Absence of reasons in Authority's order is clearly suggestive of it being arbitrary, hence legally unsustainable: Himachal Pradesh High Court 

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Hearing a writ petition for release of retiral dues of the petitioner, the Himachal Pradesh took serious note of the order passed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Animal Husbandry) exonerating the petitioner from charges of fraud and embezzlement of Department's money without according any reason.

The bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Satyen Vaidya noted, "We are really appalled in the manner in which the Additional Chief Secretary (Animal Husbandry) has passed the order...without according any reason whatsoever."

Court observed, "Arbitrariness in making of an order by an authority can manifest itself in different forms...Absence of reasons either in the order passed by the authority is clearly suggestive of the order being arbitrary hence legally unsustainable."

Emphasizing the importance of giving reasons while passing a order, Court said that Failure to give reasons amounts to denial of justice. "Reasons are live links between the mind of the decision taker to the controversy in question and the decision or conclusion arrived at. Reasons substitute subjectivity by objectivity," it added. 

Court further elaborated the significance of according reason while reaching a decision, "The emphasis on recording reasons is that if the decision reveals the 'inscrutable face of the sphinx', it can, by its silence, render it virtually impossible for the Courts to perform the appellate function or exercise the power of judicial review in adjudging the validity of the decision."

Referring to various judgments of the Top Court including Tarlochan Dev Sharma Vs. State of Punjab & Others (2001), the high court bench held that the impugned order was clearly arbitrary and could not, therefore, withstand judicial scrutiny.

Importantly, Court highlighted that in the instant case, the petitioner, Retd. Deputy Director ( Poultry), Directorate of Animal Husbandry, was charge-sheeted on six counts, however, the Commissioner Departmental Enquiry gave its findings and some of the charges were partially proved against the petitioner.

Court stressed that when the petitioner filed a detailed representation against the enquiry report, the representation was accepted and charges framed against the petitioner were ordered to be dropped, that too, without assigning any reasons whatsoever for the same. 

"The least was expected of the officer of the rank of Additional Chief Secretary was to have recorded the findings as to how the findings rendered by the Commissioner Departmental Enquiry were wrong and only thereafter could have passed an appropriate order," Court said. 

Taking note of the absence of the reason for the decision, Court held that since the order exonerating the petitioner was totally unreasoned, therefore, prayer made in the petition for release of retiral dues of the petitioner could not be acceded to unless a proper and reasoned order is passed by the respondent.

Accordingly, Court disposed of the petition directing Additional Chief Secretary (Animal Husbandry) to pass a fresh order in terms of observations made in the instant order within a period of four weeks, from the date of the order. 

Case Title: Dr. Paramjeet Singh Negi, Retd. Deputy Director ( Poultry) v. State of HP and other