The meaning and purport of the expression ‘consultation’ came up for decision before the Supreme Court in many cases Including the second Judges’ case, i.e., Supreme Court Advocates’-on- Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and another Vs. Union of India, and the In Re: Appointment and Transfer of Judges, We need not delve into the gamut of consultation revolving round the appointment/transfer of High Court Judges which were being dealt with by their Lordships in the aforesaid cases.
Let us know the meaning of the word ‘consultation’ as given in different dictionaries. In Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the meaning of the word ‘consultation’ is as follows :
“Consultation : 1. The action of consulting or taking counsel together; deliberation, conference; 2, a conference in which the parties, e.g. lawyers or medical practitioners consult and deliberate. 3. The action of consulting………..,…”
In Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the meaning of consultation is given thus ;
“Consultation : 1. The act of consulting; conference. 2. a meeting for deliberation, discussion, or decision…………..”
Black’ Law Dictionary defines the expression as under ;
“Consultation ; Act of consulting or conferring; e.g. patient with doctor; client with lawyer. Deliberation of persons on some subject. A conference between the counsel engaged in a case, to discuss its questions or arrange the method of conducting it.”
Stroud’s Law Lexicon gives the following definition :
“Consultation ; (New Towns Act, 1946 (9 and 10) Geo 6, c. 68), Section 1 (1), ‘consultation with any local authorities’. ‘Consultation means that on the one side, the Minister must supply sufficient information to the local authority to enable them to tender advice, and on the other hand, a sufficient opportunity must be given to the local authority to tender advice” per Blucknil, L.J. in Rollo v. Minister of Town and Country Planning (1948) 1 All ER 13 (CA); see also Fletcher v. Minister of Town and Country Planning (1947) 2 All ER 496.”
In Fletcher v. Minister of Town Planning (1947) 2 All ER 496, Morris, J. of King’s Bench Division held as follows :
“The word ‘consultation’ is one that is in general use and that is well understood. No useful purpose would, in my view, be served by formulating words of definition. Nor would it be appropriate to seek to lay down the manner in which the consultation must take place. The Act does not prescribe any particular form of consultation. If a complaint is made of failure to consult, it will be for the Court to examine the facts and circumstances of the particular case and to decide whether consultation was, in fact, held. Consultation may often be a somewhat continuous process and the happenings at one meeting may form the back- ground of a later one”.
In Chandramouleshwar Prasad Vs. The Patna High Court and Others, a Five Judges Bench of the Supreme court while interpreting the word ‘consultation’ as occurring in Article 233 of the Constitution observed as follows (para 7) :
“…………..It was said that the High Court had given the Government its views in the matter; the Government was posted with all the facts and there was consultation sufficient for the purpose of Article 233. We cannot accept this. Consultation or deliberation is not complete or effective before the parties thereto make their respective points of view known to the other or others and discuss and examine the relative merits of their views. If one party makes a proposal to the other who has a counter-proposal in his mind which is not communicated to the propose the direction to give effect to the counter-proposal without anything more, cannot be said to have been issued after consultation.”