Principles of Natural Justice VII / The Revival of Ray LVIII

The core issue: not to say, consultation should be open ended/indefinite or release all information; disclosure of certain information may violate right to privacy of individuals/cause breach of national security/impinge on confidentiality; information may be abridged or even denied for larger public interest; there should be good grounds and justification to withhold information; boundaries of what constitutes legitimate withholding can at times be debatable; but in present case, there is no contestation between transparency and right to know on one hand and concerns of privacy/confidentiality/national security on the other.

The Development Act and Development Rules demand and require openness and transparency and embody, without exception, right to know which is implicit in right to participate and duty to consult. It is a well-settled proposition, where power is given to do a certain thing in a certain way, then the thing must be done in that way or not at all. Other methods of performance are necessarily forbidden.

Hon’ble Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Rajeev Suri v. Delhi Development Authority, [Transferred Case [Civil] No. 229 of 2020].

Rules of Natural Justice are means to an end and not an end in themselves. The goal is to prevent prejudice. No case of prejudice whatsoever has been made out in the process of public consultation. The same has not been demonstrated sufficiently to meet basic standards of judicial conscience so as to warrant our interference. Principles of Natural Justice are not an unruly horse.

Hon’ble Justice A.M. Khanwilkar & Hon’ble Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Rajeev Suri v. Delhi Development Authority, [Transferred Case [Civil] No. 229 of 2020].

_____

There is no general duty, when an administrative decision is taken, to give reasons. A statute may, however, explicitly provide so. In absence of duty to record reasons, Court is not to be clothed with power to strike down administrative action for no reasons are to be found recorded. In certain situations, when matter is tested in Court, reason for a particular decision may be gleaned from pleadings. Court may conclude, there were reasons and action was not illegal or arbitrary.

Hon’ble Justice K.M. Joseph, National Highways Authority of India v. Madhukar Kumar, [Civil Appeal No. 11141 of 2018] decided on 23.09.2021.