Limits on Exercise of Delegated Power

India– Power delegated by statute is limited by its terms and subordinate to its objects. The delegate must act in good faith, reasonably, intra vires the power granted, and on relevant consideration of material facts. All his decisions, whether characterised as legislative or administrative or quasi-judicial, must be in harmony with the Constitution and other laws of the land. They must be reasonably related to the purposes of the enabling legislation. If they are manifestly unjust or oppressive or outrageous or directed to an unauthorised end or do not tend in some degree to the accomplishment of the objects of delegation, then they would not stand.
A repository of power acts ultra vires either when he acts in excess of his power in the narrow sense or when he abuses his power by acting in bad faith or for an inadmissible purpose or on irrelevant grounds or without regard to relevant considerations or with gross unreasonableness.
Even if the statutory order is passed in good faith and with the best of intention to further the purpose of the legislation which confers the power, since the authority has to act in accordance with and within the limits of that legislation, its order can also be challenged if it is beyond those limits or is passed on grounds extraneous to the legislation or if there are no grounds at all for passing it or if the grounds are such that no one can reasonably arrive at the opinion or satisfaction requisite under the legislation. In any one of these situations it can well be said that the authority did not honestly form its opinion or that in forming it, it did not apply its mind to the relevant facts.
Please see the following judgments on this topic: Shri Sitaram Sugar Co. Ltd. v. Union of India (Supreme Court of India, 1990); Barium Chemicals Ltd. v. Company Law Board (Supreme Court of India, 1966)


Author: Vikrant Narayan Vasudeva
Photo by Sean Chen/ CC BY 2.0

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