Judicial Dictionary

Quasi-judicial act

What constitutes ‘ ‘a quasi-judicial act” was discussed in the Province of Bombay vs. Khushaldas S. Advani, (1950) SCR 621. The principles have been summarised by Das, J. (as he was then) in these words:-

“The principles, as I apprehend them are:

(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 one 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 facie 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 two 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.

In other words, while the presence of two parties besides the deciding authority will prima facie and in the absence of any other factor impose upon the authority the duty to act judicially, the absence of two such parties is not decisive in taking the act of the authority out of the category of quasi-judicial act if the authority is nevertheless required by the statute to act judicially.”

8. These principles have been acted upon by this Court in later cases:see Nagendra Nath vs. Commissioner of Hills Division, (1958) SCR 1240; Radheshyam Khare vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1959) SCR 1440; G. Nageswara Rao vs. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, (1959) 1 Suppl. SCR 319 and Shivji Nathubhai vs. Union of India, (1960) 2 SCR 775. Now it may be mentioned that the statute is not likely to provide in so many words that the authority passing the order is required to act judicially; that can only be inferred from the express provisions of the statute in the first instance in each case and no one circumstance alone will be determinative of the question whether the authority set up by the statute has the duty to act judicially or not. The inference whether the authority acting under a statute where it is silent has the duty to act judicially will depend on the express provisions of the statute read along with the nature of the rights affected, the manner of the disposal provided, the objective criterion if any to be adopted, the effect of the decision on the person affected and other indicia afforded by the statute. A duty to act judicially may arise in widely different circumstances which it will be impossible and indeed inadvisable to attempt to define exhaustively: (vide observations of Parker, J., in R. vs. Manchester Legal Aid Committee, 1952-2 Q B 413.

REF- Board of High School and Intermediate Education, U. P. Allahabad Versus Ghanshyam Das Gupta and Others-AIR 1962 SC 1110 : (1962) 3 Suppl. SCR 36

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