ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: AN OVERVIEW

Administrative law seeks to channelize administrative powers to achieve the basic aim of any civilized society that is “growth with liberty.”

The system of administrative legislation and adjudication has existed in India from a very long time. The Britishers came to India for trade so the primary object of British administration was to maximize profit. As the Britishers gained control over India the efficiency of administration became the basic necessity to fulfill its basic purpose. The executive at that time had overriding powers in the matters of justice.

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The court had power to control administrative actions but it played great respect and attention to the administrative decision. Till the end of British rule the Indian Government was concerned with the more primary duties only.

The Indian Constitution was adopted on the policy of welfare state. Various sections in the constitution such as Article 39 require the state to direct its policy towards adequate means of livelihood. Article 47 talks about rising of the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people, Article 32 and 226 confers the power to High courts and Supreme Courts to issue writs. Moreover the constitution itself provides for establishment of administrative agencies.

According to Dicey’s formulation, administrative law relates to that portion of a nation’s legal system which:

  • Determines the legal status and liabilities of all State officials,
  • Defines the rights and liabilities of private individuals in their dealings with public officials, and
  • Specifies the procedure by which those rights and liabilities are enforced.

Thus, administrative law is that branch of public law which deals with the organization and powers of administrative and quasi-administrative agencies and prescribes principles and rules by which an official action is reached and renewed in relation to individual liberty and freedom.

The concept of Administrative Law is founded on the following principles:

  1. Power is conferred on the administration by law
  2. No power is absolute or uncontrolled howsoever broad the nature of the same might be.
  3. There should be reasonable restrictions on exercise of such powers depending on the situation.

It is based on the concept of rule of law that supports Natural Justice (to adjudicate based on impartiality, unjustness) and the prescribed laws and legal methods instead of arbitrariness and abuse of official power on the part of govt. while serving the people and deciding cases brought before its Tribunals, etc.

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