Administrative Law: Meaning and Significance

For the good governance and smooth functioning to deliver good service to entire country, there are many administrative bodies. The major functions of these administrative body to maintain law and order and promote welfare in the society. However, to maintain harmony among these administrative bodies, their works must be defined clearly and also it has to be controlled and regulated. For such control and regulations, administrative law came into existence.

What is Administrative law?

A branch of public law, administrative law majorly deals with the formation and decision−making of such administrative units of government. These administrative branches are basically agencies or executive branch of government, such as Indian administrative department, tax department, vigilance department, police department, transport department, and many more.

An administrative law establishes the administrative and quasi−judicial organizations’ organizational and authority structures in order to uphold the law. In order to prevent administrative agencies from becoming arbitrator, administrative law establishes a control mechanism that is largely focused on governmental and administrative activities and procedures. Since it has evolved over time, it is not a codified law. This prevents the government from abusing or misusing the authority granted to it.

Historical Background

The role and purpose of government have changed dramatically in the 20th century. Government duties now encompass a wide range of activities. Today’s state is more than just a police state that serves to carry out sovereign duties. In addition to its traditional duties of defending its residents' lives and property from invasion, war, and internal unrest, the state now also has to provide for the social welfare of the average citizen in a progressive democratic state. In essence, administrative law is a body of legislation that governs how the government administers itself. It covers the roles and responsibilities of administrative authorities, how they exercise their authority and carry out their obligations, and the recourses open to a person who feels violated when an administrative action impairs his rights.


The structure, functions, and obligations of administrative authorities are governed by administrative law. In formal adjudication, the procedural part is where administrative law places its emphasis. The following foundations support this theory −

  • Fundamentals of natural justice

  • Rule of law

  • The law gives the government authority

  • Depending on the outcome, there should be logical limitations placed on the use of such powers.

  • Administrative authorities may have judicial and quasi−judicial powers, such as courts and tribunals, to address issues and provide solutions.

Nature of Administrative Law

The organisation and authority of administrative and quasi−administrative agencies are also covered by administrative law. Only to the extent that it is demanded by the powers that be is this concentration on organisational studies necessary. As a result, the research includes more than just administrative agencies.


It is an inescapable requirement of the modern era that administrative law develop. India was a police state that was mostly concerned with preserving its own dominance before 1947. In order to promote civil service, administrative machinery was primarily implemented. The "steel frame of Indian politics" quickly emerged as a term to describe this. The Indian Constitution's philosophical underpinnings changed after independence. It set out laudable objectives for socioeconomic parity, with the welfare of the general population as its top priority. It serves as a crucial tool for balancing justice and power. Administrators are subject to the Constitution.

Every aspect of our lives is impacted by administrative policy. Several tasks are included in the broad range of governance −

  • Policy Making

  • Legislative leadership

  • The carrying out and overseeing of governmental regulations

  • Administering state functions that are both conventional and modern

  • using a variety of bye−laws, directives, decrees, and instructions to exercise legislative authority.


Major functions are −

  • to control how organised authorities and the general public interact;

  • research the legal entities that enact government policy;

  • to promote administration that is open and transparent; and

  • establish a strong system for citizens' complaints to be resolved.

Importance of Administrative Law

The legal framework for these agencies' and departments' operations is provided by administrative law, which also aims to create effective protocols and practices. The majority of the time, administrative authorities decide simple and minor issues faster and with fewer procedural hurdles than courts. In an effort to limit governmental authority, administrative law lays out an efficient process for obtaining the object. Individual rights and the public interest, two opposing factors, can be balanced.

Rule of Law

One of the fundamental components of a democracy−based constitution is the rule of law, which is a dynamic idea. It announces the "Supremacy of Law" and rejects human supremacy.

Dicey explained the contemporary idea of the rule of law, and his explanation comprises three crucial components −

I. The Rule against Arbitrariness

Administrative officers shouldn't use their authority in an arbitrary manner, and any actions they take must be supported by an "Act" of the legislature or a rule that gives them the necessary authority.

Therefore, only those authorities granted by the legislative branch should be used by the executive officer. The governing principles for administrators are found in the rule of law. Without establishing distinctions between individuals and members of society, they should exert their authority.

II. Equality

According to the principle of "equality before the law," nobody should be subjected to physical or material harm unless a specific legal violation has occurred. Additionally, it states that "all persons must be amenable to the court's general jurisdiction."

III. Common Law Rights

When a document, such as the Constitution, is the foundation for a person's rights, such rights may be revoked or suppressed by the Parliament through constitutional amendment.

Separation of Powers

Separation of powers describes how the executive, judicial, and legislative departments of government are divided into separate entities with unique roles. The goal of the principle of separation of powers is to prevent the accumulation of unrestrained power and to provide a system of checks and balances whereby the authority of one body of government is constrained by that of another, preventing abuses of authority and a return to autocracy.

No Concentration of Powers

The authorities shouldn't be centralised under a single authority, according to Montesquieu. Tyranny might result from the concentration of power under one authority, which would restrict people's freedom.

Diffusion of Powers

As implied by the phrase "separation of powers," the various branches of the government must have independent authority. The functions and powers of each organ should be clearly defined.

Checks and Balances

 By establishing a system of checks and balances, the notion of the separation of powers creates a government where each organ verifies that the others are not abusing their authority. To prevent the other organ from acting arbitrarily, it means that each organ exerts a certain amount of control over the other.


Over time, the growing population and subsequent government reluctance to deal directly with the people have exponentially increased the meaning and scope of administrative law. This is the area of law that not only helps the government promote good governance in the country, but also resolves various civil disputes that may arise between the government’s agencies and common people.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When was administrative law established?

Administrative law didn't exactly start at one specific time rather it evolved over period in time. However, it came into existence, since the development of administrative system. The requirements of the polity have guided the concurrent evolution of administrative law and administration.

Q. How did administrative law come into existence?

Although the majority of the laws are judge−made, there are a few situations where legislation is introduced. For the creation of laws and their efficient execution, a higher legislative body delegated its authority to a lower agency. This is how administrative law started developing.

Q. What role do administrative law and ethics play?

Natural law and the rule of law are the fundamental tenets upon which administrative law is built. Any law that violates ethics and fundamental principles is instantly repealed because it is a very flexible area of law.