| ASSIGNMENT ON| A. K KRAIPAK vs UNION OF INDIA| (A Case Study)| | | | AN ANALYSIS OF THE CASE OF A. K KRAIPAK VS UNION OF INDIA : INTRODUCTION: Kraipak vs Union of india is regarded as an epoch making decision as it demolishes the artificial and conceptualistic distinction between administrative and quasi judicial function as well as delinked natural justice from quasi judicial.
In this case the court asserted that natural justice could be applied to the so called administrative function as well, for the rules of natural justice aim at securing justice, or to prevent miscarriage of justice, and the basic aim is to arrived at a just decision. kraipak’s case had a profound impact on the growth of administrative law in india. The liberal judicial trend in favour of applying natural justice got strengthened as a result of the kraipak’s decision. Facts of the case :
In 1966, a service called The Indian Forest Service was constituted, the selection for which was to be made from among the officers serving in the forest department of the state. Section 3 of the All India Services Act, 1951 provides that the Central Government shall after consulting the Government of the States concerned to make rules for the regulation of recruitment and the conditions of the service of persons appointed to those All India Services. In pursuance of the power given under Section 3, Indian Forest Service (Recruitment) Rules, 1966 were made.
The Chairman of UPSC or his nominee. 2. Inspector General of Forests of the Government of India. 3. Joint Secretary. UOI. 4. Chief Secretary of the concerned State Government. 5. Chief Conservator of Forest of the concerned State Government. The selection Board was to be headed by the Chief Conservator of the Forest of the State while the final selections were to be made by the Union Public Service Commission (U. P. S. C).
In the State of Jammu and Kashmir, a Naquishbund was appointed as the acting Chief Conservator of forest and was olso a member of the selection board for recommending the names of officers for All India Forest Service was formed, The Board recommended the names of the persons including Naquishbund. The selections as finally made by the board were accepted by the Commission. On the basis of the recommendations of the Commission, the impugned list was published. Even After review Basu, Baig and Kaulwho were supersede by naquishbund for chief conservator of forest were not selected.
It must be noted that Naquishbund was also one of the candidates for All India Forest Service. Though he did not sit in the selection board at the time his name was considered for selection but he did sit in the board when the names of Basu, Baig and Kaul were considered for selection and was also involved while preparing the list of selected candidates . Aggrieved, The Gazetted Officers Association, brought a petition to the Court challenging that the selections in question were made in contravention of the Principles of Natural Justice.
Arguments Advanced : The petitioners as well as the respondents raised arguments with respect to the nature of the power conferred on the selection board. The petitioners contended that Rule 4 as well as Regulation 5 prescribes that the selections should be made after ‘adjudging’ the suitability of the officers belonging to the State service. The word ‘adjudge’ the meaning of which is ‘to judge or decide’ indicates that the power conferred on the selection board was a quasi-judicial power.
It was contended on their behalf that such a power is a judicial power not an administrative one and it has to be exercised in accordance with the well accepted Rules of Natural Justice, the violation of which has been rightly claimed. Naquishbund, being a candidate for Indian Forest Service cannot be an adjudicator of the same. On the other hand, the learned Attorney General on behalf of the respondents argued that the power exercised by the selection board is not a quasi-judicial power but an administrative power.
To support this contention, it was further admitted that the proceedings before the selection board were not quasi-judicial because the board was not required to decide about any ‘right’. The duty of the board was merely to select officers who in its opinion were suitable for Indian Forest Service. He interpreted the word ‘adjudge’ as being ‘found worthy of selection’. It was also contended by the learned Attorney General that after all the selection board was only a recommendatory body. Its recommendations had first to be perused by the Home Ministry and then by the U.
P. S. C. The final recommendations were made by the U. P. S. C. Therefore, grievances of the petitioners have no real basis. Keeping in mind the validity of the administrative actions taken, all that has to be seen is whether the final decision is just or not. And finally, in the form of arguendo, it was also contended by the learned Attorney General that the mere fact that one of the members of the board was biased against some of the petitioners cannot vitiate the whole selection process Analyzing the Judgment
A five judge bench of the Apex Court held that the selections made by the selection committee were in violation of principles of natural justice. The Court found the power exercised by the Selection Board as an administrative one and tested the validity of the selections on that basis. It held that the concept of rule of law would lose its importance if the instrumentalities of the State are not charged with the duty of discharging their functions in a fair and just manner. Also, it is a must to charge dministrative authorities with the duty of discharging their functions in a fair and just manner in a Welfare State like India, where the jurisdiction of the administrative bodies is increasing at a rapid rate. In the words of Hegde, J. – “The requirement of acting judicially in essence is nothing but to act justly and fairly and not arbitrarily or capriciously. The procedures which are considered inherent in the exercise of a judicial power are merely those which facilitate if not ensure a just and fair decision. It further observed that the dividing line between an administrative power and quasi-judicial power is being gradually obliterated. The Court held that the basic principle of nemo judex in causa sua was violated by appointing Naquishbund as a member of the selection board. Though he did not participate in the deliberations of the board when his name was being considered yet the very fact that he was a member of the selection board had a significant impact on the decision of the selection board and he participated in the deliberations when the claims Basu, Baig and Kaul were considered.
Under such circumstances, the Court could not believe that Naquishbund could have been unbiased, the Court observed that the question is not whether Naquishbund was actually biased or not. The real question is whether there is a reasonable ground for believing that he was likely to have been biased. Further the Court observed that the question is not whether Naquishbund was actually biased or not. The real question is whether there is a reasonable ground for believing that he was likely to have been biased, earlier in Manaklal’s case the Court had made it clear that the test was not actual bias but a reasonable apprehension of bias.
It held that it is difficult to prove the state of mind. Therefore in deciding the question of bias ordinary course of human conduct is taken into consideration. Owing to this, the Court observed that there was a personal interest on part of Naquishbund to keep out his rivals in order to secure his position without further challenge and so he cannot said to be impartial, fair and just while making the selection. Conclusion
Therefore what emerges from this case is that although the Courts are making distinctions between the Quasi-Judicial and Administrative powers but at the same time there is one common element of fair procedure in both the cases which can be referred to as the ‘duty to act fairly’. This duty arises from the same general principles, as do the rules of natural justice. The case of A. K Kraipak v. Union of India is a landmark judgement in the development of administrative law in India and has strengthened the rule of law in this country.
Hedge, J. observed that “If the purpose of the rules of natural justice is to prevent miscarriage of justice one fails to see why those rules should be made inapplicable to administrative inquiries”. In the words of Krishna Iyer, J. – “Once we understand the soul of the rule as fairplay in action – and it is so- we must hold that it extends to both the fields. After all administrative power in a democratic set-up is not allergic to fairness in action and discretionary executive justice cannot degenerate into unilateral injustice. ”