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The Restrictions of Delegation of power under Indian Administrative Law

This article discusses one of the most important areas of administrative law, which is the delegation of powers, and it focuses on this topic throughout its whole. The purpose of this research is to investigate the constraints placed on the delegation of authority from a number of different perspectives. Therefore, conducting research on whether or not such constraints are necessary and how they may be implemented.

The primary goal of delegated legislation is to ease the workload of the legislature while also ensuring (through a variety of regulations, bylaws, and notifications) that the nuances of the welfare-related aspects of such legislation are communicated to the general populace. The issue arises, however, when the same thing exceeds what it was designed for. The necessity of delegation limits and the significance of those limits become clear when viewed in light of the background presented here.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the many constraints that are placed on the delegation of powers in order to guarantee that the numerous organs involved in the governance of the nation do not interfere with each other's tasks and clearly delineated spheres of operation. Due to the fact that the aforementioned objective of the paper is to show the many features of having a system of checks and constraints on the delegation of powers with regard to the administrative authorities, the scope of the study is confined to presenting these elements.

The reason for the creation of delegated legislation is because it is virtually impossible to design a law that foresees and correspondingly allows for a section to cover each and every complicated feature spiraling out of a major piece of legislation. This is the reason why delegated legislation exists. It has earned a reputation as a desirable attribute of democratic societies in recent times. Because of this, the legislature can no longer stake an exclusive claim to the responsibility of enacting laws. The necessity to have a social-welfare perspective in the policies has been the requirement, as well as the cause, for the emergence of delegated legislation, particularly in the case of India.[1] As a natural consequence of having such a perspective, the requirement of possessing technical expertise becomes a pre-requisite in order for the laws to be effectively implemented. It is at this point that delegated law steps in to fill in any gaps that may exist.[2] Rules, bye-laws, and regulations are some examples of delegated legislation, although there are many of more.

The word "assigned legislation" may be understood in two very broad senses:
  1. The exercise of a legislative authority that has already been delegated by a lower agency; and
  2. The creation of rules that are themselves subsidiary in nature due to the fact that they were created by lower authorities.[3]

Having said that, there are times when the situation at hand, which is something that is very natural to happen in the process of the delegation of legislative authority, demands the necessity to put the preceding into some kind of check. This is done with the perspective that the aim of delegated legislation, which is to make democracy more relevant and easily available before the population, does not stand defeated in the face of arbitrary and dangerous decision-making by the legislative body. The act of delegating authority is subject to a number of constraints, which serve as safeguards against the possibility of arbitrary decision-making. A judicial examination of the delegation in question could constitute one of the constraints. This also guarantees that there will be no rash administrative actions taken.

The manner in which it is accomplished in India is very different from the manner in which the identical operation would be carried out in the United Kingdom or the United States of America. When compared to the latter, the former does not place any limitations on the ability of Parliament to confer its lawmaking authority on any other entity it sees fit.[4] In the first scenario, the Courts are the primary guardians of the same information.

The fact that India has a written constitution, in contrast to the United Kingdom, which has an explicit 'Separation of Powers,' and the fact that India has a cooperative government in contrast to the United States, which has an explicit 'Separation of Powers,' are the primary factors that set India apart from other countries. If there are any, the many irregularities that arise from the exercise of discretion in delegated legislation are investigated by the courts in India. The concept of "Excessive Delegation" has been investigated by the Indian Courts on several occasions, in a variety of circumstances.[5]

Analysis of the Mechanism of delegated legislation
The term 'delegated legislation' is understood in two very broad senses:
  1. Exercise of an already delegated legislative power by a lower agency; and
  2. Rules which are themselves subsidiary in nature on account of their being made by the lower authorities.[6]
The reason for the existence of delegated legislation is because it is virtually impossible to draught a law that foresees and accordingly provides for a section to address each and every intricate aspect spiraling out of a main piece of legislation. This is the reason why delegated legislation exists. It has earned the reputation of being a beneficial by-product of democratic societies in recent years. Therefore, the legislative branch can no longer have a sole and exclusive claim to the process of enacting laws.

In the case of India, the necessity to have a social-welfare view in the policies targeted at the general welfare of the population has been the cause for the expansion of delegated legislation. This requirement has been the driving force behind this trend.[7] This kind of legal framework, which is designed for the benefit of a greater number of people in general throughout all aspects of day-to-day life, relates to certain domains in terms of the legislation that is involved, as well as the science or technology that is involved in carrying out the same. In order to effectively apply the regulations, it is necessary to have some level of technical expertise, which implies that this is a prerequisite. At this point, delegated legislation steps in to fill in the voids left by the original law.

Law that is delegated acts as an outgrowth of the primary legislation but is sufficiently regionalized to suit the particular requirements that are necessary by such legislation. They meet the requirement to have specialized knowledge about the areas that the parent legislation deals with, which is necessary for the accomplishment of the law's declared purposes, and as a result, they are enabling of the parent legislation. In the Agriculture Market Committee Case[8], the Supreme Court of India made three important remarks with relation to the expansion of delegated legislation in India.

These observations are as follows:
  1. The domain for which the delegation of powers is created could be so technically challenging that it might not be feasible to investigate all of the potential perspectives from which the legislation can be regarded;
  2. It's possible that the executive branch will need some time to conduct experiments and figure out how the original law worked, following which they'll go on to figuring out the different specifics involved in the same;
  3. Delegated legislation, in a major degree, goes on to benefit the executive, which has the ultimate say over crafting the complexities necessary for attaining the intended effects from the parent law.
  4. Delegated legislation, in a small way, goes on to help the general public.

As a consequence of the conversation that has taken place up to this point, it has been abundantly evident that delegated legislation, which is also known as subordinate legislation, has been generally acknowledged as an indispensable component of every contemporary democratic nation. It makes the process of communicating with the general public a great deal easier because it takes a deep look at the obstacles that are being addressed on the ground and the outcomes that are expected to follow from the goals of the parent law.

It is demonstrated by a variety of terminological references, some of which are technically distinct from one another as well as from other terminological references, such as rules, regulations, bye-laws, notices, and orders, amongst others. Some of these terminological references are also technically distinct from other terminological references. When the example of statutory businesses is taken into consideration, there is once again the possibility of making a difference on the terminological level.

This is a reference to the local ordinances and regulations, which are the instruments that are used to delegate authority in such places. The terminological distinction stems from the fact that the latter stands in stark contrast to the laws that are formed by the government itself. In specifically, the laws that are formulated by the government itself stand in contrast to the laws that are formulated by the latter.

That in addition to this, there is an absolute requirement for there to be a legislative framework in the event that there is an emergency crisis. This is because the traditional method of legislation creation is fraught with a great deal of complications. This method of drafting laws contributes to the process of direct participation of the target groups of the law, which enables the law to become more effective and efficient in addressing the issues that face people. Overall, it is wise to draw the conclusion that owing to the aforementioned factors highlighted in the context of delegated legislation, it makes it easier to experiment with different approaches and provides more flexibility in the normal course of rule-making.[9]

Need for restraints on Delegation
In light of the fact that given the freedom to formulate rules regarding the administration, there is a very valid ground that such rules may transgress beyond the realm of reason and logic, it is a pertinent question that needs to be answered whether or not there is a need for restraints, and this question needs to be answered as soon as possible. As a result, the final result was an exercise of power based entirely on arbitrary decisions.

When considering delegated legislation, it is essential to keep in mind that, in contrast to the case of legislation, the legislature does not have the option of subjecting the legislation that is going to be framed to a number of debates and discussions in the house before coming up with the actual framework of the legislation. This is an important distinction that should be kept in mind. On the other hand, a delegated legislation does not have access to the same kind of opportunity. This significantly increases the likelihood that the same will be arbitrary.

Because the public and the people are on the hook for the consequences in any scenario, the capacity to formulate delegated law is just as vital as, if not more important than, the right to pass legislation. The concept of having safeguards is brought into play so that the rights and interests of the people are not compromised in any manner, shape, or form. There are two levels at which the control of the delegated law is exercised:[10]
  1. The point when the power is delegated by the legislature
  2. At the level of exercise of such delegated power by the administrative authorities-both the aspects are complementary of each other and do not stand in isolation.

Position In United Kingdom
As a result of the fact that it possesses sovereign powers, the Parliament in this country cannot be held accountable for its own actions. The Parliament possesses absolute authority, giving it the ability to allocate whatever amount of power that it considers appropriate. It is the responsibility of the delegate to create the framework of the legislation so that it can develop in the appropriate manner.

When exercising delegated legislative authority, the Parliament is not obligated to provide a standard operating procedure for the concerned authority to follow. This option is up to them. The one viable solution to this problem is within the purview of Parliament itself to implement.

Position in India
Because of the similarities in terms of having a written constitution and the process of judicial review, which are both absent in the case of England, the position that the Indian judiciary has towards delegated legislation is largely shaped by the stand that the United States takes, which is more logical for India to follow because of the similarities between the two countries. In contrast to the United States, India does not have a presidential system of government and there is no specific legislative provision that addresses the issue of separation of powers.

These are two of the most major aspects that distinguish India from the United States. It has been noticed that the notion of conditional legislation has emerged in the case of India as a result of the judiciary's earlier stated attitude on the matter in the Jatindra Nath case[11]. Regarding this particular issue, the contribution of re, Delhi Laws case[12] is essential. Following the conclusion of this case, the Indian judicial system acknowledged the validity of the delegation of legislative authority premise.

The following is a condensed version of its contributions:
  1. Established the legitimacy of the principle of delegated legislation, which states that a higher legislative authority has the ability to delegate the power of legislation to lower administrative authorities;
  2. Established limits on the power of the legislature to delegate to lower administrative authorities.
  3. The concept of conditional legislation was hitherto pushed to the sidelines by the judiciary. The Court did not want to let the authority stay as a "blank check" by not qualifying it with any constraints, and the Court did not want to qualify it with any limitations either.
It was a one-of-a-kind example of judicial innovation in which the Indian judiciary decided to go its own way by recognizing the method and principle of delegated legislation. This decision was a departure from the norm. In the first place, the argument regarding the principle of the separation of powers was not taken into consideration by the Indian Supreme Court since a system that "does not exist between the executive and the legislative in India" was stated.

Second, it did not consider the reasons of the United States Court that delegatus non potest delegare to be followed because it believed that this was not a very compelling argument. The decision was made by the Indian Court based on the logic that since India operates with a written constitution, it cannot enjoy the same freedom as is found in the UK. This implied that the final word with regard to delegated legislation rested with the Indian Courts, despite the fact that the power of delegating the power was with the Legislative Branch of the government.

In due course of time, the Indian legal system likewise began to incorporate the idea of excessive delegation into its way of thinking. The Supreme Court decided that the legislature has the ability to delegate its legislative power by establishing a policy and a standard in accordance with which the legislative power can be used by an authority that has been delegated.

In the case of Gwalior Rayon[13], an issue emerged regarding the maintainability of the notion of excessive delegation, as well as its ability to be modified or discarded entirely. Although MATHEWS, J. expressed support for the idea, the majority of the court did not agree with him. The decision that upheld the principle of delegated legislation was handed down by KHANNA, J. on behalf of the court's majority.

This interpretation of the law was validated by a panel of five judges in the succeeding case of K.S.E. Board[14], and it was reaffirmed once again in the proceeding case of Kunjabmu[15]. In the later instance, it was decided that the legislature cannot transfer its core tasks; the statute delegating the powers must lay out principles and policy in order to determine how to fill in the specifics necessary to carry out the policy. [16]

There are two primary considerations that the Supreme Court of the United States has raised in opposition to the idea of delegated legislation. The first reason is that such an action violates the separation of powers concept, which is enshrined in the United States Constitution. The second reason is that a delegatus cannot delegate authority to someone else. The situation is complicated in the United States of America since the Supreme Court and Congress have adopted opposing positions on the issue.

While the former adheres to the concept of delegatus non potest not delegare, which states that power should not be delegated to a body with a lower authority than Congress, the latter does not feel that this principle should be followed. Nevertheless, the concept itself cannot be said to be a fallacious assertion in and of itself. However, it stands in stark contrast to the constraints that are imposed by the delegated legislation in terms of its actual application.

As a result, there is a conflict between what is considered suitable in theory and what is required in practise. As a result, the Supreme Court has softened its stance on this matter in order to accommodate the realities of the requirements imposed by delegated legislations. In this particular area of the law, the case known as Panama Refining 14 is considered to be a seminal precedent in American law.

In his ruling, Justice CARDOZO stated that the only legislative tasks that could be assigned were those that were not important. The same thing can be contrasted with the subsequent case of Yakes v. US, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled in favour of a very broad scope delegated legislation, giving as their reasoning that Congress had provided the legislative goal and also prescribed the method for achieving the same thing. This ruling can be contrasted with the earlier case of Yakes v. US[17].

  1. Agriculture Market Committee v. Shalimar Chemical Works Ltd., AIR 1997 SC 2502.
  2. Harlsbury's Laws of India: Vol. I, Administrative Law, Lexis Nexis Butterworths, 1st edition, New Delhi, 2004.
  3. Massey, I.P., Administrative Law, Eastern Book Company, 6th edition, Lucknow, 2005.
  4. Harlsbury's Laws of India: Vol. I, Administrative Law, Lexis Nexis Butterworths, 1st edition, New Delhi, 2004.
  5. Harakchand Ratanchand Banthia v. Union of India AIR 1970 SC 1453; see also, Gwalior Rayon Mills Mfg (Wvg) Co Ltd. v. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, AIR 1974 SC 1660.
  6. Massey, I.P., Administrative Law, Eastern Book Company, 6th edition, Lucknow, 2005
  7. Agriculture Market Committee v. Shalimar Chemical Works Ltd., AIR 1997 SC 2502.
  8. Agriculture Market Committee v. Shalimar Chemical Works Ltd., AIR 1997 SC 2502.
  9. Massey, I.P., Administrative Law, Eastern Book Company, 6th edition, Lucknow, 2005.
  10. Jain, M.P. & S.N. Jain, Principles of Administrative Law, Wadhwa & Co., 6th edition, Nagpur, 2007.
  11. Jatindra Nath v. Province of Bihar, AIR 1949 FC 175; see also, Rajnarain v. Chairman, ptan Administration Committee, AIR 1954 SC 567 as cited in Jain, M.P. & S.N. Jain, Principles of Administrative Law, Wadhwa & Co., 6th edition, Nagpur, 2007.
  12. Delhi Laws Act, 1912, In re, AIR 1951 SC 332; Also See M.P. High Court Bar Association v. Union of India, (2004) 11 SCC 766.
  13. Gwalior Rayon Co. v. Asst. Commr. of Sales Tax, AIR 1974 SC 1660
  14. KSE Board v. Indian Aluminium, AIR 1976 SC 1031.
  15. Registrar, Co-operative Societies v. K. Kunjabmu, AIR 1980 SC 350.
  16. Massey, I.P., Administrative Law, Eastern Book Company, 6th edition, Lucknow, 2005.
  17. Yakes v. US, 321 US 414 (1944).
Written By: Radhakrishnan H, Symbiosis Law School, Pune
Email: [email protected]

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