Bench- Deepak Gupta, Aniruddha Bose
There are colleges with the name of D.A.V. College, Sector 10, Chandigarh, M.C.M.D.A.V. College, Sector 36, Chandigarh and a school with the name of D.A.V. Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, Chandigarh. These institutions were established by the society and are admittedly getting financial aid to the extent of 95% from the Union Territory, Chandigarh. It was claimed that the grant-in-aid was initially to the extent of 95% which had come down to 45%. The grievance aired by the appellant was that the Director of Public Instructions, U.T. Chandigarh had initiated proceedings against the appellant under the Act whereas the they do not fall within the expression ‘public authority’ as used in Section 2(h)(d) of the Act. Likewise the other institutions managed by the trust were also being asked to make public various information regarding annual fee structure for various Classes/Programmes/Diplomas/Certificate courses/ Add-on courses offered and have also requested for supply of information concerning advertisement / notices issued by the D. A. V. College, Sector 10, Chandigarh in respect of college ad missions for the session 2007-08. However the appellants have taken the stand that the Act does not apply to their institution as it is not a ‘public authority’.
The court referred to previous case of P. Kasilingam v. P.S.G. College of Technology & Ors., (1995) Supp 2 SCC 348] which dealt with the interpretation of the words “means and includes” in a definitional clause. The use of the word ‘ means ’ implies a hard and fast meaning of the definition and that no other meaning can be derived from it, However , when used with the word ‘ includes ’ it implies that a broader and more liberal meaning of the definition can be concluded. The court analyses the use of the word ‘means’ in Section 2(h) of the Act, which indicated “exhaustive and complete” definitions of the first four categories of public authorities, with the use of the word ‘includes’ in the second part of the section, which indicated that the legislature intended the last two categories of public authorities to be interpreted more broadly. Accordingly, the Court came to the conclusion that ,sub-clauses (i) and (ii), which defined bodies and NGOs owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government, to form separate categories of public authorities.
Answering the question whether cooperative societies will fall under the ambit of the act ; it referred to the case of Thalappalam Service Cooperative Bank Ltd. And Ors. V. St. of Kerala and Ors. In which it was observed that the bodies and NGOs defined in the aforementioned sub-clauses (i) and (ii) constituted separate categories of public authorities, in addition to the previous four identified in Section 2(h) of the Act.
The Supreme Court finally contended that , to fall under the ambit of ‘ substantially financed ’ the organization should receive a large sum of finance and it need not more than 50% . In the case of the Appellant no.1, it was found that the government funding even though made up for 45% of the total finances it still funded nearly 95% of the salary of the teaching staff; which is a vital component in educational institute and formed the base of its functioning. Hence, it was held that these Colleges/School are substantially financed and are a public authority within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the Act. However , with the other appellants the court found that the High Court did not take into consideration whether they were substantially financed or not and therefore asked them to determine the same.