Principles of natural justice and fair play in action are integral part of good administration

High Court of Madhya Pradesh: The Court while examining the legality and validity of the order dated 28.12.2015, whereby the respondents have cancelled the appointment of the petitioner as Chairperson of Child Welfare Committee, Bhopal, without giving the petitioner an opportunity to be heard, the Bench comprising of Sujoy Paul, J., held that since the respondent has not passed the impugned order by following the principles of natural justice hence the order is liable to be set aside.

The petitioner Dr. Dubey had moved the court since his appointment as Chairperson of Child Welfare Committee, Bhopal has been cancelled by a termination order dated 28.12.2015 passed by the respondent on account of inquiry conducted by the Divisional Commissioner and Collector, Madhya Pradesh, that lay bare the working style of the petitioner was “improper, insensitive, and was not in consonance with the requirement of the JJ Act, 2000 as well as in the best interest of the children”. The learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the JJ Act of 2000 prescribes the method by which any Member of the Committee may be terminated however, the petitioner’s appointment was cancelled without following the principles of natural justice and without permitting him to participate in the inquiry hence the decision-making process which ended with issuance of impugned order is not in consonance with Section 29(4) of Act of 2000.

The Court while considering  whether the principles of natural justice were required to be followed before terminating the appointment of the petitioner as per Section 29(4) of the JJ act 2000, observed that Section 29(4) prescribes that appointment of any member may be terminated after holding inquiry by the government thus relying on Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (1978) 1 SCC 248, and Swadeshi Cotton Mills v. Union of India, (1981) 1 SCC 664, where it was held that principles of natural justice and fair play in action are essential requirement of law to be followed while discharging a quasi judicial or an administrative function. In other words, while terminating the appointment of a member by passing an order the principles of natural justice and fair play in action have to considered even if a statute is silent and there are no positive words in the Act or the Rules made thereunder, unless the statute provides otherwise, there could be nothing wrong in spelling out the need to hear the parties whose rights and interest are likely affected by the orders that may be passed.

The Court stated that the respondents should have followed the principles of natural justice and should have given opportunity of hearing to the petitioner thereby declaring the decision-making process for terminating the appointment of the petitioner as polluted thus, setting aside the order dated 28.12.2015. [Dr. K.S. Dubey v. State of M.P., WP No. 600 of 2016, decided on November 25, 2016]

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