Bias manifests itself variously and affects a decision in a variety of ways. It can broadly be classified into six categories. We shall be dealing with each kind in detail in this particular article:
1.Personal Bias:It arises out of the personal or professional relationship of friendship or hostility between the authority and the parties. Its the human nature that we try to give favorable decision to our friends or relatives, whereas use the same as a weapon against the enemies.
Apex courts decision in Mineral Development Corporation Ltd. V. State of Bihar, serves as a good illustration on the point.
Here, the petitioners were granted a mining lease for 99 years in 1947. But in 1955, government quashed the license. The petitioners brought an action against the minister passing this order on the behalf of government, on the ground that, the petitioner in 1952 opposed the minister in General election. Therefore, on the account of political rivalry, the minister passed such an order, and hence the order was suffered from personal bias. Supreme Court found the allegation to be true and thus quashed the said order.Similarly in Baidyanath Mohapatra v. state of Orissa, the Supreme Court quashed the order of the tribunal confirming premature retirement on the ground that the chairman of the tribunal was also a member of the review committee which had recommended premature retirement.
There are two kinds of tests to ascertained which kind of sub bias to personal bias it is actually :
(a)Reasonable Suspicion Of Bias: looks mainly to outward appearance.
(b)Real Likelihood Of Bias: Focuses on courts own evaluation of possibilities.In both the situations, the court sees whether there is reasonable ground for believing that the deciding officer was likely to be biased, as it is very difficult to prove a persons state of mind.
In the case of Jiwan K. Lohia v. Durga Dutt Lohia, the apex court observed that with regard to the bias the teat to be applied is not whether in fact the bias has affected the judgment, but whether a litigant could reasonably apprehend that a bias attributable might have operated against him in the final decision.Therefore the real test for likelihood of bias is whether a reasonable person in possession of relevant information, would have thought that bias was likely and whether the authority concerned was likely to be disposed to decide a matter in a particular manner.
2. Pecuniary Bias:Any financial interest howsoever small it may be is bound to vitiate the administrative action. The judicial opinion is unanimous as to it.In R v. Hendon Rular District Council, the court in England quashed the decision of the planning commission, where one of the members was an estate agent who was acting for the applicant to whom permission was granted.In Jeejeebhoy vs. Astt. Collector,Thana the CJ reconstituted the bench ,when it was found that one of the members of the bench was the member of the cooperative society for which the land has been acquired.
But this rule is not applicable where the judge, though having a financial interest, has no direct financial interest in the outcome of the case. this is evident from the Court of Appeal decision in R v. Mulvhill, where the court refused to set aside the conviction of an accused on a charge of robbery in a bank on the ground that the trial judge had shares in that bank. In such cases unless there is a likelihood of bias administrative action will not be quashed.
3. Subject Matter Bias:The situations where the deciding officer is directly or indirectly in the subject matter of the case.In R v. Deal Justices ex p. Curling, the magistrate was not declared disqualified to try a case of cruelty to an animal on the ground that he was a member of the royal society for the prevention of cruelty to animals as this did not prove a real likelihood of bias.The supreme court in cases like Murlidhar v. Kadam Singh and Sub Committee of Judicial Accountability v. Union of India, followed the same line. But in Gulla palli Nageshwara Rao v. APSRTC, the Supreme Court quashed the decision of A.P. government . nationalizing road transport on the ground that the secratery of the transport department who was given a hearing was interested in the subject matter. It may be mentioned that in USA and England, predisposition in favor of a policy in the public interest is not considered as legal bias vitiating administrative actions.Deputy Superintendent of Police on the General Manager, Haryana Roadways in matters of inspection of vehicles on the ground of departmental bias.
5. Preconceived Notion Bias:Bias arising out of preconceived notions is a very delicate problem of administrative law. On the one hand, no judge as a human being is expected to sit as a blank sheet of paper, on the other hand, preconceived notions would vitiate a fair trial. A classic case bringing this problem to the forefront is Franklin v. Minister of Town and Country Planning known as Stevenage case. In this case the appellant challenged the She minister had entertained as to foreclose his mind. He simply helped the government in framing the scheme. Similarly, in Kondala Rao v. APSRTC the court did not quash the nationalization of the road transport order of the Minister who had heard the objections of private operators on the ground that the same Minister had presided over a meeting only a few days earlier in which nationalization was favored. The court rejected the contention on the ground that the decision of the committee was not final and irrevocable” but merely a policy decision.The problem of bias arising from preconceived notions may have to be disposed of as an inherent limitation of the administrative process. It is useless to accuse a public officer of bias merely because he is predisposed in favor of some policy in the public interest.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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