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Administrative Law


Administrative Law laws concerned with the powers and functions of the executive branch of the government, its organisations, their inter-relations with each other, citizens and the non-governmental entities. The intention of administrative law is to provide for a legal framework for regulating the powers, procedures and acts of public administration.

Broadly speaking, there are four types of regulatory frameworks under administrative law. The first of these is the rule that makes power. In this type, powers are delegated to issue general rules and regulations which have the force of law. This is known as subordinate legislation. The fundamental requirement of this type is that such delegated legislation which the executive is authorised to issue to implement the purposes of the relevant Act must be consistent with the Act under which rules are made. Statutory rules and orders (SRO) fall under this category. The second type has to do with the licensing powers under which certain organisations are vested with the authority to issue, renew, or revoke licenses which are required by the Act to carry out certain forms of business. Driving license, license for commodities, gun license etc fall in this category. The third type has to do with the investigatory power under which inquiry or investigation is carried out under well-defined procedures requiring witnesses to appear in person, cite evidence, produce documents etc. Different stages of police investigation against alleged offenders of law fall in this category. The fourth and final type has to do with the directing powers requiring a person, either public or private, to do or refrain from doing certain acts. Examples of such laws as applicable to public officials are the Government Servant Conduct Rules. For private persons there are also laws such as the Acquisition of Properties Act which requires private persons to surrender their properties in the public interest. Laws relating to traffic control, health, education and building construction, etc also fall in this category.

Now the question of the important distinction between administrative law and constitutional law. In fact, the line of distinction is not very clear. This is why some jurists regard administrative law as part of, and complementary to, constitutional law. In the Bangladesh context also it is seen that the distinction between administrative law and constitutional law is not very clear. In fact these involve overlapping jurisdiction of courts such as the administrative tribunal and the High Court Division. An administrative tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine an application made by a person in the service of the republic in respect of terms and conditions of his service including pension rights.

In practice, writ petition is also admitted by the High Court Division in respect of terms and conditions of service. This is done under the writ jurisdiction of the High Court. The concept and practice of administrative law is generally associated with the increase in the functions of the government and with the expansion of the size of the bureaucracy and the number of bureaucratic institutions. The emergence of administrative law has taken different forms in different countries. In most countries the development of administrative tribunals have taken place to determine disputes between the government and the citizen. In Bangladesh, there is a vast body of administrative law. Generally, two broad types can be distinguished. The first of these relates to the body of laws and rules which are intended to regulate the working of the bureaucracy, their recruitment, training deployment, promotion, conduct and discipline, fixation of pay and allowances etc. These laws and rules are wholly confined to the civil service system.

These are administered by individual ministries and in some cases by the ministries of finance and establishment, depending on the nature of the cases. The second type relates to specially established tribunals or commissions to deal with specific subjects. Examples include Administrative Tribunals adjudicating on questions of terms and conditions of persons in the service of the republic, Income Tax Tribunal determining disputes of aggrieved taxpayers, Securities Exchange Commission regulating and controlling the share markets, and Taxes Settlement Commission to adjudicate in questions of taxation. [AMM Shawkat Ali]