A judicial proceeding is defined to include any proceeding in the course of which evidence is or may be legally taken on oath.
Thus, the power to take evidence on oath is the characteristic test of a judicial proceeding. It includes inquiry and trial, but not investigation.
An inquiry in which evidence is legally taken is included in this term. An inquiry is judicial, if its object is to determine the jural relation between one person and another, or a group of persons, or between him and the community in general. Therefore, even a Judge acting without such an object in view, is not acting judicially.
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An inquiry in which no discretion is to be used and no judgment to be formed, but something is to be done as a matter of a duty, is not a judicial but an administrative inquiry. Thus, proceedings before a Collector under the Land Acquisition Act are not judicial proceedings.
The following have been held to be judicial proceedings:
(i) Maintenance proceedings under Chapter IX of the Code;
(ii) An inquiry under the Legal Practitioners’ Act, 1879;
(iii) An inquiry by a Magistrate, before issuing an order under S. 144 of the Code;
(iv) Proceedings in execution of a decree.
On the other hand, the following have been held not to be judicial proceedings:
(a) An examination by a Police Officer under S. 161 of the Code;
(b) An order of the Government sanctioning a prosecution under S. 196 or S. 197 of the Code;
(c) A departmental inquiry by a District Registrar into a complaint made against a Sub-Registrar;
(d) Inquiries made by a Chief Judicial Magistrate on receipt of information that a grave crime was about to be committed.