Delegated Legislation: An Overview

Delegated Legislation: An Overview


The concept of delegated legislation has been one of the debatable topics due to it’s varying implications. There have different and even contradicting views and standpoints when it came to delegation of power.

The three branches of the government, which are the legislative, executive and the judiciary, are assigned powers specific to their positions and work separately in order to ensure smooth functioning of the nation. But the authority of the legislation lies with the legislator.


Delegation, according to Black’s Law is defined as an act of entrusting a person with power or entrusting him to act on behalf of the person who has given them the task or power, as an agent or representative. Delegated legislation is basically delegating authority to any body which is lower in rank than the main body. It is also called as Subordinate Legislation. According to Salmond “Subordinate Legislation is that which proceeds from any authority other than the sovereign power”.

By the process of delegating power, the legislation can pass it’s power to either the executive or any other body so that they can make certain decisions and integrate more details to according to what is prescribed in the Act of Parliament.

According to P.B. Jain, the term of delegated legislation can be used in two ways-

  1. Exercise of power by a body or authority lower in rank than the legislature delegated to it by the legislature.
  2. The subsidiary rules which are made by the these subordinate bodies by the power bestowed upon it by the legislature.

Delegated Legislation is also called subordinate legislation, quasi-legislation, ancillary and administrative legislation.


As the times are  progressing and the society is requiring laws to be amended and new laws need to come into force, there is a lot of pressure on the legislature and thus delegation of legislation has become a need. The reasons for the growth of delegated legislation are as follows-:

  1. Pressure on the parliament- The everyday activities of the legislation are expanding because of which legislature cannot look into all the matters. It is in such situations where delegating powers comes into place as the legislature can delegate it’s powers to the appropriate subordinate body and they in turn can make the required decisions.
  2. Technicalities- In today’s times, when everything has become so complex, technical and intricate and with the new laws to be brought about or the existing laws to be amended in accordance with today’s times, it is necessary for the legislature to take expert advice from people in that particular field and also if necessary delegate the power to make laws or decisions on that matter. Thus, delegation of power plays a great role here.
  3. Flexibility- Parliamentary procedures are very tiring and exhausting and therefore to make sure that the speed of the process increases, delegation of legislature is done and also the workload of the legislature can be shared by the executive or any other body to whom the legislature delegates it’s powers to.


The following are the criticisms of delegated legislation-:

  1. Due to legislation of power, it may so happen that the executive encroaches upon the legislation and make laws.
  2. There can be misuse of power as the executive or any other body may make laws according to political parties.
  3. There is not much discussion of laws after delegation of legislation and thus, the laws made by the respective authorities may or may not be in the interest of the general public.
  4. The executive already has the power of executing laws and by giving it additional powers of making laws also, a lot of powers is given in the hands of the executive which can be misused.
  5. There has also been a questionable matter whether the status of the legislation has gone down after delegation of legislation.


Thus, we can conclude that delegated legislation has both pros and cons. Even though, it has become the need of the hour, if used in an unchecked manner, it may lead to misuse of powers and may disrupt the functioning of the government and the country.

Author: Vaishnavi Menon,
MIT WPU School of Law, 1st year

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