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Raj Narain Singh v. Chairman Patna Administration committee

Citation: 1954 AIR 569, 1955 SCR 290

Benches :

Mahajan, Mehar Chand (Cj), Mukherjea, B.K., Bose, Vivian, Bhagwati, Natwarlal H., Aiyyar, T.L. Venkatarama

RAJNARAIN SINGH – Petitioner

Versus

THE CHAIRMAN, PATNA ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE, PATNA, AND ANOTHER – Respondent

Introduction :

Rajnarain Singh claims to be the Secretary of the Rate Payers’ Association and lives in the village of Yarpur. He has requested an appropriate writ or direction against the Chairman of the Patna Administration Committee, restraining him from collecting municipal taxes.

In this case, we have to deal with three separate sections in the area which is now called Patna. To avoid confusion we will call them Patna City, Patna Administration and Patna Village. It must be understood that this is a purely arbitrary nomenclature adopted by us for the purposes of this judgment.

Fact of the Case

The appellant is the Secretary of the Patna Ratepayers’ Association. He and the other members of his Association live in an area that was previously outside the municipal limits of Patna and thus was not subject to municipal or cognate taxation.

As a result, the appellant and the others he represents were required to pay taxes from April 1, 1951, to March 31, 1952.

Sections 3(1)(f) and 5 of the Patna Administration Act of 1915 were used to issue the notifications (Bihar and Orissa Act I of 1915).

The appellant claims that the notifications are bad because they are delegated legislation, and he requests that sections 3(1)(f) and 5 of the Act, which allows for this delegation, be declared unconstitutional.

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Law Involved :

Section 3 of The Patna Administration Act, 1915

Sections 3(1)(f) and 5 of the Patna Administration Act of 1915

Bengal Municipal Act of 1884.

The Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act (Act 7 of 1922)

Legal Reasoning :

Section 3(1)(f) of the Bihar and Orissa Act empowered the local administration to extend to Patna the provisions of any sections of the act (Bengal Municipality Act, 1884) subject to such modifications as it deemed necessary. Section 104 was taken up by the government and modified before being applied to the town of Patna.

One of the essential features of the act was the provision that no municipality competent to tax could be imposed on a locality without first providing its residents with an opportunity to be heard and object. 

The sections that allowed for an opportunity to object were left out of the notification. It was deemed to be tampering with the Act’s policy.

Judgment :

The petitioner before the High Court of Patna was granted leave to appeal under Article 132(1) of the Constitution on the grounds that a substantial question of law relating to the interpretation of the Constitution was involved.

The delegation was held to go to the extent of authorizing an executive authority to modify the law made, delegation of legislative functions can be made to executive authorities within certain limits.

The Supreme Court held that the action of the Governor in subjecting the residents of Patna to municipal taxation without ob­serving the formalities imposed by sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act of 1922, cuts across one of its essential features touching a matter of policy and so the Notification is bad.

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It was held that the Notification effected a radical change in the policy in the Act, travelled beyond the authority conferred by section 3 (1) (f) and was, therefore, ultra vires.

Conclusion :

An executive authority may make changes to existing or future laws, but not to any essential feature. Because a portion of an Act can be extended, a section or sections can also be selected and applied.

However, when a section is chosen for the application, whether modified or not, it must be done so in such a way that it does not result in any change of policy.

Reference :

IndiankanoonRaj Narain Singh v. The Chairman Patna Administration Committee Patna and Anr

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