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Doctrine of Legitimate Exception

The 19th and the 20th centuries have noticed the rise and development of administrative authorities of any state in omnifarious ways. There have been several new authorities with wide statutory powers that have duly emerged in the aforementioned time period, wherein the scope of the state has progressively and noticeably widened. One can thus say that the administration has become all pervasive as well as omnipresent in the present times.

Therefore today, there has been an expansion of a number of statutes and principles relating to the proper functioning of the administration which in turn can help the civic in one way or the other to count the multifarious powers and the infinite scope of the Administration. The Doctrine of Legitimate expansion can be termed as one of these principles which serves as an approach of judicial review to protect the procedural as well as the substantive interest of the public at large.

The words Legitimate Expectation have been simplified in the case Schmidt v. Secretary of State[1] wherein it was verbatim stated; even where a person has no legally enforceable right or interest, he might yet have some legitimate expectation of which it would not be fair to deprive him without hearing what he has to say.

In India, the doctrine of Legitimate Expectation was first recognised under the ambit of the Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Inference can be duly drawn that this doctrine has its place to the purview of the public law and is therefore intended and anticipated to give liberation to those people who are not able to justify and rationalise their assertions or certain claims on the basis of the laws and decrees in a very strict sense of the term, all the same they might have had suffered civil consequences because their legitimate expectation have been violated in any sense.

There is a recent importation of the Doctrine of Legitimate Expectation in the Indian Judicial System and the first reference was in the case, State of Kerela v. K.G. Madhavan Pillai[2]. In this case the government had issued an approval in the form of a sanction to the respondents to start a new school which was to be unaided and to upgrade and elevate the existing ones. However, after a period of 15 days a direction was issued by the government to keep the sanction in the back burner.

This order was therefore challenged on the ground that the order was in the violation of Principles of Natural Justice. The hon´┐Żble court held that the sanction order had hereby created legitimate expectation in the respondents which was desecrated by the second order of the government without following the principles of natural justice which was considered sufficient to vitiate the administrative order.

Concluding, it can be stated that the emerged and materialised concept of legitimate expectation in administrative law has now indisputably expanded and gained adequate importance. It is appropriate to observe that legitimate expectation is the latest recruit to an extensive list of various concepts that have been moulded by the courts for the review of that action of the administration.

  1. [1969] 2 Ch 149 (CA)
  2. (1988) 4 SCC 669
Written By:
  1. Shreya Saxena - BBA.LL.B
  2. Banasthali Vidyapith

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