Quasi-judicial act-Definition

Supreme Court had occasion to consider the nature of the two kinds of acts, namely, judicial which includes quasi-judicial and administrative, a number of times. In Province of Bombay vs. Khusaldas S. Advani, (1950) SCR 621, it adopted the celebrated definition of a quasi-judicial body given by Atkin L. J. in R. V. Electricity Commissioners, 1924-1 KB 171, which is as follows:

“Whenever any body of persons having legal authority to determine questions affecting rights of subjects, and having the duty to act judicially act in excess of their legal authority they are subject to the controlling jurisdiction of the King’s Bench Division exercised in these writs.”

This definition insists on three requisites each of which must be fulfilled in order that that the act of the body may be a quasi-judicial act, namely, that the body of persons (i) must have legal authority, (ii) to determine questions affecting the rights of subjects, and (iii) must have the duty to act judicially. After analysing the various cases, Das J. (As he then was) laid down the following principles as deducible therefrom in Khusaldas S. Advani’s case (supra):

“(i) That, if a statute empowers an authority, not being a Court in the ordinary sense, to decide disputes arising out of a claim made by any party under the statute which claim is opposed by another party and to determine the respective rights of the contesting parties who are opposed to each other, there is a lis and prima face and in the absence of anything in the statute to the contrary it is the duty of the authority to act judicially and the decision of the authority is a quasi-judicial act; and (ii) that if a statutory authority has power to do any act which will prejudicially affect the subject, then although there are not 2 parties apart from the authority and the contest is between the authority proposing to do the act and the subject opposing it, the final determination of the authority will yet be a quasi-judicial act provided the authority is required by the statute to act judicially.”

Source: Shivji Nathubhai Versus Union of India and others AIR 1960 SC 606 : (1960) 2 SCR 775