January 27, 2022

Administrative Action- Meaning, Classification And Control

administrative law


Administrative action is the action which is neither legislative nor judicial in nature but only concerned with the analysis and treatment of a particular situation and is devoid of generality. It has no procedure of collecting evidence and weighing arguments but only based upon subjective satisfaction where decision is based on policy and expediency. It does not decide a right or wrong , neither it ignores the principles of natural justice completely though it may affect a right. Unless the statute provides otherwise, a minimum of the principles of natural justice must always be observed depending on the fact situation of each case.

Administrative action may be statutory, having the force of law, or non statutory, devoid of such legal force. The bulk of the administrative action is statutory because a statute or the Constitution gives it a legal force but in some cases it may be non-statutory, such as issuing directions to subordinates not having the force of law, but its violation may be visited with disciplinary action. Though by and large administrative action is discretionary and is based on subjective satisfaction, however, the administrative authority must act fairly, impartially and reasonable.


Administrative action is classified broadly into three main organs of the government namely-

  • Legislative
  • Executive
  • Judiciary

In Jayantilal Amritlal Shodhan V. F.N Rana and Ors

Generally an administrative action can be further bifurcated into 3 parts-

  • Quasi-legislative action or Rule making: It includes the rule making power and delegated legislation. Under this organ the administration performs the function of legislation in such situations where it is not possible for any legislation to legislate laws for the kind of conflicts arising.
  • Quasi-Judicial action or Rule decision action: It includes such conditions under which the administration puts on the hat of the judiciary and confers the special power of taking decisions in cases where legal rights of individual are effected.
  • Purely administrative action or Rule application action: This includes the actions which are neither legislative nor judiciary but purely administrative in nature.

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.

1. Nemo in propria causa judex, esse debet – no one should be made a judge in his own cause, or the rule against bias.

2. Audi alteram partem – no one should be condemned unheard.

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.


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. Article 32(2) states the power of the Supreme court to issue writs in nature of-


The expression “Habeas Corpus” in Latin means ‘to have the body’. Under this writ, if a person is unlawfully detained, his friends or relatives or any person or any person on behalf of the prisoner or the prisoner himself can file an application in court under Article 226 in High Court or under Article 32 in Supreme Court .

Even a letter to the judge mentioning illegalities committed on prisoners in jail can be admitted. If he Court will be satisfied with the contents of the application ,it will issues the writ and will produce an order calling upon the person who has detained another to produce the same before the Court, to let know the grounds of confinement and set the peron free if there is no legal justification and will award exemplary damages.

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.

Sunil Batra v Delhi Administration, AIR 1980 SC 1579, is another landmark judgement ,in which a convict wrote a letter to one of the Judges of the Supreme Court alleging inhuman torture and illegalities on a fellow convict.


The expression ‘Mandamus’ in Latin means “We Command”. Mandamus is a Judicial order strictly following the rule of rule of Locus Standi . It is issued in the form of a command to any Constitutional, Statutory or Non-Statutory authority asking to carry out a public duty imposed by law or to refrain from doing a particular act, which the authority is not entitled to do under the law. It is an important writ to check arbitrariness of an administrative action. It is also called ‘Writ of Justice’.


The expression ‘prohibition’ literally means ‘to prohibit’. It is a judicial order issued by the Supreme Court or a High Court to an inferior Court or quasi-judicial body which forbids the inferior courts to continue proceedings and keep themselves within the limits of their jurisdiction. The writ of prohibition can be issued on the following grounds:

(i) Absence or Excess of jurisdiction;

(ii) Violation of the principles of natural justice;

(iii) Unconstitutionality of a Statute;

(iv) Infraction of Fundamental Rights


The expression “certiorari” in Latin word means “to certify”. This writ is a judicial order which confers power on the Supreme Court under Article 32 and High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution to correct illegality of their decisions or otherwise quash it.

The grounds on which the writ of certiorari may be issued are:

(a) Error of Jurisdiction- Lack of jurisdiction or Excess of jurisdiction

(b) Abuse of jurisdiction

(c) Error of law apparent on the face of the record

(d) Violation of principles of natural justice

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Author details: SAKSHI RAWAT (University of Petroleum & Energy Studies, Dehradun)

The views of the author are personal only.

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