doctrine of legitimate expectation
It cannot be overemphasized that the concept of legitimate expectation has now emerged as an important doctrine. It is stated that it is the latest recruit to a long list of concepts fashioned by the court to review an administrative action. It operates in public domain and in appropriate cases constitutes a substantive and enforceable right. As a doctrine it takes its place beside such principles as rules of natural justice, rule of law, non-arbitrariness, reasonableness, fairness, promissory estoppel, fiduciary duty and perhaps, proportionality to check the abuse of the exercise of administrative power. The principle at the root of the doctrine is Rule of Law which requires regularity, predictability and certainly the governments’ dealing with the public. An expectation could be based on an express promise, or representation or by established past action or settled conduct. It could be a representation to the individual or generally to a class of persons. Whether an expectation exists is a question of law, but clear statutory words override any expectation, however founded. However as an equity doctrine it is not rigid and operates in areas of manifest injustice. It enforces a certain standard of public morality in all public dealings. However, considerations of public interest would outweigh its application. It would immensely benefit those who are likely to be denied relief on the ground that they have no statutory right to claim relief. Exercise of discretion is an inseparable part of sound administration and, therefore, the State which is itself a creature of the Constitution, cannot shed its limitation at any time in any sphere of State activity. A discretionary power is one which is exercisable by the holder of the power in his discretion or subjective satisfaction. The exercise of discretion must not be arbitrary, fanciful and influenced by extraneous considerations.
In matters of discretion the choice must be dictated by public interest and must not be unprincipled or unreasoned. Reasonable and non-arbitrary exercise of discretion is an inbuilt requirement of the law and any unreasonable or arbitrary exercise of it violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950. The discretion must be exercised reasonably in furtherance of public policy, public good and for public cause. This doctrine of legitimate expectation acts as a deterrent for those in charge of public power from exercising it arbitrarily. It should not be capped, cabined or confined in narrow, pedantic and lexographic approach; rather it should be given broadest of interpretations so as to cover within its purview the dialectics and dynamics of fairness and efficiency. The basic purpose for the same being the expectation in a rule of law society is that holders of public power and authority must be able to publicly justify their action as legally valid and socially wise and just. Under such circumstances, it becomes an inherent right of the public in a democracy to prevent themselves from the abuse of discretion and do not get susceptible to the deadly tentacles of arbitrariness and unreasonableness.  See Union of India v. Hindustan Development Corpn.
, (1993) 3 SCC 499.  See M.P. Oil Extraction Co. v. State of M.P.
, (1997) 7 SCC 592.  See Chanchal Goyal (Dr.) v. State of Rajasthan.
, (2003) 3 SCC 485.