Non-Communicated File Notings

It is the admitted position that after the personal hearing took place on 30.07.2011, no decision was passed on the objections submitted by the land-owners, either allowing or disallowing their objections; nor was any communication sent to them. It is abundantly clear that in the absence of an order being passed as contemplated by Section 20D of The Railways Act, 1989 no further steps could have been taken by the competent authority in the acquisition in question. A statutory authority discharging a quasi-judicial function is required to pass a reasoned order after due application of mind. In the present case, there has been a complete dereliction of duty by the competent authority. 

The file noting contained in an internal office file, or in the report submitted by the competent authority to the Central Government, would not constitute a valid order in the eyes of law.

In Bachhittar Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1963 SC 395 a Constitution Bench held that merely writing something on the file does not amount to an order. For a file-noting to amount to a decision of the Government, it must be communicated to the person so affected, before that person can be bound by that order. Until the order is communicated to the person affected by it, it cannot be regarded as anything more than being provisional in character. Similarly, in Shanti Sports Club v. Union of India, (2009) 15 SCC 705 this Court held that notings recorded in the official files, by the officers of the Government at different levels, and even the Ministers, do not become a decision of the Government, unless the same are sanctified and acted upon, by issuing an order in the name of the President or Governor, as the case may be, and are communicated to the affected persons.

In Sethi Auto Service Station v. DDA, (2009) 1 SCC 180 this Court held that notings in the file culminate into an executable order, affecting the rights of the parties, only when it reaches the final decision-making authority in the department, gets his approval and the final order is communicated to the person concerned.”

Hon’ble Justice Indu Malhotra, Nareshbhai Bhagubhai v. Union of India, [Civil Appeal No. 6270 of 2019].