By; Fatimah Alu
Bench: Hidayatullah, M. (Cj), Shelat, J.M., Bhargava, Vishishtha, Hegde, K.S., Grover, A.N.
A. K. KRAIPAK & ORS – Petitioner
UNION OF INDIA & ORS – Respondent
Natural justice rules are presumed to apply to bodies entrusted with judicial or quasi-judicial functions.
Identifying the rules of natural justice in the various circumstances that administrative decision-makers face has proven to be a difficult task.
Administrative authorities have been charged with the “duty to act fairly” when making decisions that may have serious consequences for someone’s rights, interests, or status.
“Natural justice” can be defined as “judicial fairness in decision making” and its main aim is to secure justice or prevent miscarriage of justice.
Act: Natural Justice-Applicability of principles to Administrative proceedings-Violation of principles by first authority-Effect on the ultimate decision.
Fact of the Case :
A petition was brought by some gazetted officers serving in the Forest department of J&K to the Indian Forest. Regulation 5 deals with the preparation of the list of suitable candidates for the post of ex-officio chairman of the selection board. The petition was dismissed on the grounds that two persons senior to him were superseded.
The UPSC has ordered an investigation into the publication of an impugned list of selected officers, with Naquishbund’s name at the top of the list. He was also one of the candidates vying for a position in the All India Forest Service.
The petitioners argued that the process violated the rules of natural justice. The petitioners argued that the selection board’s power was not quasi-judicial, but rather administrative.
UPSC found that the board’s sole responsibility was to select officers who, in their opinion, were suitable for the Forest Service. The petitioners’ grievances are without merit.
The petitioners claimed that one member of the board was biased against some of the petitioners and should not have been selected.
Issues of the Case :
- Whether principles of natural justice applied to the proceedings in the present case ?
- Whether there is a line between quasi-judicial and administrative actions, as well as the applicability of natural justice rules to administrative actions or not.
- Assuming that the current proceedings are administrative in nature, are the principles of natural justice applicable to administrative proceedings?
- Is there a violation of such natural justice principles?
- Is there any justification for deferring the selection of all officers?
- Whether there was any basis for the petitioners’ grievances or not ?
Legal Reasoning :
Natural justice rules apply in areas not covered by any validly enacted law, i.e. they supplement rather than replace the law of the land. An unjust decision in an administrative inquiry may have a more far-reaching effect than a decision in a quasi-judicial inquiry.
Inquiries must be conducted in good faith and without bias, and not arbitrarily or unreasonably. When a court receives a complaint alleging that a natural justice principle has been violated, the court must determine whether the violation was required for a just decision on the facts of the case.
The Acting Chief Conservator was biased in his decision to appoint a successor to the original conservatory. The other members of the Board were unaware that the superseded conservator’s appeal was pending before the State Government at the time of selection, so had no reason to doubt his judgment.
Law Involved :
Section 3 of the All India Services Act, 1951 states that the Central Government shall make rules for the regulation of recruitment and conditions of service.
The Indian Forest Service (Recruitment) Rules, 1966 were enacted in accordance with the authority granted in Sections 3 and 4 of the Act.
The court ruled that the Selection Committee’s decisions violated natural justice principles because there was a real possibility of bias because the mere presence of the candidate on the Selection Board could influence the judgment of other members.
The court determined that the Selection Board’s power was administrative in nature and tested the selection’s validity on that basis.
The Supreme Court of India’s top court has ruled that natural justice principles apply not only to judicial functions but also to administrative and executive functions. In this case, the selection committee’s decisions were ruled to be in violation of these principles, and the selection process was invalidated.
This case demonstrates that impartiality in adjudication is required in all proceedings, not just in judicial proceedings.
The Attorney-General argued that the word ‘adjudicator’ in rule 4 is ambiguous. The selection board was not required to decide on any right, he said.
According to him, the proceedings before it could not be considered quasi-judicial; its duty was simply to select officers.
The court held that the selections made by the Selection Committee were in violation of the principles of natural justice because there was a real likelihood of a bias for the mere presence of the candidate on the Selection Board may adversely influence the judgment of other members.
The Supreme Court ruled in A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India (AIR 1970 SC A) that a person who serves on a committee that selects candidates for a job must not be a candidate for the job himself. The logic is that the judges could be impartial and neutral.
Related Case Laws :
- Ashok Kumar Yadav v State of Haryana(1987 AIR 454)
- Manak lal v Dr Prem Chand
- State of Uttar Pradesh v Mohammed Nooh(1958 AIR 86
- Rattan lal v Managing Committee(1993 AIR 2155)
- Suresh Koshy George v The University of Kerala,(1969 AIR 198)