Bias means an operative prejudice, whether conscious or
unconscious, in relation to a party or issue. Such operative prejudice may be
the result of a preconceived opinion or a predisposition or a predetermination
to decide a case in a particular manner, so much so that it does not leave the
Therefore, the rule against bias strikes against those factors which
may improperly influence a judge in arriving at a decision in any particular
case. The requirement of this principle is that the judge must be impartial and
must decide the case objectively on the basis of the evidence on record. In
other words, a predisposition to decide for or against one party without regard
to the merit of the case is bias
Therefore the maxim that a person cannot be
made a judge in his own case. Crawford Bayley & co v/s Union of India
SCC25,the supreme court held that restarted that the doctrine of rules against
bias comes into play if it is shown that the officer concerned has a personal
connection or personal interest or as personally acted in the matter concerned
and / or has already taken a decision one way or the other which he may be
interested in supporting.
The principle nemo judex in causa sua
¯ willnot apply where the authority has
no personal is with the person concerned. Therefore , where cases of
malpractice and pilferage by consumers of electricity were decided by the
electricity board itself, the supreme court held that it is not a violation of
the rule against bias such cases are similar to income tax and sales tax cases.
Hyderabad vanaspathi ltd v Andhra Pradesh
AIR 1998 SCC470.
Types of Bias:
- Personal Bias
- Pecuniary Bias
- Subject Matter Bias
- Departmental Bias
- Policy Notion Bias
- Preconceived Notion Bias
- Bias On Account of Obstinacy.
Personal bias arises from a certain relationship equation between
the deciding authority and the parties which incline him unfavourably or
otherwise on the side of one of the parties before him. Such equation may
develop out of varied forms of personal or professional hostility or
friendship. However, no exhaustive list is possible. Baidyanath mahapatra v
State of Orissa
, AIR1989 SCC664,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
Real likelihood of bias / reasonable suspicion of bias:-
However , in order to challenge an administrative action
successfully on the ground of personal bias it is essential to prove that there
is a reasonable suspicion of bias¯ or a real likelihood of bias¯. The
reasonable suspicion test looks mainly to outward appearance, and the real
likelihood¯ test focuses on the courts own evaluation of possibilities.
Ramanand Prasad singh v Union of India
AIR1996 SCC64,the supreme court held
that participation in the selection committee as a member where his brother was
a candidate but was not selected his inconsequential bias on which the whole
select list cannot be quashed.
In judicial approach unanimous and decisive on the point that any
financial interest, howsoever small it may be, would vitiate administrative
action. The disqualification wil not be avoided by non-participation of the
biased member in the proceedings if he was present when the decision was
Jeejeebhoy v collector
AIR 1965 SC 1096,the chief justice reconstituted the
bench when it was found that one of the members of the bench was a member of the
cooperative society for which the land had been acquired. The Madras High Court
also quashed the decision of the decision of the collector who in capacity as
the chairman of the Regional Transport Authority had granted a permit in favour
of a cooperative society of which he was also a chairman.
Subject Matter Bias:
Those cases fall within this category where the deciding officer is
directly, or otherwise, involved in the subject-matter of the case. Here again
mere involvement would not vitiate the administrative action unless there is a
real likelihood of bias.
Muralidhar v kadam singh
AIR1954 MP III,the court refused to quash the decision
of the Election Tribunal on the ground that the wife of the chairman was a
member of the Congress party whose candidate the petitioner defeated.
The problem of departmental bias is something which is ingerent in
the administrative process, and if not effectively checked, it may negate the
very concept of fairness in administrative proceedings.
This problem came up nefore the supreme court in Hari K. Gawali v Dy. Commr.
. In this case, an externment order was challenged on the ground that
since the police department which initiated the proceedings and the department
which heard and decided the case were the same , the element of departmental
bias vitiated administrative action. The court rejected the challenge on the
ground that so long as the two separate officers, though they were affiliated to
the same department, there was no bias.
Policy Notion Bias:
Bias arising out of preconceived policy notions is a very delicate
problem of administrative law. On one hand, no judge as a human being is
expected to sit as a blank sheet of paper and on the other, preconceived policy
notions may vitiate a fair trail.
Recent trend in almost all jurisdictions is that policy bias is not considered
as bias which vitiates an administrative action. In Bajaj Hindustan ltd. V . sir
Shadilal enterprises ltd
., court did not allow a challenge to an administrative
action on the ground of policy bias.
Preconceived Notion Bias:
This type of bias is also called as unconscious bias¯ all person
exercising adjudicatory powers are humans with human prejudices, no matter some
persons are more human than others. This may include class bias¯ and
personality bias¯. Every person is a product of a class and inherits some
characteristics of the class which may also reflect in his decision “ making
process. In the same manner, every persons personality is a combination of his
biological and social heredity which determine his values and attitudes in a way
that may condition his decision making process. The problem of unconscious bias
is such which is inherent in any adjudication and cannot be eliminated unless
detected by some over action of the authority, and is so detected can vitiate an
administrative hearing if it has a direct relation with decision. This may
include a situation where the deciding officer openly expresses his prejudice.
Bias On Account of Obstinacy:
The supreme court has discovered a new category of bias arising from
thoroughly unreasonable obstinacy. Obstinacy implies unreasonable and
unwavering persistence, and the deciding officer would not take no¯ for an
answer. This new category of bias was discovered in a situation where a judge
of the Calcutta high court upheld his own judgement while sitting in appeal
against his own judgement. of course, a direct violation of the rule that no
judge can sit in appeal against his own judgement is not possible, therefore,
this rule can only be violated indirectly. In this case, in a fresh writ
petition, the judge validated his own order in an earlier writ petition which
had been overruled by the division bench. What applies to judicial process can
be applied to administrative process as well.
Doctrine of Necessity:
The doctrine of necessity makes it imparitive for the authority to
decide, and considerations of judicial propriety must yield. It can be invoked
in cases of bias where there is no authority to decide the issue. If the
doctrine of necessity is not allowed full play in certain unavoidable
situations, it would impede the courses of justice itself and the defaulting
party would benefit from it.
Amaranth choudhury v Braithwaite &co limited AIR 2002 SCC 290,on the ground
misconduct, disciplinary authority has dismissed a person from service. He went
in appeal before the board of directors where the chairman “cum “ managing
director was the same person who was also the chairman of the disciplinary
authority and who did not rescue himself, which was an alternative. The court
held that the rule of necessity cannot be applied to save the auction.
Every kind of preference is not sufficient to vitiate an
administrative action. If the preference is rational and unaccompanied by
consideration of rational interest, pecuniary or otherwise it would not vitiate
the decision. Similarly , there must be a real likelihood and not a mere
suspicion of bias, before the proceedings can be quashed on the ground of bias.
This apprehension must be judged from a healthy , reasonable and average point
of view and not a mere apprehension and vague suspicion of whimsical capricious
and unreasonable people. As the justice rooted in the minds of the people and
it is destroyed when the right minded people go away thinking that the judge is