Delegatus Non Potest Delegare


It is a principle in constitutional and administrative law and it is a Latin maxim which means that “No powers can be further delegated ”. It simply means that a person to whom some power is delegated cannot sub – delegate that power to someone else ,the reason behind this principle is that a person who has received the power or the authority to do an act from other person ,must perform the act himself because there is a fiduciary relationship between the person who is assigning the work and the person who is assigned the work and should not delegate this power or authority to someone who is unknown to the person assigning the work .

Example – An auditor has been appointed to audit the accounts of the company cannot delegate the task to another unless expressively allowed to do so ,if no express authorization is given then the auditor will have acted ultra vires.

“A.K. Roy and anr. v. State of Punjab and anr.” ,it was the first case in India which established the principle of delegatus non potest delegare , in this case the validity of sub-delegation of power under the prevention of food adulteration act,1954 was questioned ,Section 24(2)(e) of the act enables the state government to frame a rule for delegation of powers and functions under the act, but it does not deal with any sub-delegation. Thus, the principle laid down by this maxim is a general rule but legislature can or the authority making such law can provide for an exception by expressly allowing sub-delegation of powers.

Section 190 of the Indian Contract Act ,1872 states that the agent cannot lawfully appoint another to perform the acts which he has impliedly or expressively undertaken to perform.

However Section 191 of the Indian Contract Act,1872 defines the term Sub-Agent ,a sub-agent is a person who is employed by and is acting under the control of the original business of the agency ,hence it can be said that a sub-agent is the agent of the original agent, between them they have a agent and principal relation.

Certain exceptions to this general rule ,where the agent is allowed to delegate his authority

  • When the nature of the work is as such that it requires the appointment of a sub-agent .
  • Where the principle has expressly allowed his agent to appoint sub-agent ,the consent can be implied also .
  • Acts which are of routine nature and can be done by the agent or can delegated by him
  • When their arises emergencies during the course of agent’s appointment ,which their is a need to delegate the authority.
  • The principal knows that the agent intends to appoint a sub-agent.

Author: Mauli Dogra,
Student ,MIT WPU

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