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CLASSIFICATIONOFADMINISTRATIVEFUNCTIONS:QUASIJUDICIALFUNCTION|Lawracle

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January30,2014

CLASSIFICATIONOFADMINISTRATIVE
FUNCTIONS:QUASIJUDICIALFUNCTION
Leaveacomment
IntroductiontotheTripartiteFunctionsoftheAdministration
Theadministrativelawhasclassifiedactionsoftheadministrationintothree,namely,
administrative,legislative,judicialorquasijudicial.Althoughattemptshavebeenmade
toavoidsuchclassificationforreasonsofpracticallyvaguedistinctionsamongstthem.However,
thisexerciseoflabellingthefunctionscannotbeavoidedcompletelyandrequiresacoordinated
andconsistentworkingofthesethreeprimaryfunctions.
Justasthegovernmentofacountryisdivisibleintothreefunctionalcomponents,viz.,Legislative,
JudicialandExecutive,soarethepowersconferredontheAdministration,whichareclassified
into:
(i)LegislativePower:whichinadministrativelawparlanceisknownasDelegated
Legislation.Legislationmightbedefinedasthemakingofgeneralrulestogovernfutureconduct
(PublicActsoftheParliament)
(ii)Adjudicative,powerwhichisgenerallycharacterizedasquasijudicialoradjudicative
power.Administrationisconsiderablymoredifficulttodefine.Itmaybetakenotmeanthe
applicationofgeneralrulestoparticularcasesbythemakingofsomeorderorsomedecisionor
byperformingsomeaction.
(iii)Administrativepower,whichisnonlegislativeandnonadjudicativeinnature.The
centralcaseofjudicialfunctionisthefinalandbindingresolutionofdisputesastofacts,orasto
theexistencesorthescopeoflegalrightsorduties,bymeansoffindingfactsdecidingwhatthe
lawisandapplyingthelawtothefacts.
DifficultiesinCharacterizationofFunctions

Thenotionofadministrativelawrevolvesaroundthedifferentiationinclassificationoffunctions.1/5

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CLASSIFICATIONOFADMINISTRATIVEFUNCTIONS:QUASIJUDICIALFUNCTION|Lawracle

Thenotionofadministrativelawrevolvesaroundthedifferentiationinclassificationoffunctions.
Whenthelegalvalidityofanorderischallengedwithreferencetotheprinciplesofadministrative
law,thefirstthingthatthecourtsmayhavetodoistoidentifythenatureoftheorderimpugned.
ForE.g.,astatutemayconferonthegovernmentthepowertoexemptanypersonfromthe
operationofthestatute.Anexemptionordermaybecharacterizedaslegislativeor,
administrativeor,quasijudicial.Inaddition,manyatimesasingleauthorityexercisesnot
onebutmiscellanyoffunctions.Forexample,theElectionCommissionexerciseslegislative,
administrativeaswellasadjudicatoryfunctions.Art.324oftheConstitutionestablishesthe
ElectionCommissionandlaysdownitsfunctions.
UnderSection29AoftheRepresentationofthePeopleAct,1951,apoliticalpartyhastoregister
itselfwiththeelectioncommission.TheconcernedpartyappliestotheCommissionforthe
purpose.Aftergivingareasonableopportunityofbeingheardtotherepresentativeofthe
applicantparty,theCommissiondecideswhetherthepartyistoberegisteredornot.TheSC
ruledthattheElectionCommissiondischargesaquasijudicialfunctioninthiscaseasitis
requiredtoactjudicially.TheCourtobservedinthisconnection:
InviewoftherequirementoflawthatCommissionistogivedecisiononlyaftermakingan
enquiry,whereinanopportunityofhearingistobegiventotherepresentativesofthepolitical
party,weareoftheviewthattheElectionCommissionunderSection29Aisrequiredtoact
judiciallyandinthatviewofthemattertheactofthecommissionisquasijudicial.
DistinctionbetweenQuasiJudicialandAdministrativeFunctions.
Theonedistinctionthatwouldseemtobeworkablebetweenjudicialandadministrativefunctions
isthataquasijudicialdecisionismadeaccordingtothelawwhereasanadministrativedecisionis
madeaccordingtotheadministrativepolicy.Inmodestwords,quasijudicialfunctionisan
administrativefunction,whichthelawrequirestobeexercisedasitwere,insomerespects,a
judicialfunction.
Ajudge,inquasijudicialfunction,triestofindoutthecorrectsolutionaccordingtothelegalrules
thatapply.Ontheotherhand,anadministratorattemptstofindthemostexpedientanddesirable
solutionintheinterestofpublic.
QuasiJudicialFunction
QuasiJudicialistheappellationappliedwhenanadministrativebodydischargesan
adjudicatory/judicialfunction.
Thedictionarymeaningofthewordquasiisnotexactly.Aquasijudicialactisjustis
betweenajudicialandadministrativefunction.
InstanceswhereitmaybesaidthatitisaQuasiJudicialAction
Whenthereisadispute/contest/challenge(lis)betweentwocontendingparties,andthe
authorityadjudicatesupontherightsoftheparties,theauthorityactsisaquasijudicialmanner.
However,thisisnotnecessary.Evenintheabsenceofliscantherebeanauthorityactingina
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quasijudicialmanner.

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quasijudicialmanner.
TheviewtakeninRidgev.Baldwin[1]
(/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftn1)(approvedbythe
SupremeCourtofIndiainManekaGandhi[2]
(/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftn2)).Here,itwas
heldthatthedutytoactjudiciallymayarisefromtheverynatureofthefunctionperformedby
theauthority.
AsperStateofHimachalPradeshv.RajaMahendraPal[3]
(/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftn3),itwasobserved
thattheprimarytestofdeterminingthatanauthorityisquasijudicialiswhethertheauthorityhas
anyexpressdutytoactjudiciallyinarrivingatthedecision.Thisview,submittedbyatwojudge
bench,isnotcorrect.
SukhlalSen[4](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftn4)is
anotherinstancewhereRidgev.Baldwinwasfollowed.Here,MPHighCourtconsideredthe
natureoffunctionofalicensingauthority,incancellingoccupationalandtradinglicense.The
CourttracedthedevelopmentoflawonthisissueinEnglandaswellasinUSAandIndia.Itwas
heldthatthenatureofduty,todeterminewhetherthelicenseehascommittedanybreachofterms
andconditionsofhislicenseandwhetherforthatreasonlicenseshouldbecancelled,imposes
upontheauthoritythedutytoactjudiciallyandtocomplywithprinciplesofnaturaljustice.

TheSupremeCourthereconsideredthenatureofactionofauthoritiesundertheCustomsAct,
1962andheldthatstatutoryauthoritiesundertheActperformquasijudicialfunction.Therefore,
principlesofNaturalJusticewererequiredtobecompliedbeforeanyorderwaspassed.

Inasimilarmanner,actionofauthorityundertheFEMA,1973,functionsofRegistrarunder
theTradeandMerchandiseMarksAct,1958torectifyregister,functionofRegionalTransport
AuthorityunderMotorVehiclesact,1988,havebeenheldtobequasijudicial.

InVarshaPlasticPvt.Ltd.v.UOI[5]
(/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftn5),thecourtheld
thattheauthorityexercisingquasijudicialpowerisnotboundbyguidelinesissuedbyahigher
authorityandhastotakeanindependentview.

Onwhetheraquasijudicialauthoritycanreviewitsdecisiononceafinaldecisionistakenby
it,itwasheldinSBIv.S.NGoyal[6]
(/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftn6)thatitwasnot
openforaquasijudicialauthoritytodosounlessrelevantstatuteorstatutoryrulespermitsuch

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openforaquasijudicialauthoritytodosounlessrelevantstatuteorstatutoryrulespermitsuch
review.

AnEnquiryofficerisaQuasiJudicialAuthority.Therefore,adepartmentalproceedingisa
quasijudicialproceedingandtheenquiryofficerperformsaQuasiJudicialFunction.

TheSupremeCourtinIndianNationalCongress[7]
(/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftn7)laiddownthe
followingprinciplestocharacterisethefunctionoftheauthorityasquasijudicial:

Where(a)astatutoryauthorityempoweredunderastatutetodoanyact(b)whichwould
prejudiciallyaffectthesubject(c)althoughthereisnolisortwocontendingpartiesandthe
contestisbetweentheauthorityandthesubjectand(d)thestatutoryauthorityisrequiredto
actjudiciallyunderthestature,thedecisionofthesaidauthorityisquasijudicial.
AsacommentintheaboveformulationthattheCourtgave,theitneedtobesaidthatitisnot
necessaryforthestatutetosayexpresslythattheauthorityisrequiredtoactjudicially
thereunder.Suchadutyisimpliedinmostofthecasesbythecourts.
InConclusion,theabovepropositionstowhatisaquasijudicialauthoritypresenttwoimportant
incidentsofaquasijudicialfunction:
(1)Theconcernedauthorityhastoobserveprinciplesofnaturaljustice.
(2)Onceadecisionhasbeentakenbytheconcernedauthority,itcannotreviewitsowndecision
unlessithasstatutoryauthoritytodoso.

[1](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftnref1)1964AC
40:(1963)AllER66.
[2](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftnref2)Maneka
Gandhiv.UnionofIndia,AIR1978SC597.
[3](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftnref3)AIR1999
SC1786p.1791.

[4](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftnref4)Sukhlal

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[4](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftnref4)Sukhlal
Senv.CollectorSatna,1969MPLJ516.
[5](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftnref5)(2009)3
SCC365
[6](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftnref6)(2008)8
SCC92
[7](/CLASSIFICATION%20OF%20ADMINISTRATIVE%20FUNCTIONS.docx#_ftnref7)Indian
NationalCongress(I)v.InstituteofSocialWelfare,AIR2002SC2158.
PostedbyGraciousTimothyinDisputeResolution
Tagged:adjuducativepower,administrativelaw,classificationofadministrativefunctions,
legislative,quasijudicialfuntions,ridgev.baldwin

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