Judicial or quasijudicial powers cannot be delegated

Uttaranchal High Court: An order suspending the petitioner Chairman of Zila Panchayat (Haridwar), was quashed in a writ petition by a Single Judge Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia, J., holding it to be in violation of settled principles of law and natural justice.

The petitioner was suspended from her post vide the impugned order, pending inquiry into the alleged charges of financial irregularities. A show-cause notice was given to petitioner by the District Magistrate, asking her as to why she should not be suspended. The petitioner failed to show cause, and consequently she was suspended. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted two-fold contention wile praying that the impugned order may be quashed. Firstly, it was contended that proviso to Section 138(4)(b) of the Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act, 2016, provides that the order of suspension could be passed only after giving an opportunity to the other party of making his representation. The counsel submitted that no proper opportunity was given to the petitioner. Secondly, the power to suspend under Section 138 is reserved with the State Government and could not have been delegated to the District Magistrate, as was done in this case.

In order to resolve the controversy, the High Court perused the concerned sections and provisions of the above said Act. The Court was of the view that power to suspend under Section 138 is a quasi-judicial power. It is the settled position of law that judicial or quasi judicial powers cannot be delegated. In this case, the powers could not have been delegated by the State Government to the District Magistrate even for asking the petitioner to show cause; in fact, they were to be retained and exercised by the State Government. The Court also found that the petitioner was not given proper opportunity to make her representation as provided for in the proviso mentioned above. Therefore, the Court was of the view that the order under challenge could not be sustained in the eyes of law.

Hence, the petition was allowed and the order suspending the petitioner from the post of Chairman of Zila Panchayat, Haridwar, was set aside. [Savita Chaudhary v. State of Uttarakhand, 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 174, decided on 12-03-2018]

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