2003(1) ALL MR 922
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY

V.C. DAGA AND J.P. DEVADHAR, JJ.

Dnyanganga Krida Arogya Va Shikshan Prasarak Mandal Vs. State Of Maharashtra & Ors.

Writ Petition No. 419 of 2002

9th December, 2002

Petitioner Counsel: Mr. S. S. SHAH
Respondent Counsel: Mr. C. R. SONAWANE, Mr. KULDEEP PATIL

Constitution of India, Arts.14,30 - Reasoned order - Grant of school permission - Application for permission to start new school - Recommendations of State Level Committee and District Level Committee - State Government should not accept the recommendations machanically - It is obligatory on part of the State Government to scrutinise the proposals on its own merits with open mind especially when recommendations of District Level Committee and State Level Committee are running counter to each other - No application seeking permission to open new school shall be rejected for petty or insignificant reasons - Reasons or grounds for a decision should be communicated to concerned institution.

It was expected on the part of the State Government to apply its mind independently to the recommendations of the District as well as the State Level Committee. It was further obligatory on the part of the State Government to scrutinise the proposals on its own merits with open mind, especially, when the recommendations of the District Level Committee and State Level Committee were running counter to each other. It ought to have taken a decision based on reasons after careful scrutiny of the recommendations made by the Committees. It ought to have applied its mind and taken independent decision as to on whose recommendation it should act upon, whether District or State Level Committee when reasons and views recorded by both the committees were diametrically opposite. Any decision of the Government is required to be taken impartially with application of open mind. It must be based on reasons. It must stand to the scrutiny of law. The decision making authority has also to indicate that it has exercised its discretion with utmost care with which it has been empowered because "administrative process will best be indicated by clarity in its exercise". The giving of reasons is one of the fundamentals of good administration. Needless to mention that failure to give reasons amounts to a denial of justice. A person is entitled to know as to why his case has not been considered favorably by the authority concerned. The recent decisions of the Indian Courts lay down that in certain situations it is an implied duty to state the reasons or grounds for a decision. In order to avoid any grey area in this behalf, this Court in the case of Gramvikas Shikshan Prasarak Mandal had specifically laid down that no application seeking permission to open a new school shall be rejected for petty or insignificant reasons. Similarly, while granting permission the reasons should be recorded in order to ensure that the process is objective and transparent. The reasons should be communicated to the concerned institution. It is needless to mention that Article 14 strikes at arbitrariness in State action and ensures a fair and equal treatment. It requires that the State action must be based on valid, relevant principles applicable alike to all similarly situate and it must not be guided by any extraneous or irrelevant considerations because that would be denial of equality. Where the operative reasons for State action, as distinguished from motive inducing from the antechamber of the mind, is not legitimate and relevant but is extraneous and outside the area of permissible considerations, it would amount to mala fide exercise of power. Recording of reasons in support of a decision on a disputed claim by the authority concerned ensures that the decision is reached according to law on the basis of policy or expediency and is not the result of caprice, whim or fancy. The authority is expected to adduce reasons which will be regarded as fair and legitimate by a reasonable man and will discard irrelevant or extraneous considerations. It is also a well-known principle that the person dealing with the State must be satisfied that his case has received proper attention at the hands of the State. The reasoned conclusions, on the other hand, will also have the appearance of justice. AIR 1961 SC 1669 - Rel.on. [Para 26,28,30,31]

Cases Cited:
Gramvikas Shikshan Prasarak Mandal Vs. State of Maharashtra, 2000(2) ALL MR 130=2000(4) Bom. C.R. 379 [Para 3,28]
Mohinder Singh Vs. Chief Election Commissioner, AIR 1978 SC 851 [Para 17]
Harinagar Sugar Mills Ltd. Vs. Shyam Sundar Jhunjhunwala, AIR 1961 SC 1669 [Para 29]
Siemens Engineering & Manufacturing Company of India Limited, AIR 1976 SC 1785 [Para 32]
A.K. Kraipak Vs. Union of India, AIR 1970 SC 150 [Para 32]


JUDGMENT

V.G. DAGA, J :- Rule returnable forthwith, Respondents waive service. By consent of parties, petition is heard finally.

2. This petition is directed against the order dated 9th April, 2001 passed by the Deputy Director of Education, Aurangabad Division, Aurangabad, rejecting permission, to open a new secondary school at Supatgaon, Tahsil - Umerga, Dist. Usmanabad which was sought by the petitioner and in turn granting permission to the respondent no. 5 to open the secondary school.

THE FACTS - IN - BRIEF

3. The petitioner is a society registered under Societies Registration Act and also a Public Trust registered under the provisions of Bombay Public Trusts Act. The petitioner in the year 1998 applied for permission to start a new secondary shcool at village Supatgaon, being a rehabilitated village which was constituted to settle the persons affected due to earthquake in the Latur area, which was demarcated in the Master Plan for opening a new secondary school. The petitioner, thereafter, sent several reminders to the respondents with a request to grant approval to open a new Secondary school in the said village. Since the proposal moved by the petitioner was kept pending for a considerably long period, the petitioner had filed a Writ Petition being Writ Petition No. 4557/2000, which came to be disposed of by directing the respondent - State Government to forward the application of the petitioner within four weeks to the District Level Committee, constituted as per the judgment of this Court in the case of Gramvikas Shikshan Prasarak Mandal v. State of Maharashtra, 2000 (4) Bom. C. R. 379 : {2000(2) ALL MR 130}. The Division Bench of this Court had issued directions to the State to establish independent bodies at District and State level to consider applications seeking permission to open new schools, in a transparent and objective manner. The State Government accordingly prepared and furnished the scheme which had contemplated Constitution of District and State Level Committees consisting of experts connected with the field of education, nominees of the Vice Chancellors and the Chancellor, as the case may be. The scheme submitted by the State Government was accepted by this Court with certain directions, as to how, such applications should be considered. The parameters laid down by this Court are reproduced herein below :-

1. Master Plan:

(1 )A Master Plan will be prepared by the State Government in order to facilitate grant of permission to primary, secondary and higher secondary schools for the next 10 years and the same will be observed scrupulously. The Master Plan will be placed before the High Court for approval. Once formulated, no change will be permitted in the Master Plan except with the permission of the Court.

(2) The Master Plan will be for Marathi Medium Schools only. Schools established by religious or linguistic minorities are required to be started according to necessity and, therefore, these schools will not be required to abide by the Master Plan. However, such schools will not be allowed to change their medium of instructions already granted without the permission of the Government. The grant of permission to establish schools by religious and linguistic minorities will be in accordance with their rights under Article 30 of the Constitution.

(3) At present, there is no Master Plan for permission to primary schools. It will take sometime to prepare the same and, therefore, there will be no Master Plan for granting permissions to primary schools for the academic year 2000-2001.

However, a Master Plan will be prepared for permission of private primary schools for the period 2001-2010. Urban, Semi-urban, anglometated habitations and villages having 10,000 population or more will be included in the Master Plan.

(4) The existing Master Plan for secondary and Higher Secondary Schools will be updated for the period 2000-2010. The conditions of 5 km distance prescribed for starting secondary schools will be relaxed only in the case of areas suffering from special hindrances and these are hilly, mountainous, river and tribal areas.

2 Quota for School Permission :

(1) Permission will be granted to 100 primary, 300 secondary and 50 higher secondary private schools every year from June, 2000. Primary education is a Constitutional responsibility of the Zilla Parishads, Nagar Pahishads, Cantonment Boards and Municipal Corporations and Primary Schools will be started by these local bodies. However, interested private institutions will be permitted to start 100 primary schools except English medium schools on permanent no grant basis. Secondary and higher secondary private schools will be considered for grant in accordance with Government policy.

(2) Under the existing policy English medium secondary schools are permitted on permanent no-grant basis. There will be no quota limit for such English medium schools and other medium schools, permitted on permanent no grant basis.

(3) No separate girls schools will be sanctioned in future. Permissions will be granted only to start co-educational schools.

(4) Nearly 11,000 habitations in the State are without primary education facility as these habitations do not fulfill the existing criteria (i.e. 1.5 km vicinity and 200 population for general areas and 100 population and 1 km. for tribal, hilly and remote areas). The condition of 1.5/1 km and population is relaxed to 1/2 km. Habitation schools will be started through Gram Panchayats on the basis of Madhya Pradesh Governments "Shikshan Hami Yojana". An annual expenditure for each Habitation School will be Rs. 13,000/-.

(5) In future, Std. XI and XII will not be affiliated to Senior Colleges. These classes will be attached to secondary schools only. If the intake capacity of the existing higher secondary schools is not sufficient to accommodate all eligible students permission will be granted to affiliate Std. XI and XII to senior colleges as an exception.

3. Application for permission to start a school.

(1) Applications will be invited from private institutions according to the Master Plan.

(2) Applications will be invited for secondary and higher secondary schools for the year 2000-2001 after the Master Plan is updated.

(3) Chalan fee will not be charged from the applicants for the year 2000-2001 who have applied for the same place in the Master Plan during the year 1999-2000 and have already deposited requisite Chalan Fee

(4) Late Chalan fee will not be allowed henceforth.

4. Scrutiny of Applications:

(1) A District Level Committee will be constituted under the Chairmanship of Principal ( DIET ) to examine the applications. All the Education Officers in the concerned District will be Members of the Committee. The District Level Committee shall also consist of two representatives being experts in the field of education nominated by the Vice Chancellor of the concerned University in the area.

(2) The Regional Deputy Director will route the application received from the Committee and will only submit them to the Director of Education.

(3) A State Level Committee will be constituted under the Chairmanship of Director of Education, Chairman, Maharashtra State Secondary and Higher Secondary Educational Board, Director State Council for Educational Research and Training, Director, Adult Education and Director, Maharashtra State Bureau of Text Book Production and Curriculum Research. The State Level Committee shall also consist of two other Members who shall be educational experts nominated by the Chancellor. This Committee will select a maximum of two institutions for each location in the Master Plan.

(4) Priority will be given to the applications received from the institutions who have offered to run the school on permanent no grant basis. The financial capacity of such institutions will be examined carefully.

(5) Due care will be taken while sanctioning new schools to ensure that the existing schools will not close down for want of enrollment. Unhealthy competition should be avoided.

(6) Applications will not be rejected for petty or insignificant reasons. Reasons for rejection of applications will be communicated to the concerned institutions. Similarly, while granting permission, the Committees will record reasons in order to ensure that the process is objective and transparent.

(Emphasis supplied)

4. It appears that in pursuance of the directions of this Court in the earlier writ petition filed by the petitioner-society, the application of the petitioner came to be forwarded to the District and State Level Committee for consideration in accordance, with the aforesaid scheme. The application of the petitioner seeking permission to open a new school was also accompanied by unanimous resolution adopted by Village Panchayat of the village Supatgaon, as the school run by the Zilla Parishad, Usmanabad, available in the village did not have educational facility beyond 7th standard. It was mentioned in the said application that the petitioner had raised necessary infrastructure such as building, playground, library and other facilities so as to provide educational facilities with sufficient credit balance to finance such venture.

5. The respondent no.4 Deputy Director of Education, Aurangabad Division, Aurangabad vide its letter dated 9.4.2001 informed the petitioner that their request for grant of permission to open a new Secondary School in the village Supatgaon was considered and rejected for want of favourable recommendation from the State Level Committee.

6. The petitioner immediately after receipt of the aforesaid letter wrote back to the respondent no. 4 and requested to communicate reasons in support of the decision of the State Level Committee. However, the petitioner did not receive any reply or clarification or any communication from education department in this behalf. The petitioner, thereafter, learnt that some of the institutions were considered favourably by the State Government though they did not have adequate infrastructure to open new schools and that respondent no.5 was one of the beneficiaries to whom permission was granted to open a new school at the said village Supatgaon.

7. Being aggrieved by the aforesaid decision not to grant permission in favour of the petitioner and consequent grant of permission in favour of respondent no.5, the petitioner-society invoked writ jurisdiction of this court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

8. The grievance of the petitioner is that the application moved by the petitioner was initially kept pending for unusual long period without any decision. The petitioner was required to approach this court and, ultimately, in pursuance of the directions of this Court, the application was considered but came to be rejected. The complaint made is that permission for setting up a new school has been rejected without due verification of the infrastructure available with the petitioner for setting up a new school. The rejection is thus not based upon consideration of the objective norms or standards and that the political considerations crept in the decision making process.

9. On being noticed the respondent nos. 1 to 4 appeared and filed their counter affidavit cum reply dated 25th September, 2002 with additional reply dated 17th October, 2002 both affirmed by one Junior Administrative Officer from the office of Deputy Director of Education, Aurangabad Division, Aurangabad, who in reply reproduced Comparative date of the proposals submitted by the petitioner and respondent no.5. The relevant contents of which are as under :-


Sr.No.


Particulars


Dnyanganga Krida Arogya Va Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, Solapur- Petitioner. Shramajivi Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, Umarga, Distt. Usmanabad-Respdt. No. 5.
1.


Whether the proposed School is permitted to be opened in the Master Plan of the Govt. or not?
Proposed School is in Master Plan viz, Village-Supatgaon Proposed School is in Master Plan viz., Supatgaon.
2.


There is only one Zilla Parishad Primary School at Village-Supatgaon with roll of 7th Std. There are 30 students in the 7th Std. in Z.P. Primary School at Supatgaon.  
3.

Class Rooms :- (School Bldg.)


4 Class rooms admeasuring 10 x 10' with temporary partition of wooden material.
2 Class rooms adm 15 x 12’ with Tin Partition and roof.
4.
Whether the building is owned or rental ?
Ownership Rental
5. Bank Balance Rs. 98427/- Rs. 3,21,876/-
6. Play ground
The playground is owned by the petitioner- Institution.
No Playground
7. Toilet facility (Boys & Girls ) Not available Not available
8. Furniture Chair-5, Table-1, Blackboard-2 Nil
9. Library Nil Nil
10.
Necessary material & Educational equipments.
Nil Nil
11. Reserve fund with Management. Nil Nil
12. Previous two years Audit Report. Submitted with proposal. Submitted with proposal.
13.


District Level Committee recommendation.


4 rooms available with 3 Acres land, sufficient bank balance, proposal recommended.
No educational & Physical facilities, not recommended.
14.


State Level Committee


School is needed physical facilities & furniture partly available Not recommended. School is needed Physical facilities partly available.Educational facilities Not available. Sufficient bank balance. Recommended.

       

10. It was further stated in the said affidavit that the application of the respondent no.5 was considered favourably taking into account the availability of funds, school building as well as availability of the sufficient students. It was also pleaded that the school was running two classes one each of 8th Std. and 9th Std. having 45 & 19 students respectively. It was also stated in the affidavit that in village Supatgaon, which is at remote place, no other Secondary school except one Primary School run by the Zilla Parishad,Usmanabad was available. Thus, it was stated that considering imminent need of the school for 8th Standard onwards, the permission to open school having classes of 8th Standard and onwards was granted in favour of the respondent no.5, society.

11. An additional affidavit, dated 31st October 2002, duly affirmed by the Deputy Secretary to Government, School Education Department, Mantralaya, Mumbai-32 came to be filed to bring on record the composition of the District and State Level Committees constituted by the State Government. The applications filed by the petitioner and respondent no.5 were also placed on record along with the recommendations of the District and State Level Committees in respect of the said institutions. The relevant extracts of the recommendations made by the said Committee are as under :-

COLUMN NO. 17 & 18 (PAGE 118 ) IN RESPECT OF THE PETITIONER

COLUMN NO. 17 & 18 (PAGE 118 ) IN RESPECT OF THE PETITIONER

Recommendations made by the District Level Committee
Recommendations made by the State Level Committee
17
18

The Society has got four rooms. It has three-acre land under its ownership. Funds are sufficient with the Society. Hence there is recommendation.
Needs are-Material facilities are there in part. Furniture is in part. Funds to the extent of fixed norms not available. There is no recommendation.

COLUMN NO. 17 & 18 ( PAGE 119 ) IN RESPECT OF THE RESPONDENT NO.5

Recommendations made by the District Level Committee
Recommendations made by the State Level Committee
17
18

The society has got no educational and material facilities. Hence there is no recommendation.

Needs are - Material facilities are there in part. Educational facilities are not available.Sufficient fund is available. The recommendation is made by No.2.

12. With the aforesaid material on record respondent nos. 1 to 4 supported their action. The respondent no.5 also filed their reply opposing this petition and tried to highlight merits of their proposal seeking permission to open new school.

THE ARGUMENT

13. With the aforesaid rival pleadings on record, the petition was heard. The learned counsel for the petitioner contended that perusal of the reasons sought to be recorded by the State Level Committee will show that it did not apply its mind to the educational infrastructure available with the petitioner. The only reason recorded against the petitioner seems to be the non availability of funds to the extent of fixed norms. He submitted that no such known norms fixed were ever formed or laid down by the State Government in this behalf at any time and no such fixed norms are available as on date, as such the said reason given could not be said to be legal and valid. He further submitted that had there been any such fixed norms, the District Level Committee would have taken cognizance of the same and would not have recommended its applications. He further pointed out that so far as the application of respondent no.5 was concerned, it was specifically noted by the State Level Committee that the educational facilities were not available with it, however, it appears to have been influenced with the hefty credit balance available in the account of the said applicant - society. So far as the availability of furniture, building or educational facilities are concerned, there is absolutely no reference to these aspects of the matter. He further submitted that the recommendation does not demonstrate as to what the State Level Committee desired by expressing itself by saying "the recommendation is made by no.2". The learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the decision of the State Level Committee appears to have been influenced by the political considerations in favour of respondent No.5-society as such the same is liable to be quashed and set aside.

14. Shri Sonawane, learned A.G.P. appearing for respondent nos. 1 to 4 submitted that the impugned decision is based on the recommendation made by the State Level Committee which did not recommend the application of the petitioner-society. He further submitted that no political interference in the matter can be allowed to be alleged in absence of specific allegations against any specific person. He submits that the person or persons against whom malafides are being alleged ought to have been joined as a party to the petition. In absence of any such person before the court, the petitioner cannot be heard of alleging political influence in the decision making process. He further tried to support the recommendation of the State Level Committee by showing comparative merits between the two competing applicants but could not take his submission to a logical end when he was confronted with the question as to how he could support the recommendation of the State Level Committee in favour of an institution which had no educational infrastructure such as school building, play ground, library facility or furniture for running the educational institutions. He found it difficult to support such recommendation.

15. Mr. Sonawane, could not place any norms or standards alleged to have been fixed by the State Government with respect to the availability of the finances for opening new schools, in spite of availability of sufficient time to produce the same. This petition was heard in piecemeal on more than 3 or 4 different dates with the gap of 4 to 5 days. In our opinion, it was open for the respondents to place such norms, if any, on record during the course of hearing. Mr. Sonawane, mainly relied upon the affidavits filed on record to support the impugned decision and relying upon such affidavits prayed for dismissal of the petition.

16. The learned counsel for the respondent no.5 adopting majority of the submissions advanced by Mr. Sonawane, A.G.P. tried his best to support permission granted in favour of respondent no.5 to open new school. He further submitted that the respondent no.5 society was considered favourably by the State Government considering positive recommendation made by the State Level Committee and was granted permission to start a new secondary school from the academic year 2000-2001. He summits that no fault can be found with the decision making process. He submits that the school opened by the respondent no.5 society is being run smoothly at Suputgaon and strength of the students taking education in 8th and 9th Standards in 45 and 19 respectively. He, therefore, urged not to disturb the permission granted in favour of the respondent no.5 society.

17. In rejoinder, the learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondents cannot be allowed to supplement the reasons in support of their decision relying upon various affidavits filed on record giving additional new reasons. He relied upon Mohinder Singh v. Chief Election Commissioner AIR 1978 SC 851. He further submitted that the affidavit dated 17th October, 2002 spelled out a case in favour of the respondent no.5, which is absolutely false to the knowledge of the said respondents themselves and prayed for making the rule absolute in terms of prayer clauses in the petition.

THE ISSUES

18. Having heard the parties at length and having examined the recommendations made by the District and State Level Committees in respect of the petitioner-society and the respondent no.5 and acceptance thereof by respondent No.1, State Government resulting in grant of permission in favour of the respondent no.5 society to open a new secondary school commencing from standard 8th, we feel that the following issues need consideration.

(A) Whether or not the recommendations made by the State Level Committee, and the consequent decision taken by respondent No.1, State Government, relying upon such recommendations suffer from non application of mind?

(B) Whether or not the impugned order suffers from non compliance of the directions issued by this Court in the case of Gramvikas Shikshan Prasarak Mandal (supra)?

CONSIDERATION AND FINDINGS

19. The District Level Committee after having examined the proposals submitted by the petitioner and respondent no.5, recorded that the petitioner was having four rooms for running school with three acres of land owned by it. It had sufficient funds sufficient to run school. Thus the application of the petitioner was recommended for consideration by the District Level Committee. At this juncture, it will not be out of place to highlight that the petitioner society even today has its own building with five rooms to run the classes dimension of which are to be found at page 20 of the petition. The society has also adequate furniture along with the books in their library worth Rs. 10,000/-. The credit balance shown in the bank is in the sum of Rs. 98,427/-. It has three acres of land so as to provide playground, a facility to play for the students, which is one of the prime requirements of any educational institution.

20. As against the above, the recommendation of the District Level Committee with respect to the respondent no.5 shows that society had not educational or other material facilities. It did not recommend the application of the respondent no.5 society. If one turns to the application of the respondent no.5 produced on record, it would be clear that the society at the relevant time had no building of its own. It had no play ground facility. No library facility was available with it. The application further suggested that two rooms in the residential house of one Revsiddh Jagdale, could be taken on payment of rent of Rs. 11,000/- per annum. The bank balance in the sum of Rs. 3,21,876/- was shown in the applications.

21. With the aforesaid respective recommendations of the District Level Committee, when the respective applications were placed before the State Level Committee, it was of the opinion that the petitioner society did not have funds to the extent of the fixed norms and for this isolated reason, it refused to recommend the case of the petitioner - society. As against this, the State Level Committee found material facility in part with sufficient funds available with respondent no.5 society though it clearly mentioned in its recommendation that the educational facilities were not available. These respective recommendations made by the State Level Committee with respect to the petitioner and respondent no.5 along with the respective recommendations of the District Level Committee were placed before the State Government for its consideration. The State Government, respondent No. 1 accepted the respective recommendations as were made by the State Level Committee without recording any decent. In the result, the request of the petitioner was turned down whereas the proposal of respondent No. 5 came to be accepted and an order granting permission was issued in favour of respondent No. 5.

22. In the aforesaid backdrop, if one decides to dissect the reasons, it would be clear that the petitioner-society armed with educational facilities such as building with a playground of about three acres of its own with class rooms to accommodate the students (five rooms) staff members, office of the school with library having books worth Rs. 10,000/= suffered a negative recommendation, whereas, the respondent no.5 society who had no such facilities except hefty bank balance could claim favourable recommendation from the State Level Committee. The question is: Whether the State Government was justified in accepting such recommendation?

23. In the case at hand, when the recommendations of the District Level Committee were reversed by the State Level Committee, it was expected on the part of the State Level Committee to record its own reasons on each count while reversing the recommendations of the District Level Committee. In this Case, there is absolutely no material on record to indicated why the State Level Committee did not deal with the recommendations of the District Level Committee which specifically dealt with each relevant point and mentioned that the petitioner-society did have a building with four rooms, three acres of land of its own with sufficient funds to open a new school. The State Level Committee mentioned that to funds were available with the petitioner - society as per the norms laid down. No norms were produced by the State Government in spite of sufficient time available with it. Had there been any norms, the District Level Committee would not have omitted to refer to those norms. Had it been in existence, the respondent No.1 would not have omitted to produce it on record. At any rate, no such material is on record in this behalf which compel us to hold that the reason recorded in this behalf by the State Level Committee is based on extraneous material and not supported by any evidence.

24. It is known to everybody, what could be the requirements of the new schools. In the normal circumstances, the applicant which had building, furniture, books, availability of play ground ought to have been given a preference, as against the society, who had absolutely no educational facility except a hefty credit balance in the bank account.

25. If one decides to further dissect the financial worth of both the societies; then it would further reveal that the society with its own building consisting of five rooms with three acres of land owned by it with library facility worth Rs.10,000/= with bank balance of about Rs.98,000/= definitely ranks better in financial status; if the entire assets of the society are taken into account and valued in terms of money, as against the society having only hefty credit balance in its account without any immovable property or education infrastructure. One more aspect which ought to have been taken into account was that the respondent no.5 society is already running two schools, viz. Adarsh Vidyalaya, Umarga, and Saraswati Vidyalaya at Makhani. This hefty credit balance lying in the account of the respondent No.5, society could not be said to be the funds which were available only for opening a new school at Supatgaon. This credit balance represents the credit balance of the society; which also caters to the need of other two schools. Under these circumstances, the recommendations of the State Level Committee and reasons recorded therefor to grant permission to the respondent no.5 and failure to recommend the case of the petitioner are absolutely perverse and cannot be sustained on any court whatsoever.

26. Having said so, let us consider whether the State Government was justified in accepting the recommendations of the State Level Committee with closed eyes. It was expected on the part of the State Government to apply its mind independently to the recommendations of the District as well as the State Level Committee. It was further obligatory on the part of the State Government to scrutinise the proposals on its own merits with open mind, especially, when the recommendations of the District Level Committee and State Level Committee were running counter to each other. It ought to have taken a decision based on reasons after careful scrutiny of the recommendations made by the Committees. It ought to have applied its mind and taken independent decision as to on whose recommendation it should act upon, whether District or State Level Committee when reasons and views recorded by both the committees were diametrically opposite. Any decision of the Government is required to be taken impartially with application of open mind. It must be based on reasons. It must stand to the scrutiny of law.

27. Let us examine the decision making process of the State Government. In this particular case, the State Government has mechanically accepted the recommendations of the State Level Committee without application of mind which can be seen from the letter produced at Exh. 'L' addressed to the petitioner society, wherein it has been mentioned that the proposal has been rejected for want of favourable recommendation from the State Level Committee. No material is on record to demonstrate independent scrutiny of the respective recommendations muchless with application of mind by respondent No.1, the State Government. At least, no material is on record in this behalf.

28. We may now turn to the other issue, whether or not the impugned order suffers from non compliance of the direction issued by this Court in the case of Gramvikas Shikshan Prasarak Mandal (supra ). The Division Bench of this Court in that case insisted upon recording of reasons in support of recommendations by the respective committees on the premise that the authority should give clear indication that it has carefully applied its mind. In turn the decision making authority has also to indicate that it has exercised its discretion with utmost care with which it has been empowered because "administrative process will best be indicated by clarity in its exercise". The giving of reasons is one of the fundamentals of good administration. Needless to mention that failure to give reasons amounts to a denial of justice. A person is entitled to know as to why his case has not been considered favourably by the authority concerned. The recent decisions of the Indian Courts lay down that in certain situations it is an implied duty to state the reasons or grounds for a decision. In order to avoid any grey area in this behalf, this Court in the case of Gramvikas Shikshan Prasarak Mandal (supra) had specifically laid down that no application seeking permission to open a new school shall be rejected for petty or insignificant reasons. Similarly, while granting permission the reasons should be recorded in order to ensure that the process is objective and transparent. The reasons should be communicated to the concerned institution.

29. In Harinagar Sugar Mills Ltd. Vs. Shyam Sundar Jhunjhunwala, AIR 1961 SC 1669, wherein the Central Government had reversed the decision appealed against without giving any reasons and the record did not disclose any apparent ground for the reversal. The Apex Court ruled, there was no proper trial of appeal before the Central Government since no reasons had been given in support of the order passed by the Deputy Secretary who had heard the appeals, whereby the order of the original authority was reversed. It is needless to mention that the condition to give reasons introduces clarity and excludes or at any rate minimizes arbitrariness, it gives satisfaction to the party against whom the order is made, and also enables an appellate or supervisory court to keep the authority within bounds. A reasoned order is a desirable condition of any good administration because the decision of the statutory authority in our country is subject to the supervisory writ jurisdiction of the High Court and of appellate jurisdiction of the Apex Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. It goes without saying that both the High Court and the Apex Court are placed under a great disadvantage if no reasons are given. The reasons are insisted upon in support of the order for three reasons:

i) that the party aggrieved has the opportunity to demonstrate that the reasons which persuaded the authority to reject his case were erroneous.

ii) that the obligation to record reasons operates as a deterrent against possible arbitrary action by the executive authority.

iii) that the higher judicial forum gets an opportunity to read the mind of the decision making authority in the event of challenge in the Court of law.

30. It is needless to mention that Article 14 strikes at arbitrariness in State action and ensures a fair and equal treatment. It requires that the State action must be based on valid, relevant principles applicable alike to all similarly situate and it must not be guided by any extraneous or irrelevant considerations because that would be denial of equality. Where the operative reasons for State action, as distinguished from motive inducing from the antechamber of the mind, is not legitimate and relevant but is extraneous and outside the area of permissible considerations, it would amount to mala fide exercise of power.

31. Recording of reasons in support of a decision on a disputed claim by the authority concerned ensures that the decision is reached according to law on the basis of policy or expediency and is not the result of caprice, whim or fancy. The authority is expected to adduce reasons which will be regarded as fair and legitimate by a reasonable man and will discard irrelevant or extraneous considerations. It is also a well-known principle that the person dealing with the State must be satisfied that his case has received proper attention at the hands of the State. The reasoned conclusions, on the other hand, will also have the appearance of justice.

32. Having considered the rationale for the requirement to record the reasons for the decision of an administrative authority, we may now examine the legal basis for imposing this obligation. In Siemens Engineering & Manufacturing Company of India Limited, (AIR 1976 SC 1785), the Apex Court has observed that "rule requiring reasons to be given in support of an order is, like the principle of audi alteram partem, a basic principle of natural justice which must inform every quasi-judicial process". The object underlying the rules of natural justice " is to prevent miscarriage of justice" and secure "fair play in action". As pointed out earlier the requirement about recording of reasons for its decision by an administrative authority exercising quasi-judicial functions achieves this object by excluding chances of arbitrariness and ensuring a degree of fairness in the process of decision-making. Keeping in view the expanding horizon of the principles of natural justice which govern exercise of power by administrative authorities, it is all the more necessary to record reasons. The rules of natural justice are not embodied rules. The recent trend is to read requirement of principles of natural justice where they are not provided so as to prevent any arbitrary exercise of power. This view is in consonance with the law laid down by the Apex Court in A.K.Kraipak Vs. Union of India (AIR 1970 SC 150).

33. We, on the above canvas, are of the confirmed view that it was obligatory on the part of the State Government prima facie to apply its mind and record some reasons for accepting or not accepting the recommendations of the District and/or State Level committee, especially, when the recommedanations of two recommending authorities were running counter to each other. As a matter of fact, the State Level committee was not acting as an appellate chamber over the Distict Level Committee. The idea was to filter the proposal at two levels and the State Government should have benefit of different views so that it can take reasoned decision objectively with due transparency.

34. In this view of the matter, in our opinion, not only the recommendations of the State Level Committee suffer from perverse and extraneous reasons, the mechanical acceptance thereof without application of mind by the State Government but also suffer from arbitrariness and breach of principles of natural justice. The decision taken by the State Government does not exhibit that their action is based on valid and relevant principles guided by any expediency or relevant considerations. Such action cannot stand to the scrutiny of law. We, therefore, hold that the action of the State Government suffers from non application of mind, legal malice and is in breach of principles of natural justice violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

35. In the result, for the reasons stated, we set aside the order dated 9.4.2001 (Exh.'L'), rejecting the request of the petitioner-society to open a new school and consequent permission granted by the state government in favour of the respondent no.5 to open a new secondary school at Supatgaon.

36. At this juncture, we may mention that the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner-society prayed for grant of permission to open school in exercise of writ jurisdiction of this Court. He requested not to remit this matter to the State Government for reconsideration afresh. In support of his prayer, at the cost of repetition, he brought to our notice that in the year 1998 the petitioner - society moved proposal for permission to start a new secondary school at village Supatgaon. Several reminders were sent to the respondents to accord sanction in that behalf. Application was kept pending by the State Government for a considerably long time; almost for two years. The petitioner-society was required to file writ petition, in the month of August-2000, wherein this Court was required to issue directions, vide order dated 4.9.2000, to the State Government to consider the application of the petitioner - society in accordance with the law. Thereafter, the petitioner-society issued more than two reminders including representation to the Hon'ble Chief Minister of the State to take proper steps in pursuance of the directions of this Court, but no steps were taken, and ultimately, petitioner was required to file contempt petition in the month of January-2001. During pendency of this petition, the respondent no.4 finding lapse at its door moved to get the proposal of the petitioner - society considered, which was, ultimately, met with rejection and, in turn, resulted in grant of permission in favour of the respondent no.5, whose application was subsequent to the application filed by the petitioner.

37. It is, no doubt, true that certain allegations of political interference were also made by the petitioner without joining the person as a party to the petition, against whom allegations of malafides were directed. We, therefore, did not taken into account the challenges set in petition in this behalf, but during the course of argument, it has been brought to our notice that the former Secretary of the respondent no.5 society and presently a member of the society, Mr. Basavraj Patil is a State Minister for Rural Development in the State Government, and, therefore, the petitioner apprehends that their applications may not get a fair deal at the hands of the State Government. There is no foundation for such apprehension. However, in order to prevent any further embarrassment to the State Government, without attaching any motives, keeping in mind the well established principle that justice should not only be done but it should appear to have been done, we do not propose to remand this matter to the State Government for consideration afresh.

38. The filtered recommendations are available on record in the light of undisputed facts and taking into account the availability of the educational infrastructure with the petitioner - society and in order to prevent any monopoly in favour of any institution or society and to develop the healthy competition, we propose to grant the application of the petitioner and hold that the petitioner - society shall be entitled to set a new secondary school at Supatgaon, however, from the ensuing new academic year 2003-2004. We quash and set aside the permission granted in favour of the respondent no.5 and direct closure of their school from the commencement of the ensuing year 2003-2004. We accordingly direct that the respondent no.1 to issue necessary authorisation for opening a new school, in favour of the petitioner - society from the academic year 2003-2004. The State Government may direct transfer of all the students admitted in a school opened by respondent no.5 institution to the new school to be opened by the petitioner-society from the academic year 2003-2004 or may give an option to the students to take admission in any other school in the adjoining village. In that event, the State Government is directed to issue suitable directions to the adjoining schools not to deny admissions to such students.

Accordingly petition is allowed. Rule is made absolute in terms of this order with no order as to costs.

Petition allowed