Administrative Tribunals – whether covered under Art. 227?

In Nagendra Nath Bora vs. Commissioner of Hills Division and Appeals, AIR 1958 SC 398, that under Article 226, the power of interference may extend to quashing an impugned order on the ground of a mistake apparent on the face of the record. But under Article 227 of the Constitution, the power of interference is limited to seeing that the Tribunal functions within the limits of its authority. In Gujarat vs. Vakhatsinghji Vajesinghji Vaghela, AIR 1968 SC 1481, the Supreme Court held, that Article 227 of the Constitution of India gives the High Court the power of superintendence over all Courts and Tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction. It is held that this jurisdiction cannot be limited or fettered by any act of the State Legislature. It is held that the supervisory jurisdiction extends to keeping the subordinate Tribunals within the limits of the authority and to seeking that they obey the law. Same view was expressed in Bathutmal Raichand Oswal vs. Laxmibai R. Tarta, (1975) 1 SCC 858, and in State through Special Cell, New Delhi vs. Navjot Sandhu, (2003) 6 SCC 641, With regard to the power of the High Court in withdrawing a case from the Tribunal for deciding it by itself by exercising its power under Article 227, the Supreme Court in Thakur Jugal Kishore Sinha Vs. Sitamarhi Central Coop. Bank Ltd., (1967) 3 SCR 163, held that Article 227 is of wider ambit; it does not limit the jurisdiction of the High Court to the hierarchy of Courts functioning directly under it under the Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code but it gives the High Court power to correct errors of various kinds of all Courts and Tribunals in appropriate cases. Needless to add that errors as to the interpretation of the Constitution is not out of the purview of Article 227 although the High Court could not, under the powers conferred by this Article, withdraw a case to itself from a Tribunal and dispose of the same, or determine merely the question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution arising before the Tribunal. Aforesaid decisions have been relied on by the Supreme Court In State of West Bengal & Ors v. Samar Kumar Sarkar decided today, on 14/07/2009 where it has been held that: “Under Article 227, the High Court has been given power of superintendence both in judicial as well as administrative matters over all Courts and Tribunals throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction. It is in order to indicate the plentitude of the power conferred upon the High Court with respect to Courts and the Tribunals of every kind that the Constitution conferred the power of superintendence on the High Court. The power of superintendence conferred upon the High Court is not as extensive as the power conferred upon it by Article 226 of the Constitution. Thus, ordinarily it will be open to the High Court, in exercise of the power of superintendence only to consider whether there is an error of jurisdiction in the decision of the Court or the Tribunal subject to its superintendence.’ In this case the high court had passed an order withdrawing the case from the Administrative Tribunal as under: "In our view, with great respect, the learned Tribunal having found no time on earlier occasions, should have placed, at least on a particular date, this matter at the top of the list so that the matter could have been heard. In our order dated 16th August, 2007, it was observed that in the event the learned Tribunal could not hear out this matter, this Court will, in exercise of its power under Article 227 of the Constitution of India withdraw the same and hear out the matter, as the learned Tribunal has failed to decide the matter. Accordingly, we are of the view that the learned Tribunal has failed to decide the matter. We are not oblivious of the position of law that this Court cannot try the above matter at the first instance in view of the judgment of Supreme Court rendered in the case of L.Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India - A.I.R. 1997 SC 1125. But this Court having superintending power cannot remain passive institution when learned Tribunal abdicates its legal, if not constitutional duty. When a subordinate Court or Tribunal fails or neglects absolutely to function, it can be concluded without any hesitation that extra ordinary situation has arisen that endanger due process of law. In such situation to disclose constitutional obligation to the citizens of India, this Court has power, in our opinion, not only to withdraw the case of this nature, but to try the same. The word "Superintendence" is of wide connotation. It has inclusive meaning which inter alia are to oversee, monitor so that things is done or act is accomplished with logical conclusion and finally in case of failure to take upon itself to do and accomplish what ought to have been done by person or forum subordinate to it. Hence, we direct the Registry of the learned Tribunal to transmit all the original records of O.A.No. 912 of 2003 (Samar Kr. Sarkar vs. State of W.B. and Ors.) to this Court, for taking a decision in this matter. The records shall be transmitted to this Court by special messenger, cost of which shall be paid by the applicant and this shall be brought to this Court within fortnight from the date of service of copy of this order." The Supreme Court though did not accept the contention that the High Court has no power of superintendence over the Administrative Tribunals but allowed the appeal and set aside the order of High Court on the ground of propriety and held that it would have been proper if the High Court in exercising its jurisdiction under Article 227 had directed the Tribunal to dispose of the matter expeditiously, instead of transferring the matter to itself.

Source : Judgments of Supreme Court -