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Check reasonableness: Fundamental Right on Subjective Satisfaction of the Executive

In Baranasi Das Modi v State of Pepsu 1957 the Supreme Court in determining the reasonableness of the restriction imposed by a law on the test which has been applied by Courts is whether the restriction imposed by the authority that is empowered by the Legislature, subjectively or objectively, is respect to subjective satisfaction of the executive. However, the ‘subjective’ decision of a person cannot be tested in the court of law but an ‘objective decision’ which is arrived at by the application of some external standard which is made according to objective standard of the authority can be tested in court, for instance, whether a particular conclusion follows from the evidence placed before the authority.

The answer to the question, whether a restriction would be invariable be unreasonable of the authority is empowered to impose on its subjective satisfaction, cannot be absolutely construed, however, the reasonableness depends on the nature of the right and the circumstances calling for the restriction. It was held in A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras 1950 that a law providing externment or internment for the security of the state is not an ‘unreasonable’ restriction of the freedom of movement guaranteed by Art 19(1)(d) merely because it leaves the necessity of making the order of externment in any case to the subjective satisfaction of a particular officer. The Supreme Court viewed the necessity of externment in the same light as a law of preventive detention. Whatsoever, if the statute does not provide adequate safeguard the law must be struck down.

In any such case, or whatsoever, the Supreme Court held in N.B. Khare v State of Delhi 1950 that mere possibility of abuse of the power of the executive is no test for determining the reasonableness of the restriction imposed by the law.

The Supreme Court in Harishankar Bagla v State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1954 held that there is presumption that a public authority will act honestly and reasonably in the exercise of its statutory power. If however, the statutory power or discretion is shown to have been abused by the authority by exercising it contrary to the policy laid down by the law, the person aggrieved shall have his remedy against the illegal order but that would be no ground for invalidating the statute itself.

On the other hand, however, the Supreme Court for the protection against the dependency upon the subjective satisfaction of government, has held in Harichandra Sarda v Mizo Dist. Council AIR 1967 that in the absence of emergent or extraordinary circumstances the exercise of a basic right like the right of association or to reside in any part of India or to carry on a lawful business could not be reasonable made dependent upon the subjective satisfaction of the government or any of its officers, without offering any standard for guidance.

Further, the Supreme Court inn State of Madrass v. V.G. Row 1952 constructed the formula of subjective satisfaction of the government and its officers with an advisory Board to review the material on which the government seeks to override a basic freedom guaranteed to the citizen, amy be viewed as reasonable only in very exceptional circumstances where in a law the internment and externment for the security of state are provided, and shall be within the narrowest limits, and not to curtail a right like the freedom of association, in the absence of any emergent or extraordinary circumstances.

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