Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of S.R. Brahmbhatt and Dr A.P. Thaker, JJ. did not interfere with the order passed by a Single Judge in a letters patent appeal.

The relevant authority in the case had declined to accede to the original petitioner’s request for conversion of her full time M.Tech course into part-time, since this conversion was not requested in 4th semester as prescribed and it was requested slightly before 3rd semester because the petitioner got an employment offer wherein she was required to join immediately when 3rd semester was on the verge of getting completed and her dissertation preliminaries (examination) was permitted to be preponed and she was not in any manner falling sort of either any academic requirement or attendance requirement. The petitioner had relied upon the case of Vejabhai, which was sought to be distinguished by respondent – present appellant, as Shri Vejabhai did not ask for any advancement of dissertation preliminaries (examination) though his request for conversion was made in the vacation of 3rd semester. The Single Judge directed the original respondents to consider the case of the petitioner on the same lines as Shri Vejabhai was permitted to convert his course before the completion of the third semester.

The appellant for the present appeal filed a petition to contend that permission for conversion from full time M.Tech course to part time M.Tech course cannot be denied on the ground of taking a job by the student during the vacation after appearing for dissertation preliminaries after the last day of teaching of the 3rd semester (autumn semester). They requested the Court to quash the earlier order of the Court on the grounds that it was arbitrary, issued in violation of the principles of natural justice, goes beyond the resolution no. 13 passed by the Senate at its meeting held on 16-02-2013, discriminatory, and therefore illegal. They prayed to the court to grant them the same parity in treatment as meted out to Shri Vejabhai, who was allowed to pursue part-time M. Tech course in accordance with resolution 13 of Senate.

The appellant contended that this order would set a precedent in which the very sanctity of the post-graduation course and its tenure will be affected. Advancing of the dissertation preliminaries in itself would not be treated to have been sufficient for treating the 3rd semester complete, as the academic calendar of the institute clearly indicated that 3rd semester would end at least on 7th December and not prior to that.

The respondent contended that the preponement of the preliminary examination for 4th semester is not a unique case and that the student keeps requesting for pre-poning their examination on a regular basis and that this is a case of hostile discrimination as the institute was jeopardising the chances of employment.

The Court held that the apprehension raised on behalf of appellant qua the same being treated as precedent was not sustainable, as such interim order cannot be treated as precedent at all. Every case involving such prayers is required to be dealt with in accordance with the facts of the case. The Court refused to interfere, as there was no likelihood of infringement of any academic requirement, attendance requirement or any violation of statutory provisions but apart from a technicality in the filing of the request. Since the petitioner had already completed her dissertation preliminaries (examination), it cannot be said to be a so grave impediment in the way of the petitioner in seeking conversion. The Appeal was rejected.[Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institution of Technology v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 1461, decided on 23-07-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT): Coram of Justice Tarun Agarwala (Presiding Officer), Dr C.K.G. Nair (Member), and Justice M.T. Joshi (Judicial Member) set aside the impugned order in this case. The appellant challenged an ex-parte order passed against him alleging that he was not served properly and therefore the impugned order was against the principles of natural justice as under Article 14 of the Constitution. The appellant, being the Managing Director of Sigrun Holdings Ltd. (SHL) sold 45,000 shares of the company on 24-05-2010, while having knowledge/possession of the adverse quarterly result of SHL based on sensitive information which had not yet been made public, without the authorization of the board.  The adjudicating officer imposed heavy penalties on the appellant in an order citing the various SEBI regulations which had been violated.

The appellant, being aggrieved by the said order, filed an appeal on the ground that the impugned order is an ex-parte order and that he had no knowledge of the proceedings initiated by the Adjudicating Officer. The Appellant has alleged that he did not receive the show cause notice for the proceedings by the Adjudicating Officer and the proper procedure for service of the same has not been followed as under Rule 7 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Procedure for Holding Inquiry and Imposing Penalties by Adjudicating Officer) Rules, 1995.

The Court held that the respondent was in violation of Rule 7 as stated above as they had not tried to personally serve the appellant at the place where he carried on business or had worked for gain and had instead directly moved on to affixation which does not comply with the procedure laid down in Rule 7. The Court further said that “mode of service prescribed under Rule 7 is not exhaustive and other modes of service was always available in addition to the modes of service prescribed under Rule 7 i.e. for example publication of the notice in an appropriate newspaper or service through email.”

Thus, the Court set aside the impugned order in the interest of natural justice and in violation of the principles of natural justice as embodied under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and ordered the Adjudicating Officer to comply with the proper procedure.[C.R. Rajesh Nair v. Securities & Exchange Board of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SAT 71, decided on 18-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: S. Sujatha, J. while preserving the right of the petitioner disposed of this petition.

In the instant case, the petitioner-institution is an Engineering College and was established by permission granted by AICTE and the State Government. It is affiliated by Visvesvaraya Technological University (Respondent 4). In the academic year 2019-2020, a team from the University visited the petitioner’s premises and found some deficiencies in the working of the college thereby, issuing a show-cause notice and finally a communication was issued to the Department of Higher Education, State of Karnataka (Respondent 1) to remove the name of the petitioner from the seat matrix and to show that no courses would be offered during the counseling process. The petitioner assailed the aforesaid communication.

Counsel for the petitioner, Abhishek Malipatil submitted that the impugned communication is ex-facie illegal and in violation of principles of Natural Justice as the order was passed before hearing the petitioner. It was further submitted that the petitioner is permitted by the AICTE to run the college, therefore, the University cannot deny affiliation on insubstantial grounds. The Institution imparts education in the rural areas which mainly depends on the Government quota seats. This communication since issued in the mid of the counseling process has adversely affected the petitioner-Institution.

Counsel for Respondent 4, Santhosh S. Nagarale submitted that since the petitioner did not cooperate with the Visiting Team from the University, the Communication had to be issued. It was further submitted that the Team shall visit and inspect the Institution if the petitioner-Institution agrees to bear the expenses and compliance of the deficiencies pointed out before.

The Court after observing the submissions directed Respondent 4 to carry out the inspection on the expense borne by the petitioner-Institution. After submission of the compliance report by the petitioner, a decision shall be taken on the extension of the affiliation within ten days of this order.[Eklavaya Institute of Technology v. State of Karnataka, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 879, decided on 02-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ and Manoj K. Tiwari, J. set aside in review an order passed by another Division Bench.

The Applicant contended that she was working as Principal of constituent College, which was later conferred “Deemed University” status and hence, Memorandum of Association was to be accorded with UGC Regulations, 2010. The applicant was part of the committee to deliberate on the proposed amendments. Further, she alleged that Division Bench held that she had acquiesced to the amendment; and could not, thereafter, contend that she should be continued contrary to the said amendment. The petitioner was denied relief on the ground of acquiescence.

Learned counsel for the applicant Tapan Singh, submitted that, applicant had merely participated in the meeting; she had not specifically agreed to the said amendment; even otherwise, her participation in the deliberations of the Committee meeting, was in her official capacity as a Principal of the College, who was a member of the Committee ex-officio; that cannot result in her vested right, to continue as a Principal, being deprived even without complying with the principles of natural justice; and the order under review necessitates being set aside.

Arvind Vashishta, learned Senior Counsel for respondent-University, submitted that the Division Bench was justified in its conclusion that petitioner had acquiesced to the amendment to the Memorandum of Association; and her appointment as a Coordinator, consequent on her designation as a Principal being withdrawn, was merely a consequence thereof.

The Court observed that, mere participation in a meeting convened to consider amendments doesn’t mean that the petitioner acquiesced and had waived her right to continue as a Principal. Hence, the order under review was set aside, and the writ petition was restored to file.[Dr Sangeeta Singh v. Gurukul Kangri University, Haridwar, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 378, decided on 24-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu & Kashmir High Court: Sanjeev Kumar, J. dismissed a petition challenging an order suspending petitioner and ordering an enquiry into his conduct, holding that principles of natural justice are not applicable to matters of suspension from service.

The petitioner challenged his suspension order on the grounds that he was deprived of his right to be heard, and on the ground that suspension order was served on the basis of allegations levelled by the Respondent 8, being his first wife, without any verification of the same.

The Court noted that the impugned order was based on the allegations of petitioner’s first wife that he had contracted the second Nikah without seeking prior permission from her. Respondent 2 (employer) suspended the petitioner in terms of Rule 22 of the Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees (Conduct) Rules, 1971, which states that no government employee who has a wife living, is entitled to contract another marriage without first obtaining the permission of the government, notwithstanding that the subsequent marriage is permissible under the personal law for the time being in force. Before passing the suspension order, Respondent 2 had considered the explanatory note submitted by the petitioner in relation to the said issue. It was noted that the relevant authority/employer found that neither the petitioner obtained any prior permission of the government nor had he sought the consent of his first wife.

It was opined that mere suspension does not tantamount to punishment; hence in the present case, it was not necessary to provide an opportunity of being heard or complying with the principles of natural justice.

In view of the above, the writ petition was held to be not maintainable.[Adil Rashid Butt v. State of J&K, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 375, decided on 24-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Bench of Vandana Kasrekar, J. allowed a writ petition and set aside an order passed by Director, Employment and Training, MP Civil Centre, in the appeal against the impugned order, removing the petitioner from his services by the Joint Director of the aforementioned Training Centre.

The petitioner was appointed as Class-III employee in the aforementioned Centre on a compassionate basis. The petitioner contended that, Joint Director issued a show cause notice which stated the non fulfillment of the conditions of employment i.e. passing of Hindi typing examination by the petitioner, further as per the terms and conditions of the appointment order he has availed 466 days of leave without pay and was continuously absent for a period of 3 months, for which he was terminated from his services as a way of punishment, allegations were found to be true in internal enquiry. The petitioner was aggrieved by such report and was not given an opportunity of being heard by the Joint Director.  He was equally aggrieved by the order of Director, terminating his services and agreeing with the order of Joint Director, therefore, dismissing his appeal.

Learned Counsel for petitioner, M.I. Khan, argued that order impugned is arbitrary and illegal, it is also violative of the principles of natural justice i.e. ‘Audi Alteram Partem’. According to his submissions, the order of the Director was contrary to the provision of Civil Services Rule, 1966. No proper procedure was followed while adjudicating the matter of the petitioner. The enquiring officer has filed the report on the basis of the fact that the petitioner has admitted the charges and no statements of witness were recorded by the enquiring officer. He further submitted that the order of removal is not passed by the competent authority. Joint Director was in no position to terminate the petitioner as he was appointed by the Director and no person subordinate to him had such powers.

Learned Counsel for the respondent, Vikas Yadav, replied that the petitioner has not cleared the essential requirement of qualification for the respective post i.e. Hindi typing exam. The non-performance of the petitioner was also highlighted by his continuous unauthorized absence from work for a period of almost 3 months and his non-attendance for a total of 466 days.  Respondent contended that though, the petitioner replied to the show cause notice, the same was not satisfactory. After issuance of the charge sheet, the petitioner himself admitted the charges levelled against him before the enquiring officer. Therefore, the impugned order of removal was passed. Thus, no illegality was caused in removing the petitioner from his services.

The Court observed that, before the show cause notice was issued no enquiry was initiated against the petitioner by the respondents and the said show cause notice was issued for termination of services of the petitioner. “It shows that the authorities have make up their mind for terminating the services of the petitioner before initiating any departmental enquiry.” Court was of the view that petitioner stated the medical reasons in reply to the show cause notice, but he also admitted not clearing the exam and taking unauthorized leaves for such a long tenure.

Court held, that no alleged enquiry was conducted by the respective respondents, which was arbitrary and they served a copy of the report without filing any charge sheet. The Court stated the provisions of CCA Rules, which provide for the opportunity of hearing to the accused even if the charges in written statements are admitted. The enquiring officer must always ask the accused whether he pleads guilty or not in a proper recorded manner. It was found by the Court that there was a breach in proper proceedings in recording the statements of the petitioner and the proceedings were not in conformity with the law. The Court directed the respondents to reinstate the petitioner in service without any back wages.[Ajay Kadam v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 769, Order dated 07-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Bench of A.Y Kogje, J. partly allowed a petition whereby the case was remanded back to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate to reconsider the earlier order by giving an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.

In the pertinent case, the petitioner submitted that while the period for which the license was to operate an FIR came to be registered with an allegation that in the area where the Anand Mela was being conducted, some people had indulged in gambling activity and therefore the area where the Anand Mela was being held was sealed. Since the livelihood of many families was dependant on the functioning of the Anand Mela, the petitioner thus approached the Court for an amendment to such order.  Further, it was contended that the license holder was not even present when the alleged incident had taken place and therefore if any of the visitors would have indulged in such activity then the petitioner cannot be held responsible.

The respondents, in turn, made allegations that the persons involved in the gambling activities and that the person conducting such activity had escaped from the premises. He also submitted that the petitioner is not entitled to any opportunity of hearing more particularly when he is in breach of the condition of license condition No. 16 of the license.

The Court after considering the material facts and the registered FIR opined that “the contention itself discloses that the license holder himself was not found on the spot when the petitioner strongly disputes about the nature of game being played at the Anand Mela and also disputes his presence at the time when the offence came to be registered. It would be a question of fact which will have to be gone into while the offence is being tried”. Also “The Provisions of Bombay Police Act under which the license is granted does not provide for any appeal as the provisions for appeal is restricted to certain sections but does not include Section 33(1) of the Bombay Police Act”. Further since conducting the Anand Mela was the primary source of livelihood for the petitioner and others, therefore before canceling the license where the petitioner is strongly opposing activity of gambling in the premises, the principles of natural justice should be followed.[Manharbhai Kachrabhai Rathod v. State of Gujarat, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 604, Order dated 04-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of Madhuresh Prasad, J., allowed the writ petition which was filed against the act of arbitrary stoppage of the salary of the panchayat teachers.

The facts of the case are that petitioners were appointed as panchayat teachers in the year 2010 and they continued till April 2017. From the month of May, 2017 their salary had been arbitrarily stopped without issuing any order in respect thereof.

The respondents asserted that the petitioners’ degrees of integrated course from Central Board of Higher Education, New Delhi were not recognized in view of the letter issued by the Principal Secretary and as such the very appointment of the petitioners as panchayat teacher was bad.

The Court held that there was nothing in the counter affidavit to show that prior to withholding of such salary/stoppage of salary with effect from May, 2017 the petitioners were ever afforded any opportunity of being heard in the matter. It is trite law that when an order is violative of the principles of natural justice, the plea of alternative remedy would not be a bar to exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in such matter.

The Court observed that whether the petitioner’s degree obtained in 2010 on basis of which petitioners were appointed as panchayat teacher was recognized or not was an issue which was required to be looked into by the authority before inflicting such harsh penal consequence.[Kanchan Kumari v. State of Bihar, 2018 SCC OnLine Pat 2293, Decided on 06-12-2018]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Appellate Tribunal for Electricity, New Delhi: A Division bench comprising of N.K. Patil, J. and S.D. Dubey (Technical Member) allowed an appeal, filed against Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, holding that the order of Commission was a non-speaking order.

Appellant, a joint venture company between National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. and Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd., was working on a project for development of a 1320 MW coal-based generating station at Meja in Uttar Pradesh. Respondent is the regulator which determines generation and transmission tariff for central government-owned or controlled companies including the appellant.

In a petition, the respondent passed an order directing appellant to pay Interest during Construction (IDC) and Incidental Expenditure during Construction (IEDC) for the period of delay in commissioning of Meja-Allahabad line and also for payment of transmission tariff. Aggrieved by the said order, the present appeal was preferred by the appellant under Section 111 of the Electricity Act, 2013. The sole point of challenge in the appeal was that the order passed by respondent is a non-speaking order bereft of any analysis or reasons, and while passing the impugned order, the respondent Commission had failed to consider the relevant material placed on record by the appellant.

After perusing the order passed by the respondent Commission, the Hon’ble Appellate Tribunal noted that there was no discussion, reasoning or finding therein in relation to the case of appellant. Relying on the judgment of Apex Court in Commissioner of Police, Bombay v Gordhandas Bhanji, 1952 SCR 135, the Tribunal observed that it is a settled principle of law that an order passed by a statutory body should speak for itself, and cannot be supplemented later with fresh reasons. Public orders, publicly made, in the exercise of statutory authority cannot be construed in the light of explanations subsequently given by the officer making the order. Since such an order has a public effect and also affects the acts and conduct of those to whom it is addressed, it must be construed objectively with reference to the language used in the order itself.

On the aforesaid reasoning, finding that there was no reasoning or discussion in the respondent’s order, the Tribunal held that the said order being a non-speaking order was liable to be set aside. [Meja Urja Nigam Private Limited v. Central Electricity Regulatory Commission,2018 SCC OnLine APTEL 103, decided on 28-09-2018]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S.S. Shinde and V.K. Jadhav, JJ. allowed a criminal writ petition in terms of remitting the matter to Divisional Commissioner, Aurangabad, for fresh adjudication on the externment order passed against the petitioner.

The petitioner was accused in three criminal cases. The cases were pending adjudication. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Aurangabad, issued a show cause notice to petitioner asking as to why he should not be externed from Aurangabad city and adjoining districts for two years. In his reply, the petitioner stated that the cases pending against him were false and nothing had been proved. Thereafter, the Assistant Commissioner sent petitioner’s externment proposal to the Deputy Commissioner who passed the order externing the petitioner from Aurangabad city for two years. An appeal was filed before the Divisional Commissioner who confirmed the externment order. Hence, this petition.

The High Court gave careful consideration to submissions made on behalf of the parties and perused the impugned order. It was noticed that impugned orders did not discuss the statement of witnesses produced by the petitioner. The order was passed without giving the petitioner an opportunity to be heard, which was a violation of principles of natural justice. It was observed that to brand a person a habitual criminal, it is necessary to find out his past record. The Authorities concerned failed to consider the fact that the petitioner was not convicted in any of the cases pending against him. He was on bail and nothing was brought on record to show that he misused that liberty. In such circumstances, the High Court thought it fit to remit the matter back to the Divisional Commissioner for fresh adjudication. Operation of externment order passed against the petitioner was stayed. [Rauf Khan Wahab Khan Patel v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1606, dated 23-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: The order of the Superintendent of Taxes (Respondent 2) charging 12.5% VAT on coal tar in provincial assessment was set aside by a Division Bench comprising of Ajit Singh, CJ and Prasanta Kumar Deka, J.

The petitioners were dealers of coal tar. They filed tax returns wherein they assessed coal tar for 4% tax. The said return was accepted by the respondents. However, later, Respondent 2 passed an order of provincial assessment under Section 34 of the Assam Value Added Tax Act, 2003 whereby the return filed by the petitioners was re-assessed and the coal tar was charged at 12.5% tax on grounds that earlier a wrong classification was done as far as coal tar was concerned. Aggrieved by the same, the petitioners filed the instant petition.

The High Court considered the record and found that the impugned order was passed under Section 34 of the Act which mandates that before passing any order of provincial assessment, the assessee is to be given a right of hearing via giving him a show-cause notice. In the case, the Court found that no show-cause notice was given to the petitioner, thus, violating the mandate of Section 34. Also, it was a clear case of violation of principles of natural justice as no right of hearing was given to the petitioner before passing orders prejudicial to him. Thus, the petition was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Kamakhya Coal Tar Industries v. State of Assam, 2018 SCC OnLine Gau 350, order dated 07-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Single-Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Siddharth, J. quashed the impugned termination order against the petitioner.

As per the facts of the case, the petitioner was alleged to have defalcated a sum of Rs. 26, 40,937.93 and based on the preliminary enquiry, he was found guilty of the stated charge. Two subsequent FIRs under Sections 3 and 7 of the Essential Commodities Act and under Section 419 IPC were filed against the petitioner. The petitioner was subsequently suspended from service.

Respondents have filed that the petitioner embezzled a huge amount for which he was asked for an explanation. Further, the petitioner was sent a notice in regard to no explanation from his side. An enquiry report based on the records found the petitioner guilty of defalcation of more than Rs. 26 lakhs. The petitioner was issued a letter in which it was stated that his services are governed by Model Service Regulations for the employees of U.P Consumer Cooperative Store. Petitioner was also granted personal hearing and the disciplinary proceedings were conducted in accordance with the rules.

Further, it has been argued that the petitioner was not afforded any opportunity of defending his case which was in violation of Regulation 77(i)(a) of the Regulations under which he was governed. Secondly, before passing of the termination order approval from the board of directors was not taken which was a violation of Regulation 76(b) of the above-stated regulations. Thirdly, he was not granted personal hearing and finally the impugned termination order was passed.

Upon perusal of Regulation 77 it was found that the entire disciplinary enquiry was against the said regulation and also against the principles of natural justice. Therefore, it was held by the Court that, the disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner were absolutely illegal and against the express provisions of Regulation 77 and further no material was brought on record regarding the status of criminal cases. The impugned termination order against the petitioner was quashed. [Dhodha Singh v. State of U.P, 2018 SCC OnLine All 448, delivered on 24-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Sanjay Karol, acting CJ. and Ajay Mohan Goel, J., decided a letters patent appeal, wherein the Court quashed the order passed against the appellant by the learned Single Judge, on grounds of violation of principles of natural justice.

Earlier, a writ petition was filed before the learned Single Judge directing the appellant to release certain compensation and benefits to the writ petitioner therein. However, it remains an undisputed fact that the appellant was not arrayed as a party by the writ petitioner in the writ proceedings. Before filing the instant appeal, the appellant had also filed a review petition before the learned Single Judge, which was dismissed.

Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court was of the view that this was a classic case where the petitioner was condemned unheard. The order was passed against the appellant without notice and without inviting his comments or reply. The Court held that in such a situation, principles of natural justice and audi alteram partem in particular, stood violated. The Court was of the view that the said order of the learned Single Judge was liable to be quashed on this ground alone.

Accordingly, the order of the learned Single Judge condemning the appellant unheard was quashed by the Division Bench. [NTPC Ltd. v. Gopal Dass, LPA No. 66 of 2010, order dated 2.2.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A writ petition claiming violation of principles of natural justice since excise duty was levied on the petitioner retrospectively without a show-cause notice, was dismissed as sans merit by a Division Bench comprising of Ajit Singh, CJ. And Manoj Bhuyan, J.

The petitioner was a beneficiary under a certain industrial policy wherein the industries were exempted to pay excise duty for a certain period of time. However, subsequently the government amended the said policy and levied excise duty on such industries with retrospective effect. The validity of such amendment was upheld by the Supreme Court in R.C. Tobacco (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, (2005) 7 SCC 725. The petitioner, however, challenged the recovery order under which it was liable to pay the excise duty so levied, on the ground that no recovery proceedings could have been initiated without a show cause notice under Section 11A of the Excise Act.

The High Court settled the controversy by relying on the Supreme Court decision arising out of same controversy, in Dharampal Satyapal Ltd. v. CCE, (2015) 8 SCC 519. The Supreme Court in this case held that although non issuance of show-cause notice prior to passing of recovery order was in violation of principles of natural justice, however in the fact situation of the case, since the quantification of amount was not under dispute, the issuance of notice to the petitioner would have been an empty formality and the case was squarely covered by “useless formality theory”. Further, the legal consequence of amendment to the industrial policy was that the amount with which the appellant was benefited under the said policy became refundable. Even if the notice was issued, the appellant could not take any plea to retain the said amount on any ground whatsoever. In such a situation, issuance of notice would be a futile exercise and the case was covered under useless formality theory.

In light of the above, the Court held that the instant controversy stood covered by the above-mentioned decision of the Supreme Court. Thus, the petition was dismissed holding it to be sans merit. [M/s Dharampal Satyapal Ltd. v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Gau 62, order dated 06.03.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]