CHHOTALAL RAMDAS PATEL Vs. STATE OF BOMBAY
LAWS(BOM)-1954-9-4
HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY
Decided on September 30,1954

CHHOTALAL RAMDAS PATEL Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF BOMBAY Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

ROBERTS V. HOPWOOD [REFERRED TO]
P.V. RAO V. K.S. ADVANI [REFERRED TO]
ALARAKHIA SOMIJEE VS. COLLECTOR OF NASIK [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

- (1.)This is a petition for an appropriate Writ, direction or order restraining the State of Bom-bay from enforcing a requisition order dated 5-3-1954. The order is made under Section 6 (4) (a), Bombay Land Requisition Act and contains a declaration that the premises specified in the order had become vacant in November 1952.
(2.)The main ground on which the petition has been argued before me on behalf of the petitioner is that the inquiry which was held prior to the making of the declaration that the premises were vacant was of such a character as to amount to no inquiry it all, and the argument is that since the holding of an inquiry is a condition precedent to the making of such a declaration, the declaration made without such at inquiry is void. It has also been urged that the order of requisition was not served on the petitioner and therefore cannot bind him until it is properly served on him.
(3.)Now, the provision for holding an inquiry is to be found in the proviso to Section 6 (4) which is in these words: "Provided that where an order is to be made under Clause (a) requisitioning the premises in respect of which no intimation has been given by the landlord, the State Government shall make such inquiry as it deems fit and make a declaration....." It is clear, therefore, that the Stale Government has to make an inquiry, and if in fact no inquiry was held, the declaration would be vitiated by the absence of an inquiry; but if an inquiry has in fact been held, then a Division Bench of this Court has held in -- 'Alarakhia v. Collector of Nasik', that the words "inquiry shall be such. as it deems Jit" clearly negative the suggestion that the inquiry is of a judicial nature. The learned Chief Justice who delivered the judgment ot the bench iurther observes (p. 132):
".....The nature, the extent, the scope of the inquiry is to be determined by Government. How can it then be said that there is a statutory requirement that Government should observe the rules of natural justice in holding such an inquiry? Mr. Tara-porewala points out, and rightly points out, the grave consequences of taking this view ot Section 5 (2). He says that a man might be deprived ol his property without being heard and on an ex parte decision. We have had occasion in the past to point out what wide powers have been conferred by Government upon executive officers and we have also drawn the attention of Government to the necessity of supplying some judicial corrective to important and far-reaching decisions given by executive officers. That is a matter of policy with which we are not concerned."
It is clear, therefore, that the Government arc the sole judges as to the nature, extent and scope of the enquiry. Mr. Palkhiwala tor the petitioner accepts tin's position but he urges that the inquiry that is held must under all circumstances be a reasonable inquiry. Mr. Palkhiwala relies on certain observations of Lord Wren bury in the case of -- 'Roberts v. Hopwood', 1925 AC 578 (B). In that case their Lordships were concerned with the construction of a section of the Metropolis Management Act, 1855, under which the borough council were entitled to pay to their servants "such wages as the council may think fit." It was held hy the House of Lords that this discretion conferred upon the council must be exercised reasonably and that the fixing of an arbitrary sum as payable to a servant would not be a proper exercise of that discretion. In this context Lord Wrenbary observes as follows (p. 613):
".....A person in whom is vested a discretion must exercise his discretion upon reasonable grounds. A discretion doc.s not empower a man to do what he likes merely because he is minded to do so--he must in the exercise of his discretion do not what he likes but what he ought. In other words, he must, by use of hie reason, ascertain and lollow the course, which reason directs. He must act reasonably."
There is no doubt, therefore, that despite the use of the words "such inquiry as it deems fit" the Government in making the inquiry has to exercise its discretion reasonably. Therefore, while it is true on the one hand to say that the principles of natural justice shall not necessarily apply, on the other hand. Government cannot in the exercise of that discretion pretend to hold an inquiry whilst in fact holding none, and where the facts of the case justify an inference or a finding that no inquiry was in fact held although there was a pretence of holding an inquiry, the declaration made as a result of such an inquiry may well he vitiated. Having regard to this position in law I will now proceed to consider the facts of this case on which the allegation is based that the inquiry held is no inquiry at all.


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