Definition, Nature and Scope of Administrative law

Definition, Nature and Scope of Administrative law


In the modern times the states have undertaken multifarious functions which traditionally did not come within the areas of its operations, besides the functions relating to the maintenance of law and order , administration of justice , and protection of its people from aggression. The states have taken various schemes of development, planning and welfare activities affecting every walk of human life . In this process enormous powers had to be conferred on the government without which the objectives of welfare state could not have been achieved. Thus administrative law is the by – product of the growing socio – economic functions of the state and increased powers of the government.

Concept and definition of administrative law:

Administrative law is a branch of public law , which is concerned with various powers , duties, rights , and liabilities of the various organs of government which are engaged in public administration.

Definition : Various attempts have been made to provide a definite definition, but none turned out to be satisfactory.

As per Austin “Administrative law is as to determine the ends to and the modes in which the sovereign powers shall be exercised.

They shall be exercised :

A) Directly by the monarch of sovereign member ;

B) Directly by the he subordinate political superiors to whom portions of those are delegated or committed in trust .

According to Jennings ‘ Administrative law means a law relating to the administration, powers and duties of the administrative authorities.

Nature of Administrative law

Administrative law is a law in the real sense. But it is not a law like the “property law , land laws, labour laws”etc.It includes the study of something which may not be termed as a law in the true sense if the term such as administrative circular, policy statement resolutions , memorandum , administrative circular, policy statement etc .Besides this , it includes with its study “higher law ; natural justice.

Administrative law is a branch of public law in contradiction with a private law which deals with the relationship of individual inter se. Thus administrative law primarily deals with the relationship of individual and the organized power.

Further , administrative law deals , with the Organisation and powers of administrative and quasi – administrative agencies. This stress on the study of Organisation is only to the extent that it is necessary to under the powers , characteristic of actions , procedure for the exercise of those powers and control mechanism provided therein. Thus it’s study includes not only administrative agencies . The stress on the study of Organisation is only to the extent that it is necessary to understand the powers and control mechanism provided therein . Thus it’s study includes not only administrative agencies such as corporations ; but boards , Universities and other institutions. Administrative law includes the study of the existing principles and also of the development of certain new principles which administrative and quasi administrative agencies must follow while exercising their powers in relation to individual i.e. principles of natural justice, reasonableness and fairness.

In India , administrative law is basically and wholly remains a judge made lawn and thus suffers from the facilities band benefits from the strength of judicial law making .

Scope of administrative law :

Administrative law primarily concerns itself with the official action may be :

A) Rule making action ,

B) Rule decision action or adjudicatory action

C) Rule application action

Besides the main action the actions which are incidental to the main actions are also covered within the study .such incidental actions may be investigatory , supervisory , advisory , declaratory etc.

Administrative law also includes within its scope the control mechanism by which the administrative agencies are kept within the bounds and made effectively in the service of the individuals. This control mechanism is technically called the review process.

The following administrative actions are within its scope –

1) Courts exercising with jurisdiction through writs of habeas corpus , mandamus , certiorari, prohibition ,

2) courts exercising ordinary judicial powers through suits, injunction and declaratory actions .

3) Higher administrative authorities.

4) Public opinion and mass media in the 20th century is also an important control on any administration which cannot be ignored.

5) Easy access to justice also provides an effective check on bureaucratic adventurism in the exercise of public power.

6) The task of administrative law is to reconcile , in the field of administrative action , democratic safeguards and standards of fair play with the effective conduct of government.


Prof K.C Davies expresses “ Administrative law , as the term suggests limited to law concerning powers, procedures of administrative agencies including especially the law governing judicial review of administrative actions. It does not include the enormous mass of substantive law produced by the agencies much of which is beyond the understanding of lawyers as such.

Author: Harshita Swami,
Guwahati University BALLB9th sem

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