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The Present paper explores the concept of rule of law in administrative actions beginning from its origin to its subsequent developments. After which a progression has been made to the Indian Constitutional and Judicial aspects of this concept, which are of highest importance. According to the idea of the rule of law, no one is above the law and everyone is subject to its authority, regardless of their position or rank. It is a translation of the French word "la principe de legalite," which indicates that laws, not people, should dominate. The phrase has been understood differently by people in various nations. The phrase "rule of law" hasn't been defined in detail, although it is based on A.V. Dicey's definition. India's status as a sovereign state is made abundantly clear in the preamble and declaration. For many years, our court has employed judicial activism to broaden the scope of the law's applicability by enforcing several constitutional provisions. It identifies five principles of authorization, notice, justification, coherence, and procedural fairness which provide a framework for an account of the rule of law’s demands of administrative governance. On the one hand, they reveal rule-of-law foundations for some contested positions, such as a restrictive view of the President’s power to direct subordinate officials and giving weight to an agency’s determination of the scope of its own authority. On the other hand, these rule of law principles expose some long-established practices as having troublesome foundations, such as the settled doctrine that agencies need not justify their choice of policymaking form. One of the most significant developments of the present century is the growth in the legislative powers of the executives. The development of the legislative powers of the administrative authorities in the form of the delegated legislation occupies a very important place in the study of administrative law. From the citizen's point of view the most beneficial safeguard against the dangers of the misuse of delegated Legislation is the development of a procedure to be followed by the delegates while formulating rules. As per the Rule of Law, which is the cornerstone of the democratic nations, when the Fundamental Rights of any individual are violated or any of the administrative action violates the basic principles of Rule of Law i.e., the Supremacy of Law, Equality before law and Predominance of Legal spirit, then that action can be challenged before the courts which can declare them unconstitutional.


“The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have to have an independent judiciary, judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing”.


Administrative law is a separate branch of law and a subject for academic study but since last few decades, it has gained full stature as a “responsible” field of study for the law students and practitioners. So, to recognize its independent existence, the people of England used the weapon of Dicey’s Concept of Rule of Law to strike the growth of administrative law. ‘Rule of Law’ is a new ‘lingua franca’ 3of global moral thought and the Supreme manifestation of human civilization and culture. Thus, Rule of Law adds eternal value to the Constitution and an inherent attribute for democracy and good governance. This concept is an animation of natural law and remains a historical idea which makes a powerful appeal not by a powerful man but by the Rule of Law. Examining legal definitions, Black’s Law Dictionary defines the rule of law as set of rules that are legitimate, supported by authorities, and comprehensible in everyday situations. This emphasizes how applicable and useful the legal precepts that govern our day-to-day activities and are supported by authoritative bodies. A state where the law governs both the people and the state is known as the “rule of law,” according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. This captures the notion that the legal system ought to be the equalizer, governing both the people and the government agencies equally. It represents a society in which all of its members are united by their adherence to the law.

    1. To investigate the Binding Force of Ordinary Laws in the Rule of Law which asserts that every individual is bound by the ordinary laws of the land. These principle serves as a countermeasure against the concentration of unchecked power in administrative actions, fostering a legal framework that applies universally to all.
    2. To access the Protection against Administrative Action is One of the primary objectives of the Rule of Law which safeguard the interest of the individuals from arbitrary deprivation of their rights and liberties through administrative actions.

    The concept of ‘Rule of Law’ is a building block of our modern democratic society. This term is nowhere defined in the Indian Constitution but has been often used by the Indian Judiciary in their judgments. ‘Rule of Law’ is neither a ‘rule’ nor a ‘law’, rather it is a doctrine of ‘state political morality’ which maintains a ‘correct balance’ between the ‘rights’ and ‘powers’ between the individuals and between the individuals and the state to make it a free and civil society. The ‘correct balance’ is made by ‘law’ which is based on freedom, justice, equality and accountability. Thus, Rule of Law makes equilibrium between the needs of society and the individual. The Principle of Rule of Law is derived from the French phrase “la prinicipe de legalite” which means a government based on the principles of law. Edward Coke is said to be the originator of the Concept of Rule of Law. He said that the King must be under God and Law. Edward Coke had three major points regarding ‘Rule of Law’. Firstly, Rule of Law is required to ensure that there is no authoritarian rule of the crown; Secondly, it ensures that there is no arbitrary authority of the Government; and lastly, it is required for the protection of Individuals and their Rights.“Rule of Law is the most important element in any civil society”. 4The Rule of Law is a viable and dynamic concept like many other such concepts, is not capable of any exact definition. The term Rule of Law is used in contradiction to the Rule of Men and Rule according to law. Rule of law means that the law rules, which is based on the Principles of Freedom, Equality, Non-discrimination, Fraternity, Accountability and Non-arbitrariness and it is certain, regular and predictable. Generally, Rule of Law is used in two senses, i.e. in Formatic Sense and Ideological Sense. Formatic Sense refers to the organized power as opposed to a rule by one man and Ideological Sense refers to the regulation of the relationship of the citizens and the Government.


Rule of Law is a result of struggle made by people since centuries for recognition of their inherent rights. The concept is very old and was discussed by the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato at the time of 350 BC. The concept transformed the notions of the society and changed the perception and interpretation of rule of law by many authors. Plato defined Rule of Law by stating that ‘it is supreme in nature and nobody is above the law’. According to Aristotle ‘law should be the final sovereign of the State’. The German Customary law proposed the principle that the King is always under the law and it is the independent source of rule of law in the medieval period. According to John Locke, the government acts in accordance with the law.


    On June 15, 1215 in the meadows of Runnymede, King John and his rebellious barons agreed to the great charter known as Magna Carta. The great charter was the first significant written instrument limiting the power of the king and confining him to what the barons regarded as good governance. These promises were a bargain between the king and the feudal lords dictated by the force of arms. Winston Churchill, in his History of English-Speaking peoples, writes about the glorious legend of the charter of an Englishman’s liberties5 Now for the first time the king himself is bound by the law. The root principle was destined to survive across the generations and raise paramount long after the feudal background of 1215 had faded in the past. The charter became in the process of time an enduring witness that the power of the crown was not absolute. And when in subsequent ages the state swollen with its own authority, has attempted to ride roughshod over the rights and liberties of the subject it is to this doctrine that appeal has again and again been made, and never, as yet, without success. There is a law which is above the king and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is a great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held.


    Albert Venn Dicey (a British jurist and constitutional theorist) developed the Concept of Rule of Law in his book ‘The Law of the Constitution’ (1885). He states that one should know the difference between administrative law and the Rule of Law. According to him, Rule of Law is equal for everyone whether he is a Prime Minister or a normal bank clerk working in an office. Thus, same laws should be made applicable to everyone, no discrimination should be done under the rule of law and rule of law is supreme in nature. A.V Dicey propounded


  1. Supremacy of Law, the first postulate of AV Dicey states that Rule of Law refers to the lacking of arbitrariness or wide discretion of power. In other words, every man should be governed by law. Law is indisputably the incomparable and dominating instead of impact to influence of arbitrary power and discretionary power. A person can be punished of the rules of law and by nothing else.
  2. Equality before the law, the second postulate of Rule of Law states that there must be equality before law and equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of land administered by ordinary law courts. Thus, it implies absence of special privileges for a government official or any other person. It states that there is no need for extraordinary tribunals or special courts to deal with the cases of Government and its servants.
  3. Predominance of Legal Spirit, the third postulate of Rule of Law states that the Rights such as Right to Personal Liberty, Freedom from arbitrary arrest etc. are the result of judicial decisions in England. And the Constitution of England is the result of ordinary law of the land and the individual rights are established by judicial decisions. The courts are the guarantors of the liberty.

The principle of Rule of Law has played a major role in developing Indian Democracy. At the time of framing of Constitution, the framers adopted some of the provisions from USA and some of the provisions from England. Our constitutional fathers adopted the concept of Rule of Law from and incorporated its provisions in the Indian Constitution. In India, the Constitution is considered to be supreme and no one is above it. The Preamble of Indian Constitution clearly sets out the Principles of Rule of Law in Part III of the Constitution. The Indian Constitution is supreme than the three wings of it, i.e. Parliament, Executive and Judiciary. It is enriched with justice, equality and liberty. Article 14 of the Constitution provides Equality before Law and Equal Protection of Law. Fundamental Rights are available to every citizen of India through Articles 13, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 25, 28 and 31A. In case an individual faces violation of such rights then he can approach Supreme Court or High Court under Article 32 and 226 of the Constitution of India.7 It is compulsory that any law made by the Central Government or State Government should be complied in accordance with the Constitution of India but if found contravening with the provisions of the Constitution then such law will be declared void. According to Article 32 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the power to issue writs namely Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Quo Warranto and Certiorari. Thus, the power of judicial review also comes in the hands of Supreme Court in order to preserve Rule of Law and to prevent any ultra vires laws.


    In the famous case of Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru & Ors vs. State of Kerala & Anr,8 the court propounded the principle of basic structure and held that any part of the Constitution can be amended without modifying the basic structure of it. In the case of Indira Nehru Gandhi v Raj Narain, the court decided that the‘Rule of Law’ is also a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and hence, it cannot be amended. In the case of State of Bihar v Sonawati Kumari, the court held that as per the concept of ‘Rule of Law’, all the authorities operating within the State including executive government is bound to obey the rules. In the case of Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab, the five bench judges comprising of Justice Y Chandrachud, Justice A Gupta, Justice Nuntwalia, Justice P Bhagwati and Justice R Sarkaria, held that the concept of Rule of Law is free from arbitrary action and if any action is done with arbitrary power, then it will be considered as the denial of Rule of Law. This case is also known as “Death Penalty Case”. In the case of Som Raj v State of Haryana, the three-bench judge of Supreme Court comprising of Justice K Puttaswamy, Justice Raghunath Mishra and Justice M.M Punchhi, held that the absence of arbitrary power is the absolute aim of the principle of rule of law upon which directly the whole Constitution is dependent.


    In the case of ADM Jabalpur v Shivkant Shukla, 9popularly known as the Habeas Corpus Case, is one of the most important cases of rule of law. In this case a question rose before the court whether Rule of Law in India is apart from Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Thus, the five-judge bench comprising of Justice A.N Ray, Justice Hans Raj Khanna, Justice M Hameed Ullah, Justice Y.V Chandrachud and Justice P.N Bhagwati held that there is no rule apart from Article 21 and there can never be a separate rule of law. The Supreme Court extended the scope of Rule of Law in the case of Veena Seth v State of Bihar, where the court stated that Rule of Law extends to the poor and the downtrodden, ignorant and the illiterate, who constitute the majority of humanity in India. The court ruled that the Rule of Law does not exist merely for those who have the means to fight for their rights and often do so for the perpetuation of the status quo which protects and preserves their dominance and permits them to exploit a large section of the community.


    In the case of Union of India v Raghubir Singh,10 the court held that the principle of ‘Rule of Law’ is a considerable degree which governs the lives of the people and regulates the functions of the state from the decision of the superior courts. In the case of Chief Settlement Commissioner Punjab vs. Om Prakash & Ors, the Supreme Court observed that in the present scenario, the authority of the law courts is to test the administrative actions by the standard of legality. The Supreme Court in the case of S.G. Jaisinghani vs. Union of India and Others, characterized the prerequisites of rule of law in a very lucid manner. Here the court observed that the Rule of Law means that decisions should be made by the application of known principles and such decision should be predictable and the citizen should know where he is. But if a decision is made without referring to any principle, then it is unpredictable and such decision is the antithesis of a decision taken in accordance with the Rule of Law. In the case of Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association v Union of India, the Supreme Court held that the absence of arbitrariness is one of the important concepts of rule of law.


      Besides its features, there are some exceptions attached to Rule of Law, they are: President and Governors areprovided with some immunity through Articles 361, 361 (2), 361 (3) and 361 (4) of the Indian Constitution.11 Immunity to Foreign Diplomats. Immunity to Supreme Court and High Court Judges including Article 121 of the Indian Constitution which restricts the discussion on the conduct of such judges in Parliament. Few laws, land namely maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and National Security Act, 1980 (NSA).


      In today’s scenario, the Dicey’s concept of Rule of Law is not accepted in totality. The modern concept of the Rule of Law is fairly wide and therefore it sets up an ideal for any Government to achieve. The modern idea of Rule of Law was formed by the International Commission of Jurists, otherwise called the Delhi Declaration, 1959, which was later affirmed at Lagos in 1961. According to the Modern Concept, the ‘Rule of Law’ implies that 12 “the functions of the government in a free society should be so exercised in which the dignity of a man as an individual is upheld”. The International Commission of Jurists divided itself into certain working committees, namely, Committee on Individual Liberty and the Rule of Law, Committee on Government and Rule of Law, Committee on Criminal Administration and Rule of Law, and Committee on Judicial Process and Rule of Law. The Committee on Individual Liberty and Rule of Law stated that the State should not pass discriminatory laws, the State should not interfere with religious beliefs, and the State should not place undue restrictions on freedom. The Committee on Government and Rule of Law stated that ‘Rule of Law’ 13not only means adequate safeguards against abuse of power but also effect government which is capable of maintaining law and order. The Committee on Criminal Administration and Rule of Law stated that ‘Rule of Law’ means Due Criminal Process, No arrest without the authority of law, Legal aid, public trial and fair hearing and Presumption of Innocence. Lastly, the Committee on Judicial Process and Rule of Law stated that ‘Rule of Law’ means Independent Judiciary, Independent Legal Profession and standard of Professional ethics. According to Federalist Kim Davis, there are seven types of Modern Law; namely, Law and Orders, Principle of Natural Law, Fixed Rules and Regulations eliminate the idea discretion, due and fair process of law, Preferences for judges and Court of Law to executive authority and administrative tribunals, and judicial review of administrative action. Thus, the rule of law in modern sense ensures that there is encouragement of political interest and where the criticism of the government is not only permitted but also given a positive merit.


Evaluating administrative law through the lens of these five dimensions of the rule of law exposes some long- established practices as having troublesome rule-of-law foundations and reveals that other contested practices are well grounded in rule-of-law values. The closest match between the rule-of-law principles and current doctrine and practice is justification; administrative law and practice represents as well as any domain of law the sense in which law is ultimately argumentative. The idea that agencies have duties to assist in integrating statutory law into the larger fabric of law, and thus to be partners with courts in implementing the law in a coherent fashion, while not as well-established as the agency’s duties of reasoned elaboration, is steadily gaining recognition.This analysis highlights the rule-of-law foundation for that duty. Some of it will take the form of holding agencies to the basic principles of notice, as current scholarship has done with regard to the fundamental value of publicity in agency rules. Further work could also form an executive or judicial requirement for agencies to justify their decision when they opt not to proceed through rule making, a departure from long-settled law. 14It could also usefully involve embracing or even imposing a duty upon agencies to issue, in the form of guidance, their best general statement of the law’s requirements when rulemaking is not practicable. Law provides benefits to society but also poses risks. Some view those risks as amplified when courts or administrative agencies conceive their roles too broadly. Professor Strauss views those risks as amplified when courts and agencies conceive their roles too narrowly. This assessment is not fundamentally grounded in an expansive view of the size of the state, but rather in the scope of law’s demands on judicial and administrative agents. They are tasked with making sense of the issue before them while resolving it in a way that integrates it into the larger fabric of law; this frequently requires considering the intelligibility of statutory law, its relationship to other law, and the current context. The exercise of that duty also requires justification and engagement with those affected. Because the duties of government are personal, they create a system of accountability through the repeated reliance on individual judgment. Finally, to the extent that agencies are engaged in adjudication, the values of procedural fairness apply. This suggests focus on the following five elements or dimensions of the rule of law. While this principle is articulated at a relatively high level of generality, it takes a stance on the contested question of the President’s powers over law administration. Understanding this legal allocation—that the discretion and duty is personal to the official clarifies how an official delegated with statutory power is to understand prodding from a President or his immediate advisors. The official is not to take that direction “as a command that she has a legal as well as a political obligation to honor, and for whose justifications she thus has no particular responsibility. “As opposed to hierarchical military command, the principle of decisional allocation maintains that the dialogue between the President and the agency is necessarily anchored in the requirement of authorization and, consequently, the goals of the underlying delegating legislation, which are the core positive foundations for statutory law implementation. This position does not deny that politically appointed officials are picked and vetted to carry out their duties in accordance with the President’s priorities, nor that many of them may be fired by the President at will for failing to do so. Nor does it deny that there are relevant differences between the weight of presidential priorities for executive and independent agencies. But it still insists that even for executive officials, as well as those further down the institutional hierarchy, there is a distinction worth maintaining about whose duty and power is at issue. Independent judgment appears as a virtue that applies to a wider range of legal officials but permits greater consideration of the views of others than many suppose. The principle of decisional allocation is premised in part on the idea that independent judgment is a fundamental value in the executive branch and an unavoidable duty of executive officials, not just a virtue reserved for courts or only particular “independent” agencies.


The idea of Rule of Law was not totally perfect but it has taken charge of administrative powers and understated them with their measures and that’s the reason for the principle of Rule of Law to be adopted by various countries as the watchdog of the Constitution. It is the best tool to achieve the Supremacy of law. Even efforts have been taken by the court to link the concept of Rule of Law with Human Rights. The modern concept proposed by David provides a broad concept as well as it makes it possible for the government to use it in a graceful manner as the main task of the administrative law is to fulfill the gap between power and liberty. Thus, the government under the guideline of Rule of Law makes rules and conditions which do not intercept with any individual dignity. According to the fundamental tenets of the rule of law, societal behavior should be guided by ethical conduct rather than   capricious   decisions   of    the    ruling    elite.    The Act emphasizes that laws must be    comprehensive and precise to ensure fair enforcement at all levels of society. At the heart of constitutionalism is the obligation to limit the powers of authorities. This ensures that those in government positions are not immune from the law, as legislative and executive functions are separated and an independent judiciary acts as a bulwark against any violations. However, the examination of the rule of law in the context of India reveals a nuanced scenario. While the principle undeniably prevails, strict adherence appears elusive. This emphasizes the need for active participation of the public in the smooth functioning of government institutions and the promotion of the rule of law. Keith Mason has pointed out that Australian parliaments may be supreme, but they are not sovereign. “The rule of law affirms parliament’s supremacy while at the same time denying it sovereignty over the Constitution.” Criticisms of Dicey theory have led to different formulations of the rule of law; but Dicey’s formulation still reflects some of the fundamental principles of the rule of law. In following his formulation some commentators prefer the narrow term government under law’s rather than rule of law. “It is not easy to define with precision, because in part it manifests itself more as an absence than a presence, rather like those other great negatives, peace and freedom”. Though the rule derives from common law system, particularly from Dicey and it met terrible opposition due to other option of much efficient system of Droit Administrative, it still forms the backbone of all civilized legal system of world. The rule of law and supremacy therein, however, shouldn’t be the only principle engraved in a legal system. As per the Rule of Law, which is the cornerstone of the democratic nations, when the Fundamental Rights of any individual are violated or any of the administrative action violates the basic principles of Rule of Law i.e., the Supremacy of Law, Equality before law and Predominance of Legal spirit, then that action can be challenged before the courts which can declare them unconstitutional.


In conclusion, a fine system and a well homogenized solution of rule of law and Droit Administrative is the most optimum solution for the efficient dispute resolution system. The two systems shouldn’t be staged inferior to one another and basic constitutional principles must be followed for the most optimum solution.


“Genuine freedom requires the rule of law and justice and a legal framework in which the rights of some are not made sure about by the denial of rights to other people”.





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