May 12, 2021
  1. Administrative Law 
  1. Gone are the days when the State used to be a Police State. It has evolved to become a Welfare State which is more socialistic and progressive. It seeks to eliminate poverty, corruption, monopolies and restrictive and unfair trade policies and to adopt other plentiful welfare activities. As per Ivor Jennings, Administrative Law is defined as “Administrative Law is a law relating to administration. It determines the organisation, powers and duties of administrative authorities.” Administrative Law aims to prevent misuse or abuse of power vested in administrative authorities. Thus hereby providing a transparent and accountable government. Its primary purpose is to keep the government authorities within their limits of exercising extra power as a result of which the legitimate interests of the citizens do not suffer.

  1. The Need for Administrative Law

There are many reasons as to why administrative law is necessary for the growth and development of the State functioning namely -

  1. The ordinary law courts are not only slow but expensive too, as a result why Administrative Law encourages the establishments of various specialised tribunals, for instance Tax, Labour, Industrial etc.
  2. Administrative law is very flexible and experimental in the sense that it may draft a new rule, try it, and if found unsatisfactory, they can either repeal, modify or amend it.
  3. It can exercise quasi-judicial or quasi-legislative functions apart from executive functions only. 
  4. It enjoys better enforcement functions, for instance, suspension or cancellation of license, destroying of contaminated food etc.
  5. Administrative law is in a position to take preventive measures such as fixing of health standards, penalties for violations, licensing than ordinary courts wherein parties come before the court post some violation.
  6. It is rightly said that legislative is the “skeleton and framework of the legislation’ whereas the administrative law is the “flesh and bones into it”. Therefore, administrative brings quick satisfactory solutions to complex problems.
  7.  As stated earlier that the State was a Police State and now it is a Welfare State, and therefore can undertake multifarious activities.

  1. Sources of Administrative Law 

There are mainly eight various sources which form a base of this law such as (a) Judicial decisions, (b) Statutes, (c) The Constitution, (d) Committee reports, (e) Rules, regulations etc. (f) Administrative Practice, (g) Rules of natural justice and (h) Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium which means Where there is a right, there is a remedy.  

  1. Rule of Law 

This forms the foundation on which England’s unwritten constitution is entirely based on. Constitutions of the USA and India also incorporates this doctrine. With a different perspective, one can say that the base of administrative law forms the principle of the Rule of law. When Sir Edward Coke, the Chief Justice during the period of James I ruling as King in England, maintained successfully that even the King was subjected to the law, thus having the supremacy of the law over the executive.

It was Professor A.V. Dicey, who explained this doctrine in his treatise, The Law and the Constitution back in 1885. He affirmed that the Rule of law is the most fundamental principle of the English Legal system. He has explained this doctrine with the help of three different but interrelated concepts, such as: 

  1. Supremacy of Law – being the first principle of the Rule of law, it signifies that its supremacy or predominance over other ordinary laws. He believed that if any discretion is given to an administrative authority, freedom will be in danger having repercussions to it. 
  2. Equality before the law – According to Dicey this principle meant that everyone irrespective of their caste, creed, sex, origin etc. are equal before the ordinary laws of the land which are administered by the ordinary courts. In other words, this principle demands that there are no different tribunals or administrators or courts for government authorities or officers.
  3. Predominance of legal spirit – According to Dicey, this third principle suggests that the law courts should act as guarantors or protectors of the liberty of citizens. He believes that the fundamental rights of the citizens are better protected by the courts themselves rather than having it written down so as to say in a Constitution. 

Demerits of Dicey’s Theory

This doctrine has helped to keep the administrative authorities in limits. However, there have been many criticisms or loopholes regarding this principle. As regards to the first principle, he puts discretionary power in the same boat as arbitrary power. For any state to function effectively, every department needs to have certain discretionary powers vested in them for better enforcement. As regards to the third principle, Dicey over judged the unwritten constitution. A written constitution, and a strong judiciary go a long way in safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country.

Irrespective of the loopholes or pitfalls in principle, it has been observed that this doctrine comes very handy while protecting the citizens interests and preventing any misuse or abuse of the powers exercised by the administrative authorities and the arbitrary or capricious acts of the executives. Therefore, it aims that the judiciary should deliver justice without fear or favour.

  1. Conclusion

We can conclude only by saying that for better functioning of the State, i.e. for continuing its welfare activities, both administrative law and the rule of law are essential. Today, administrative law has grown by leaps and bounds in India. It only states that in India, the Constitution is paramount and not the Parliament, unlike England where the Parliament and not the judiciary is supreme. Administrative law steps in to keep abreast of the authorities that they use their powers and discretion for the purpose for which it was vested to them originally.

As far as the Rule of law is concerned, which forms the foundation for the Constitution of India is synonymous with the fundamental rights and liberties of a citizen in a democratic State. The recognition of this doctrine has been widely observed in the Report of the Committee on Minister’s Powers.