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Statement of Facts:

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 including that
of Jammu and Kashmir 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
Rule 4(1) of the above mentioned Rules reads asAs soon as may be, after the commencement of these rules, the Central Government may recruit to the service any
person from amongst the members of the State Forest Service adjudged suitable in accordance with such regulations
as the Central Government may make in consultation with State Governments and the Commission. (emphasis laid)
Now the regulation 3 of Indian Forest Service (Initial Recruitment) Regulations, 1956 framed under Rule 4(1) of the
Indian Forest Service (Recruitment) Rules, 1966 provided for the Constitution of a Special Selection Board. It
provided that for the purpose of making selection to any State Cadre, the Central Government shall constitute a
special selection board consisting of:
1. 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.
Regulation 5 dealt with the preparation of the list of suitable candidates. It reads as The Board shall prepare, in
order of preference, a list of such officers of the State Forest Service who satisfy the conditions specified in
Regulation 4 and who are adjudged by the Board suitable for appointment to posts in the senior and junior scales of
the service.
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 person by the name of Naquishbund was appointed as the acting Chief
Conservator of forest. He had been appointed to the said post by overlooking the seniority of three officers Basu,
Baig and Kaul. They had filed petitions against their supersession to the higher authorities. In the meantime, when
the selection Board for recommending the names of officers for All India Forest Service was formed, Naquishbund
came to be appointed as its ex-officio chairman. The Board recommended the names of the persons including
Naquishbund but excluding the other three officers who had been superseded. Thereafter the selection board
reviewed the cases of officers not selected earlier as a result of which a few more officers were selected. 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 Kaul were not selected.
Another noteworthy point here is that Naquishbunds name was placed at the top of the list of selected officers.

It must be noted that Naquishbund was also one of the candidates seeking to be selected to the All India Forest
Service. Though he did not sit in the selection board at the time his name was considered for selection but
admittedly he did sit in the board and participated in its deliberations when the names of Basu, Baig and Kaul were
considered for selection and was also involved while preparing the list of selected candidates in order of preference,
as required by Regulation 5. However the list prepared by the selection board was not the last word in the matter of
selection in question. That list along with the records of the officers in the concerned cadre selected as well as not
selected had to be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Ministry of Home Affairs had forwarded that list with
its observations to the Commission and the Commission had examined the records of all the officers afresh before
making its recommendation.
Aggrieved, The Gazetted Officers Association, Jammu and Kashmir along with the interested parties brought a
petition to the Court challenging the selections notified in the impugned notification as being violative of Articles 14
and 16 of the Constitution and on the further ground 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
Issues Involved: Applicability of Principles of Natural Justice
In order to understand the arguments raised by both the parties, it is necessary to understand the scope of principles
of natural justice. In a phrase it can be described as judicial fairness in decision making and its main aim is to
secure justice or prevent miscarriage of justice. It is a branch of public law and is held to be a very formidable
weapon that can be wielded to secure justice. The definition of the term natural justice is difficult to be given but
its essential characteristics can be enumerated in two maxims namely- (i) audi alteram partem and (ii) nemo judex in
causa sua .

The first maxim literally meaning hear the other side provides that before taking a decision other party must be
heard. De Smith says- No proposition can be more clearly established than that a man cannot incur the loss of
liberty or property until he has a fair opportunity of answering the case against him.
The right to fair hearing has always been used as a base onto which a fair administrative procedure comparable with
due process of law can be built. In Ridge v. Baldwin , the House of Lords held by majority that the power of
dismissal of an employee couldnt be exercised without giving reasonable opportunity of being heard and without
observing the principles of natural justice.
The second phrase literally means that No man shall be a judge in his own cause. This maxim ensures that the
adjudicator must not have any interest or bias in the case which he is deciding. As the famous saying goes justice
should not only be done but must be seen to have been done In case of a judicial body, the independence and
impartiality of the judge is an absolute condition, because without these qualities the public confidence which is
their real strength would weaken.
In the opinion of the Apex Court, a precondition to decide for or against one party without proper regard to the true
merits is bias. Bias can be of three types i.e. personal bias, pecuniary bias or official bias. In the cases of bias what
the aggrieved party has to prove is the likelihood of bias and not the real existence of the same. In the case of Ashok
Kumar Yadav v. State of Haryana Bhagwati, CJ, observed, we agree with the petitioners that it is one of the
fundamental principles of our jurisprudence that no man can be a judge in his own cause and that if there is a
likelihood of bias it is in accordance with natural justice and common sense that the Judge likely to be biased should
be incapacitated from sitting. The Court in Manak lal v. Dr. Prem Chand held, the test is not whether in fact, a bias
has affected the judgement, 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. In the
case of State of U.P v. Mohammed Nooh, the officer who held departmental inquiry and passed the order, himself
gave evidence and thus acted as prosecutor and the judge. Das C.J delivering the majority judgement said that the
rules of natural justice were grossly violated. Similarly, in the case of Rattan lal v. Managing Committee, x was a
witness as well as one of the three members of an inquiry committee against Rattanlal. The Court set aside the
dismissal order of Rattanlal on the ground that the proceedings were vitiated because of bias of one of the members.
Now, that we have discussed in general about the concept and applicability of Principles of Natural Justice, we can
analyze the judicial interpretation that took place in the present case.
Analyzing the Judgment
A five judge bench of the Apex Court comprising of Hidyatullah, CJ and Grover, Shelat, Bhargava and Hegde, JJ.
through Hegde, J. held that the selections made by the selection committee were in violation of principles of natural
The Honble 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 administrative 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 and that too holding the post of the
post of the Chairman had a significant impact on the decision of the selection board. Also, he participated in the
deliberations when the claims of his rivals i.e. Basu, Baig and Kaul were considered. He was also present when the
list of selected candidates in order of preference was being made. Hence, it is very clear that from the very inception
of the selection process, at every stage of his participation in the selection process, there was a conflict between his
interest and duty. Under such circumstances, the Court could not believe that Naquishbund could have been
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. As discussed
earlier in Manaklals 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.
The Court while making this judgment took assistance of certain other landmark judgments which are discussed as
belowThe Court observed that in In Re H.K (An Infant) the validity of the action taken by an Immigration Officer came up
for consideration. Lord Parker, C.J observed thus:
I myself think that even if an immigration officer is not in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity, he must at any rate
give the immigrant an opportunity of satisfying him of the matters in the subsection, and for that purpose let the
immigrant know what his immediate impression is so that the immigrant can disabuse him. That is not, as I see it, a
question of acting or being required to act judicially, but of being required to act fairly.
Also, in the case of State of Orissa v. Dr. (Miss)Binapani Dei. , Shah, J. speaking for the Court, dealing with an
enquiry made as regards the correct age of a government servant, observed thus
We think that such an enquiry and decision were contrary to the basic concept of justice and cannot have any value.
It is true that the order is administrative in character, but even an administrative order which involves civil
consequences as already stated, must be made consistently with the rules of natural justice after informing the first
respondent of the case of the StateOften times it is not easy to draw the line that demarcates administrative
enquiries from quasi-judicial enquiries. Enquiries which were considered administrative at one time are now being
considered as quasi judicial in character. Arriving at a just decision is the aim of both quasi-judicial enquiries as well
as administrative enquiries. An unjust decision in an administrative enquiry may have more far reaching effect than
a decision in a quasi-judicial enquiry.
In this case, for the first time, without the assistance of any foreign judgement, the Supreme Court had decided that
Principles of Natural Justice were applicable not only to judicial and quasi-judicial functions, but also to
administrative functions. The present case has made the position more clear.

In Suresh Koshy George v. The University of Kerala , the Court observed that the rules of natural justice are not
embodied rules. What particular rule of natural justice should apply to a given case must be 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 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 was necessary for just decisions on the facts of that case.
Hence, taking all the above decisions as well as some other English decisions into consideration, the Court declared
that Principles of Natural Justice are applicable to Administrative functions also and struck down the selection
process on the ground of violation of principles of natural justice.
Therefore what emerges from this case is that although the Courts are making distinctions between the QuasiJudicial 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.
In England, as discussed earlier the case of Ridge v. Baldwin has been characterized as the The Magna Carta of
Natural Justice as it gave a new orientation to the concept of quasi-judicial with a view to facilitate the application
of natural justice to administrative functions. Similarly, the preceding pages show that 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. Though the applicability of rules of natural justice to administrative functions had already
been made in Dr Binapanis case, it had not gained as much importance as it deserved. In the present case while
extending the application of these principles to administrative function as well, 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
A mere perusal of the above given view shows that this case was successful in attributing the due importance which
lacked previously, and gave finality to the fact that rules of justice applied to administrative functions too.
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.
The author agrees with such a proposition because many a times the impact of administrative decision can be far
greater than that of a judicial decision. As in the present case, the decision made with bias and without the
applicability of rules of justice would have adversely affected the careers of the officers not selected. In such
circumstances leaving the administrative actions out of the clutches of rules of justice would undermine rule of law.
Hence, in conclusion it is observed thatNo authority can absolve itself from the liability to act in a lawful manner.
I, do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, I will support the
Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do
no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any
groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or
malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion, with all
good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself these voluntary obligations
without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.