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C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [1]


C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990













This order will dispose of four writ petitions bearing C.W.P.

Nos. 69 , 1080 and 1724 of 1990 and 8499 of 1993. For the sake of convenience, facts are being taken from C.W.P. No. 69 of 1990.

The petitioner challenged an order dated 27.6.1989, copy Annexure P-10, passed by the Commissioner of Income-tax, Patiala, whereby revision petitions filed by the petitioner under Section 264 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (for short `the Act') for the assessment years 1978- 79, 1979-80, 1980-81 was dismissed by a common order.

The claim of the petitioner was that the interest entitlement of the petitioner under Section 244(IA)/214(1A) of the Act has not been worked out properly by the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner of Income- tax (Asstt.), Patiala. The petition filed by the assessee against the order of Inspecting Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, Patiala was dismissed by the Commissioner of Income-tax, by passing a sketchy and non- speaking order. Though, the assessee at the time of hearing, while referring to a series of judgments, which according to him support its case, argued that the claim of the petitioner needs to be accepted in toto and the petitioner is entitled to interest on delayed refund of interest as well. The C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [2]

judgments being National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. v. Union of India and others (Delhi) [1981] 130 ITR 928, CIT v. Leader Engineering Works (P&H) [1989]178 ITR 529, Modi Industries Ltd. v. C.I.T. (S.C.) [1995] 216 ITR 759, C.I.T. v.

Saswad Mali Sugar Factory Ltd. (Bom.) [2001] 249 ITR 756 and Sandvik Asia Ltd. v. CIT (SC) [2006] 280 ITR 643 and C.I.T. v. Orissa Cement Ltd. [2001] Taxman 742 (Delhi).

On a perusal of impugned order, even the counsel for the Revenue could not dispute that the order passed by the CIT cannot be termed to be a speaking order, which could stand in judicial scrutiny. As to whether in exercise of quasi judicial powers, the authorities are required to pass orders by giving reasons in support thereof is well settled by a series of judgments by Hon'ble the Supreme Court of India.

In Harinagar Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala and others, AIR 1961 SC 1669, while dealing with an order passed by the Central Government in exercise of its appellate powers under Section 111(3) of the Companies Act, 1956, in the matter of refusal of a company to register the transfer of shares, Hon'ble the Supreme Court observed:

"If the Central Government acts as a Tribunal exercising quasi judicial powers and the exercise of that power is subject to the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, we fail to see how the power of this Court can be effectively exercised if reasons are not given by the Central Government in support of its order."

Another Constitution Bench of Hon'ble the Supreme Court in Bhagat Raja v. Union of India, AIR 1967 SC 1606 considered the question whether while exercising revisional power under Section 30 of the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act, 1957 read with Rules 54 and 55 of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, the Central Government was required to give reasons in support of its decision and held:

"The decisions of tribunals in India are subject C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [3]

to the supervisory powers of the High Courts under Art. 227 of the Constitution and of appellate powers of this Court under Art. 136. It goes without saying that both the High Court and this Court are placed under a great

disadvantage if no reasons are given and the revision is dismissed curtly by the use of the single word "rejected", or "dismissed". In such a case, this Court can probably only exercise its appellate jurisdiction satisfactorily by examining the entire records of the case and after giving a hearing come to its conclusion on the merits of the appeal. This will certainly be a very unsatisfactory method of dealing with the appeal."

In Travancore Rayon Ltd. v. Union of India, AIR 1971 SC 862, Hon'ble the Supreme Court observed: "The Court insists upon disclosure of reasons in support of the order on two grounds: one, that the party aggrieved in a proceedings before the High Court or this Court has the

opportunity to demonstrate that the reasons which persuaded the authority to reject his case were erroneous; the other, that the obligation to record reasons operates as a deterrent against possible arbitrary action by the executive authority invested with the

judicial power."

In Mahabir Prasad Santosh Kumar v. State of U.P., AIR 1970 SC 1302, Hon'ble the Supreme Court while quashing the cancellation of the petitioner's licence by the District Magistrate, observed:

C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [4]

"Recording of reasons in support of a decision on a disputed claim by a quasi judicial authority ensures that the decision is reached according to law and is not the result of

caprice, whim or fancy or reached on grounds of policy or expediency. A party to the dispute is ordinarily entitled to know the grounds on which the authority has rejected his claim. If the order is subject to appeal, the necessity to record reasons is greater, for without recorded reasons the appellate authority has no material on which it may determine whether the facts were properly ascertained, the relevant law was correctly applied and the decision was just."

In Woolcombers of India Ltd. v. Woolcombers Workers Union, AIR 1973 SC 2758, Hon'ble the Supreme Court quashed the award passed by the Industrial Tribunal on the ground that it was not supported by reasons and observed:

"The giving of reasons in support of their conclusions by judicial and quasi-judicial authorities when exercising initial jurisdiction is essential for various reasons. First, it is calculated to prevent unconscious, unfairness or

arbitrariness in reaching the conclusions. The very search for reasons will put the authority on the alert and minimise the chances of

unconscious infiltration of personal bias or unfairness in the conclusion. The authority will adduce reasons which will be regarded as fair and legitimate by a reasonable man and will discard irrelevant or extraneous considerations.

Second, it is a well-known principle that justice should not only be done but should also appear to be done. Unreasoned conclusions may be just but they may not appear to be just to those C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [5]

who read them. Reasoned conclusions, on the other hand, will have also the appearance of justice. Third, it should be remembered that an appeal generally lies from the decision of judicial and quasi-judicial authorities to this Court by special leave granted under Article

136. A judgment which does not disclose the reasons will be of little assistance to the Court." The same view was reiterated in M/s Ajantha Industries and others v. Central Board of Direct Taxes, New Delhi and others, AIR 1976 SC 437 and The Siemens Engineering and Manufacturing Co. of India Ltd. v. The Union of India and another, AIR 1976 SC 1785.

In S.N.Mukherjee V. Union of India, AIR 1990 SC 1984, a Constitution Bench reviewed various judicial precedents on the subject and observed:

"The decisions of this Court referred to above indicate that with regard to the requirement to record reasons the approach of this Court is more in line with that of the American Courts.

An important consideration which has weighed with the Court for holding that an

administrative authority exercising quasi- judicial functions must record the reasons for its decision, is that such a decision is subject to the appellate jurisdiction of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution as well as the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 227 of the

Constitution and that the reasons, if recorded, would enable this Court and the High Court to effectively exercise the appellate or

supervisory power. But this is not the sole consideration. The other considerations which have also weighed with the Court in taking this C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [6]

view are that the requirement of recording reasons would (i) guarantee consideration by the authority; (ii) introduce clarity in the decisions; and (iii) minimise chances of arbitrariness in decision-making. In this regard a distinction has been drawn between ordinary Courts of law and tribunals and authorities exercising judicial functions on the ground that a Judge is trained to look at things objectively uninfluenced by

considerations of policy or expediency whereas an executive officer generally looks at things from the stand point of policy and expediency.

Reasons, when recorded by an administrative authority in an order passed by it while exercising quasi-judicial functions, would no doubt facilitate the exercise of its

jurisdiction by the appellate or supervisory authority. But the other considerations, referred to above, which have also weighed with this Court in holding that an administrative authority must record reasons for its decisions are of no less significance. These

considerations show that the recording of reasons by an administrative authority serves a salutary purpose, namely, it excludes chances of arbitrariness and ensures a degree of fairness in the process of decisions-making.

The said purpose would apply equally to all decisions and its application cannot be

confined to decisions which are subject to appeal, revision or judicial review. In our opinion, therefore, the requirement that reasons be recorded should govern the decisions of an administrative authority exercising quasi-judicial functions irrespective of the fact whether the decision is subject to appeal, C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [7]

revision or judicial review. It may, however, be added that it is not required that the reasons should be as elaborate as in the decision of a Court of law. The extent and nature of the reasons would depend on

particular facts and circumstances. What is necessary is that the reasons are clear and explicit so as to indicate that the authority has given due consideration to the points in controversy. The need for recording of reasons is greater in a case where the order is passed at the original stage. The appellate or

revisional authority, if it affirms such an order, need not give separate reasons if the appellate or revisional authority agrees with the reasons contained in the order under challenge."

In Testeels Ltd. v. N.M.Desai Conciliation Officer and another, AIR 1970 Gujarat 1, a Full Bench of Gujarat High Court speaking through P.N.Bhagwati, J. (as his Lordship then was) made a lucid enunciation of law on the subject in the following words:- "The necessity of giving reasons flows as a necessary corollary from the rule of law which constitutes one of the basic principles of the Indian Constitutional set up. The

administrative authorities having a duty to act judicially cannot therefore decide on

considerations of policy or expediency. They must decide the matter solely on the facts of the particular case, solely on the material before them and apart from any extraneous considerations by applying pre-existing legal norms to factual situations. Now the necessity of giving reasons is an important safeguard to ensure observance of the duty to act

C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [8]

judicially. It introduces clarity, checks the introduction of extraneous or irrelevant considerations and excludes or, at any rate, minimises arbitrariness in the decision-making process.

Another reason which compels making of such an order is based on the power of judicial review which is possessed by the High Court under Art.32 of the Constitution. These Courts have the power under the said provisions to quash by certiorari a quasi-judicial order made by an Administrative Officer and this power of review can be effectively exercised only if the order is a speaking order. In the absence of any reasons in support of the order, the said courts cannot examine the correctness of the order under review. The High Court and the Supreme Court would be powerless to interfere so as to keep the administrative officer within the limits of the law. The result would be that the power of judicial review would be stultified and no redress being available to the citizen, there would be insidious

encouragement to arbitrariness and caprice. If this requirement is insisted upon, then they will be subject to judicial scrutiny and correction."

Keeping in view the above settled principles of law and applying the same in the facts and circumstances of the present case, we are of the view that the order passed by the CIT does not satisfy the pre- requisites of a speaking order, as the same does not contain reasons to support the order.

In view of our above discussions, the writ petitions are allowed, the impugned order dated 27.6.1989, copy Annexure P-10 is quashed and the matter is remitted back to the CIT, Patiala for re-decision in terms of C.W.P. NO. 69 OF 1990 [9]

law laid down on the subject, after hearing the petitioner.

The petitioner through his counsel is directed to appear before the CIT on 24.7.2006 at 11.00 A.M.



May 29, 2006 (ADARSH KUMAR GOEL)



Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites


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