Marathwada University Vs Seshrao Balwant Rao Chavan delivered on 13 April 1989

 


In the Supreme Court of India

Equivalent citations: 1989 AIR 1582, 1989 SCR (2) 454

Author: K Shetty

Bench: Shetty, K.J. (J)

PETITIONER: MARATHWADA UNIVERSITY
 
            Vs.
 
RESPONDENT: SESHRAO BALWANT RAO CHAVAN
 
DATE OF JUDGMENT13/04/1989
 
BENCH:
SHETTY, K.J. (J)
KULDIP SINGH (J)
 
CITATION:
 1989 AIR 1582                  1989 SCR  (2) 454
 1989 SCC  (3) 132             JT 1989 (2)       276
 1989 SCALE  (1)996
 
ACT : Marathwada University Act, 1974: Sections 8, 10, 11, 19, 23, 24, 27 and 84—Vice Chancellor of every university--Conscious
keeper and constitutional ruler--responsible for over all administration of academic affairs--To act firmly to put down indiscipline 
and malpractice--Executive Council has power of removal 'to regulate the work and conduct of the officers'--Whether implies power 
to take disciplinary action.
 
Administrative Law: Delegation of power--When statute prescribes a particular body to exercise power—That body alone and none 
else can exercise it--Unless it is delegated--Ratification--Cannot cure an ultra vires action. 
 
HEADNOTE:
The respondent was a Deputy Registrar of the appellant University. As the Controller of Examinations had proceeded on  leave the 
respondent was discharging the duties of Controller of Examinations. A complaint alleging that the respondent had delayed the 
payment of the bills of an out-station party who had printed the question papers  for the annual examination was received by the 
University. The Executive Council of the University appointed an Enquiry Officer to hold an enquiry to find out whether the bills 
were deliberately kept pending with any ulterior motive. The Enquiry Officer gave a clean chit to the respondent as to his conduct 
in discharging the duties as Controller of Examinations.
 
The Executive Council of the University did not take any decision on the report of the Enquiry Officer, but entrusted the question 
to the Vice-Chancellor who was present at the meeting. The Vice-Chancellor directed a departmental enquiry against the 
respondent and appointed an advocate as the Enquiry Officer. The Enquiry Officer by his report held the respondent guilty of all 
the charges levelled against him. The Vice Chancellor after giving a show cause notice and considering the reply of the 
respondent, dismissed him from service. The respondent moved the High Court under Article 226 challenging his dismissal. 
When the writ-petition was taken up for hearing the High Court directed the entire matter to be placed before the Executive 
Council for an appropriate decision. The Executive Council considered the matter at its meeting and passed a resolution 
ratifying the action taken by the Vice-Chancellor, and confirming the dismissal of the respondent. At the final disposal of the 
writ petition, the High Court examined the matter on merits and held that the action taken by the Vice-Chancellor being without 
any authority or power, these defects could not be cured by ratification by the Executive Council in its subsequent resolution. 
The High Court accordingly quashed the departmental proceedings taken against the respondent, and also the order of termination 
of his services.
 
In the appeal to this Court, it was contended on behalf of the University: (i) That on a true construction of the several provisions 
of the Marathwada University Act, 1974, the termination of services of the respondent cannot be assailed for want of power or 
jurisdiction on the part of the Vice-Chancellor, and (2) that if the order was defective or without authority, the ratification by 
the Executive Council had rendered it immune from any challenge.
Dismissing the Appeal, the Court,
 
HELD: 1. The Vice-Chancellor in every university is the conscious keeper of the University and the constitutional ruler. He is the 
principal executive and academic officer of the University. He is entrusted with the responsibility of overall administration of 
academic as well as on-academic affairs. [464A-B]
 
2. As the principal executive officer the Vice-Chancellor also carries with him an implied power, the magisterial power. This power 
is essential for him to maintain  domestic discipline in the academic and non-academic affairs. In a wide variety of situations 
in the relationship of tutor and pupil, he has to act firmly and promptly to put down indiscipline and malpractice. It may not be 
illegitimate if he could call to aid his implied powers and also emergency powers to deal with all such situations. [464D-E]
 
3. The Marathwada University Act, 1974 confers both express and implied powers on the Vice-Chancellor. The express powers 
include among others, the duty to ensure that the provisions of the Act, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations are observed by 
all concerned. [Section 11(3)] He has a right to regulate the work and conduct of Officers and teaching and other employees of 
the University [Sec.  11(b)(a)]. He has also emergency powers to deal with any untoward situation [Section 11(4)] a very 
significant power. If he believes that a situation calls for immediate action, he can take such action as he thinks necessary, 
though in the normal course he is not competent to do so. However he must report to the concerned authority or body, who 
would, in the ordinary course, have dealt with the matter. [464B-C]

4. The power 'to regulate the work and conduct of the officers' cannot include the power to take disciplinary action for their 
removal. [464F]
 
5. When a statute prescribes a particular body to exercise a power, it must be exercised only by that body. [464G]
Halsbury's Laws of England Vol. 1, 4th Edn. page 32, referred to.
 
6. The Marathwada University Act confers power to appoint officers on the Executive Council and it generally includes the 
power to remove. This power is located under Section 24 (1) (XXIX) of the Act. [464F-G]
 
7. The resolution of the Executive Council at a  meeting, at which the Vice Chancellor was also present, gave full power to the 
Vice-Chancellor 'to take a decision on this question'. By the power delegated under the resolution, the Vice-Chancellor could either 
accept or reject the report with intimation to the Executive Council. He could not have taken any other action and indeed, he was 
not authorised to take any other action. [465F-G]
 
8. The resolution was also not in harmony with the statutory requirement. Approval of the Chancellor to the delegation of power 
by the Executive Council to the Vice-Chancellor was mandatory under section 24 (1) (xii) read with section/84 of the Marathwada 
University Act. The resolution not being in conformity with the statutory requirement could not confer power on the Vice-Chancellor 
to take action against the respondent. [465H; 466A-C]
 
9. Ratification is generally an act of principal  with regard to a contract or an act done by his agent. The principles of ratification in 
the context of the law of agency apparently do not have any application with regard to exercise of power conferred under statutory 
provisions. The statutory authority cannot travel beyond the power conferred and any action without power has no legal validity. It 
is ab initio void and cannot be ratified. [468A-B]
 
Friedman's Law of Agency (5th Edn.) Chapter 5 at page 73, Bowstead on Agency (14th Ed.) at page 39, Parmeshwari Prasad 
Gupta v. Union of India, [1974] 1 SCR 304 and Bernard v. National Dock Labour Board, [1953] 1 All Eng. Law Reports 1113.
 
In the instant case, there was no prior delegation of power to the Vice-Chancellor to take disciplinary action against the respondent. 
There was no subsequent delegation either. Therefore, neither the action taken by the Vice-Chancellor, nor the ratification by the 
Executive Council could be sustained. [469F]
 
JUDGMENT:
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 3927 of 1986.
 
From the Judgment and Order dated 18.6. 1986 of the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition No. 10 of 1980. S.K. Dholakia, 
A.M. Khanwilkar and Mrs. V.D. Khanna for the Appellant.

V.M. Tarkunde, Karanjawala, Mrs. Karanjawala and H.S. Anand for the Respondent.
 
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by:
K. JAGANNATHA SHETTY, J. This appeal by leave is from a decision of the Bombay High Court which allowed the respondent's petition 
for a writ of certiorari. In so doing the court quashed departmental proceedings initiated against the respondent and the resultant 
order terminating his services. The facts are substantially undisputed and may briefly be stated as follows:
Respondent-Seshrao Balwant Rao Chavan was at the relevant time the Deputy Registrar of the Marathwada University. One Mr. Yelikar 
was working then as Controller of Examinations. In or about April 1976, Mr. Yelikar proceeded on leave and the present respondent 
was directed to discharge the duties of the Controller of Examinations. Accordingly, he joined his new assignment and continued to hold 
that post when the controversy which culminated in his dismissal took place.
 
It is said that one Mr. Swaminathan from Madras was entrusted with the printing works needed to conduct annual examinations of the 
University for the years 1974 and 1975. Mr. Swaminathan submitted his bills amounting about Rs.6,00,000 for the work performed by 
him. The bills were not cleared immediately, and Mr. Swaminathan complained to the University authorities. He also submitted a petition 
to the Prime Minister of India which was forwarded to the University for immediate action. This led to an enquiry to find out whether 
the bills were deliberately kept pending with any ulterior motive. The Executive Council of the University appointed a four-member 
committee including the Vice-Chancellor to enquire into the matter. The committee after investigation submitted a report in November 
1977 making some prima facie observations against the respondent. Thereupon, the Executive Council desired to have the matter 
thoroughly examined by another committee. It appointed Mr. N.B. Chavan for the purpose. Mr. Chavan made a detailed enquiry but 
found nothing against the respondent. On December 23, 1978, he submitted a report stating inter alia that there was no delay in 
clearing the said bills and if there was any delay, it was justified in the circumstances. He has stated that the University utilised the 
time for internal audit in which it was found that the claim of Mr. Swaminathan was excessive to the extent of Rs.48,000 and odd. 
The report of Mr. Chavan thus gave a clean chit to the respondent as to his conduct in discharging the duties as Controller of 
Examinations.
 
If the Executive Council had accepted the report and closed the matter that would have been better. But unfortunately, it was not 
done and another chapter was opened. On March 22, 1979, the report of Mr. Chavan was placed before the Executive Council 
which, without taking any decision, entrusted the question to the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor was present in that meeting 
and agreed to take a decision in about a month. But what he did was entirely different. Purporting to act under the powers given to 
him by the Executive Council, he directed departmental enquiry against the respondent. He appointed Mr. Motale, Advocate as an 
Inquiry Officer who flamed three charges: First charge impeached the respondent of intentionally delaying the clearance of the bills 
of Mr. Swaminathan and thus tarnishing the image of the University. Second charge alleged that the respondent did not place before 
the Executive Council, the letters, addressed by the Chancellor of the University on July 23, 1976 and August 19, 1976. Third charge 
accused the respondent for not producing all the available papers for scrutiny by the one- man committee headed by Mr. Chavan.
 
On October 25, 1979, Mr. Motale submitted his' enquiry report to the Vice-Chancellor holding the respondent guilty of the charges. 
After a usual procedure of giving show cause notice and considering the reply thereto, the Vice-Chancellor decided to dismiss the 
respondent. On January 2, 1980, he accordingly made an order.
 
The matter did not rest there. The respondent moved the High Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution challenging his dismissal. 
When the writ petition first came up for hearing in November 1985, the High Court took a very curious stand. It observed that the 
entire matter be placed before the Executive Council for taking an appropriate decision. As per this observation, the matter came 
up before the Executive Council in the meeting held on December 26/27, 1985. The Executive Council passed a resolution inter alia, 
ratifying the action taken by the Vice-Chancellor and confirming the dismissal of the respondent. This has added a new dimension 
to the case.
 
At the final disposal of the writ petition, the High Court, however, examined the merits of the matter. The High Court held that the 
action taken by the Vice-Chancellor was without authority of law. As to the ratification made by the Executive Council, the High 
Court held: "That the acts done by the Vice-Chancellor remain the acts without any authority or powers and that defects cannot 
be cured by the subsequent resolution." With these conclusions, the High Court quashed the departmental proceedings taken against 
the respondent and also the order of termination of his services.
 
Being aggrieved by the judgment, the Marathwada University by obtaining special leave has appealed to this Court.
 
Learned counsel for the appellant put his contention in two ways: First, he said that on the true construction of the relevant 
provisions of the Marathwada University Act, 1974, the termination of services of the respondent cannot be assailed for want of 
power or jurisdiction on the part of the Vice-Chancellor. Counsel next said that if the order was defective or without authority, the 
ratification by the Executive Council has rendered it immune from any challenge. In order to appreciate these submissions, we must 
outline the statutory provisions of the Marathwada University Act, 1974 (called shortly "the Act"). Section 8 specifies the officers of 
the University. The Vice-Chancellor is one of the officers. Section 10 provides for appointment of the Vice-Chancellor. He shall be 
appointed by the Chancellor and shall ordinarily hold office for a term of three years. Section 11 reads, so far as material, as follows:
 
"11 (1): The Vice-Chancellor shall be the principal executive and academic officer of the University, and shall in the absence of the 
Chancellor, preside at the meetings of the Senate and at any Convocation of the University ...."
 
"11 (3): It shah be the duty of the Vice-Chancellor to ensure that the provisions of this Act, the Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations 
are faithfully observed. The Chancellor shall, for this purpose, have the power to issue directions to the Vice-Chancellor who shall 
give effect to any such directions."
 
11 (4): If there are reasonable grounds for the Vice-Chancellor to believe that there is an emergency which requires immediate action 
to be taken, he shall take such action as he thinks necessary and shall, at the earliest opportunity, report in writing the grounds for 
his belief that there was an emergency, and the action taken by him, to such authority or body as would in the ordinary course, have 
dealt with the matter . ...."
 
11 (6)(a): It shall be lawful for the Vice-Chancellor, as the principal executive and academic officer, to regulate the work and conduct 
of the officers, and of the teaching, academic and other employees of the University, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, 
the Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations."
 
"11 (7): The Vice-Chancellor shall exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as are prescribed by the Statutes, 
Ordinances and Regulations."
 
Section 19 enumerates the authorities of the University. The Executive Council is one of the authorities specified thereunder. 
Section 23 to the extent necessary is in the following terms:
 
"23 (1): The Executive Council shall be the principal executive authority of the University, and shall consist of the following members, 
namely,: (i) the Vice-Chancellor ex- officio Chairman."
 
Section 24 deals with the powers and duties of the Executive Council. These powers and duties are wide and varied and it is sufficient 
if we read sub-sections (1), (xxix) and (xii) of sec. 24. They are as follows: "24 (1): Subject to such conditions as are prescribed by 
or under this Act, the Executive Council shall exercise the following powers and perform the following duties, namely ......."
 
"24 (1) (xxix): appoint officers and other employees of the University, prescribe their qualifications, fix their emoluments, define the 
terms and conditions of their service and discipline and where necessary, their duties." 
 
"24 (1) (x1i): delegate, subject to the approval of the Chancellor, any of its powers (except the power to make Ordinances), to the 
Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar or the Finance Officer, or such other officers or authority of the University or a committee appointed 
by it, thinks fit."
 
Two other provisions are material, namely, secs. 37 and 84. Section 37, omitting the unnecessary, is in these terms:
 
Sec. 37 Subject to the conditions prescribed by or under this Act, the Senate may make the Statutes to provide for all or any of 
the following matters namely:
 
(xvi): The term of office, duties and conditions of service of officers, teachers and other employees of the University, the provisions 
of pension, insurance and provident fund and the manner of termination of their service and other disciplinary action and their 
qualifications, except those of teachers."
 
Section 34 is as follows: 
"Delegation of powers: Subject to the provisions of this Act and Statutes any officer or authority of the University may, by order, 
delegate his or its powers, except. the power to make Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations, to any other officer or authority 
under his or its control, and subject to the conditions that the ultimate responsibility for the exercise of the powers so delegated 
shall continue to vest in the officer or authority delegating them."
 
With these provisions, we turn to consider the first question urged for the appellant. The question is whether the Vice-Chancellor 
was competent to direct disciplinary action against the respondent. In this context, we may make a few general observations 
about the position and powers of the Vice-Chancellor. The University Education Commission in its report (Vol. I December 1948 to 
August 1949) has summarised the powers and duties as follows (at 421):
 
"Duties of Vice-Chancellor -- A Vice- Chancellor is the chief academic and executive officer of his university. He presides over the 
Court (Senate) in the absence of the Chancellor, Syndicate (Executive Council), Academic Council, and numerous committees 
including the selection committees for appointment of staff. It is his duty to know the senior members of the staff intimately and 
to be known to all members of the staff and students. He must command their confidence both by adequate academic reputation 
and by strength of personality. He must know his university well enough to be able to foster its points of strength and to foresee 
possible points of weakness before they become acute.' He must be the 'keeper of the university's conscience', both setting the 
highest standard by example and dealing promptly and firmly with indiscipline and malpractice of any kind. All this he must do and 
it can be done as constitutional ruler; he has not, and should not have autocratic power. Besides, this he must be the chief liaison 
between his university and the public, he must keep the university alive to the duties it owes to the public which it serves, and 
he must win support for the university and understanding of its needs not merely from potential benefactors but from the general 
public and its elected representatives. Last, he must have the strength of character to resist unflinchingly the many forms of 
pressure to relax standards of all sorts, which are being applied to universities today."
 
This has been approved by the Education Commission, 1964-66. In the report of the Education Commission, 1971 (pages 610-11 
para 13.32) it was stated:

"The person who is expected, above all, to embody the spirit of academic freedom and the principles of good management in a 
university is the Vice-Chancellor. He stands for the commitment of the university to scholarship and pursuit of truth and can ensure 
that the executive wing of the university is used to assist the academic community in all its activities. His selection should, 
therefore, be governed by this overall consideration."
 
Dr. A.H. Homadi in his wise, little study about the role of the Vice-Chancellor in the university administration in developing countries 
has this to state (at 49):
 
The President or the Vice-Chancellor: "The President must be willing to accept a definition of educational leadership that brings about 
change to the academic life of the institution. He must be fired by a deep concern for education. He should instill a spirit and keenness
about growth and development in such a way that the professors feels that their goals are interlinked with those of the University, 
that their success depends upon the success of the University. The professors should be given detailed information about the jobs 
that they have to perform and their good performance should be given due recognition by administration leadership. Even such small 
encouragement will boost their morale to greater heights. The President should have faith in his own abilities as well as on the abilities 
of other professors and administrators and should provide guidelines about the kind of efforts he would like his professors and 
administrators to make, setting an example by his own actions and exercises. The negative force of fear, when used and no one denies 
that an element of hard headedness is some times required as a persuasive inducement to professors and administrators of university, 
should be employed judiciously. Under no circumstances should the apathy and belligerence of the professors and administrators be 
aroused. These call for strong but sympathetic leadership in the President."
 
The Vice-Chancellor in every university is thus the conscious keeper of the University and constitutional ruler. He is the principal executive 
and academic officer of the University. He is entrusted with the responsibility of overall administration of academic as well as nonacademic 
affairs. For these purposes, the Act confers both express and implied powers on the Vice-Chancellor. The express powers include among 
others, the duty to ensure that the provisions of the Act, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations are observed by all concerned. (Section 
11 (3)). The Vice-Chancellor has a right to regulate the work and conduct of officers and teaching and other employees of the University 
(Section 11 (6) (a)). He has also emergency powers to deal with any untoward situation (Section 11(4)). The power conferred under 
sec. 11 (4) is indeed significant. If the Vice-Chancellor believes that a situation calls for immediate action, he can take such action as he 
thinks necessary though in the normal course he is not competent to take that action. He must, however, report to the concerned authority 
or body who would, in the ordinary course, have dealt with the matter. That is not all. His pivotal position as the principal executive officer 
also carries with him the implied power. It is the magisterial power which is, in our view, plainly to be inferred. This power is essential for him 
to maintain domestic discipline in the academic and non-academic affairs. In a wide variety of situations in the relationship of tutor and pupil, 
he has to act firmly and promptly to put down indiscipline and malpractice. It may not be illegitimate if he could call to aid his implied powers 
and also emergency powers to deal with all such situations.
 
Counsel for the appellant argued that the express power of the Vice-Chancellor to regulate the work and conduct of officers of the University 
implies as well, the power to take disciplinary action against officers. We are unable to agree with this contention. Firstly, the power to 
regulate the work and conduct of officers cannot include the power to take disciplinary action for their removal. Secondly, the Act confers 
power to appoint officers on the Executive Council and it generally includes the power to remove. This power is located under sec. 24 (1) 
(xxix) of the Act. It is, therefore, futile to contend that the Vice-Chancellor can exercise that power which is conferred on the Executive 
Council. It is a settled principle that when the Act prescribes a particular body to exercise a power, it must be exercised only by that body. It 
cannot be exercised by others unless it is delegated. The law must also provide for such delegation. Halsbury's Laws of England (Vol.14th Ed. 
para 32) summarises these principles as follows:
 
"32. Sub-delegation of powers. In accordance with the maxim delegatus non potest delegare, a statutory power must be exercised only by 
the body or officer in whom it has been confided, unless sub-delegation of the power is authorised by express words or necessary implication. 
There is a strong presumption against construing a grant of legislative, judicial or disciplinary power as impliedly authorising sub-delegation; 
and the same may be said of any power to the exercise of which the designated body should address its own mind."
 
The counsel for the appellant next submitted that the Executive Council in the instant case had delegated its disciplinary power to the Vice-
Chancellor and the Act provides for such delegation. In support of the contention he relied upon the following resolution of the Executive 
Council:
 
"Full power be given to the Vice-Chancellor to take a decision on this question and the Vice-Chancellor informed the Executive Council that 
he will take decision in about a month. On this decision, Shri Gangadhar Pathrikar gave his opinion that the Executive Council should take a 
decision on the note dated 16.1. 1979 submitted by him and other two members and since it was not accepted, he does not agree with the 
above decision." 
 
This resolution, in our opinion, is basically faulty at least for two reasons. It may be recalled that the Executive Council without considering 
the report of Mr. Chavan, wanted the Vice-Chancellor to take a decision thereon. It may also be noted that the Vice-Chancellor was present 
at the meeting of the Executive Council when the resolution was passed. He was given "full power to take a decision" which in the context, 
was obviously on the report of Mr. Chavan, and not on any other matter or question. He said that he would take a decision in about a month. 
In our opinion, by the power delegated under the resolution, the Vice-Chancellor could either accept or reject the report with intimation to 
the Executive Council. He could not have taken any other action and indeed, he was not authorised to take any other action. The other 
infirmity in the said resolution goes deeper than what it appears. The resolution was not in harmony with the statutory requirement. Section 84 
of the Act provides for delegation of powers and it states that any officer or authority of the University may by order, delegate his or its 
power (except power to make Ordinance and Regulations) to any other officer or authority subject to provisions of the Act and Statutes. 
Section 24 (1) (xii) provides for delegation of power by the Executive Council. It states that the Executive Council may delegate any of its 
power (except power to make Ordinances) to the Vice-Chancellor or to any other officer subject to the approval of the Chancellor. (underling 
is ours). The approval of the Chancellor is mandatory. Without such approval the power cannot be delegated to the Vice-Chancellor. The 
record does not reveal that the approval of the Chancellor was ever obtained. Therefore, the resolution which was not in conformity with the 
statutory requirement could not confer power on the Vice-Chancellor to take action against the respondent.
 
This takes us to the second contention urged for the appellants. The contention relates to the legal effect of ratification done by the Executive 
Council in its meeting held on December 26/27, 1985. The decision taken by the Executive Council is in the form of a resolution and it reads 
as follows:
 
"Considering the issues, the Executive Council resolved as follows:
 
1. The Executive Council at its meeting held on March 22, 1979, had by a resolution given full authority to the Vice- Chancellor for taking 
further proceedings and decision in both the cases of the defaulting officers.
 
2. In exercise of above authority, the Vice-Chancellor appointed an Inquiry Officer and as suggested by the Inquiry Officer issued Show Cause 
notices, obtained replies from the Officers and lastly issued orders for terminating their services; XXX XXX XXX XXX XXX It was further resolved 
that--
(i) There has been no inadequacy in the proceedings against both the officers;
(ii) The punishment ordered against both the officers is commensurate with the defaults and allegations proved against both the officers; and
(iii) The Executive Council, therefore, wholly, endorses the actions taken by the then Vice-Chancellor against both the officers." By this 
resolution, we are told that the Executive Council has ratified the action taken by the Vice-Chancellor. Ratification is generally an act of 
principal with regard to a contract or an act done by his agent. In Friedman's Law of Agency (Fifth Edition) chapter 5 at p. 73, the/principle of 
ratification has been explained:
 
"What the 'agent' does on behalf of the 'principal' is done at a time when the relation of principal and agent does not exist: (hence the use in 
this sentence, but not in subsequent ones, of inverted commas). The agent, in fact, has no authority to do what he does at the time he does 
it. Subsequently, however, the principal, on whose behalf, though without whose authority, the agent has acted, accepts the agent's act, 
and adopts it, just as if there had been a prior authorisation by the principal to do exactly what the agent has done. The interesting point, 
which has given rise to considerable difficulty and dispute, is that ratification by the principal does not merely give validity to the agent's 
unauthorised act as from the date of the ratification: it is antedated so as to take effect from the time of the agent's act. Hence the agent 
is treated as having been authorised from the outset to act as he did. Ratification is 'equivalent to an antecedent authority' ." 
 
In Bowstead on Agency (14th Ed.) at p. 39) it is stated:
"Every act whether lawful or unlawful, which is capable of being done by means of an agent (except an act which is, in its inception, void) is 
capable of ratification by the person in whose name or on whose behalf it is done .....The words "lawful or unlawful", however, are included 
primarily to indicate that the doctrine can apply to torts. From them it would follow that a principal by ratification may retrospectively turn 
what was previously an act wrongful against the principle, e.g. an unauthorised sale, or against a third party, e.g. a wrongful distress, into 
a legitimate one; or become liable for the tort of another by ratifying."
 
These principles of ratification, apparently do not have any application with regard to exercise of powers conferred under statutory provisions. 
The statutory authority cannot travel beyond the power conferred and any action without power has no legal validity. It is ab initio void 
and cannot be ratified.
 
The counsel for the appellant, however, invited our attention to the case of Parmeshwari Prasad Gupta v. The Union of India, [1974] 
1 SCR 304. It was a case of termination of services of the Secretary of a Company. The Board of Directors decided to terminate the services 
of the Secretary. The Chairman of the Board of Directors in fact terminated his services. Subsequently, in the meeting of the Board of 
Directors the action taken by the Chairman was confirmed. In the suit instituted by the Secretary challenging the termination of his services, 
the Court upheld on the principle that the action of the Chairman even though it was invalid initially, could be validated by ratification in a 
regularly convened meeting of the Board of Directors. Mathew, J. while considering this aspect of the matter, observed [at pp. 307 and 308] 
"Even if it be assumed that the telegram and the letter terminating the services of the appellant by the Chairman was in pursuance to the 
invalid resolution of the Board of Directors passed on December 16, 1953 to terminate his services, it would not follow that the action of the 
Chairman could not be ratified in a regularly convened meeting of the Board of Directors. The point is that even assuming that the Chairman was 
not legally authorised to terminate the services of the appellant, he was acting on behalf of the Company in doing so, because, he purported to 
act in pursuance of the invalid resolution. Therefore, it was open to a regularly constituted meeting of the Board of Direction to ratify that 
action which, though unauthorised, was done on behalf of the Company. Ratification would always relate back to the date of the act ratified 
and so it must be held that the services of the appellant were validly terminated on December 17, 1953. The appellant was not entitled to the 
declaration prayed for by him and the trial court as well as the High Court was right in dismissing the claim."
 
These principles of ratification governing transactions of a company where the general body is the repository of all powers not be extended to 
the present case. We were also referred to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Barnard v. National Dock Labour Board, [1953] 1 All Eng. Law 
Reports 1113 and in particular the observation of Denning L.J., (at 1118 and 1119):
 
"While an administrative function can often be delegated, a judicial function rarely can be. No judicial tribunal can delegate its functions unless it 
is enabled to do so expressly or by necessary implication. In Local Government Board v. Arlidge (2) the power to delegate was given by 
necessary implication, but there is nothing in this scheme authorising the board to delegate this function and it cannot be implied. It was 
suggested that it would be impracticable for the board to sit as a board to decide all these cases, but I see nothing impracticable in that. They 
have only to fix their quorum at two members and arrange for two members, one from each side, employers and workers, to be responsible for 
one week at a time.
 
"Next, it was suggested that, even if the board could not delegate their functions, at any rate they could ratify the actions of the port manager, 
but, if the board have no power to delegate their functions to the port manager, they can have no power to ratify what he has already done. 
The effect of ratification is to make it equal to a prior command, but as a prior command, in the shape of delegation, would be useless, so also is 
a ratification." 
 
These observations again are of little assistance to us since we have already held that there was no prior delegation of power to the Vice-
Chancellor to take disciplinary action against the respondent. There was no subsequent delegation either. Therefore, neither the action taken by 
the Vice-Chancellor, nor the ratification by the Executive Council could be sustained. In the result, the appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.
 
Appeal dismissed.