Alternative remedy – when not bar:-
36. Article 226 of the Constitution of India confers very vide powers on High Courts to issue writs but this power is discretionary and the High Court may refuse to exercise the discretion if it is satisfied that the aggrieved person has adequate or suitable remedy elsewhere. It is a rule of discretion and not rule of compulsion or the rule of law. Even though there may be an alternative remedy, yet the High Court may entertain a writ petition depending upon the facts of each case. It is neither possible nor desirable to lay down inflexible rule to be applied rigidly for entertaining a writ petition. Some exceptions to the rule of alternative remedy as settled by Hon’ble Supreme Court are as under:-
“(i) Where there is complete lack of jurisdiction in the officer or authority to take the action or to pass the order impugned.
(ii) Where vires of an Act, Rules, Notification or any of its provisions has been challenged.
(iii) Where an order prejudicial to the writ petitioner has been passed in violation of principles of natural justice.
(iv) Where enforcement of any fundamental right is sought by the petitioner.
(v) Where procedure required for decision has not been adopted.
(vi) Where Tax is levied without authority of law.
(vii) Where decision is an abuse of process of law.
(viii) Where palpable injustice shall be caused to the petitioner, if he is forced to adopt remedies under the statute for enforcement of any fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
(ix) Where a decision or policy decision has already been taken by the Government rendering the remedy of appeal to be an empty formality or futile attempt.
(x) Where there is no factual dispute but merely a pure question of law or interpretation is involved.”
Abuse of Power:-
40. It is settled law that if a public functionary acts maliciously or oppressively and the exercise of power results in harassment and agony then it is not an exercise of power but its abuse. No law provides protection against it. Harassment by public authorities is socially abhorring and legally impermissible which causes more serious injury to society. In modern society no authority can arrogate to itself the power to act in a manner which is arbitrary.
51. In Commissioner of Income Tax, Shimla vs. Green world Corporation Paramo, (2009) 7 SCC 69, Hon’ble Supreme Court held that an order passed by quasi-judicial authorities on the dictates of the higher authority is illegal and being without jurisdiction, is a nullity. Hon’ble Supreme Court further held that an Income Tax Officer while passing an order of assessment, performs a quasi-judicial function. Hon’ble Supreme Court further held that it is one thing to say that while making the orders of assessment the Assessing Officer shall be bound by the statutory circulars issued by CBDT but it is another thing to say that the assessing authority exercising quasi-judicial function keeping in view the scheme contained in the Act, would lose its independence to pass an independent order of assessment. If the Assessing Officer passes an order at the instance or dictate of the higher authority, it shall be illegal.
54. In the case of Lucknow Development Authority vs M.K. Gupta, 1994 SCC (1) 243 (para-8), Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:
“The administrative law of accountability of public authorities for their arbitrary and even ultra vires actions has taken many strides. It is now accepted both by this Court and English Courts that the State is liable to compensate for loss or in’ jury suffered by a citizen due to arbitrary actions of its employees.
…………………….. Under our Constitution sovereignty vests in the people.
Every limb of the constitutional machinery is obliged to be people oriented. No functionary in exercise of statutory power can claim immunity, except to the extent protected by the statute itself. Public authorities acting in violation of constitutional or statutory provisions oppressively are accountable for their behavior before authorities created under the statute like the commission or the courts entrusted with responsibility of maintaining the rule of law.