Court’s power of judicial review of administrative action or decision

Scope of Judicial Review:

(i) It is settled legal proposition that judicial review is not akin to adjudication on merit by re-appreciating the evidence as an Appellate Authority. The only consideration the Court/Tribunal has in its judicial review, is to consider whether the conclusion is based on evidence on record and supports the finding or whether the conclusion is based on no evidence. The adequacy or reliability of the evidence is not a matter which can be permitted to be canvassed before the Court in writ proceedings. (Vide: State of Tamil Nadu and another Vs. S. Subramaniam, R.S. R.S. Saini Vs. State of Punjab and Others, and Govt. of A.P. and Others Vs. Mohd. Narsullah Khan,

(ii)In Zora Singh, this Court while dealing with the issue of scope of judicial review, held as under:

The principle that if some of the reasons relied on by a Tribunal for its conclusion turn out to be extraneous or otherwise unsustainable, its decision would be vitiated, applies to cases in which the conclusion is arrived at not on assessment of objective facts or evidence, but on subjective satisfaction. The reason is that whereas in cases where the decision is based on subjective satisfaction if some of the reasons turn out to be irrelevant or invalid, it would be impossible for a superior Court to find out which of the reasons, relevant or irrelevant, valid or invalid, had brought about such satisfaction. But in a case where the conclusion is based on objective facts and evidence, such a difficulty would not arise. If it is found that there was legal evidence before the Tribunal, even if some of it was irrelevant, a superior Court would not interfere if the finding can be sustained on the rest of the evidence. The reason is that in a writ petition for certiorari the superior Court does not sit in appeal, but exercises only supervisory jurisdiction, and therefore, does not enter into the question of sufficiency of evidence.

(Emphasis added)

(iii) The decisions referred to hereinabove highlights clearly, the parameter of the Court’s power of judicial review of administrative action or decision. An order can be set-aside if it is based on extraneous grounds, or when there are no grounds at all for passing it or when the grounds are such that, no one can reasonably arrive at the opinion. The Court does not sit as a Court of Appeal but, it merely reviews the manner in which the decision was made. The Court will not normally exercise its power of judicial review unless it is found that formation of belief by the statutory authority suffers from malafides, dishonest/corrupt practice. In other words, the authority must act in good faith. Neither the question as to whether there was sufficient evidence before the authority can be raised/examined, nor the question of re-appreciating the evidence to examine the correctness of the order under challenge. If there are sufficient grounds for passing an order, then even if one of them is found to be correct, and on its basis the order impugned can be passed, there is no occasion for the Court to interfere. The jurisdiction is circumscribed and confined to correct errors of law or procedural error, if any, resulting in manifest miscarriage of justice or violation of principles of natural justice. This apart, even when some defect is found in the decision-making process, the Court must exercise its discretionary power with great caution keeping in mind the larger public interest and only when it comes to the conclusion that overwhelming public interest requires interference, the Court should intervene

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Nemo Firut Repente Turpissimus - no one becomes dishonest all on a sudden

Mon Feb 25 , 2019
In M.S. Bindra Vs. Union of India and Others[(1998) AIR(SC) 3058], it was held: While evaluating the materials the authority should not altogether ignore the reputation in which the officer was held till recently. The maxim “Nemo Firut Repente Turpissimus” (no one becomes dishonest all on a sudden) is not unexceptional but still it is salutary guideline to judge human […]

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