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1974 (10) TMI 111

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..... ry to consider the constitutional validity of section 15. It, however, held that the three notifications above referred to were not unconstitutional because in exercising their functions under sections 3, 9 and 12 the authorities concerned were not exercising a quasi judicial power. But the result of striking down the section of the Act above referred to was that the notifications also fell along with them. The State of Mysore has filed these appeals under certificate granted by the High Court. There are two possible approaches to this question. One is to hold that the provisions of the statute are themselves unconstitutional because they do not provide a reasonable opportunity for the affected parties to be heard; the other is to hold that as there is nothing in the statutory provisions which debar the application of the principles of natural justice while the authorities exercise the statutory powers under the Act, and as the principles of natural justice would apply unless the statutory provisions point to the contrary the statutory provisions themselves are not unconstitutional though the notifications issued under them may be struck down if the authorities concerned do not obs .....

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..... y made, that is, they do not supplant the law of the lard but supplement it. They are not embodied rules and their aim is to secure justice or to prevent miscarriage of justice. If that is their purpose there is-no reason why they should not be made applicable to administrative proceedings also, especially when it is not easy to draw the line that demarcates administrative enquiries from quasi-judicial ones, and an unjust decision in an administrative enquiry may have are far reaching effect than a decision in a quasi- judicial enquiry. It is further observed : "The concept of natural justice has undergone a great deal of change in recent years. What particular rule of natural justice should apply to a given case must depend to a great extent on the facts and circumstances of that case, the framework of the law under which the enquiry is held and the constitution of the Tribunal or the body of persons appointed for that purpose. Whenever a complaint is made before a court that some principle of natural justice had been contravened, the court has to decide whether the observance of that rule was necessary for a just decision on the facts of that case. The rule that enquiries mu .....

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..... The Electricity Commissioners (supra) and by the Privy Council in Nakkuda Ali v. M. F. De S. Jayaratne (supra). The Electricity Commissioners' case was followed by this Court in Province of Bombay v. Khushadas .'V. Advani (supra). The High Court's view seems to have been that this line of reasoning prevented the Court from inferring any procedure apart from that laid down in the statute. It seemed to have been of opinion that only what was laid down in the Constitution is the Constitutional law of the land. This is clear from the following passage in the judgment under appeal: "The principles of natural justice recognised in this country arc largely if not wholly' moulded by the decisions of the English Courts. In this country, as in England, though the principles of natural justice are of utmost importance in the administration of justice they do not form part of the Constitutional law of our country except probably when we consider cases falling under Article 311 of the Constitution. Some of our statutes embody those principles but largely they are the product of judicial decisions. Those principles do not over-ride specific provisions contained in any. stat .....

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..... an obligation to hear before deciding that the "audi alteram partem" rule could be imported. The nature of the hearing would, of course, vary according to the nature of the function and what its just and fair exercise required in the context of rights affected. We must, therefore, examine the nature of functions imposed by statute and the requirements they are designed to meet in applying the tests stated above. We think that, the duty to hear those whose dwellings are to be condemned becomes imperative before deciding to demolish their particular buildings although we do not think that any quasi-judicial trial was called for. All that was necessary was to I hear objections, checked by spot inspections, where needed, before taking a decision. This would have met with the requirements of natural justice in such cases where emergent action may sometimes be very necessary. We may point out that, in cases of demolition orders, pursuant to schemes framed under the Housing Act in England, the duty to hear before making them was held by the Court to be implied. The earliest of these cases was Cooper v.The Board of Works for Wandsworth District.These duties are now imposed by sta .....

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..... lding already existing on the said date in such slum area, except with the previous permission in writing of the competent authority and subject to such restrictions or conditions as may be imposed by the said authority." Section 9 gives power to declare any slum area to be a clearance ;area. It leads : .lm15 "(1) Where the competent authority upon a report from any of its Officers or other information in its possession is satisfied .as respects any slum area that the most satisfactory method of dealing with the conditions in the area is the demolition of all the buildings in the area, the authority shall by an order notified ,in the official Gazette, declare the area to be a clearance area, that is to say, an area to be cleared of all buildings in accordance with the provisions of this Act : Provided that any building in the area which is not unfit for human habitation or dangerous or injurious to health may be excluded from the declaration if the authority considers it necessary. (2)The competent authority shall forthwith transmit to the State Government a copy of the declaration under this section together with a statement of the number of persons who .on a date specif .....

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..... the date of publication of the notice under section 12 : Provided that the amount payable under clause (a) or clause (b) shall not be in excess of the market value of the: land or similar land on the first day of July 1959. (3)The prescribed authority shall, after holding an inquiry, in the prescribed manner, determine in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) the amount payable as compensa- tion and publish a notice in the official Gazette specifying the amount so determined and calling upon the owner of the land' and every person interested therein to intimate to it before a. date specified in the notice whether such owner or person agrees, to the amount so determined and if he does not so agree, what. amount he claims to be the amount payable as compensation- (4)Any person who does not agree to the amount of com- pensation determined by the prescribed authority under sub- section (3) and claims a sum in excess of that amount may prefer an appeal to the Court of the District Judge having jurisdiction within thirty days from the date specified in the notice referred to in that sub-section. (5)On. appeal, the Court of the District Judge shall deter- mine the amount o .....

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..... tory method of dealing with the conditions in the area is the demolition of all the buildings in the area. But even in a slum area there may be buildings which may not have to be pulled down and they may be in quite good condition. The proviso to sub-section (1) provides for such a contingency but if there is no provision for hearing the affected person he cannot bring to the notice of the concerned authority that his building is not unfit for human habitation or dangerous or injurious to health and such person would go unheard. There can be no two opinions about the need to hear the affected persons before declaring an area to be a slum area under section 3 or an area as a clearance area under section 9 or before taking action under section 10. All these difficulties will be removed if the affected persons are given an opportunity to be heard in respect of the action proposed. With regard to section 12(1)(b), however, we do not consider that that is a section which suffers from the same vice as the other sections. The validity of section 12(1)(a) has been upheld by the High Court and as we agree with the High Court we do not think it is necessary to say anything more. As regards s .....

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