The Himachal Pradesh High Court held that Quasi-judicial Authorities do not have the power to appeal, review, or revise their orders.

The Court rejected the State's petition challenging the Financial Commissioner's decision, affirming the Divisional Commissioner's reversal of the District Collector's ruling in Section 118 proceedings under the H.P. Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972 (Act).

This is for the reason that unlike a complainant, a quasi-judicial authority has to act impartially and take a call on the lis which is before it and after the case stands decided by, it become functus officio. It neither has the power to file an appeal nor review or revision etc., against its order. It is for the aggrieved party to assail the order and the authority which passes the order cannot be said to be an aggrieved party”, the Bench of Justice Ajay Mohan Goel observed.

Deputy Advocate General Rohit Sharma appeared for the State and Senior Advocate Shrawan Dogra appeared for the Respondent.

The Petition encompassed proceedings initiated against the Respondents under Section 118 of the Act based on a complaint. Initially, the District Collector/Deputy Commissioner ruled against the Respondents. In response, the Respondents filed an Appeal before the Divisional Commissioner, who allowed it, overturning the initial order. Dissatisfied with this decision, the State filed a Revision before the Financial Commissioner, who upheld the Divisional Commissioner's order.

The State, represented by the District Collector, Solan, approached the High Court through a writ petition, challenging the decision.

The Court raised concerns about the maintainability of the writ petition filed by the State through the District Collector, who served as the statutory quasi-judicial authority responsible for the initial adjudication. The Bench highlighted the inconsistency of a quasi-judicial authority contesting the subsequent adjudication that reversed its own decision.

Furthermore, the Court observed that a quasi-judicial authority, distinct from a complainant, must act impartially and make decisions based on the presented case. Once the case is decided, the quasi-judicial authority becomes functus officio, losing the power to file an appeal, review, or revision against its own order. The authority cannot be deemed an aggrieved party, and it is the affected party's responsibility to challenge the order.

The Bench noted that once the District Collector's order was challenged on appeal, the subsequent Appellate Authority's order merged with and became binding upon the District Collector. Similarly, when the Financial Commissioner decided on the Revision petition, the orders of the District Collector and the Divisional Commissioner merged into the Financial Commissioner's order. The District Collector, in filing this writ petition on behalf of the State, failed to appreciate these crucial aspects of the matter.

During the hearing, the Bench observed that the Deputy Advocate General couldn't identify any procedural infirmities committed by either the Divisional Commissioner or the Financial Commissioner in the adjudication of the appeal and revision. Consequently, the Court concluded that the impugned orders did not warrant interference through the power of judicial review.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Petition.

Cause Title: State of HP v Vinod Gupta & Ors.

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