It was further stated as they were very poor people it would be very helpful if the petitioner would kindly encash the foreign currency into Indian currency in order to enable them to make use of the same. It must be stated that this was relied on along with the affidavit-in-opposition on behalf of the petitioner, in an attempt to explain 20 U. S. Dollars which remained unexplained and this was apart from the excess of Rs. 23.75 which was admitted to be tips in the explanation given to J. Ranganathan Rao. It has been subsequently stated that this discrepancy occurred because the person who was writing the cash book on the next day forgot to make the proper posting and as such it escaped the attention and it was only after attention was drawn of the petitioner firm pursuant to the investigation in April, 1968 that in June, 1968 the petitioner gave this explanation to the Reserve Bank of India about this alleged discrepancy of 20 Dollars, which remained unaccounted in the document produced by the petitioner. It appears that afterJ. Ranganathan Rao had made his report on June 25, 1968 a show cause notice was issued. As good deal of argument has been made about the procedure adopted in connection with the show cause notice it would be necessary to set out the relevant portions of the said show cause letter. The said letter stated that it was brought to the notice of the Reserve Bank that the petitioner in carrying on the business of money changer had not acted properly, inter alia, as follows :

'(i) You have not maintained proper and correct books of accounts relating to the transactions in foreign exchange entered into by you. You have also not maintained any record or account of Indian rupees tendered by the customers to you or given by you to them in exchange for foreign currency, with the result that it is not possible to check whether the proper amount of foreign exchange, or, as the case may be, Indian rupees, was paid by you to the customer.

(ii) Your daily cash book is not maintained properly in that it consists of loose sheets, and that entries (relating to?) transactions in foreign exchange and entries relating to your personal accounts are mixed up.

(iii) There are discrepancies between the cash account and the purchase registers maintained by you.

(iv) You have unauthorisedly collected commission in respect of money changing transactions where the value of sale of exchange was over Rs. 300, whereas as per footnote 'A' in the Exchange Control Manual (Paragraph 11 (ii) of Section XVIII) you are not entitled to recover commission of Rs. 2 where the value of individual sale transaction is over Rs. 300.

(v) From the papers relating to yourtransactions of 9th January, 1968, as furnished to our Officer who inspected youroffice on the 26/27th April, 1968 it isfound that you have not reported to usthe following amounts received by youon the 9th January, 1968 for exchange :

(i) American Dollars : 20(ii) American Silver Coin : 0.40(iii) Italian Lires : 500(iv) Shillings : 0-17-3(v) Hongkong Coin : 3 Items (iv) and (v) constitute violations of the provisions of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947, and the orders and directions issued thereunder.

It appears to us that, haying regard to the above, there is sufficient reason to warrant revocation of our authorisation to you to deal in foreign exchange (granted as per our licence No. CA/MC/3 dated 25th March, 1947 as amended from time to time) and we propose to revoke the same.

You are, therefore, called upon to show cause within 15 days from the receipt of this letter why, the aforesaid authorisation issued to you should not be revoked in terms of clause (iii) of subsection (2) of Section 3 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. If you fail to show cause within the said period, it will be taken that, you have no such cause to show.'

The petitioner on July 10. 1968, showed cause and gave a reply to the aforesaid letter which stated as follows :--

'We beg to reply to your queries as follows : --

(i) We have all through regularly submitted to your goodselves the various statements relating to all our transactions in foreign exchange as directed by you and the same has so long met with your approval and there has not been any complaint in this regard. You will no doubt agree that unless accounts are maintained we could not have submitted the statements. The accounts of Indian Rupees tendered by the customers to us or given by us to them in exchange for foreign currency are noted in our daily Cash Book from where the same can be verified.

It may be mentioned that after the visit of your Officer on 27th April, 1968 and as suggested by him we are since recording the Indian Currency equivalent in respect of our transactions on the Sale and Purchase Registers as well.

(ii) Our daily cash book has all through been maintained properly in Tokchas (sheets) having regard to the insufficiency of space at our counter (hardly 20 sq. ft.) and for which we are for a long time making representations to the Civil Aviation Authority, Dum Dum Airport, This system of keeping accounts in Tokchas has never been objected to by you and has all along been accepted by you and has all along been accepted by our Auditors. The Tokchas are carried to the Head Office for entry in the books of account in due course.

Since the drawings are also made for our personal use out of the Indian currency standing to the credit of our business at Dum Dum Airport the personal accounts are also shown on the cash book separately. There has not been so far any mixing up of the accounts and the two accounts are shown clearly and separately on the cash book.

(iii) There are no real discrepancies between the cash accounts and the purchase registers and superficial discrepancies, if any, can be only attributable to bona fide clerical errors and did not affect the actual position.

(iv) It is always our endeavour to see that collection of commission in respect of money changing transaction is limited to Rs. 300 in value as envisaged by the Rules and we have been sparing no pains to ensure that there is no violation in this regard. If we have charged commission in any transaction exceeding Rs. 300 in value we beg to say that the discrepancy, if any, in this regard is due to bona fide clerical error for which we express our sincere reget.

(v) In respect of the foreign currency mentioned in paragraph (v) we have to confirm and as was pointed out to your officer during his visit on the 26/27th April, 1968 that the same was correctly recorded in our cash book but was not recorded in the purchase register in the circumstances mentioned below and therefore, was omitted to be reported in the statements submitted to you.

It is well known that the foreigners at the time of leaving airport pay tips to the menials and the same are ordinarily entered in the name of the particular foreigner in the purchase register but ;n case the foreigners pay the tips after they had left our counter, we purchase the foreign exchange from the menials in their names against Indian currency after taking receipts from them.

In the instant case after the discrepancy was pointed out by your officer, we made enquiries and came to know in January, 1968 that the menials took the Indian currency in exchange of the foreign currencies mentioned in paragraph (v) but as they were in a hurry for the passengers to move into the plane they promised to give the receipts after sometime and, accordingly, the transactions were noted aside by our clerk on duty and also entered in the cash book. The duty of the clerk concerned was thereafter changed and new clerk came in and the receipts obtained by the new clerk were kept in abeyance for verification by The previous clerk and was thereafter unfortunately overlooked and not reported to us and, therefore, was omitted to be included in the Purchase Register. We state and submit and as you will kindly agree, there was no violation of Foreign Exchange Rules in this regard. In any event, the total value of the foreign exchange is only Rs. 171.00. The said purchases have since been noted in our Purchase Register. We are including the said purchases in our returns to you for June, 1968.

In conclusion, we beg to submit that we are carrying on the business as money changer both at Dum Dum Airport, Stephen House and at Kidderpore Docks under the authority granted by your goodselves since 1941 without any blemish and have served our customers to theirsatisfaction. Our yearly turn over has now risen to about Rs. 19,00,000 and you will kindly appreciate that in the course of such voluminous dealings within such a small space there may be minor bona fide clerical errors but even that has not happened so far.

We beg to submit again that there has been no violation in respect of item (iv) and that there has been no violation in respect of item (v) and the discrepancies, if any, are due to bona fide clerical error and, in any event, the total amount involved is Rs. 171 only which is under the permissible limit for keeping the foreign exchange worth Rs. 250 only (granted by your goodself).

We submit that there has been no cause for revoking our licence and we fervently hope that you will have no grievance against us and will allow us to continue to deal in foreign exchange as money changer under your kind authority as heretofore.'

2. Thereafter, on December 30, 1968 the communication which is the subject-matter of challenge in this case was issued by the Deputy Controller, Reserve Bank of India, in which after referring to the letter dated June 25. 1968 and the reply thereto dated July 10, 1968, it was stated that the Reserve Bank of India had considered the explanation given by the petitioner and the several irregularities in the conduct of the business and the contravention of the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. It was further stated that the Reserve Bank of India found the explanation as unsatisfactory. It was further stated that it was observed that the petitioner had admitted many of the irregularities and contraventions but had attempted to ascribe these as 'bona fide clerical errors'. In the premises, it was reiterated that there was sufficient reason for revoking the licence as proposed in the letter dated June 25. 1968 and in exercise of the power conferred under clause (iii) of Sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. 1947, the authorisation granted on March 25, 1947 was being revoked. It is the validity and the propriety of this order of revocation which was under challenge in the application by the petitioner under Article 226 of the Constitution. By a judgment delivered and an order passed on July 29, 1970 the learned trial Judge has come to the conclusion that the impugned order was an order which was required to be passed in accordance with the principles of natural justice and in the facts and in the circumstances of the case, according to the learned Judge, there has been violation of such principles of natural justice inasmuch as noreasonable opportunity had been given to the petitioner. The learned Judge therefore, came to the conclusion that the order in question was passed arbitrarily and set aside the impugned order of revocation.

3. In the appeal before us the familiar controversy, whether the impugned order is an order which is required to be passed quasi-judicially or is an order of administrative nature and whether it was open for the court to examine the grounds of the revocation of the licence or exercise of the power by the Reserve Bank of India under Section 3 (2) (iii) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947, has been raised. It was contended on behalf of the appellant that Section 3 (2) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 was an instance of case where an administrative discretion was given to an administrative authority to be exercised for administrative purposes and if the order was passed or the power was exercised bona fide within the ambit of the provisions of law, such an administrative action was beyond the purview of scrutiny in a Writ Petition. It was, further, contended that the section did not give any right of appeal to the party aggrieved. It was stressed that unlike some other provisions of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act like the provisions of Section 23 (iv), Section 9 or Section 22 (iv) of the Act the section did not indicate or lay down that any reasonable opportunity or any notice or any hearing should be given to the party concerned. It was argued that where a particular statute contained provisions, in respect of some of which it was specifically provided that notice or opportunity should be given to the party concerned while the other provisions contained no such provision, it was the expression of legislative intent that the later provisions were intended to exclude the operation of the principles of natural justice and the actions proposed under the later type of the provisions were administrative in nature. It was, further, urged that in this case as there was no provision for appeal, unlike some other sections, of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, was also an indication of the fact that the action and the power contemplated by Section 3 (2) (iii) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act was administrative in nature to be exercised neither quasi-judicially nor by giving elaborate reasons. It was submitted that all that was required for action was there should be reasons which should be considered sufficient by the Reserve Bank of India and no objective condition was required to be fulfilled before taking action under Section 3 (2) (iii) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. In support of this argument counsel forthe appellant relied on the decisions in the cases of (Radheshyam Khare v. The State of Madhya Pradesh) : [1959]1SCR1440 , (The Kesava Mills Co Ltd v. Union of India) : [1973]3SCR22 , (Pearlberg v. Varty, Inspector of Taxes) (1972) 2 All ER 6, (Union of India v. M.L. Capoor) : (1973)IILLJ504SC . It was further contended that where public economy was concerned, a control of this nature and exercise of the power of this nature should be subject only to the administrative discretion. In support of this proposition reliance was placed on the decision of the Australian High Court in the case of (Election Importing Co. Proprietary Ltd. v. Courtice) 80 Comm. WLR 657 (Aus.) also Haji Sattar v. J. C. C. of Imports and Exports) : AIR1953Cal591 : (R. D. and Chemical Co. v. Company Law Board) : [1970]2SCR177 . Counsel also drew our attention to the decision in the case of (R. v. Metropolitan Police Commissioner) (1953) 2 All ER 717 at p. 718 where revocation of a cabman's licence was held not to be quasi-judicial but administrative. Reliance was also placed on the decision in the case of (State of Maharashtra v. Mayer Haus George) : [1965]1SCR123 .

4. On behalf of the respondent it was argued by counsel that revocation of a licence to carry on a trade and business should always be regarded as an exercise of the quasi-judicial power unless expressly excluded by the statute or by the necessary implication of the statute. It was urged that in this case there was no such express exclusion of the principles of natural justice and therefore the action in so far as it affected that right to carry on the trade and business of the petitioner required the order in question to be passed quasi-judicially. It was, further, urged that from the different provisions of the Act it could not be said that there was also any implied exclusion of the principles of natural justice in Section 3 (2) (iii) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947. In any event, it was urged, that the principles of natural justice were to be followed and reasonable opportunity was required to be given even if the order in question was administrative in order to be consistent with fair-play. It was, further, urged that the impugned order which was the subject-matter of challenge in this case showed complete non-application of mind. The show cause notice indicated that prior to the considering the cause shown by the petitioner the appellant had made up its mind and the show cause notice was an empty formality. Counsel stressed on the point that no reason had been reiterated or communicated for coming to the conclusion for the revocation and it was stressed that stating that the explanationof the petitioner was found to be unacceptable, was not sufficient reason. It was necessary to state why the petitioner's explanation was found unsatisfactory or unacceptable. In support of the contention counsel also drew our attention to several decisions, namely, the decisions in the case of (The Purtabpur Co. Ltd. v. Cane Commissioner of Bihar) AIR 1970 SC 1896; (Roberts v. Hopwood) 1925 AC 578 at pp. 603 and 604; (Commr. of Police, Bombay v Gordhandas Bhanji) : [1952]1SCR135 ; (G. Nageswararao v. State of Andhra Pradesh) : [1960]1SCR580 ; (Mahabir Prosad Santosh Kumar v. State of U. P.) : [1971]1SCR201 ; (Testeel Ltd v. N. M Desai) : AIR1970Guj1 ; (Jethmal v. Union of India) : AIR1970SC1310 ; (Midnapur Zilla Parishad v. State of West Bengal) (1970) 74 Cal WN 596; and (Bengal Bhatdee Coal Ltd. v. Ram Probesh Singh) AIR 1964 SC 486. It is not necessary for us to discuss in great detail all the aforesaid decisions referred to hereinbefore. We may, however, refer to the decision in the case of Sadhu Singh v. The Delhi Administration, : [1966]1SCR243b . There the Supreme Court discussed this controversy and referred to the observations of Atkin, L. J. in Rex v. Electricity Commissioner, (1924) 1 KB 171 at p. 205 to the effect that the operation of the writs had been extended to control the proceedings of bodies which did not claim to be or would not be recognised as courts of justice. It was stated that wherever any body of persons had legal authority to determine the question affecting the rights of the subject and having the duty to act judicially, acted in excess of their legal authority they were subject to the controlling jurisdiction of the King's Bench Division exercised in these writs. What counsel stressed, however, was that the Supreme Court in the aforesaid decision reiterated the view that in order to be a quasi-judicial adjudication the decision should not only affect the rights of persons but must further fulfil the requirement, that it must be such a body which' was required to act judicially. In the recent case of : [1973]3SCR22 the Supreme Court was dealing with a case under the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 and the question was where a textile mill was taken over in exercise of the power under Section 18-A of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, whether the company was entitled to get a hearing and be furnished with the report of the Investigating Committee. The Supreme Court observed that the principles of natural justice did apply to administrative orders or proceedings. The concept of natural justice could not be put into a strait-jacket. The only direct point thathad to be kept in mind in all cases was that the person concerned should have a reasonable opportunity of presenting his case and that the administrative authority concerned should act fairly impartually and reasonably. Where the administrative officers were concerned the duty was not so much to act judicially as to act fairly. As mentioned hereinbefore, counsel for the respondent, placed strong reliance on the decision in the case of : [1969]2SCR807 . where the order of the Cane Commissioner was held to be quasi-judicial. Reliance was also placed on the decision in the case of : [1960]1SCR580 There the Supreme Court reiterated that the principles governing the 'doctrine of bias' vis-a-vis judicial tribunals were well-settled and these were, (i) no man should be a judge in his own cause, (ii) justice should not only be done but manifestly seem to be done. The Supreme Court reiterated that the said principles were equally applicable to authorities, though they were not courts of justice or judicial tribunals who had to act judicially in deciding the rights of others i.e. authorities who were empowered to discharge quasi-judicial functions. It has to be mentioned that the said decision was, however, dealing with the violation of one of the principles of natural justice, i.e. the principle that no man should be a judge in his own cause. The case was not concerned with the question as to what were the situations in which a tribunal or an authority was required to act judicially. Reference may be made to Halsbury's Laws of England. 4th Edition. Volume I, paragraph 64 wherein it has been stated that in the concept of fair adjudication the two cardinal principles were that no man should be a judge in his own cause and that no man should be condemned unheard. It was observed that these two principles, the rules of natural justice must be observed by courts, tribunals, arbitrators and all persons and bodies having duty to act judicially save where their application is excluded expressly or by necessary implications. It has further to be observed in paragraph 65 of the said volume that the situations in which a duty would arise to act judicially according to natural justice could not be exhaustively listed and they have tended to expand as the case law has developed. The principle that no man should be condemned unheard is a principle which cannot be exhaustively defined (see Halsbury's paragraph 74) but it embraces a wide range of situations in which acts or decisions have civil consequences for individuals by directly affecting their legitimate interests or expectations. It is stated that in a given context the presumption in favour of importing the rule might be partly or whollydisplaced where compliance with the rule would be inconsistent with a paramount need for taking urgent preventive or remedial action, or where disclosure of confidential but relevant information to an interested party would be materially prejudicial to the public interest or to the interests of other persons, or where it was impracticable to give prior notice of hearing, or where in same cases the Parliament has evinced an intention to exclude the operation of the rule either by conferring on the competent authority unfettered discretionary power or by expressly providing for notice or an opportunity to be heard for one purpose but omitting to make any such provision for another kindred purpose. Where, however, a general duty to act judicially was cast on the competent authority only clear language would be interpreted as conferring the power to exclude the operation of the rule. It has to be borne in mind as was observed by the Supreme Court in the case of A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India, : [1970]1SCR457 that it was difficult to draw a line of distinction between administrative and quasi-judicial action and the line was becoming obliterated gradually. In a country like ours which is committed to be a welfare State within the framework of our Constitution and with the fundamental rights given in the Constitution, in order to avoid arbitrariness, to be fair and just it is, therefore, necessary in this case to see whether the principle of natural justice that no man should be condemned unheard was required to be fulfilled in this case if not on the basis that the action taken was quasi-judicial but, to avoid arbitrariness of the executive action, on the ground of fairplay and fairness. For this purpose we have to bear in mind the relevant provisions of Section 3 of the Act which is in the following terms :

'3. (1) The Reserve Bank may on application made to it in this behalf, authorise any person to deal in foreign exchange.

(2) An authorisation under this section shall be in writing and-

(i) may authorise dealings in all foreign currencies or may be restricted to authorising dealings in specified foreign currencies only;

(ii) may authorise transactions of all descriptions in foreign currencies or may be restricted to authorising specified transactions only:

(iii) may be granted to be effective for a specified period, or within specified amounts, and may in all cases be revoked for reasons appearing to it sufficient by the Reserve Bank.

(3) An authorised dealer shall in all his dealings in foreign exchange complywith such general or special directions or instructions as the Reserve Bank may from time to time think fit to give, and, except with the previous permission of the Reserve Bank, an authorised dealer shall not engage in any transaction involving any foreign exchange which is not in conformity with the terms of his authorisation under this section.

(4) An authorised dealer shall, before undertaking any transaction in foreign exchange on behalf of any person, require that person to make such declarations and to give such information as will reasonably satisfy him that the transaction will not involve, and is not designed for the purpose of, any contravention or evasion of the provisions of this Act or of any rules, directions or orders made thereunder, and where the said person refuses to comply with any such requirement or makes only unsatisfactory compliance therewith, the authorised dealer shall refuse to undertake the transaction and shall, if he has reason to believe that any such contravention or evasion as aforesaid is contemplated by the person, report the matter to the Reserve Bank.'

This section indicates that before revocation is made there must be existence of reasons. Such reasons must have rational nexus with the question of revocation of the licence or authorisation given under Section 3 (1). All that is required is that the reasons must be sufficient to the Reserve Bank. Therefore, the sufficiency of the reasons is not for adjudication by any other authority. The section in express terms neither provides nor excludes the operation of the principles of natural justice. The reasons must not also be perverse and the action taken must be fair and just. In this case, in view of the provision of Section 3 (1) whereby no man can carry on the business of a money changer without a licence and the petitioner had a licence though not for a fixed period and it was sought to be revoked on the ground of an alleged wrongful conduct on the part of the petitioner for reasons sufficient to the Reserve Bank for revocation, in our opinion, reasonable opportunity was required to be given in order to avoid arbitrariness of the action of the Reserve Bank even if the action was not quasi-judicial on the principles of fairplay and justice.

5. In view of the aforesaid, the next question that requires to be considered, is, whether reasonable opportunity was in fact given to the petitioner to show cause before the appropriate authority. We have set out before the reply to the show cause notice. It would be necessary to remember that no personal hearing was asked for or sought in the said reply. Furthermore, it was not stated inthe reply to the said show cause notice that the charges or the grounds indicated in the show cause notice were vague or uncertain. We have also to bear in mind that prior to this show cause there was an investigation under Section 19-H of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. The petitioner was aware of this investigation and in fact has referred to the facts that it had considered the investigation in order to reply to the show cause notice. The show cause notice, as mentioned before contained five different charges. The first charge was that there was no proper maintenance of books of account. The relevant directions and notifications issued by the Reserve Bank indicated that proper and correct books of account showing the foreign exchange transactions had to be maintained. But as to how the proper and correct books of account were to be maintained there was no specific direction by the Reserve Bank. It appears, however, that from the explanation given to J. Ranganathan Rao that there was no account maintained of the Indian rupees tendered by the customers: what was maintained was really an account of the sale of the foreign currency and by converting them into Indian currency at the prevailing rate, that the statements required to be submitted to the Reserve Bank were submitted from time to time by the petitioner. Therefore, there was no proper account indicating the actual receipt of Indian rupees from the customers. The next charge was that the daily cash book had not been properly maintained, only loose sheets were maintained and the foreign exchange entries and personal transactions were mixed up. To this the reply of the petitioner was that Tokchas had been maintained for a long time and the Reserve Bank had never objected to this and furthermore since drawings were made for personal use out of the transactions standing to the credit of the petitioner's business at Dum Dum Airport, the petitioner's account were also shown in the cash book. It was stated that there was a discrepancy between cash account and purchase register. It is true that no particular discrepancy had been mentioned in the show cause notice but the petitioner made no grievance of the said lack of particulars in view of the fact that the petitioner knew what was the discrepancy. There was the discrepancy in the account of 9th of January, 1968 regarding 20 dollars and Rs. 23.75 P. as referred to hereinbefore. To this the reply of the petitioner was that there was no real discrepancy between the cash account and the purchase register and it was stated that the superficial discrepancy, if any, could only be attributed to the bona fide clerical errors and did not affect the actual position. The fourth charge was the violation of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 and orders inasmuch as the petitioner had charged commission in respect of money changing transactions where the sale in foreign exchange exceeded Rs. 300. To this the reply was not denial but a statement that it, had been the endeavour of the petitioner to limit the commission of the petitioner to transactions over Rs. 300 in value as envisaged by the rules and if there was case of charging of such commission exceeding Rs. 300 in value that was due to bona fide clerical error. The fifth charge was that from money changing transactions of the 9th January, 1968 furnished to the Inspector on 26/27th April. 1968 five several items of foreign exchange receipts were not reported to the Reserve Bank. About this we have already referred to the discrepancy between 20 dollars and Rs. 23.75 P. In the impugned order of revocation it has been stated by the Deputy Controller that the petitioner had admitted many of the irregularities and contraventions. Counsel for the respondent contended that there was no admission. It is not necessary for us really to determine the question whether there was any admission or not. In any event the competent authority had taken into consideration the reply given and was entitled to issue the said show cause notice. If there is any error in construing the statements contained in the reply it is not such en error which is amenable to be corrected in a writ petition. Reliance may be placed on the cases of Nagendra Nath Bora v. Commr. of Hills Division, : [1958]1SCR1240 Biswanath Das v. Gopen Chandra Hazarika, : 1967CriLJ828 , Sardar Chand Singh v. Commr., Burdwan Division, : AIR1958Cal420 . Furthermore, apart from the question whether there was an admission or not it appears that at least in respect of two charges, viz., charging of commission of Rs. 2 in case of a transaction of Bayliss and the discrepancy about not recording and reporting the transaction in the case of 20 dollars there was no specific or satisfactory answer. We have referred to the fact that no personal hearing in this case was asked for or sought for. Personal hearing or right to cross-examine is not in every case part of the reasonable opportunity, it depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Reliance may also be placed on the cases of Sovachand Mulchand v. Collector of Central Excise and Land Customs. : AIR1968Cal174 and : [1971]1SCR201 .

6. The next challenge to the orderby the respondent was that the show cause notice indicated a closed and predetermined mind. We were taken throughthe show cause notice and it was contended that the Reserve Bank had made up its mind to find the petitioner guilty and the show cause notice was a mere formality It was stated that in the show cause notice it had been observed that 'it has been brought to our notice' but how it was brought to their notice had not been stated. Thereafter, in the Last paragraph of the show cause notice the petitioner was called upon to show cause why the authorisation issued should not be revoked. It is true that there was no specific mention of the investigation carried on prior thereto but that investigation was there and it is undisputed. Furthermore, if one refers to sub-paragraph (v) of the show cause notice it would be apparent that the Reserve Bank authorities were referring to the report made by the Inspector on 26/27th April, 1968. Therefore, the show cause notice, reading it in its proper perspective, in our opinion, indicated what the Reserve Bank Authorities were trying to convey, that there was certain investigation as a result of which certain facts had come to light and the petitioner was asked to show cause whether these facts were correct and whether on these facts the licence of the petitioner under Section 3 (2) (iii) should be revoked or not. In this connection we may refer to the decision of this court in the case of the Controller of Customs. Calcutta v. Biswanath Mukherjee, : (1972)ILLJ34Cal and reading the show cause notice from the common sense point of view we do not think that it indicated either a closed or pre-determined mind. The next point of attack was that in the said order no reasoning had been indicated. We have referred to the cases relied on by the appellants in this connection. It is true that no detailed reason had been indicated. It, however, appears to us that for the exercise of the power there must be reasons sufficient to the Reserve Bank and these reasons must have some connection with the question of revocation of the authorisation. The Reserve Bank under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 has been given power to control the operation of foreign exchange and for this purpose to see that foreign exchange is controlled through authorised dealers. In respect of the same the alleged offences were reported and these were communicated to the petitioner. Their reply, as has been referred to, dealt with the charges and offered certain explanations. The Reserve Bank had stated that the explanation was unacceptable. The reason for coming to the decision is obvious because in view of the inspection made prior thereto the explanation was not satisfactory and could not be relied upon. That was the view of the Reserve Bank authorities and there is no material before us to showthat that view was not a possible view ofthe matter.

7. In the aforesaid view of the matter, we are of the opinion, that though in this case reasonable opportunity was required to be given, in view of the facts and circumstances of the case, for exercise of the power under Section 3 (2) fin) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1941 such reasonable opportunity, as was required to be given, had in fact been given and the order in question cannot be considered to be either arbitrary or based on (no?) reason and passed with an ulterior purpose.

8. Cross-objection was filed by the respondents. The learned Judge had declined to issue a writ or a direction in the nature of a writ on the application of the petitioner directing the Dum Oum Airport Authorities to allot the petitioner a space in the new International Terminal Building. The learned Judge while quashing the order of revocation had observed that the respondents would be at liberty to proceed against the petitioner in accordance with law. Against the two aforesaid directions of the learned Judge the said cross-objection was directed. In the view we have taken of the order of revocation it is not necessary for us to deal with the cross-objection. It automatically fails.

9. We have, however, to observe that the money-changers cannot carry on business without the authorisation by the Reserve Bank. The petitioner's firm has a long record of acting as a money-changer's firm. It is true that there was certain failure, according to the Reserve Bank, for which action had been taken in revoking their licence which, we cannot say, the Reserve Bank was not competent to take. If the petitioner's firm in future gives satisfactory assurance of control and maintenance of proper books of account the Reserve Bank of India should consider the application of the petitioner in accordance with law in a fair and proper spirit having regard to the large experience of the petitioner firm.

10. In the aforesaid view of the matter this appeal is allowed. Judgment and order of P.K. Banerjee, J dated the 29th of July, 1970 are hereby set aside. The application under Article 226 of the Constitution is dismissed and the Rule Nisi is discharged. The cross-objection is also dismissed

11. No order as to costs.

Sankar Prasad Mitra, C.J.

12. I agree.


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