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JUDICIAL REVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS

The administration now affects every person’s life in a significant way. As a result, we have witnessed an impressive expansion of the field of administrative law to suit the evolving needs of a new generation of political, economic, and social contexts. The need for administrative decisions may be subject to court review can be deduced from Justice Quadri’s [1]statement that “The essential difference between a Government of despots and a Government of democratically elected persons is that in the former case, there are no limitations on the powers or their exercise whereas in the latter case, the powers are defined and their exercise is regulated by law.” It is possible to conclude that judicial review of administrative acts is necessary. In a democracy like India, where the rule of law prevails, the principle,” be thou so high the law above you” correctly implies. Judicial review is essential for the existence of the rule of law.  By interpreting and enforcing the constitution’s provisions and maintaining all powers within its bounds, courts in countries with written constitutions also serve the added purpose of preserving the supremacy of the written document. A wonderful institution, a democracy worth its name cannot function without a system of checks and balances, and judicial review is a crucial part of that system. In its simplest form, judicial review is a tool used by the court of state to assess the legality of a law or a decision made by a state agency.

Administrative action in compliance with administrative law

In India, administrative law emerged in the middle of the 20th century as a distinct field of legal study.[2] The maintenance of law and order, handling of international affairs, and the planning of the military forces comprised the state’s only real duties up to the middle of the nineteenth century. It’s quite different now. The state heavily interferes in the lives of its residents for the purposes of public safety and upholding law and order. The term “administrative action” refers to the operations conducted in accordance with administrative legislation. An administrative action is a legal proceeding that challenges the conduct of a public administrative body. Such behavior may cause a decision-making authority to behave in a certain action. It may affect a right, but it does not establish a right. While using “administrative authorities,” the standards of natural justice cannot be disregarded. The supporting activity that is neither judicial nor legislative is called an administrative action. It lacks generality and is just interested in how to address a particular situation. It is not required by law to acquire information or weigh arguments. The decision is made based on subjective satisfaction rather than policy or need. It does not determine a right, but it may affect it. However, in exercising its administrative powers, the authority cannot completely disregard the principles of natural justice. Unless the law provides differently, the minimal requirements of natural justice must always be upheld, depending on the specifics of each situation.

Union of India v. A.K. Kraipak (AIR 1970 SC A)[3], the court held that in order to determine whether an administrative authority’s action is administrative or quasi-judicial, it is important to take into account the power’s nature, the people it is granted to, the situation it arises in, and its implications.

Judicial Review

In order to protect people’ rights and liberties, an essential requirement for the growth of civilized civilization has been identified as judicial review. Both the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts in India have a sizable amount of judicial review authority.[4] Judicial review describes the court’s power to investigate the conduct of the legislative and executive branches of the government and deem them to be “unconstitutional.” Judicial examination of administrative activities and constitutional restrictions on administrative authorities’ use of authority are both important components of preserving the law. Constitutional principles, which imply limited government, are judicial scrutiny.

Reasons for Judicial Review of Administrative Decisions[5]

1-Illegality

2-Irrationality

3-Procedural impropriety

4-Proportionality

IRRATIONALITY

When an inappropriate decision is taken or when it is made in an unreasonable situation.

Minister for the Civil Service v. Council of Civil Service Unions, (1984) 3 All ER 935[6]

The court stated, “By ‘irrationality,’ I mean what may now be aptly referred to as ‘Wednesbury unreasonableness,'” the court said. It pertains to decisions that are so absurd in their violation of morality or recognised reasoning that they could not have been made by a reasonable person who had applied their minds to the issue at hand.

PROCEDURAL IMPROPRIETY

It represents a failure to follow the established processes. Procedural irregularities include two things: failing to follow statutory regulations and the fundamental common-law rule of justice.

Ridge v. Baldwin (1963)[7] is a unique instance of procedural fairness demonstrating its demand on judicial review regardless of the sort of entity adjudicating the issue. Ridge, the Brighton Police Chief, was placed on administrative leave after being accused of plotting to obstruct justice. The Judge made remarks that chastised Ridge’s behavior despite the fact that the accusations against him were dropped. Ridge was then fired from the force, although he was not invited to the meeting where the decision was made. He was offered the chance to do so later to appear before the panel that had rejected his appeal. Ridge subsequently made a House of Lords appeal, arguing that the committee had blatantly disregarded the principles of natural justice. The focus on the connection between a person’s right to be heard and his right to know the charges made against him makes this case significant.

PROPORTIONALITY

By proportionality, we mean that the administrative action in question shouldn’t be any more draconian than it needs to be. The proportionality principle suggests that the court must logically consider both the benefits and drawbacks of the conduct in question. Such an action cannot be supported unless the so-called administrative action is beneficial and in the best interests of the public. In this philosophy, means and ends are balanced.

In Hind Construction Co. v. Workmen (1965)[8], several employees requested a holiday but didn’t show up. Later, their employment was terminated. The workers should have received a warning and a fee instead of being abruptly and permanently fired, the court said. The idea that any sane employer would have meted out such severe punishment was absurd. According to the court, the sentence meted out to the workers was not only harsh but also excessive.

CONCLUSION

 In a sense, judicial review of administrative action is the lifeblood of administrative law. It is an excellent method for determining a public authority’s legal competence. Judiciary review is regarded as the foundational component of our Constitution. Due to the massive increase of administrative organizations’ authority, judicial review has become a key component of administrative law. Protecting people’s interests against abuses of administrative authorities’ authority or illegal behavior is the main objective of judicial review. Our constitutional structure, which is built on the separation of powers and the rule of law, includes judicial scrutiny of administrative activities. It is acknowledged as one of the core provisions of our Constitution that cannot be changed, not even by the exercise of a legislator’s constitutional authority. It is the approachable option that most successfully thwarts administrative abuses. The general public has favorable views of the administration’s capacity to act at its discretion within the bounds of the power assigned to it by laws or the Indian constitution. Judicial regulation’s main goal is to ensure that government legislation is in line with the rule of law. For legal regulation, this has a number of drawbacks. It is more suited to resolving conflicts than doing administrative activities. The executive branch is in charge of executing the law, while the judicial system makes sure that the government fulfills its duties in line with the fundamentals of the Indian constitution.

Author(s) Name: Akarsha Bajpai (University of Lucknow, Lucknow)

References:

[1] “Judicial Review of Administrative Action – iPleaders” (iPleaders, July 3, 2020) <https://blog.ipleaders.in/judicial-review-administrative-action-2/> accessed November 8, 2 022

[2]   “Judicial Review of Administrative Action – iPleaders” (iPleaders, July 3, 2020) <https://blog.ipleaders.in/judicial-review-administrative-action-2/> accessed November 8, 2 022

[3] “Judicial Review of Administrative Actions An Overview” (Judicial Review of Administrative Actions An Overview) <https://legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-1979-judicial-review-of-administrative-actions-an-overview.html> accessed November 8, 2022

[4]     “Judicial Review of Administrative Action – iPleaders” (iPleaders, July 3, 2020) <https://blog.ipleaders.in/judicial-review-administrative-action-2/> accessed November 8, 2 022

[5] “Judicial Review of Administrative Action – iPleaders” (iPleaders, July 3, 2020) <https://blog.ipleaders.in/judicial-review-administrative-action-2/> accessed November 8, 2 022

[6] “CCSU v Minister for the Civil Service” (CCSU v Minister for the Civil Service) <https://www.lawteacher.net/cases/council-of-civil-service-unions-v-minister-for-the-civil-service.php> accessed November 26, 2022

[7]   Loladze M, “Ridge v Baldwin (1964) AC 40” (Simple Studying, March 20, 2019) <https://simplestudying.com/ridge-v-baldwin-1964-ac-40/> accessed November 26, 2022

[8] “HIND CONSTRUCTION AND ENGINEERING CO LIMITED Vs. THEIR WORKMEN” (HIND CONSTRUCTION AND ENGINEERING CO LIMITED Vs. THEIR WORKMEN, November 9, 1964) <https://www.the-laws.com/Encyclopedia/browse/Case?caseId=004691403000&title=hind-construction-and-engineering-co-limited-vs-their-workmen> accessed November 26, 2022