Ministers exercising quasi-judicial powers cannot act merely as a rubber stamp and mechanically endorse opinion of department officials, the Bombay high court said last week and struck down an order passed by the minister of social justice about some ashram schools in Miraj tehsil of Sangli district.
“The quasi-judicial powers vested with the department head cannot be delegated to anybody in the department irrespective of their hierarchy and status,” justice SC Dharmadhikari observed adding that the fact that officials and ministers are busy and cannot devote full time and attention is not an excuse.
The court struck down the order passed by the minister on May 5, 2012 on a case pertaining to three ashram schools run by Rashtriya Shikshan Sangh. Following complaints about lack of basic facilities, the director of the ST, NT and other backward and special backward class welfare office had cancelled the approval of the schools.
The minister merely expressed his view orally, after which the social service department dispatched a written order.