Quasi-judicial order can be passed only after giving an opportunity of hearing to applicant

Karnataka High Court: While deciding a writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Dr. Vineet Kothari, J. set aside the impugned order passed by the respondent-Foreign Trade Development Officer, holding that it did not meet the requirements of principles of natural justice.

The petitioner challenged the order passed by the Foreign Trade Development Officer whereby the duty draw-back claim of the petitioner was denied by the said Officer. The impugned order only said that the claim has been denied and did not mention any reasons for such denial; nor was the petitioner given any opportunity of hearing before passing the impugned order to the detriment of the petitioner. Learned counsel for the petitioner assailed the impugned order on the grounds that the said order did not assign any reasons for the order and thus, there was a breach of principles of natural justice.

The High Court perused the record and submissions made on behalf of the parties and was of the view that the impugned order was a non-speaking order and showed total non- application of mind. The claim of the applicant being decided in terms of the Foreign Trade Policy was a ‘quasi-judicial’ order, which could have been passed only after giving an opportunity of hearing to the applicant and assigning proper reasons in the order. The Court found that the said order did not meet the requirements of being a quasi-judicial order and it could not be said to be a simple administrative order. The claim of the petitioner might be justified or not, but the said Officer was bound to pass a reasoned order after giving an opportunity of hearing to the applicant. This is the basic and bare minimum compliance with the principles of natural justice and audi aletram partem.

Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. The respondent Officer was directed to pass fresh orders on the application of the petitioner in accordance with law. [Molex (India) (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, Writ Petition No. 49553 of 2016 (T-RES), order dated 14.11.2017]

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