18 May 2020


Judgments

High Court of Delhi

Kalka Public School and Ors. Vs. Honble L.G. of Delhi and Ors.

MANU/DE/1677/2018

07.05.2018

Education

Administrator may take over management of a school only after giving reasonable opportunity of showing cause against proposed action

The Petitioner No. 1/School, which is a private unaided school recognized by the Respondent No. 2/Directorate of Education, and the Petitioner No. 2, which is a duly elected Parent Teachers' Association of the Petitioner No. 1, have preferred the present petition seeking a direction to the Respondent No. 1/Hon'ble Lt. Governor of GNCTD to afford them an opportunity of showing cause against the Respondents' proposed action of taking over the management of the Petitioner No. 1 under Section 20 of the Delhi School Education Act, 1973, by giving them a personal hearing in compliance with the principles of natural justice. The question before this Court is whether, in the circumstances of the instant case, the Petitioner No. 1 is entitled to a personal hearing to show cause against the Respondents' proposed action to take over its management under Section 20 of the DSE Act.

As per Section 20(1) of the DSE Act, an Administrator may take over the management of a school only after giving the management committee or manager of such school a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the proposed action. While, there can be no doubt that, the provision necessarily contemplates adherence to the principles of natural justice, the question is whether the expression "reasonable opportunity of showing cause" occurring in the said provision necessarily contemplates granting a personal hearing to the management committee/manager of the concerned school.

The absence of a personal hearing may not ipso facto be fatal to a final decision passed in the circumstances of any given case. However, it is equally well settled that, there can be no straitjacket formula or test to determine what the observance of the principles of natural justice would entail in any given situation.

In view of the observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Manohar and Jesus Sales, while there can be no doubt that, an order passed under Section 20(1) of the DSE Act, must necessarily comply with the principles of natural justice, what constitutes due adherence to the principles of natural justice, being circumstantially subjective, will necessarily require an examination of the facts of the case at hand. In the facts of the present case, what matters is that, the Petitioner No. 1 has to be given a reasonable opportunity to explain the allegations levelled against it in the show cause noticed issued by the Respondents.

In fact, the Petitioners have invoked the writ jurisdiction of this Court at a pre-decisional stage not only because its substantive rights are at stake, but also because the nature of the relief sought by it, can only be granted at such a stage, since an order passed under Section 20(1) of the DSE Act cannot be impugned merely on the ground that, no personal hearing was granted to the Petitioner No. 1. Thus, the present petition is maintainable at this stage while the proceedings under Section 20(1) of the DSE Act are still ongoing.

In determining whether a personal hearing is necessary in the facts of the present case, present Court must examine not only the nature of allegations levelled against the Petitioner No. 1 but also the stage at which the Petitioners have approached this Court. In the facts of the present case, where a final decision is yet to be taken by the Respondents, the Petitioner No. 1's request for a personal hearing cannot be said to be whimsical since, a very vital decision pertaining to its rights is at stake.

The Petitioners deserve to be given an opportunity of personal hearing at this stage. It is an admitted case of the parties that, the issue has been engaging the attention of the Respondents for more than the last eight months and, therefore, there is no such grave urgency in the matter that should compel the Respondents to decline the Petitioner No. 1's request for a personal hearing. Writ petition is allowed. The Respondents are directed to give a personal hearing to the Petitioner No. 1 to explain the alleged violations in the show cause notice before passing an order under Section 20(1) of the DSE Act.

Relevant

Manohar S/o Manikrao Anchule vs. State of Maharashtra and Anr. MANU/SC/1140/2012
; Union of India and another vs. M/s. Jesus Sales CorporationMANU/SC/0382/1996

Tags : Show-cause notice Personal hearing Grant

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