Administrative law is a framework of common law within which Governance / Public Administration is carried out. Governance/ administration involves the invocation of powers by the Administrative wing of government; Administrative law is therefore of Constitutional and political significance. The Executive Powers are supposed to be exercised under the umbrella of the Rule of Law. Administrative law, is the law that regulates the exercise of power by Government officials. It is the set of rules and regulations, the principles evolved by the Judiciary to ensure that the Public Servants act in accordance with the rule of law.
Administrative law pertains to the Judicial Review in three aspects-
- Judicial review of Executive action.
- Judicial review of the Quasi Judicial action.
- Judicial review of Quasi Legislative Action.
Judicial review of Executive action.
One of the most important aspects of Administrative Law is judicial review of administrative action. Although Government Authorities need discretionary powers to help resolve real-time issues, it is equally important that the powers so exercised are reasonable. The Twin Test of Reasonableness and Rationality are the yardsticks of the ‘Rule of Law’s’ to determine the reasonableness of an Administrative Action. This way Administrative Law helps to bring discretionary powers away from arbitrariness and closer to ‘rule of law’ ideas of transparency, consistency and predictability. The Court reviews the Administrative Action under various tests of Administrative Law but it does not substitute the opinion of the administrative authority with their own.
Judicial review of Administrative adjudication – Tribunals.
The judges, although experts of law, are not the experts of the subject matter of Administrative Law. Therefore, Administrative Tribunals are constituted so that Subject experts from the Administrative wing are available for Technical aspects of Adjudication needed in some matters and to facilitate speedier adjudication of disputes. Generally speaking, In a tribunal, the benches consist of both judicial and non-judicial members. There are a number of tribunals constituted under the Central Acts in India. Some of the Tribunals are listed below.
- Administrative Tribunal- constituted under the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985.
- Industrial Tribunal- constituted under the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947.
- Railway Rates Tribunal- constituted under the Railway Act, 1989.
- Claim Tribunal- constituted under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1939.
- Income Tax Appellate Tribunal- constituted under Income Tax Act, 1961.
- National Green Tribunal- constituted under National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
- Competition Appellate Tribunal- constituted under the Competition Act, 2002.
In the judgment of L. Chandra Kumar v Union of India, the Supreme Court had held that tribunals are the court of first instance in respect of the areas of law for which they were constituted. All the decisions of the Tribunals are, however, subject to scrutiny before the High Court within whose jurisdiction the concerned tribunal would fall, through an appeal.
Judicial Review of Quasi Legislative Actions:
In these days of welfare state, Administration is an omni present feature of life today. It has policy making powers. It has quasi legislative power to formulate a plethora of rules, bye- laws and orders of a general nature.
Constitutionality of Delegated legislation
When minute rule making is not possible to be enacted in the Act itself or it requires technical expertise of the Administrative officials, Administrative authorities are delegated the power to legislate by the Legislature. Administrative law examines whether the power so delegated to the administrative authorities is permissible within the constitutional definition or not. The Administrative law is evolved in a way that keeps a check on the power so exercised by the Administrative Authorities through Parliamentary, Judicial and Procedural control of delegated legislation,