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Judicial Review of Administrative Decisions

Judicial review is defined as the process by which courts examine the actions of the three wings of the government i.e., legislative, executive, and administrative wings.  It also determines whether such actions are consistent with the constitution of the country.

The function of judicial review of agency action is to determine:

  • The authority of the agency;
  • Compliance by the agency with appropriate procedural requirements;
  • Whether an agency action is arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion.[i]

Thus, judicial review ensures that an essentially fair process is employed by an agency, invalidating only those actions in which governmental regularity has lapsed into mere will.[ii]

The Administrative Procedure Act provides for comprehensive judicial review of agency actions. Any person adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action is entitled to judicial review as long as the action is a final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court.[iii]

In Yeboah v. INS, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17360 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 26, 2001), it was observed that there are three criteria by which courts consider while deciding whether action of an agency is reviewable:

  • Firstly, the agency must have broad discretionary powers.
  • Secondly, courts have to consider whether the action implicates any political, military, economic, or other choices not essentially legal in nature and, thus, whether the action is not readily susceptible to judicial review.
  • Thirdly, even actions committed to agency discretion by law are reviewable on grounds that the agency lacked jurisdiction, decision of the agency resulted from impermissible influences or such decision violates any constitutional, statutory, or regulatory command.

[i] Arrow Int’l v. Spire Biomedical, 443 F. Supp. 2d 182 (D. Mass. 2006)

[ii] Phillips v. Merit Systems Protection Bd., 666 F. Supp. 109, 110 (E.D. Tex. 1987)

[iii] Yeboah v. INS, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17360 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 26, 2001)

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