Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Conduct & Disciplinary Rules - 73 : Article from Mr. K.V.Shridharan, Ex General Secretary, AIPEU Group C

 Conduct & Disciplinary Rules - 73 : Article from Mr. K.V.Shridharan, Ex General Secretary, AIPEU Group C

Conduct & Disciplinary Rules – 73

CCS Rules & Principles of Natural justice 

1.     I. Bias or interest - Contrary to natural justice

The first requirement of natural justice is that the judge must be impartial and neutral and free from bias. He cannot act as judge of a cause in which he himself has some interest either pecuniary or otherwise as it affords the strongest proof against neutrality. He must be in a position to act judicially and to decide the matter objectively. If the judge is subject to bias in favour of or against either party to the dispute or is in a position that a bias can be assumed, he is disqualified to act as judge and the proceedings will be vitiated. There should be no pecuniary, personal or official bias. Mukharjee, J. in Secretary to Govt. Transport Deptt v. Munnusway, AIR 1988 SC 2232 has laid down that "a predisposition to decide for or against one party without proper regard to the true merits of the dispute is bias."

Rule against bias is based on three maxims.

(i)      No man shall be a judge in his own cause.

(ii)     Justice should not only be done but manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

(iii)   Judges, like Caesor's wife should be above suspicion.

[Halsbury's Laws of England]

II.      Pecuniary Interest -

Speaking for the Supreme Court, Gajendragadkar J, (as he was then) held in Manak Lal v. Dr. Prem Chand, AIR 1957 SC 425 that "it is obvious that pecuniary interest however small it may be in a subject matter of the proceedings, would wholly disqualify a member from acting as a judge."

Chief Justice Gajendragadkar reconstituted the Bench on objection being taken on behalf of the witnesses in court on the ground that the Chief Justice who was a member of the Bench was also a member of the Cooperative Society for which the disputed land had been acquired.

[Jeejeebhoy v. Asst. Collector of Thane, AIR 1965 SC 1096]

III.    Personal Bias - Case-Law

A departmental enquiry was held against 'A' by 'B. As one of the witnesses turned hostile, 'B left the enquiry, gave evidence against 'A', resumed to complete the enquiry and passed an order of dismissal. The Supreme Court observed that "the rules of natural justice were completely discarded and all cannons of fair play were grievously violated by 'B.

[State of UP v. Mohd Nooh, AIR 1958 SC 86]

IV.    Official bias -

Mere "office" or "policy" may not necessarily be held to disqualify an official from acting as an adjudicator unless there is total nonapplication of mind on his part and he has acted as per dictation of the superior authority instead of deciding the matter independently or has pre-judged the issue or has taken improper attitude to uphold the policy of the department so as to constitute a legal bias.

According to the Commercial Tax Officer, the petitioner was not liable to pay tax, and yet, he referred the matter to his superior officers, and on instructions from him imposed tax. The Supreme Court set aside the decision.

[Mahadayal v. CTO, AIR 1961 SC 82]

V.      Test of Bias

The Court laid down the test in the following words;

In such cases the test is not whether in fact a bias has affected the judgment; the test always is and must be whether a litigant could reasonably apprehend that a bias attributable to a member of the tribunal might have operated against him in the final decision of the tribunal. It is in this sense that it is often said that justice must not only be done but must also appear to be done.

[Manak Lal v. Dr. Prem Chand, AIR 1957 SC 425] 


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