Reason To Believe

Statutes often use expressions such as “deems it necessary”, “reason to believe” et cetera. Suffice it to say, these expressions have been held not to mean: subjective satisfaction of the officer concerned. Such power given to the concerned officer is not an arbitrary power and has to be exercised in accordance with the restraints imposed by law. 

Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman, Tata Chemicals v. Commissioner of Customs, [Civil Appeal Nos. 7439-7440 of 2004].

Also see, A.S. Krishnan v. State of Kerala, (2004) 11 SCC 576.


Issue with Subjective Satisfaction?

In cases where the decision is based on subjective satisfaction, if some of the reasons turn out to be irrelevant or invalid, it would be impossible for a Court to find out which of the reasons, relevant or irrelevant, valid or invalid, had brought about such satisfaction.

Hon’ble Justice J.M. Shelat, Zora Singh v. J.M. Tandon, AIR 1971 SC 1537.


The relevance of reasons for formation of a belief is to be tested by judicial restraint as in administrative action Court merely reviews manner in which a decision was made. Court shall not examine sufficiency or adequacy thereof.

Hon’ble Justice Hemant Gupta, Principal Director of Income Tax (Investigation) v. Laljibhai Kanjibhai Mandalia, [Civil Appeal No. 4081 OF 2022] decided on 13.07.2022.