Relation between Constitutional Law and Administrative Law : An Analysis7 min read

BY : Aradhaya Singh

Introduction :

In the present scenario in our country India, the Administrative Law is said to be a separate branch of legal studies but on the other hand or at the same time, the disciplines or principles of the Constitutional Administrative Law may overlap each other at a certain place. This overlapping of each other is known as Water Shades in Administrative Law. In fact the adjustment of administrative relations between the Union and the States is one of the knotty problems in a Federal Government. The framers if the Indian Constitution therefore decided to include the detailed provisions to avoid clashes between the Centre and the States in the Administrative domain and to ensure effective Federal Executive Control of matters falling within the jurisdiction of the Parliament. It can include the whole control procedure provided in the Constitution of India for the control of administrative authorities which includes Articles 32, 136, 267, 227 and 311 of the Indian Constitution. Coordination between the States and the centre is called co- operative federalism.

Article 263 provides for the establishment of an inter state council to effect coordination between the States. The Inter state council is appointed by the President if it appears to him that the public interest would be served by its establishment. This Inter state council was constituted on 28th May 1990 (The Inter State Order 1990). Article 280 provides for the establishment of Finance Commission. Article 262 provides for the establishment of public service commission. It may also include the limitation imposed by the Constitutional Laws on delegations of powers to the Administrative authorities. So the Watersheds under administrative law show that the administrative law is not totally independent from constitutional laws but are inter- related to each other. Both these laws are supplementary and complementary to each other.

According to Holland, the Constitutional Law describes the various organs of the Government at rest while the Administrative Law describes them in motion. Therefore according to this view, the structure of the legislative and executive comes within the preview of the Constitutional Law but their functioning came within the sphere of the Administrative Law. The countries which have written Constitutional Law likewise India, the difference between the Constitutional Law and Administrative Law is not as nuclear as in England.

In such countries the source of constitutional law is Constitution while the source of the Administrative Law may be statutes, statutory instruments, precedents and customs. India has the written Constitution and the Constitutional Law deals with the general principles relating to the organization and power of the legislature, executive and the judiciary. Constitutional Law is core law which gives every life and blood to the administrative law. If one is not there, the other would not survive. Anything which is derogatory to the words and spirit of constitutional law is ultra vires and void ab initio so it must be noted that if really want to comprehend of constitutional law and Administrative Law we need to have a strong understanding of both the laws.


Background :

The relation between the Constitutional Law and Administrative Law is very complicated. The origin of the Administrative Law is dependent upon the Constitutional Law. When we got the Independence on 15th August 1947 various articles were formed and were added in the Indian constitution by the framers of the Constitution and which is a legal document and which is a platform for the proper functioning of the administrative settlement of administrative authorities of our country. In countries like our country India, which has its own written Constitution and the largest and which is taken from different sources, there is an additional control over administrative actions by the Constitutional Law which imposes limitations upon the organs of the Administrative body. So through the above points, we can say that in a country having a written Constitution with the judicial review, it is not possible to separate administrative law from the constitutional law completely.

Relationship :

Both the Constitutional Law and Administrative Law is a part of the public law in the modern state. It is impossible to distinguish between the Administrative Law from the Constitutional Law and the attempts made to do so are artificial. Till now, the subject of the Administrative Law was dealt with and is discussed or mentioned in the Constitutional Law books and no separate treatment was given to it.

According to Mait Land, Constitutional Law deals with the structure and the broader rules which regulate the functions while the Administrative Law deals with the details of those functions.

Everybody who is going to research about the Administrative Law has to first study some Constitutional Law. The importance of the Administrative Law is never been appreciated by the governments both at the Central and State levels.

In India, in the watershed one can include the whole control mechanism provided in the Constitution for the control of the administrative authorities that is Articles 32, 136, 226, 227, 300 and 311. It may also include the Directive Principles of the State Policy mentioned under Part IV of Indian Constitution and Articles 36-51 represents also them.

Case Laws :

  1. Rustom Cavasjee Cooper vs Union of India ( Bank Nationalisation Case) (AIR 1970 SC 564;1970 SCR (3) 530) : In this case the bench of 11 judges was there and which includes AN Grover, AN Ray, CA Vaidialingam, GK Mitter, ID Dua, JC Shah, JM Shelat, KS Hegde, P Jagmohan Reddy, SM Sikri, Vashistha Bhargava and JJ. While the author of the judgement were JC Shah, AN Ray and JJ. In this case it was held that the Nationalisation of banks impaired the right to compensation under Article 31(2) of the Constitution of India and consequently was struck down primarily on the ground of violation of Article 31 (2). However, AN Ray while writing a dissenting judgement upheld the validity of Nationalisation. The Judgement was pronounced on 10th February 1970. The Hon’ble Supreme Court also held that : “ If an ordinance is made on collateral grounds then it can be challenged before the Supreme Court”. The locus standi of the shareholders is beyond challenge after the ruling of the supreme court in the Bank Nationalisation Case.
  2. SR Bommai vs Union of India (1994) 3 SCC 1 : This case judgement was pronounced on 11th march 1994. The Bench of three judges which includes SR Pandian, AM Ahmadi and Kuldip. In this case the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the proclamation of emergency on grounds of failure of constitutional machinery under Article 356 is subject to judicial review. Accordingly Presidential Rule in certain States was held to be unconditional.

Conclusion :

The relationship between the Constitutional Law and Administrative Law is not very emboldened to be seen with bared eyes. At present the Administrative Law is recognized as an independent law but in reality it is not so, all this is fake and false. There are various provisions and mechanism of Constitutional Law which deals with the Administrative Law and in the same way, some functions and works of the Administrative Law which are very much or we can say totally dependent on the Constitutional Law. So we can say that they are inter-linked with each other and cannot be separated completely from each other as separation of one from other would affect the other. Watersheds works as a bridge between the two laws. There are many sources of the Administrative Law and in which Constitutional Law is the main. Administrative Law is nothing without the Constitution as its origin is deeply rooted from the Constitution.


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