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CASE COMMENT: J. MOHAPATRA & CO. AND ANOTHER V.

STATE
OF ORISSA AND ANOTHER. {1984 AIR 1572, 1985 SCR (1) 322}

5.3 ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

Submitted to:

Prof (Dr.) Vijay Pratap Tiwari

Submitted by:

Name: Hitesh Gedam

ID No.: UG16-22

2018-19 (Semester V)

MAHARASHTRA NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, NAGPUR.


Table of Contents
CHAPTER- I.............................................................................................................................. 3

INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................... 3
RESEARCH OBJECTIVE ................................................................................................................. 4
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ....................................................................................................... 4
SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS ........................................................................................................... 5

CHAPTER-II ............................................................................................................................. 5

FACTS, JUDGEMENT AND CASE ANALYSIS ................................................................... 5

Critical Analysis: ....................................................................................................................... 9


CHAPTER- I

INTRODUCTION
“A fair trial in a fair tribunal is a basic requirement of due process.”1 The necessity of a fair
trial applies with equal if not greater force to an administrative adjudication than it does to a
judicial proceeding.2 Both statute and case law3 agree that due process is denied whenever bias
taints an administrative proceeding. No easy formula is available, however, to determine what
constitutes bias.

The law of administrative bias has been affected by recent developments that have broken new
ground and solidified old principles. These changes, however, have not been organized into a
complete and manageable framework.4 This structure is necessary to provide guidance for
determining the procedures that may be used to recuse the administrative adjudicator, the types
of conduct that constitute administrative bias, and the remedies available to a party affected by
bias. Only in this way can the administrative litigant's due process rights be fully protected.

The Principles of Natural Justice which are judge-made rules and still continue to be a classical
example of judicial activism were developed by the courts to prevent accidents in the exercise
of outsourced power of adjudication entrusted to the administrative authorities.5 Since in India
there is no statute laying down the minimum procedure which administrative agencies must
follow while exercising decision-making powers. There is therefore, a bewildering variety of
administrative procedure.6

This research work is based on a case where the landmark of House of Lords in Dimes v. Grand
Junction Canal7 was reiterated by the Supreme Court. Briefly speaking in J. Mohapatra & Co.
v. State of Orissa8 were some of the members of the committee set up for selecting books for
educational institutions were themselves authors whose book were to be considered for

1
In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 136 (1955).
2
NLRB v. Phelps, 136 F.2d 562 (5th Cir. 1943)
3
Administrative Procedure Act § 7(b), 5 U.S.C. § 56(b) (1970); PA. STAT. ANN. tit. 66, § 454.1 (Purdon Supp.
1977).
4
Cinderella Career & Finishing Schools v. FTC, 425 F.2d 583 (D.C. Cir. 1970);
5
I.P. Massey, Administrative Law, 9th Edition, p. 188, 2017.
6
Ibid.
7
(1852)
8
1984 AIR 1572, 1985 SCR (1) 322.
selection. It was held by the Supreme Court that the possibility of bias in favour of the author-
member that is material, but the possibility of such bias.9

Further the researcher has tried to analyse the grounds on which the High court of Orissa has
dismissed the petition of the appellants and in the course of judgement the apex court overturn
the judgment of the former court and restored the Principles of Natural Justice.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVE

The principle that decisions should be made free from bias or partiality is one of the
fundamental principles of natural justice. Originally expressed as the rule 'No man a judge in
his own cause' (Nemo in propia causa judex). Keeping purview the case and the principle laid
in the judgement the researcher has formulated the following objective:
 How this judgement had an influence of the previous judgements and how did this case
had a subsequent effect on other cases of similar situations.
 Drawing a critique of the High Court Judgement and also examining the contentions
raised by the parties in the dispute.
 Further, how the scope of administrative actions are a necessary evil in the functioning
of the government.
 Also examining various other cases that were discussed in the judegement.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

For this research work the researcher has gone through many law journals, article, books and
has also sought to internet for getting clear view on this topic. In order to approach the
prescribed objective of study, doctrinal model of research methodology is proposed. Intense
literature review on the subject will be applied and the issues under study would be examined
in a systematic manner. The doctrinal method adopted for writing the research paper is both
analytical and descriptive. The researcher has made an effort to critically examine the primary
source such as statutes, reports of law commission, etc. besides the secondary source like
books, articles, journals, and E-resource. E-resource have majorly contributed in in the research
for getting the most relevant and latest information on the web which has helped me to explore
the subject through various dimension.

9
Ibid.
SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
The researcher keeping in view the boundaries of this topic and the amount of cases that has
discussed the issues relating presence of bias (both personal and pecuniary) has tried to
inculcate all necessary the points pertaining to this topic. The history of bias of that was
discovered or rather discussed by the English courts and US courts have been thoroughly
examined. The cases of researcher has referred many researches of various jurists and then
have proposed this research work.

CHAPTER-II
Background

The

FACTS, JUDGEMENT AND CASE ANALYSIS

The facts of the case are as follows:

 The selection of these books-both text-books and books for general reading to be kept in
school and college libraries-is thus a matter of vital importance to the imparting of proper
education. This question has come up for our consideration in this Appeal by Special Leave
from the judgment and order of the High Court of Orissa dismissing, with no order as to
costs, the petition under Article 226 of the Constitution filed by the Appellants.

 This writ petition was heard along with a similar writ petition filed by the Orissa Publishers
and Book Sellers Association. The Purchase Committee considers the recommendations
made by the Assessment Sub-Committee and prepares a final list. Broadly speaking, three
committees were constituted, namely, an Assessment Sub- Committee, a Distribution Sub-
Committee and a Purchase Committee. Such selection must necessarily depend upon the
ability and fitness for the purpose of those who are charged with that responsibility.

 The Purchase Committee selected a supplementary list of 105 books out of the said 1,718
books which had been submitted for selection. The selection of books for the years 1980,
1981 and 1982 was made in this fashion. It is against this judgment and order of the Orissa
High Court that the Appellants have approached this Court by way of Appeal by Special
Leave. There does not exist any statutory rule or regulation in the State of Orissa
prescribing the method for selection of books for general reading to be kept in school and
college libraries. 45,00,000 for the purchase of books for the libraries of non-governmental
schools and colleges. The procedure followed is that each year the Member-Secretary of
the Purchase Committee calls upon publishers and authors by advertisements given in local
newspapers to submit books for consideration.

 The annual grant sanctioned by the State Government for this purpose for the years 1980,
1981 and 1982. Thereupon the Appellants who are publishers filed a petition under Article
226 of the Constitution against the State of orissa and the Director of Public Instruction,
Orissa, to quash the lists of books selected for the years 1980, 1981 and 1982 and the State
Government's said decision with respect to purchasing books out of the cyclone and flood
relief grant made by the Central Government inter alia on the ground of bias on the part of
some of the members of the Assessment Sub-Committee whose books were submitted for
selection. Suffice it to say that books out of those selected for the years 1980, 1981 and
1982 and the said supplementary list were selected at this meeting. Accordingly, the
Purchase Committee restricted the list of 466 books out of 1,718 books submitted for
selection, but as further funds became available the Government decided to select more
books and accordingly constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Director of
Public Instruction (Schools), Orissa.

 Further, the Assessment Sub-Committee then considers the books so submitted and
thereafter recommends a list of books which, according to it, are suitable for general
reading by school and college students. So far as the year 1982 was concerned, this annual
grant fell short of the requirement by almost 50 per cent. Though a separate Government
Resolution is issued each year, by and large the same pattern and procedure are maintained
and only a few committee and sub-committee members are changed and new members
appointed in their place. The State Government, however, periodically issues
administrative instructions in the form of Government Resolutions constituting committees
and laying down the procedure for selecting books.
Judgement: The after mainly discussed the parameter or rather the grounds on which the
High Court of Orissa based its decision and dismissed the petition of the appellant. Following
are the reasons wherein briefly the point are being discussed:
 Having submitted books for selection and after being either partially successful in getting
some books selected or having failed in getting books submitted by it selected, the First
Appellant could not impugn the selection of books on the ground of bias on the part of the
members of the assessment Sub-Committee.
 The High Court rested its decision on the following five grounds, namely: (1) For the year
1980-81, the First Appellants, a partnership firm, had not submitted any book pursuant to
the advertisement issued by the State Government.
 The Second Appellant had not submitted any book for selection pursuant to the
advertisement in this behalf issued by the State Government for any of the years in question
and, therefore, was not a "person aggrieved" by any of the selections made for those years
 Considering the exigency of the situation, the procedure followed by the State Government
in setting up a committee for the selection to be made for purchase of books from the grant
made by the Central Government was neither arbitrary nor against public interest inasmuch
as the procedure usually followed was laid down only by executive directions and was not
a statutory procedure and could, therefore, be changed by the State Government.
 The final decision approving the selection of books was that of the State Government
for it had the right to reject any book recommended by the Assessment Sub-Committee
and, therefore, the fact that some members of the Assessment Sub-Committee had also
submitted their books for approval did not matter for the role played by an individual
member of the Assessment Sub-Committee was insignificant and did not and could not
influence the decision either of that Sub- Committee or of the State Government.
 The presence of Government officials as members of the Purchase Committee and the
two Sub-Committees was required by the Government Resolution constituting the
Committees and Sub-Committees and the fact that some of these Governmental
officials had also submitted books for selection could not invalidate the selection made
on the ground of bias for the doctrine of necessity applied in their case.
 No relief could be granted in respect of the books selected for the years 1980, 1981 and
1982 inasmuch as the books selected for those years had already been purchased.
Majority opinion purported that, it was decided that at the said meeting that the publishers
would prepare a list of books to be supplied to different schools in different lots within the
amount sanctioned for each category of schools and that the total number of books for each
title would be almost equal and that the publishers would submit the list of such books for
approval at the level of the directorate.
It appears to us paradoxical that when a person has submitted books for selection, it is to be
said that he has waived the objection which he had to the constitution of the Sub- Committee
and that when a person had not submitted any books for selection it is to be said that he is not
a ‘person aggrieved’. We are unable to follow the reasoning behind the first ground upon which
the High Court rested its decision.
In the case of A.K. Kraipak and others v. Union of India and Others,(1) a list of State
Forest Officers prepared by the Selection Board for appointment to posts in the senior and
junior scales in the Indian Forest Service was set aside by this Court on the ground that the
officiating Chief Conservator of forests, whose name was placed at the top of the list, was a
member of the Selection Board even though he was not present at the time his name was
considered for selection and even though the Selection Board was a recommendatory body and
the list prepared by it was to be considered first by the Home Ministry and then by the Union
Public Service Commission by whom the final recommendations were to be made. The Court
held that the rule that no man should be a judge in his own cause was a principle of natural
justice and applied equally to the exercise of quasi-judicial as well as administrative powers.

Contentions of the Appelllant:

 The petitioners first contended that the the selection of these books-both text-books
and books for general reading to be kept in school and college libraries-is thus a
matter of vital importance to the imparting of proper education. Such selection must
necessarily depend upon the ability and fitness for the purpose of those who are
charged with that responsibility. This question came up for our from the judgment
and order of the High Court of Orissa dismissing.
 According to the Appellants, some publishers were present at that meeting and took
part in the deliberations. According to the counter affidavit filed by the President of
the Orissa Publishers and Book-Sellers Association, a representative of that
Association was called in at the end of that meeting to ascertain whether the said
Association was prepared to shoulder the responsibility for arranging the timely
supply of books and the said representative did not take part in the proceedings of
the said meeting nor was he present at the deliberations thereof. A copy of the
minutes of the said meeting which has been annexed to the Petition for Special
Leave to Appeal filed by the Appellants bears out this fact.
 Further they also contended that, it was however, unnecessary to go further into this
controversy for the real question in this Appeal is of far greater importance. That is
the question of bias on the part of some of the members of the Assessment Sub-
Committee. This question has been answered against the Appellants and forms the
subject-matter of the third and fourth grounds on which the High Court rested its
decision. Nemo judex in causa sua, that is, no man shall be a judge in his own cause,
is a principle firmly established in law. Justice should not only be done but should
manifestly be seen to be done.

Contentions raised by the respondents:

The respondents in this case mainly took the defence of necessity and the benefit of
doubt the succumbed the appellant contention for real likelihood of the bias that was to
take place should go to the state authorities.

Critical Analysis:

In the beginning of the judgement Madon J. stated that : The destiny of a nation rests with
its youth. As we shape its mind and mould its character, so do we fashion our country's
progress, prestige and prosperity. Wordsworth truly said, "The Child is father of the Man”,
also Alexander Pope was equally right in saying in the first of his ‘Moral Essays’-‘Epistle
I to Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobham’: “Tis Education forms the common mind, Just as
the Twig is bent, the Tree's inclined.”

The High Court’s decision that was discussed by the judges had been criticized by many
of the jurists as being a judgement having no sense or rather based on an illogical and no
rational grounds had been considered by the division bench for a reasoned decision. Further
the court also leaned towards the quasi-judicial function that were being administered by
the state authorities on the committees and these committees in-turn tried to create a rosy
picture for covering the mismanagement and the fraud they were to commit by overlooking
the principle of natural justice.