Definition, Nature and Scope: Administration Law Notes

Definition, Nature and Scope: Administration Law Notes- Prolawctor


Administrative law is, in fact, the body of those which rules regulate and control the administration. Administrative law is that branch of law that is concerned with the composition of power, duties, rights and liabilities of the various organs of the Government that are engaged in public administration. Under it, we study all those rules laws and procedures that are helpful in properly regulating and controlling the administrative machinery


To Holland and Maitland administrative law is part of Constitutional law. The general Principles relating to the organisation, powers and functions of “the organs of the State, namely Legislative, Executive and Judicial) and their relationship are, inter alia, dealt with, in the Constitution

Dicey in 19th century defines it as.

Firstly, portion of a nation’s legal system which determines the legal statues and liabilities of all State officials.

Secondly, defines the right and liabilities of private individuals in their dealings with public officials.

Thirdly, specifies the procedure by which those rights and liabilities are enforced.

This definition suffers from certain imperfections. It does not cover several aspects of administrative law, e.g. it excludes the study of several administrative authorities such as public corporations which are not included within the expression “State officials,” it excludes the study of various powers and functions of administrative authorities and their control. His definition is mainly concerned with one aspect of administrative. Law, namely, judicial control of public officials.

According to K. C. Davis, “Administrative law as the law concerning the powers and procedures of administrative agencies, including especially the law governing judicial review of administrative action”.

Ivor Jennings in his “The law and the constitution, 1959” provided the following definition of the term “administrative law”.

According to him, “administrative law is the law relating to the administrative authorities“.

Jennings has defined Administrative Law as “the law relating to the administration. It determines the organization, powers and duties of administrative authorities.”

This is the most widely accepted definition, but there are two difficulties in this definition.

(1) It is very wide definition, for the law which determines the power and functions of administrative authorities may also deal with the substantive aspects of such powers.

For example: – Legislation relation to public health services, houses, town and country planning etc… But these are not included within the scope and ambit of administrative law, and

(2) It does not distinguish administrative law from constitution law.

According to Jain and Jain, “Administrative law deals with the structure, powers and function of the organs of administration, the limits of their powers, the methods and procedures followed by them in exercising their powers and functions, the method by which their powers are controlled including the legal remedies available to a person against them when his rights are infringed by their operation”.

Administrative law, according to this definition, deals with four aspects:-

  1. Power and Functions
  2. Procedure
  3. Methods of Control {Parliament and Judiciary}
  4. Remedies{Constitutional Remedies and Non Constitutional}

The Indian Institution of Law has defined Administrative Law in the following words;

“ Administrative Law deals with the structure, powers and functions of organs of administration, the method and procedures followed by them in exercising their powers and functions, the method by which they are controlled and the remedies which are available to a person against them when his rights are infringed by their operation.”

Nature & Scope

Administrative law mainly deals with the powers & duties of administrative authorities, and the various remedies available to affected persons. Under welfare state, there is a tremendous increase in state activities in keeping with the technological & scientific developments. As Roland says “before the days of the

Automobile, there was no need for policeman to direct traffic”, because there was no traffic!

With the increase in State activities, grew the necessity to exercise powers: the administrative & executive powers were enlarged, delegated legislation also developed in the form of rules, regulations bye-laws, notifications etc. Administrative Tribunals started exercising

Judicial functions to resolve disputes.

The Administrative authorities are empowered with discretionary powers. If these are properly used, there will be the welfare state,

If abused there will be totalitarian state (Lord Dennings).

Hence, administrative law defines and demarcates these powers and also provides for remedies to the affected persons, when there is abuse.

This exercise of considerable power, is the main cause for growth of administrative law. The trend is to reconcile freedom & Justice of persons, with the necessities of implementing social & economic policies.

In this regard, liberty & personal freedoms are to be safeguarded within the frame work of the constitution of India.

In this context, judicial review of administrative action, prevention of mis-use or abuse of power and provisions for suitable remedies form the basic principles of administrative law.

It is true to say with Bernard Schwartz, that “the goal of administrative law is to ensure that the individual and the state

Are placed on a plane of equality before the Bar of Justice”.

It can be said that:

  • The administrative law has growing importance and interest and the administrative law is the most outstanding phenomena in the welfare state of today. Knowledge of administrative law is as important for the officials responsible for carrying on administration as for the students of law.
  • Administrative law is not codified like the Indian Penal code or the Law of Contracts. It is based on the constitution. No doubt the Court of Law oversees and ensure that the law of the land is enforced. However, the “very factor of a rapid development and complexity which gave rise to regulation made specific and complete treatment by legislation impossible and, instead, made necessary the choice of the body of officers who could keep abreast of the novelties and intricacies which the problems presented.”
  • Administrative law is essentially Judge made law. It is a branch of public law as compared to private law-relations inter-se. Administrative law is an ever-expanding subject in developing society and is bound to grow in size as well as quality in coming the decades. We need an efficient regulatory system, which ensures adequate protection of the people’s Rights.
  • Principles of administrative law emerge and development whenever any person becomes victim of arbitrary exercise of public power. Therefore administrative law deals with relationship individual with power.
  • The administrative agencies derive their authority from constitutional law and statutory law. The laws made by such agencies in exercise of the powers conferred on them also regulate their action. The principle features are: (a) transfer of power by legislature to administrative authorities, (b) exercise of power by such agencies, and (c) judicial review of administrative decisions.
  • Administrative law relates to individual rights as well as public needs and ensures transparent, open and honest governance, which is more people-friendly.
  •  Inadequacy of the traditional Court to respond to new challenges has led to the growth of administrative adjudicatory process. The traditional administration of justice is technical, expensive and dilatory and is not keeping pace with the dynamics of ever increasing subject matter. Because of limitation of time, the technical nature of legislation, the need for flexibility, experimentations and quick action resulted in the inevitable growth of administrative legislative process.
  •  Administrative law deals with the organization and powers of administrative and powers quasi-administrative agencies.
  • Administrative law primarily concerns with official action and the procedure by which the official action is reached.
  • Administrative law includes the control mechanism (judicial review) by which administrative authorities are kept with bounds and made effective.

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