PANDYAN INSURANCE CO LTD Vs. K J KHAMBATTA
LAWS(BOM)-1954-10-7
HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY
Decided on October 08,1954

PANDYAN INSURANCE CO. LTD. Appellant
VERSUS
K.J.KHAMBATTA Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

REX V. ELECTRICITY COMMRS PARTE [REFERRED TO]
SHELL CO. OF AUSTRALIA V. FEDERAL COMMR. OF TAXATION [REFERRED TO]
R. V. MANCHESTER LEGAL AID COMMITTEE: EX PARTE R.A. BRAND & CO. LTD. [REFERRED TO]
COOPER V. WILSON [REFERRED TO]
ANNAMALAI MUDALIAR [REFERRED TO]
O'CONNOR V. WALDRON [REFERRED TO]
BHARAT BANK LIMITED DELHI VS. EMPLOYEES OF BHARAT BANK LTD [REFERRED TO]
PROVINCE OF BOMBAY VS. KHUSHALDAS S ADVANI SINCE DECEASED AND AFTER HIM HIS LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE A GOVINDRAM KHUSHALDAS AND B RAMCHAND KHUSHALDAS [REFERRED TO]
HARIPADA DUTTA VS. ANANTA MANDAL [REFERRED TO]



Cited Judgements :-

GLAXO LABORATORIES INDIA PRIVATE LTD VS. A V VENKATESWARAN [LAWS(BOM)-1958-8-7] [REFERRED TO]
NARAIN SINGH HIRA SINGH VS. STATE [LAWS(P&H)-1958-3-2] [REFERRED TO]
PARTAP SINGH KAIRON VS. GURMEJ SINGH [LAWS(P&H)-1958-3-15] [REFERRED TO]
LEENA MATHEW AND ORS. VS. THE KERALA SHIPPING CORPORATION LTD. [LAWS(KER)-1987-12-41] [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

Chagla, C.J. - (1.)This is an application by the Pandyan Insurance. Company for a writ under Article 227 to correct a decision given by the Chief Presidency Magistrate who is investigating into the loss of S.S. Janaki which took place on 13-3-1954. The order complained of is refusing the petitioners and 34 other insurance companies to be made parties to these proceedings. The facts briefly are that on 13-3-1954, S.S. Janaki sailed outward from Bombay 'laden with cargo, and the ship had hardly left the harbour when she took successive/lists first to starboard and then to port and suddenly capsized a few miles of Kanheri Island, becoming a total loss. The casualty consisted of seven lives including that of the master and the mate and one passenger and with the loss of all the cargo which was on board. The cargo was insured with the petitioner Insurance Company and also the other insurance companies, a list of which is annexed to the petition. The cargo was insured for a sum exceeding Rs. 12,38,000. Claims were submitted by the shippers and the consignees of this cargo and these claims have been paid by the insurance companies. Now, the Government has ordered under the provisions of the relevant statute, to which we shall presently refer, an investigation into the loss of this ship. The petitioners say that they offer to the trading community the benefits of marine insurance on the basic presumption that due diligence is employed by ship owners to make their ships seaworthy and safe for the reception and carriage of cargo before sending them to sea, and their contention is that the fullest investigation should be held to decide what were the causes which led to the total loss of this ship and they claim this full investigation in order that the confidence of insurers and of the public in Indian shipping should not be shaken. The petitioners say that the insurance companies have made detailed investigation and inquiry into the cause and circumstance attending the loss of the ship, that they have gathered vital information and evidence to establish that the ship was overloaded at the time of her departure from Bombay, and further that the cargo on the ship was so faultily stowed as to deprive the ship of stability and that she was in an unseaworthy condition within the meaning of the Indian Merchant Shipping Act, The learned Chief Presidency Magistrate, along with three assessors who are respondents Nos. 2, 3 and 4, commenced holding the formal investigation on the loss of the S.S. Janaki on 28-9-1954. An application was made by the petitioners (to be made a party to these proceedings so that they would be in a position to lead evidence and also to cross-examine the witnesses. On 28-9-1954, the learned Chief Presidency Magistrate made the order complained of by which he rejected the application of the insurance companies, and it is against this order that this petition is' presented.
(2.)Now/ Mr. Vimadalal who appears for the Malabar Steamship Company, to which company this snip belonged, takes a preliminary objection to our entertaining this petition, and the preliminary objection is that the investigation that is being held by the learned Chief Presidency Magistrate is not a judicial investigation, that the tribunal set up under the Act is a purely administrative tribunal, and that under Article 227 our jurisdiction does not extend to correct decisions given by administrative tribunals. Turning first to the provisions of the Constitution, Article 227 confers very wide powers upon the High Court of supervision and superintendence, and Clause (1) of that article provides: "Every High Court shall have superintendence over all Courts and tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises, jurisdiction". It will be immediately noticed that the powers of superintendence of the High Court are not confined to Courts, they also extend to tribunals, and apart from any authority it seems to us clear that the reason why power of superintendence was given to the High Court over tribunals was that' wherever there is a body which exercises judicial functions or which is obliged by law to act judicially, the High Court should be in a position to control the exercise of judicial power by that tribunal. The High Court is not concerned or interested with administrative tribunals. They are governed by questions of policy. They are not bound to decide questions only on evidence; they can travel outside the record; they can take into consideration extraneous factors. But when you have a tribunal which is obliged by law to act judicially, then the High Court can control its judicial action, and if it errs in discharging its judicial function, the High Court can set the tribunal right and bring it back to the proper judicial channel. It is with this background that one must look at Article 227. If the intention of the Constitution makers was that the High Court should only exercise jurisdiction over Courts strictly so called, the expression "Court" had already-been so widely construed by various High Courts in India that it was unnecessary for the Constitution makers to confer jurisdiction upon the High Court over tribunals. But the intention of the Constitution makers was clear that the jurisdiction of the-High Court should be very wide, and wherever the High Court found a tribunal exercising judicial functions, the High Court could control that tribunal if in exercising those judicial functions it erred or went wrong.
(3.)Now, Mr. Vimadalal says that before n tribunal can be considered to be judicial or quasi-judicial, it must be set up under legal authority and it must apply a judicial process to decide disputes between two or more contending parties and its decision' or determination must he as to their rights and its decision must be executable and enforceable. Mr. Vimadalal has particularly emphasised what he thinks to be the two important attributes of not only a judicial hut a quasi-judicial tribunal. According to him, unless the tribunal can (SIC) the rights of parties and unless the deices"(SIC) tribunal has a binding effect in the (SIC) decision is enforceable or ) executable (SIC) cannot be a quasi-judicial tribunal. As we shall presently point out, those are not the essential attributes of a quasi-judicial tribunal. In my opinion, and the authorities amply bear out this statement of the law, the real, essential and vital attribute of a quasi-judicial tribunal is that there should be a duty cast upon it to ' act judicially. It the law which sets it up compels it to act judicially, then it immediately brings itself within the powers of superintendence of the High Court.


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