RAJ NARAIN v. CHAIRMAN, PATNA ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE AIR 1954 S.C. 569

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This case[1] is related to the delegated legislation where the executive authority is provided with the powers by the primary legislation to make laws to implement and administer the necessities as well as the primary legislation. This case came as an appeal under Article 132(1)[2] of the Constitution of India from the judgement of the High Court at Patna.  The High Court of Patna granted the petitioner of the case to appeal under Article 132(1) of the Constitution on the ground that the substantial question of law relating to the interpretation of the Constitution was involved.

FACTS OF THE CASE

The appellant in this case is the Secretary of the Rate Payers’ Association at Patna. The said appellant and the other members of his Association reside in an area which was originally outside the municipal limits of Patna and was not liable to municipal and cognate taxation. The area where they used to reside was brought under the municipal limits on 18th April 1951 and thereafter, subjected to the municipal taxation through issuing a notification in this regard of that date.

Due to this, the appellant and the members of the Association were called upon to pay taxes for the period starting from 1st April, 1951 to 31st March, 1952.  The notifications in this regard were issued under Section 3(1)(f) and Section 5 of the Patna Administration Act of 1915[3] (Bihar and Orissa Act I of 1915). The appellant claims in the case that the notifications issued are delegated legislation and so are bad and prays that the Sections which gave the permission of this legislation,i.e. Sections 3(1)(f) and 5 of the Patna Administration Act be condemned as ultra vires.

When the new Province of Bihar and Orissa was formed in 1911, the Bengal Municipal Act of 1884 applied to the whole of it. There were three sections in the area which is termed as Patna now. At that time, one of the three portions of Patna ( named for convenience as Patna City ) was under a Municipality, named Patna City Municipality which was created under the Bengal Act. The other two sections were not born as distinct entities till later and the areas which they now cover were not under any municipal or cognate jurisdiction. The formation of Bihar and Orissa gave rise to Patna becoming a capital and naturally, the city expanded and a new area grew up which was distinct from the old city and which housed the headquarters of the new Government. After that, it was thought to bring this area under the new municipality rather than bringing it under the old one, so according the plan of creation of a new municipality for that region started and this gave rise to the passing of the Patna Administration Act of 1915 / Bihar and Orissa Act I of 1915 for the creation of the new municipality.This Act came into force on 5th of January 1916. The said Act called this new area “Patna” and defined its boundaries in the schedule to the Act.  This Act through its Section 3(1)(f)[4] empowered the local government to extend to Patna the provisions of any section of the said Act.

ISSUE OF THE CASE 

The issue which arose in this case was:

  1. Whether Section 3(1)(f) and Section 5[5] of the Bihar and Orissa Act I of 1915 and the notifications made under it on the ground that they permit delegated legislation and this made the people staying in that area liable for the municipal taxation is ultra vires?

GROUNDS

  1. Section 3[6] of the Patna Administration Act, 1915:-

This Section empowered the Local Government to “ extend to Patna the provisions of any section of the section of the Bengal Municipal Act of 1884”, subject to such restrictions as the Local Government may think fit.” This is the portion of the Section 3 of the Patna Administration Act, 1915 which was impugned and came in question.

  • Section 5[7] of the Patna Administration Act, 1915:-

 The impugned part of this Section which came into question was:-

“The Local Government may at any time cancel or modify any order under Section 3 of the Act”.

  • Section 6(b)[8] of the Patna Administration Act, 1915:-

  This was also relevant, though this did not get challenged. It says:-

 The Local Government may:-

(b) include within Patna any local area in the vicinity of the same and defined in the notification.

This Section was referred in this case as just because of this powers conferred with this Act, the Local Government created the new Municipality and the area called Patna Village was brought under the jurisdiction of a new municipality called  the Patna Administration Committee by action taken under this Section. Through a series of notifications extended certain sections of the Bengal Municipal Act of 1884 to the area which here called the Patna Administration.

The whole of the Bengal Municipal Act applied to the Patna City. In this area which is in question here, the Bengal Administration Act of 1915 did not apply to this area of its own force; only certain sections which the Local Government had picked out under the powers conferred by the Patna Administration Act of 1915 were applied there. The third area called Patna Village which is our concerned area was free from municipal control.

In 1922, the new act enacted by the legislature which was named the Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act, 1922. It repealed the whole of the Bengal Municipal Act of 1884 and substituted the new Act of 1922 for it. This only affected the Patna City area and did not affect the Patna Administration area because the Bengal Act was never applied to that area as such.  The portions of it which were picked out to have force there were applied by reason of the Patna Administration Act, 1915, and that constituted, in truth and in fact, independent legislation. The result was that the new Act of 1922 came into effect in the Patna City area and the sections of the Bengal Act which were applied by reason of the Patna Administration Act continued in force in the Patna Administration area. The area which we have called Patna Village was still unaffected. Understandably, the new Province preferred its own legislation to that of Bengal. But despite the passing of the Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act in 1922, the Local Government, acting under Section 3(1)(f) of the Patna Administration Act, 1915, could only extend sections of the Bengal Act to the Patna Administration area and not sections of its own Act.

To set this right the Bihar and Orissa Legislature passed an amending Act in 1928 (Bihar and Orissa Act IV of 1928) called the Patna Administration (Amendment) Act of 1928. But that only provided for the future. So far as the present and the past were concerned, Section 4 of the amending Act provided-

“Any section of the Bengal Municipal Act, 1884, extended to Patna under clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Patna Administration Act, 1915 shall be deemed to continue to extend to Patna until the extension of such section to Patna is expressly canceled by notification.”

Three years later, the Governor cancelled all previous notifications extending sections of the Bengal Act of 1884, and the Bihar and Orissa Act of 1922, to the Patna Administration area. In their places he picked out certain sections of the Bihar and Orissa Act of 1922, modified;others, and extended the lot so selected and modified to the Patna Administration area. 

Before the existence of the Constitution of India, the Local Government was empowered to act under Section 3(1)(f) and section 6(b) of the Patna Administration Act, 1915, but after the Constitution these powers were transferred to the Governor of Bihar. In this time interval, Patna expanded and the area which was called Patna Village began to be built upon and this adjoined the Patna Administration are. Therefore, it was felt that this area should also come under the ambit of the municipal control. However, they thought it to place this area under the jurisdiction of the Patna Administration Committee only, instead of creating a third municipality. Then again instead of directly legislating, they went for the Patna Administration Act, 1915. governor declared that area under the Patna Administration Act only.

The High Court held that the notifications and sections of the Patna Administration Act which were complained of are intra vires.

The Bengal Municipal Act of 1884 was no longer existing as law in Bihar on that date. It was repealed in 1922 and replaced by the Bengal and Orissa Municipal Act of 1922. The selected sections of the Bengal Municipal Act which was applied to Patna Administration were also repealed on 25th April 1931.

In 1928 an executive authority (the Local Government of Bihar and Orissa), subject to the legislative control of the Bihar and Orissa Legislature, was empowered by that Legislature (because of Act I of 1915 amended by Act IV of 1928) to do the following things:-

(1)to cancel or modify any existing Municipal laws inthe Patna Administration area (2)to extend to this area all or any of the sections of the- Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act of 1922[9].

(2)  subject to such restrictions and modifications as it considered fit;

(3) to add to the Patna Administration area other areas not already under municipal control.

This, in short, is the effect of Sections 3(1)(f), 5 and 6(b) of the Patna Administration Act of 1915 as amended in 1928. Armed with this authority, the Local Government (and later the Governor) exercised all three powers. On 25th April, 1931, the Local Government repealed the existing law in the Patna Administration area, namely the sections of the Bengal Act of 1884 which had been applied there from time to time. In its place, it introduced a new set of laws culled from the Bihar and Orissa Act of 1922 with such restrictions and modifications as it thought fit. Then on 18th April, 1951, the Governor added Patna Village to the Patna Administration area. And finally, on 23rd April, 195 1, he added a modified, version of Section 104[10] of the Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act of 1922 to the Municipal laws in these two combined areas.

DECISION

The Court while giving the decisions discussed on certain points by the way of questions and gave the answers one by one, so that the ultimate question get decided.

The first question is whether the notification of 26th April, 1931, can be attacked by the petitioner. In our Opinion, it cannot. As we have already pointed out, this notification gave a sort of fresh Municipal Code to the Patna Administration area. But it did not affect the area with which we are concerned namely, the Patna Village area. It was limited to Patna Administration. The petitioner therefore cannot challenge it because it does not affect him and the question whether it is open to challenge by other persons does not arise. We are accordingly unable to give him the declaration which he seeks regarding that notification.

We turn next to the notification of 23rd April, 1951. This does affect him because it subjects him to taxation. It was made under Section 3(1)(f), therefore, it will be necessary to examine

  • whether the notification travels beyond the impugned portion of the Act and
  •  if not, whether  Section3 (1)(f) is itself ultra vires. But we cannot do this until we examine the decision of this Court, in the Delhi Laws Act case.

The Court had before it the following problems. In each case, the Central Legislature had empowered an executive authority under its legislative control to apply, at its discretion, laws to an area which was also under the legislative sway of the Centre. The variations occur in the type of laws which the executive authority was authorised to select and in the modifications which it was empowered to make in them. The variations were as follows: (1) Where the executive authority was permitted, at its discretion, to -apply without modification (save incidental changes such as name and place), the whole of any Central Act already in existence in any part of India under the legislative away of the Centre to the new area : This was upheld by a majority of six to one. (2) Where the executive authority was allowed to select and apply a Provincial Act in similar circumstances: This was also upheld, but this time by a majority of five to two.

(3) Where the executive authority was permitted to select future Central laws and apply them in a similar way: This was upheld by five to two.

(4) Where the authorisation was to select future Provincial laws and apply them as above:

This was also upheld by five to two.

  • Where the authorisation was to repeal laws already in force in the area and either substitute nothing in their places or substitute other laws, Central or Provincial, with or without modification:’ This was held to be ultra vires by a majority of four to three, 
  • Where the authorisation was to apply existing laws, either Central or Provincial, with alterations and’ modifications ; and

(7) Where the authorisation was to apply future laws under the same conditions;

The views of the various members of the Bench were not clear here . One of the judges stated that only Parliament can effect modifications in any essential legislative function namely, the determination of the legislative policy and its formulation as a rule of conduct. For this reason, he was prepared to uphold what he called “conditional” or “ subsidiary” or “ancillary legislation”, but not the application by an executive authority of Provincial Acts to which the Central Legislature had not applied its mind at all; For the same reason he excluded the application of all future legislation.

The Chief Justice of that time stated that:-

 ”Parliament has no power to delegate its essential legislative functions to others, whether State Legislatures or executive authorities, except, of course, functions which really in their true nature are ministerial.” 

There were other liberal views as well of the different judges of the Bench . However the opinion of the court cumulatively which came out:-

  •  The notification of 23rd April, 1951 was challenged on many grounds but it is enough for the purposes of this case to hold that the action of the Governor in subjecting the residents of the Patna Village area to municipal taxation without observing the formalities imposed by Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act of 1922, cuts across one of it essential features touching a matter of policy and so is bad.
  • The Act of 1922 applied to the whole of Bihar and Orissa and one of its essential features is that no municipality competent to tax shall be thrust upon a locality without giving its inhabitants a chance of being heard and of being give n an opportunity to object. Sections 4, 5 and 6 afford a statutory guarantee to that effect. Therefore, the Local Government is under a statutory duty imposed by the Act in mandatory terms to listen to the objections and take them into consideration before reaching a decision. 
  • Court stated that ”It follows that when a section of an Act is selected for application, whether it is modified or not, it must be done so as not to effect any change of policy, or any essential change in the Act regarded as a whole. Subject to that limitation we hold that Section 3(1)(f) is intra vires, that is to say, we hold that any section or sections of the Bihar and Orissa Municipal Act of 1922 can be picked out and applied to “Patna” provided that does not effect any essential change in the Act or alter its policy. The notification of 23rd April, 1951 does, in our opinion, effect a radical change in the policy of the Act.”

Therefore, as per the Court, the notification travels beyond the authority which, as per the judgement of the Court, Section 3(1)(f) confers and consequently it is ultra vires, It is not necessary to examine the vires of Section 5 of the Act of 1915[11] which was also impugned because no action taken under it has hurt the appellant and so he cannot question its vires.

Therefore, the result of this case was that the appeal succeeded and it was hold that:-

  • that Section 3(1)(f) is intra vires provided always that the words “restriction” and “modification” are used in the restricted sense set out above; and

(2) that the notification of 23rd April, 1951, is ultra vires.

The question about the vires of the notification of 25th April, 1931, and of Section 5 does not arise. The respondents will pay the appellant’s costs here and in the High Court and appeal allowed by the Hon’ble Court in this case.

ANALYSIS

In this case, the Section 3(1)(f) of the Bihar & Orissa Act came into question which gave the power to the local administration to extend the provisions of any section of the Bengal Municipality Act to the Patna which was subject to such modifications which the local government might think fit. The Government in this case using Section 3(1)(f) of the Bihar & Orissa Act took Section 104 of the Bengal Municipality Act and after modifications applied that to the Patna. This Bihar & Orissa Act of 1922 had one very essential feature that the municipality competent to tax could not be thrust upon a locality without giving the chance of the inhabitants of that area of being heard and of being given given an opportunity to object as well. The Sections of the Act which provided for a chance to the inhabitants to object were excluded from the notification which were issued in this regard and therefore the Court in this case stated and held that this is amounted to tampering with the policy of the Bihar & Orissa Act of 1922.

This case dealt with the delegated legislation. So, let’s look at what it is :-

The Constitution of India gives the power to the legislature to make laws for the country and it is in the hands of the executive to administer and execute the laws which were are made by the legislature. This is as per the “Doctrine of seperation of powers”. However, those frequently enacted legislation which contains the provisions empowering the executive government, or specified bodies or to the judiciary, to make regulations or any other form of instrument which provided that they are properly and effectively made, have the effect of law. This form of law is called “Delegated legislation”. “secondary legislation”, “subordinate legislation”. The delegated legislation has the same legal effect and standing as the Act passed by the Parliament.

CONCLUSION

This case took different points into consideration and the Court took insights on different Sections and points in this case, which made the decision valid and to be relied upon in this case. This case really made its place in the remarkable judgments of this country and really came as defining the characteristics of the Delegated Legislation.


[1] Rajnarain Singh v. The Chairman, Patna Administration Committee, 1954 AIR 569, 1955 SCR 290

[2] IND. CONST. Art. 132(1).

[3] Patna Administration Act, 1915.

[4] Patna Administration Act, 1915, s. 3(1)(f).

[5] Patna Administrative Act, 1915, s. 5.

[6] Bihar & Orissa Act I, 1915, s. 3.

[7] Bihar & Orissa Act I, 1915, s. 5.

[8] Bihar & Orissa Act I, 1915, s. 6(b)

[9] Bihar & Orissa Act, 1922 (I) [1951] S.C.R

[10] Bihar & Orissa Municipal Act, 1922, s. 104.

[11] Bihar & Orissa Act, 1915, s. 5

Also Read  Special Courts Bill, 1978 (In re)

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