Administrative Law

Administrative Action- Meaning, Classification And Control – Short Notes

In these notes on Administrative Action, we’ll explore its essence—specific, case-oriented decisions distinct from legislative or judicial spheres.

Discover its classification into legislative, executive, and judicial actions, further dissected into rule-making, decision-making, and administrative functions.

Additionally, we’ll delve into how courts exercise control through writs like Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, and Certiorari, ensuring fairness, rectifying legal errors, and curbing administrative arbitrariness.

Meaning of Administrative Action

Administrative action constitutes actions that aren’t legislative or judicial but focus on analyzing and handling specific situations. They lack generality and involve subjective assessments based on policy and expediency rather than determining right or wrong. While they don’t wholly ignore natural justice principles, they can impact rights. Typically, administrative actions observe at least a minimum of natural justice principles unless statutes dictate otherwise.

Such actions can be statutory or non-statutory. Statutory actions gain legal force from statutes or the Constitution, while non-statutory actions lack such legal backing but may lead to disciplinary measures if violated. Although often discretionary and subjective, administrative authorities must act fairly, impartially, and reasonably.

Classification of Administrative Action

Administrative action encompasses legislative, executive, and judicial functions.

It further subdivides into three main categories:

  1. Quasi-legislative action: Involves rule-making and delegated legislation, stepping in when legislative bodies cannot address arising conflicts.
  2. Quasi-judicial action: Resembles judicial processes, allowing administrative bodies to decide on legal rights of individuals.
  3. Purely administrative action: Neither legislative nor judicial but purely administrative in nature, focusing on execution.

In Article 14 and 21 of the constitution of India, the concept of natural justice is defined in case of consequences suffered in administrative action.

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In case of A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India, the Court held that in order to determine whether the action of the administrative authority is quasi-judicial or administrative in nature, one has to see the power conferred, to whom power is given, the framework within which power is conferred and the consequences.

Control of Administrative Action

Administrative actions are controlled by courts in certain circumstances by issuing different writs and thus plays an important role in judicial control of administrative actions in India. Courts exercise control over administrative actions using different writs:

  1. Writ of Habeas Corpus: in Latin means ‘to have the body’. Serves to release unlawfully detained individuals, enabling the production of the detained person before the Court to justify the detention. Exemplary damages can be awarded for wrongful confinement.
    In the case of Bhim Singh v State of Jammu& Kashmir, AIR 1986 SC 494, the Hon’ble Court awarded the exemplary damages of Rs.50,000 for the wrongful confinement.
  2. Writ of Mandamus: in Latin means “We Command”. Commands constitutional, statutory, or non-statutory authorities to perform a public duty or cease an unauthorized act. It’s pivotal in preventing administrative arbitrariness.
    It is also called ‘Writ of Justice’.
  3. Writ of Prohibition: means ‘to prohibit’.  Prevents lower or quasi-judicial bodies from exceeding their jurisdiction or continuing proceedings. It’s issued based on grounds like absence of
    • jurisdiction,
    • violation of natural justice,
    • unconstitutionality, or
    • infringement of fundamental rights.
  4. Writ of Certiorari: Latin word means “to certify”. Empowers Supreme Court or High Courts to correct illegal decisions or quash them based on grounds like
    • errors in jurisdiction,
    • abuse of jurisdiction,
    • legal errors evident on the record, or
    • violations of natural justice principles.

What is administrative action?

How are administrative actions controlled?

How does Mandamus function?

Read Also : Relationship Between Constitutional Law and Administrative Law

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