Administrative law regulates the relations between the administrative authorities and the common citizens as it sets rules deciding the powers to be exercised by administrative officers and the rights and liabilities of the common citizens dealing with such officers. Thus, administrative law protects and enforces the rights of the common citizens by providing remedies to the aggrieved when the power is abused by administrative authorities. Administrative law defines the scope of powers and duties of various organs of the government except for the judiciary and the legislature. It keeps the administrative authorities within their limits so that they do not arbitrarily exercise their powers. The acts of the administrative authorities come under the jurisdiction of their Courts called ‘Administrative Tribunals’ like Central Administrative Tribunal, Maharashtra Land Revenue Tribunal, Wage Board, etc.
It is very difficult to define administrative law. Many jurists have defined it per their understanding but most of these definitions are not able to fully and precisely explain the nature and scope of administrative law.
Ivor Jennings stated that the administrative law is regarding the administration and powers and duties to be exercised by the administrative authorities.
H.R.V. Wade stated that administrative law is related to the control of the governmental powers. Thus, it consists of principles and rules governing the exercise of powers and duties by the administrative or public authorities.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW IS THE GREATEST DEVELOPMENT OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY BECAUSE OF THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
- With the emergence of the modern welfare state, it has become the duty of the State to take due care of its citizens and promote socio-economic welfare and social security of the common people. The State is not just a police State but has transformed into a progressive democratic state. The State functions to resolve industrial disputes, achieve equality, take care of public health and morals thereby delivering social justice. This can be achieved only by widening the scope of administrative law.
- As the judicial system was slow, complex, costly, and procedural it proved inadequate to settle all types of disputes. Further, the judicial system was overburdened with an increasing number of pending cases making the speedy disposal of these cases need of the hour. Mere interpretation of statues by ordinary courts of law was not proving to be enough. Thus, administrative tribunals like industrial tribunals, labor courts were established to deal with matters like disputes between the employer and employees, strikes, lockouts, etc.
- The legislature had no expertise, technique, and time to deal with all the details. Thus, because of this, there was a lack of adequate legislation making it necessary to delegate some powers to the administrative authorities who effectively dealt with them. The administrative officials have the technical knowledge and experience in many cases like labor problems and industrial disputes thereby helping them to solve these complex issues effectively and amicably. Practically it is not enough for the Parliament to lay down various rules, general principles by passing Acts leaving them to the courts to enforce them. Some un-anticipated and unplanned issues may arise which require delegating powers to the expert bodies to decide such cases on behalf of the State as we need to use the talent and technical skill of the administrators. The technical experts are not the people making legislations but the people who are involved in the administrative process.
- The legislation is rigid whereas the administrative process is flexible as it had scope for experimenting with any rule for some time and also change it within a short time if found to be ineffective. However, in legislation, a rule has to be continued until the next session of the legislature commences.
- Like ordinary courts, administrative tribunals are not bound by evidence and procedural rules and rigid technicalities. They are free to take a practical view of the cases and decide accordingly. The judicial system is not able to adjudicate certain types of disputes making it mandatory to evolve a new system to deal with such modern disputes.
- Preventive measures like rate-fixing, licensing can be taken by the administrative authorities. They don’t have to wait for disputes to arise and then the parties to the dispute come before them to resolve the issue. The ordinary courts of law have to wait for cases to come before it and then punish the guilty. The administrative authorities don’t have to follow long procedures and technical formalities thereby making them fast and functional in their approach.
- The administrative authorities not only can take preventive measures but can also enforce them by taking necessary steps like suspension, revocation, and cancellation of licenses, destroying contaminated substances, etc.
- In the twentieth century, the expectations of the people from their government are not limited to protection from external aggression and internal disturbance. Thereby making the development of the administrative law crucial for the modern judicial philosophy. Thus, the common people want the government to state their rights and also solve their disputes and problems.
In India, the rule of ‘Dharma’ was followed by many kings and administrators for a long time. The Kings and his people followed the principles of natural justice and fair play to administer their rule. The administrative system was also followed by the Chandra Gupta Maurya dynasty. The British during their rule in India enacted many Acts for public health, morality, safety, labor, etc. Because of increasing powers and duties, the British authorities had to delegate their work to people called administrative authorities. After independence, the concept of a welfare State emerged for providing socio, economic, and political justice. Even the Constitution of India contains various articles to ensure equality and justice to the citizens of India. In the twentieth century where the people want the government to do multiple tasks such as making laws, their proper implementation, resolving disputes, protecting and ensuring their safety and good health with efficiency and on-time delegating work to expertise administrative authorities is the best solution.