Updated: Apr 6, 2021
Author: Salouni Choudhary, II Year of B.Com.,LL.B(Hons) from University Institue of Legal Studies, Panjab University Chandigarh.
Expansion of socio-economic functions of the state and increase in powers of the government led to the introduction of Administrative Law. It has become very important in these developed societies because relationship of an individual with authorities has become complex.
This branch of public law guides about how governmental agencies and offices are required to work both at the central and state level. It has been developed by the judges which provide guidelines for public administration to work considering public welfare. Administrative bodies’ rule making power is also included in which higher legislative offices delegate their duties and powers to ensure effectiveness of administration and implementation of rules and regulations, quasi-judicial function of administrative agencies, legal liabilities of public authorities and ensures the public is being treated fairly by the public authorities.
Meaning and Definition of Administrative Law
Administrative law deals with the connection between citizens and the Government of a country. It decides the power and organizational structure of the administration and quasi-judicial bodies to enforce the rule of law. Administrative law is primarily related to governmental and administrative actions and processes and tries to put them in a control mechanism with the objective to prevent the administrative mechanism from going out of control.
This law is not codified and has developed with time. It prevents the misuse of power and authority vested in government agencies.
Administrative law is defined by various scholars and jurists from time to time to reveal its scope and dimensions. There is not a perfect definition of Administrative law.
K. C. Davis
According to K.C Davis, "Administrative law is the law concerning the powers and procedure of Administrative Agencies, including especially the law on judicial review of an Administrative action." (This definition gives emphasis on the procedure followed by the administrative agencies in exercising their powers but it does not include the substantive laws enacted by these agencies.)
According to Ivor Jenning, "administrative law is the law relating to administration. Help determines the organization, powers, and duties of Administrative authorities.
According to F.J Port "Administrative law is made up of all legal rules either formally expressed statutes or implied in the prerogatives, which have as their ultimate object the fulfillment of public law”. It is related to the first legislature, in that the formally expressed rules are generally laid down by the body, it touches actions judicially, in that: -
(a) there are rules and regulations which govern the judicial actions that may be filed by or against the administrative authority
(b) administrative bodies are sometimes given permission to exercise judicial powers
(c) it is, of course, very importantly related to the practical application of the law.
According to Garner, "administrative law may be described as those rules which are recognized by the court as law and which relate to regulate the administration of government".
Friedman has given an inclusive definition. According to his words, Administrative law is a law which is concerned with the powers and procedures of the administrative, especially the laws governing judicial review of actions of administration. It includes:
Administrative powers of administration
Legislative powers of the administration in case of both common law and under different statutes
Judicial and quasi-judicial powers
Legal liability of public authorities
Powers of ordinary courts to direct administrative authorities
Scope of Administrative Law:-
Organizations, powers and duties of the administrative agencies are determined by the Administrative laws. The emphasis in the case of administrative law is on the procedural aspect of formal adjudication.
Thus concepts have developed on the following:-
Principles of natural justice
Rule of law
Powers and authorities are conferred to the administrative agencies by law.
The next principle is that no power is absolute or uncontrolled in nature
There should be reasonable restrictions on use of such powers or authorities depending on the solutions.
Since it is made by a judge and develops over a time period, there is always a room for modification available. While the basic principles in this law remain the same, the scope is broad enough to incorporate and cull out new rules and regulations to suit the requirement of time and situations.
The importance of Administrative Law:-
The development of Administrative law is very important in the modern times. Before 1947, India was a police state, mostly interested in strengthening its sovereignty. Administrative machinery was introduced with the object of civil service in view. This was soon recognized as the steel frame of the the Indian polity. After independence there was a change in the philosophy behind the the Indian Constitution. It laid main goals of socio-economic equalities, with recognising public welfare being as a primary concern for the state. It is a very important element for bringing harmony between power and justice in the system. The administrators are governed by the Constitution.
Administration is a universal feature of our society. The ambit of administration is very wide and performs several functions like:
Leadership to legislature
Executing and administrating of regulations of the country.
Administration of both traditional and contemporary functions of the Government.
Exercising legislative powers by the way of a range of bye-laws, orders, decrees, etc.
Continuous experimentation and adjustment of details has become requisite of modern time administration. If a rule is not suitable in practical terms, a new rule having the requisite changes is put in its place, without any delay. This flexibility is what widens the scope of administrative law and makes it important in our lives. Administrative laws not only put law into effect but also provide much more than that for the welfare of the public.
Functions of Administrative Law
Main functions of the Administrative law are given as -
1) To regulate the relationship between the organised powers and authorities and the common man or public.
2) To keep an eye on the statutory bodies that interpret the public policy of the government.
3) To decide the working relationship between administrative bodies, for example, between the minister and the local authority.
4) To control and regulate the ministry from exercising its discretion in matters.
5) To ensure transparency in the works of administration.
6) To provide for an effective redressal system for the grievances of citizens.
The aim of administrative law is to put a limit on government agencies’ powers and keep authorities responsible for administration in check. It is not always feasible to depend on certain general statutes for the determination of issues between individuals and public authorities appointed, and for this purpose appropriate legislation should be there to govern such disputes. Administrative law must act as the efficient law governing administrative actions.