Decided on August 14,1967



- (1.) THESE writ petitions challenge the validity of a notification fixing of minimum wages for employment in the cashew industry in this State. A copy of the notification is Ext. P-4 in O. P. No. 1678 of 1967. Arguments were advanced in the said O. P. and it was agreed at the hearing that the remaining writ petitions must share the same fate.
(2.) THE notification in question has been impugned on several grounds: that the government's power of issuing a notification under the Act is quasi-judicial in nature and no reasons had been given in the instant case in the impugned notification for disregarding the advice of the Advisory Board and fixing the minimi wages at a level which was bound to have far-reaching effects and consequences; that the Constitution of the Advisorv Board was itself illegal that the capacity of the employer and, in particular, of the industry to pay the minimum wages, had been ignored: and that the guarantee of minimum work to the workers assured by the impugned notification was beyond the purview of the provisions of the minimum Wages Act.
(3.) READING Preamble of the Minimum, Wages Act along with Section 3 thereof which empowers the Government to fix the minimum wages in the manner prescribed it appears to me that the fixation of minimum wages by the government is a matter of policy, rather than the discharge of any quasi-judicial function. It is nonetheless so, in spite of the procedure prescribed in Section 5 for consultation with an Advisory Board, or for an enquiry by a Committee, and for consideration of proposals and objections. The petitioner's counsel took the extreme stand that most, if not all, the decisions on the distinction between quasi-judicial and administrative functions would stand in need of review in so far as they proceeded on the basis of the now discarded "gloss" put by the Chief Justice hewart in Rex v. Legislative Committee of the Church Assembly; Ex parte, Haynes smith, (1928) 1 KB 411 (414), and by the Privy Council in Nakuda Ali's case. 1951 ac 66 = 66 TLR 214, that the duty to act judicially must be provided for before the function can be regarded as quasi-judicial. The decision of the House of Lords in ridge v. Baldwin. 1964 AC 40 and the decision oi our Supreme Court in the associated Cement Co,. Ltd. v. P. N. Sarma, AIR 1965 SC 1595 were cited to show that the necessity to follow judicial procedure and observe the principles of natural justice flows from the nature of the power and need not necessarily depend on any provision to act judicially. The recent publication of the "constitutional law of india", by R. M. Seervai (page 624) was relied on. An examination of this aspect of the question appears purely academic. Even posing the basic Question as to whether the nature of the function in the instant case is quasi-judicial, I am satisfied that it is not. The contention to the contrary is overruled. The statutory provisions in the Express Newspapers' case, AIR 1958 SC 578, were different; and even there, no final opinion was expressed whether the function of the Wage board was quasi-judicial.;

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