Definition, Nature and Scope of Administrative Law


For the smooth functioning of a democratic country, there should be a society based on fairness, reasonableness and justness. Administrative law strives to develop a rule of law. It regulates the relationships between citizens and government & protects the common man from arbitrary decisions of officials. It consists of all executive actions, its programs & policies; all administrative aspects of parliament & judiciary; all actions of state like actors (agency & instrumentality of the state); all actions of non-state actors (private entities) exercising public functions. It is the branch of public law which ensures the working of government at both central and state levels and also deals with the organizations and powers of administrative and quasi- administrative bodies. It is judge-made law in general which ensures public welfare by providing guidelines.

Administrative law is basically a law which regulates the actions of administrative authorities or agencies. Administrative law tries to develop a relation between the public and government by regulating itself as the time required. Administrative law as per the Indian perspective it is almost judge-made law it is because of its changes by the court case by case in the form of guidelines. It contains all aspects of administrative actions as it can work as legislative as it has delegated powers given through legislature but in limits, it can also work as executive as it enforces the law or implements the law, it comes in the role of the judiciary when there is need to make quick decisions but there can be judicial review of that actions if there is contrary in that decision. Administrative law regulates all these actions and ensures remedies against the arbitrary actions of administrative agencies.

Administrative law may be identified on the four basics stone:-

1. Checking constructive or abusive of the powers of the administrative authorities

2. Ensuring citizens a just and fair solution or determination of disputes

3. Protect from unauthorized curtailing of rights of the citizens

4. Accountability of the powers.

Ensuring the protection of citizens over the arbitrary actions of the administration and also focuses on the judicial review of the actions or decisions taken by the administration to fulfill that protection against the actions of the administration are main objects of the administrative law.

Definitions of Administrative law

Administrative law is a law related to administration and can be defined as the law which governs the activities of the administrative agencies of the government including actions like rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a particular agenda.

Many scholars state different definitions of Administrative law in their views:

According to K.C. Devis, Administrative law is a law which is related to powers and procedures of administrative agencies, including specially the law related to judicial review of administrative actions.

According to Ivor Jennings, Administrative law is relating to the administration which helps in the determination of the organization, powers and duties of the administrative authorities.

According to F.J. Port, Administrative law consists of all legal rules which have ultimate objects to fulfill the public law, it touches legislature and judiciary too and also there are rules which govern judicial actions such as issuing writs brought by or against the administrative person, rules that permit the administrative body to exercise judicial powers and practical application of the law.

According to Austin, Administrative law is to determine the ends to and the modes in which the sovereign powers shall be exercised. It shall be directly or by the subordinates.

According to Prof. H.W.R. Wade, Administrative law is the law which controls the powers of the government.

According to Dicey, Administrative law denotes that part of the nation’s legal system which determines the legal status and liabilities of all states offices which defines the rights and liabilities of private individuals in their dealing with their public officials and which specifies the procedure by which these rights and liabilities are enforced.

According to Indian Law Institute, Administrative law is a law relating to the power of administration. It also includes the procedure of how to exercise the powers, limits of those powers, the way in which the powers are kept in those limits followed by the officials and the remedies available to the public when their rights have encroached.

According to C.K.Takwani, Administrative law is the branch of constitutional law which deals with the powers and procedures of the administrative authorities.

Now we can define administrative law as the law which is a part of the public law of a nation which deals with the administration, it also includes the procedure which is going to be followed by the authorities under administrative law which deals with the procedure which discuss how to exercise the powers, limitation on the powers, how powers are enforced on the public and also the remedies for the public when their rights encroached. Administrative law defines the relationship between the public and the government and protects from arbitrary actions which are unfair without any reasonable reason to the public.

Nature of Administrative law

Administrative law is the branch of public law which defines the relation between individuals and state. But it is not a law in a true sense like other laws such as property law or labor law. It is also not like private law which deals with relations of individual inter se. it is a law to administer the administrative authorities and check them from making any arbitrary decisions. Administrative law deals with the organization, powers and duties of the administrative authorities and also the procedure followed by the officials while exercising the powers. Administrative law is limited to the law which limits the power of administrative authorities while exercising the powers. It also provides remedies in the favor of the public when the rights of the public encroached.

In India, administrative law is almost judge made law. Thus it suffers from more facilities and benefits because of judicial lawmaking. Judiciary interprets law according to the need of time and issues guidelines for such. It affects administrative law and makes it more strong and beneficial.  It is a branch of the constitution that regulates all three branches i.e. legislative, executive and judiciary in the same way administrative regulates all administrative authorities and protects them from corrupt practices. Its main purpose is to focus on the judicial review of administrative actions. In this way, there is protection from the arbitrary actions of the administrative actions. Administrative actions can be legislative, executive or judiciary. Administrative can do all of three actions when which is required to do so. By delegation legislation administrative has the power to make law when it comes to implementation of administrative acts as an executive and when it comes to making quick decisions then the administrative can act as the judiciary. The nature of administrative law changes according to the need.

Scope of Administrative law

Scope means an area of study or the variety of subjects that are being discussed or considered. As administrative law is almost judge-made law so it changes according to societal needs but in the guidance of the basic principles so the scope of this law is wider in comparison to other laws. Administrative law determines the powers and duties of the organization and the administrative authorities. The scope of administrative law is wide enough because, with the requirement of time, Administrative Law incorporates and culls out new rules and regulations. The concept of administrative law is founded on the following:-

1. Principles of natural justice and for rulemaking

2. Notion of the Rule of law

3. Law conferred power to administration as per Article 13 of the Indian Constitution

4. Accountability of powers, no power is absolute or uncontrolled

5. There should be a reasonable restriction on the regulations of such powers

6. The power of the court to issues writs

7. Opinions of public and mass media.

As administrative law incorporates new rules and regulations as per the requirement of time, so its scope is wide enough to incorporate all such rules and regulations. In general, it is a judge made law so it varies according to societal needs.  The scope of the administrative law is wide as it can act as all three branches of the government. It can make law, implement the law and can also take decisions whenever required. But the review of the decision can be taken and on the basis of that review, the court can issue guidelines if there is any contradiction in that decision.


Administrative law is to administer & protect the public from the arbitrary actions of the administrative authorities. For a democratic country, there should be a strong and honest administration system. Administrative law provides that strength by making laws for administrative authorities. Administrative law makes the working of the administration system more clear and more smooth. How to exercise powers, limits of those powers, how to keep those powers in limits while exercising such powers, procedures followed by the officials all these things are in administrative law. There are also remedies for the public when their rights are seized.  It does not like substantive law which is beyond the understanding of lawyers it is a law which is dictated by the judges and especially focusing on the judicial review of the administrative actions. It is limited to the law concerning powers and procedures of administrative and quasi-administrative agencies.

This article has been written by Varun Kumar, 4th Year B.A LL.B Student at Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University

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