According to “Administrative Law”, by Justice C.K. Thakkar and Mrs. M.C. Thakker-Second Edition, “Malice” or “mala fides” is of two types (1) express malice or “malice in fact” and (2) implied or legal malice or “malice in law”. Mala fides violating the proceedings may be factual or legal. The former is actuated by extraneous considerations, whereas the latter arises where a public authority acts deliberately in defiance of law, may be without malicious intention or improper motive. Thus, while dealing with the plea of mala fide, two questions would arise: (1) whether there is a personal bias or oblique motive; and (2) whether the administrative action is contrary to the objects, requirements and conditions of a valid exercise of power [ State of Bihar and Another Vs. P.P. Sharma, IAS and Another, ].
The Hon’ble Supreme Court has, in Jaichand Lal (supra), stated that mala fide exercise of power does not necessarily imply any moral turpitude as a matter of law. It only means that the statutory power is exercised for purposes foreign to those for which it is in law intended.
In this sense, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has equated mala fide exercise of power with ultra vires exercise of administrative power. However, mala fides can be a distinct ground for quashing administrative action apart from ultra vires. Two decisions of the Hon’ble Court, where mala fide exercise of power have been quashed, can be cited in the context of the present case. One is C.S. Rowjee and Others Vs. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, and the other is State of Punjab and Another Vs. Gurdial Singh and Others, . The latter case is one arising from land acquisition proceedings where acquisition of land was struck down on account of mala fides.
Also, there is a distinction between mala fide, malice or exercise of power by an authority by taking into account irrelevant or extraneous consideration. Whether an action is mala fide or not, would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case but the factors would be pertinent in determining whether decision is mala fide or motivated on improper considerations and the circumstances in which the decision is taken and considerations which have entered into in taking the decision [ State of M.P. and Others Vs. Nandlal Jaiswal and Others, ].