A.K. Kraipak & ors. Vs. union of India & ors.
PETITIONER: A. K. Kraipak & ors. etc
RESPONDENT: Union of India & ors.
BENCH: Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. Hidayatullah, C.J., J.M. Shelat, K.S. Hegde, A.N. Grover and Vashishtha Bhargava, JJ.
CITATION: AIR 1970 SC 150
DATE OF JUDGEMENT: 29th April 1969
• In 1966, a service known as the Indian Forest Service was established, the selection for which was to be made up among the officers serving within the forest department of the state. According to Rule 4(1) of Indian Forest Service (recruitment) rules, the central govt. was authorised with the power to recruit for the services from amongst the member of state forest service and a special selection board consisting of chairman of UPSC, officer of Forests of the govt of India, Joint Secretary, Chief Secretary of the involved authorities and Chief Conservator of Forests of the concerned state government.
• They were to be headed by chief conservator of the forest of the state while the final decision to be made by UPSC. In the state of J&K, an individual by the name of Naquishbund was appointed as the acting chief conservator of forest and thus was appointed to the aforesaid post by overlooking the seniority of 3 officers: Basu, Baig and Kaul. 2 persons senior to him had been superseded and therefore the petition was brought by some gazetted officers serving in Forest department of J&K to the Indian Forest.
• Meanwhile, the selections committee had to suggest the names and it therefore happened that they had suggested the name of the person in which Naquishband was appointed as the ex-officio chairman however excluding the 3 senior officers, who had been superseded.
• The recommendations made by the Board were submitted to the UPSC and was also accepted and approved by them. It should be noted that Naquishbund was also one amongst the candidates seeking to be chosen to All India Forest Service. Although he didn't sit in the selection board at the time his name was thought of for choice however he did sit within the board and took part in its deliberations when the names of Basu, Baig and Kaul were considered for selection and was also concerned while preparing the list of selected candidates in order of preference, as needed by Regulation 5.
• All of them felt aggrieved by the choice made of among the officers serving in forest department of J&K to the Indian Forest Service. The aggrieved officers of J&K together with the associated parties brought a petition to court challenging the selections and further ground that the selections in question were created in contraventions of principles of natural justice.
• Whether there was a violation of the principle of Natural Justice?
• Whether there were any criteria for setting aside the selection process?
• Article 14 and 16 of the constitution.
• Section 3 of the All India Services Act, 1952 provides that the central government shall when consulting the govt of the state involved together with that of Jammu & Kashmir to form rules for regulation of recruitment and conditions of the services of persons appointed to those All India Services.
• The court held that the selections made by the selection Committee were in violation of the principles of natural justice as a result of there was a true probability of a bias for the mere presence of the candidate on the selection Board might adversely influence the judgement of alternative members. it had been held that although the action of making choice for government service is administrative, however the selection committee is underneath a obligation to act judicially.
• The court found that the ability exercised by the selection board as an administrative one and tested the validity of the selection on that basis. It was held that the idea of rule of law would lose its importance if the instrumentalities of the state don't seem to be charged with the duty of discharging their functions in a fair and just manner in a country like India, where the jurisdiction of the executive bodies is increasing at a speedy rate.
• The principle of “nemo judex in causa sua” was in violation while appointing Naquishband as a member of the selection board. though he failed to participate in the deliberations of the board when his name was being considered however the actual fact that he was a member of the selection board which too holding the post of the chairman had a major impact on the choices of the selection board. Also, he participated among the deliberations when the claims of his rivals i.e., Basu, Baig and Kaul were considered. He was also present when the list of chosen candidates in order of preference was being created. Hence it was very clear that from the very beginning of the choice process, at each stage of his participation within the selection process, there was a conflict between his interest and duty. By viewing all the necessary conditions, the court came out to the verdict that how Naquishbund could have been unbiased.
• During this case, for the first time, without the help of any foreign judgement, the Supreme court had determined that principles of natural justice were applicable not solely to judicial functions but additionally to administrative functions.
• The principle of natural justice would apply on administrative functions also and struck down the selection method on ground of violation of principles of natural justice. And held that selections made by the board were in violation of principles of natural justice.
The decision made with bias and without the relevancy of rules of justice would have adversely affected the careers of the officers not chosen. In such circumstances leaving the executive actions out of the clutches of rules of justice would undermine rule of law.
Therefore what emerges from this case is that though the courts are making distinctions between the quasi-judicial and administrative powers but at the same time there's one common component of fair procedure in each the cases which might be stated as the duty to act fairly. This duty arises from a similar general principle, the foundations the rules of natural justice.
In the words of Krishna Iyer “Once we tend to understand the soul of the rule as fair play in action-and it is so- we should hold that it extends to both the fields. after all administrative power in a democratic set-up isn't allergic to fairness in action and discretionary govt justice cannot degenerate into unilateral injustice.”
We agree that several a times the impact of administrative decision are often bigger than that of a judgement. As within the in the case, the choice made was biased and without the relevancy of rules of natural justice would have adversely affected the careers of the officers not selected. In such circumstances leaving the executive actions out of the clutches of rules of justice would determine rule of law. Hence in conclusion it is observed that “No authority can absolve itself from the liability to act in a lawful manner”. Thus the development of administrative law in India and has strengthened the rule of law in this country.