CONCEPT AND CLASSIFICATION OF ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS
There are three organs of the government and they are legislature, executive and judiciary. These organs perform various functions separately and they are legislative, executive or administrative and judicial respectively. The main function of the legislature is to make or enact the laws; the function of the executive is to administer the law and lastly, the function of the judiciary is to pass judgements in courts and interpret the law.
Currently, the executive performs various functions such as to investigate, to adopt schemes, to issue licenses, etc which are administrative in nature. They perform functions which are legislative in nature such as making laws, bye-laws, to fix prices, to make regulations, etc. and also to impose fine and penalty which can be considered as judicial functions. Therefore, the power and scope of the executive has certainly increased as they perform all kinds of functions.
NEED FOR CLASSIFICATION:
The question as to whether the functions performed by the executive authorities are purely administrative, quasi-judicial or quasi-legislative in character are really difficult for us to analyse. There is no proper test to distinguish these functions from one another and even the court is not able to bring out a test to differentiate them. Yet, such classification is essential and inevitable as there are many consequences that come from it. For example if the executive exercises a judicial or quasi judicial function, it must follow the principles of natural justice, but if it is a legislative or quasi legislative function, natural justice has no application. If the function is administrative, delegation will be permissible, but if it is judicial in nature then it cannot be delegated. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the kind of function that is performed by the administrative authority.
LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE AND JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS:
1. LEGISLATIVE FUNCTIONS:
The legislative functions of the administrative authority are generally to make laws, rules, regulations, bye-laws, etc. We know that it is difficult to differentiate between legislative and administrative functions but it necessary to draw the line between them as different legal rights.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEGISLATIVE AND JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS:
There is no clear difference between a legislative function and a judicial function.
In the case of Prentis v. Atlantic Coast Line Co, Justice Holmes J points out the distinction between legislative and judicial functions. He stated that a judiciary investigates, declares and enforces liabilities on present or past facts under laws that already exist. Whereas, legislation takes care of the future and changes the existing conditions by making new rules that has to be applied thereafter.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS:
It has certainly been very difficult to draw the line between legislative and administrative functions. Many jurists, professionals and scholars have tried to find a test to differentiate them.
In the case of Baldev Singh v. State of H.P, an action of inclusion of certain areas within the municipal corporation was held to be administrative in nature whereas in Sunder Kanyalal Bhatija v. Collector, such an action was held to be legislative in nature.
2. JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS:
A Pure judicial function presupposes an existing dispute between two or more parties according to the Committee on Ministers’ Powers.
An authority is generally described as quasi-judicial when it has some of the characteristics of judicial functions, but it is not the case every time. Scholars have stated that quasi judicial function stands between judicial function and administrative function.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JUDICIAL AND QUASI-JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS:
A quasi judicial function differs from a judicial function in the following ways:
- A quasi-judicial authority has characteristics similar to that of a court, but not all of them. There is a duty to act judicially.
- A lis inter partes ( a legal suit between the parties) is an essential element of a judicial function, but this may not be true of a quasi-judicial function.
- A court is bound by rules and regulations of evidence and procedure which is not present in the case of a quasi-judicial authority.
- A court is bound by precedents set by the superior courts whereas a quasi-judicial authority is not.
- A court cannot be a judge in its own cause, whereas an administrative authority can be a party to the case and also decide the case.
3. ADMINISTRATIVE FUNCTIONS:
There are certain characteristics that are present in administrative functions. They are:
- An administrative order is mostly based on government policies and regulations.
- In administrative decisions, there is no strict rule to adopt a judicial approach and the decisions depend on each case.
- An administrative authority is not bound by legal evidence as in the case of a judicial authority.
- An administrative order will be considered as invalid if it is unreasonable.
- An administrative authority may use its discretion while taking a decision.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADMINISTRATIVE AND QUASI- JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS:
The acts of an administrative authority may be purely administrative or it can be legislative or judicial in nature. It is a difficult task to differentiate them. The courts have tried their best to draw a line between administrative and quasi-judicial functions. In the case of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers vs. Designated authority, the court observed that for determining whether a power is an administrative or
quasi-judicial power, the following must be considered:
- The nature of power conferred
- The manner in which the power is expected to be exercised
- The statute conferring such a power
- The individual on whom the power is conferred
- The consequences that arise from exercising such power
Administrative law generally deals with the powers of the administrative authorities and the manner in which the powers are exercised by them. It will also include the remedies that are available against unlawful administrative actions. The primary function of administrative law is to protect the rights of the people by keeping a check on the powers of the government.
Although there is a general consensus among the lawyers, jurists and scholars that it is a tedious task to differentiate the various administrative functions such as legislative, administrative, judicial and quasi-judicial, it is necessary to classify them especially between purely administrative and quasi-judicial.
Author: Ronald Philips,
4th year BA LLB