Sheraz Akbar is a fresh Law Graduate of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan. He can be accessed at



Administrative law regulates the procedures agencies use in adjudicating, rulemaking, and adopting policies and provide for review of agency decisions, rules, policies, actions, and other aspects of their operations. In short, administrative law is the regulatory law of public administration. It regulates how public administrative agencies do what they do and why, as well as their authority to do it. As such, it is among the most important aspects of the modern government. We all are affected by administrative law in myriad ways in our daily lives. For the most part, administrative law is generic in the sense that one size fits all. Although there are apt to be exceptions, it applies across the board to administrative agencies within a government, as opposed to being tailored to match each agency’s mission individually. It is a legal framework under which public administration is created and developed. Sir Ivor Jennings wrote that, “Administrative law is the law relating to the administration, it determines the organization, powers and duties of administrative authorities.” K.C Davis defined administrative law as: “Administrative law is the law concerning the powers and procedures of administrative agencies, especially the law governing judicial review of administrative actions.”


The most exceptional legal developments in administrative law took place in 20th century but it does not mean that there was no concept of administrative law before 20th century. The existence of administrative law should not be denied before the concept of modernization of states. The concept of administrative law existed in every state in some form or in other having different form of government. Administrative law is as old as the concept of administration itself.

In Indo-Pak subcontinent administrative law can be traced back to the era of Maurya’s and the Gupta’s keeping their well-organized and centralized administration. In 20th century the administrative law developed and grown enormously, in quantity, quality and relative significance following through the administrative system under Mughals and administrative system under the East India Company, the forerunner, of modern administrative system. Now administrative law has assumed a more recognizable form in the 21st century so that it has become the branded as a branch of public law, distinct and separate from constitutional law having an appropriate subject matter of independent study and investigation in its peculiar rights.

The most prevailing concept was the concept of “laissez faire” which evident itself in the individuality, individual enterprises, and self-help. This concept emphasizes on minimum government control over the country and maximum contractual freedom and private enterprises. The functions of the state were limited to only maintain law and order and to protect the state from outside aggressions, and to collect few taxes to finance these activities. This was the age of free enterprises and low responsibilities and functions of the government. The government was not responsible for the management of social and economic life of the public. There was no equality notion between strong and weak, the haggling position of every single person was not sensible, unrestrained free enterprises and contractual freedom led to mistreatment of the weaker by the stronger, and the role of the state was negative in this regard. But this doctrine of “police state” resulted in human gloom. The state began to act in the interest of social justice and assumed a “positive role” and with this the notion of “social welfare state” emerged which focused on promotion of socio-economic welfare of the public. Every state in the world today permeated every aspect of human life like, it run buses, railways, and health system etc. state is under-takes planning and policies of social and economic life keeping in view the raising of the living standards of people and to plummeting the concentration of wealth etc.


To improve physical, moral, socio-economic welfare of the people, the state has assumed extra control over state businesses. There are three main organs of the state i.e., legislature, judiciary, and executive. Increase in activities means that increased work for these organs. Out of these three the major extension in depth and range of functions and powers has taken place at the level of executive-cum-administrative organ.

Administration is the main feature of the life today. It carries out many activities at a time like, making of policies, provides guidance to legislatures, administering and executing of laws, and takes manifold decisions. In legislative capacity, issue a plethora of rules, by-laws, and orders which is designated as delegated powers. In judicial capacity executive takes manifold decisions in disputes regarding private individuals inter se, between itself and private individuals.

To make the administrative organ of the state to discharge their activity of rulemaking, adjudicating and other discretionary and regulatory functions effectively it has been equipped with powers of inquiry, inspection, investigation, search, seizure, and supervision. According to Robson, “The hegemony of the executive is now an accomplished fact”

Due to lack of time, techniques, and expertise the legislature is incapable of lying broad policies and thus need of delegated legislation arisen for the administrative organ to fill the vacuum. This is advantage of the administrative process to evolve new techniques, processes, instrumentalities, acquire expertise and specification to handle and fulfil the needs arise of new and complex problems of modern society.

Such flexible approach to the needs of society is not possible in old passioned judicial and legislative process. Sometimes administrative officer takes preventive administrative actions to prevent damage /injury to society which is more fruitful than acting after breach of law or punishing offender after breach of law.


To conclude it is said that administrative law is the main branch of the public law having their own identity. Administrative law evolves with time and shall continue to evolve with time and changing needs of the society. Administrative law is design to regulate the functions and powers and to provide protection to the common citizens against the abuse of power exercised by the Executive or any of its instrumentalities. Major purpose of the administrative law is not to take away the discretionary powers of the Executive but to prevent the misused of the powers.  


  3. GreggU

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