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How to Consult

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The word ‘consult’ implies a conference of two or more persons or impact of two or more minds in respect of a topic/subject. A person consults another to be elucidated on the subject matter of the consultation. Consultation is a process which requires meeting of minds between the parties involved in the process of consultation on the material facts and points involved to evolve a correct or atleast satisfactory solutions. There should be meeting of minds between the proposer and the persons to be consulted on the subject of consultation. A consultation may be between an uninformed person and an expert or between two experts. In either case, the final decision is with the consultor, but he will not be generally ignoring the advice except for good reasons.

The consultation is not complete or effective before the parties thereto making their respective points of view known to the other or others and discuss and examine the relative merits of their views. In order for two minds to be able to confer and produce a mutual impact, it is essential that each must have for its consideration fully and identical facts, which can at once constitute both the source and foundation of the final decision.

Such a consultation may take place at a conference table or through correspondence. The form is not material but the substance is important. If there are more than one person to be consulted, all the persons to be consulted should know the subject with reference to which they are consulted. Each one should know the views of the other on the subject. There should be meeting of minds between the parties involved in the process of consultation on the material facts and points involved. The consultor cannot keep one consultee in dark about the views of the other consultee.

When consultation is prescribed with more than one person, there cannot be bilateral consultations or parallel consultations, behind the back of others, who are to be consulted in the process. Consultation is not complete or effective before the parties thereto make their respective points of view known to the other and discuss and examine the relative merit of their views. They may discuss, but may disagree. They may confer but may not concur. However, consultation is different from consentaneity.

Further, while referring to Aruna Roy v. Union of India (2002) 7 SCC 368 it was observed that:

… the words and expressions used in the Constitution, …. have no fixed meaning and must receive interpretation based on the experience of the people in the course of working of the Constitution. The same thing cannot be said in relation to interpreting the words and expressions in a statute.

Supreme Court categorically rejected the view that ‘consultation’ postulated in Article 217 of the Constitution in relation to the appointment of a High Court judge be read in the same way as ‘consultation’ as contemplated u/s 16 of the Consumer Protection Act.

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