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Growth and Development of Administrative Law In India

Administrative law was existent in India even in ancient times. Under the Mauryas and Guptas, several centuries before christ, there was well organised and centralise Administration in India.

Growth Development Administrative Law India

Image Credits © Ramesh Lalwani

The rule of "Dharma" was observed by kings and Administrators and nobody claimed any exemption from it. The basic principle of natural justice and fair play were followed by the kings and officers as the administration could be run only on those principles accepted by Dharma, which was even a wider word than "Rule of Law" or "Due process of Law", Yet, there was no Administrative law is existence in the sense in which we study it today.

With the establishment of East India company (EIC) and event of the British Rule in India. The powers of the government had increased. Many Acts, statutes and Legislation were passed by the British government regulating public safety, health, morality transport and labour relations. Practice of granting Administrative licence began with the State Carriage Act 1861. The first public corporation was established under the Bombay Port Trust Act 1879. Delegated legilsation was accepted by the Northrn India Canal and Drainage Act, 1873 and Opium Act 1878 proper and effective steps were taken to regulate the trade and traffic in explosives by the Indian Explosives by the Indian Explosives Act 1884.

In many, statutes, provisions were made with regard to holding of permits and licences and for the settlement of disputes by the Administrative authorities and Tribunals.

During the Second World War, the executive powers tremendously increased Defence of India Act, 1939 and the rules made thereunder conferred ample powers on the property of an individual with little or no judicial control over them, In addition to this, the government issued many orders and ordinances, covering several matters by way of Administrative instructions.

Since independence, the activities and the functions of the government have further increased. Under the Industrial Disputes Act 1947, the Minimum Wages Act 1948 important social security measures have been taken for those employed in Industries.

The philosophy of a welfare state has been specifically embodied in the constitution of India. In the constitution itself, the provisions are made to secure to all citizens social, economic and political justice, equality of status and opportunity. The ownership and control of material resources of the society should be so distributed as best to subserve the common good. The operation of the economic system should not result in the concentration of all these objects.

The state is given power to impose reasonable restrictions even on the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the constitution.

In Fact, to secure those objects, several steps have been taken by the parliament by passing many Acts, e.g. the Industrial (Development and Regulation) Act 1951, the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act 1952, the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. The Companies Act 1956, the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of undertakings) Act, 1969. The Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, The Payment of Bonus Act 1965, The Equal Remuneration Act 1976, The Urban Land (ceiling and Regulation) Act 1976, The Beedi Worker's Welfare Fund Act, 1976 etc.

Even, while interpreting all these Acts and the provisions of the constitution, the judiciary started taking into consideration the objects and ideals social welfare. Thus, in Vellunkunnel Vs. Reserve Bank of India AIR) 1962 SC137), the Supreme Court held that under the Banking Companies Act, 1949 the Reserve Bank was the sole judge to decide whether the affairs of a Banking company where being conducted in a manner prejudicial to the depositors, interest and the court had no option but to pass an order of winding up as prayed for by the Reserve Bank.

Again, in state of Andhra Pradesh Vs. C. V. Rao, (1975) 2 SCC 557 dealing with departmental inquiry, the Supreme Court held that the jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari under Article 226 is supervisory in nature. In is not an appellate court and if there is some evidence or record on which the tribunal had passed the order, the said findings can not be challenged on the ground the evidence for the same is insufficient or inadequate. The adequacy or sufficiency of evidence is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the tribunal.

Similar view was taken in K. L. Shinde Vs State of Mysore, (AIR 1976 SC 1080) In Shrivastava Vs Suresh Singh (AIR 1976 SC 1904), The Supreme Court observed that in matters relating to questions regarding adequacy or sufficiently of training the expert opinion of public service commission would be generally accepted by the court.

Very Recently, in State of Gujrat Vs. M. I. Haider Bux (AIR 1977 SC 594), The Supreme Court held that under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1994, Ordinarily, government is the best authority to decide whether a particular purpose is a public purpose and whether the land can be acquired for the purpose or not.

Thus, on the one hand, the activities and powers of the government and administrative authorities have increased and on the otherhand, there is great need for the enforcement of the rule of law and judicial review over these powers, so that the citizens should be free to enjoy the liberty guaranteed to them by the constitution. For that purpose, provisions are made in the statutes giving right of appeal, revision etc. and at the same time extra-ordinary remedies are available to them under Article 32, 226 and 227 of the constitution of India. The Principle of judicial review is also accepted in our constitution, and the order passed by the administrative authorities can be quashed and set aside if they are malafied or ultravires the Act or the provisions of the constitution.

And if the rules, regulations or orders passed by these authorities are not within their powers, they can be declared ultravires, unconstitutional, illegal or void.

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