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Definitions of Delegated Legislation and Causes of its Growth

As a part of my academic curriculum I had written a piece in the subject of Administrative Law titled ‘Meaning of Delegated Legislation with special emphasis on its need and causes of growth’. I had compiled various definitions of delegated legislation which I am sharing with the readers through this article. Also, The gist of the various reasons why Delegated Legislation is needed is also incorporated here in a simplified manner.

Definitions of Delegated Legislation:

As stated in the Halsbury’s Laws of England

“When an instrument of legislative nature is made by an authority in exercise of power delegated or conferred by the legislature it is called “Subordinate legislation”.[1]

The Committee on Delegated Legislation[2] had pointed out that the expression ‘delegated legislation’ is used in two senses-

  • In one sense delegated legislation means the exercise of the power of the rule making, delegated to the executive by the legislature.
  • In the second sense, it means the output of the exercises of the power, viz., rules, regulations, orders, ordinances, etc. the expression is used here in both the senses. Where the emphasis is on the limits of constitutionality of exercise of such power, the term is used in the first sense; where the emphasis is on the concrete rules the term is employed in the second sense.

Prof Upendra Bakshi remarked

“The situation in regard to delegated legislation, the volume of which the volume of which is immensely greater than that of usual legislation, is even more. The Indian parliament enacted from the period 1973 to 1977 a total of 302 laws; as against this total number of statutory orders and rules passed in the same period was approx. 2544.”

Justice P.B Mukherjee very well observed in this respect;

“Delegated legislation is an expression which covers a multitude of confusion. It is an excuse for the legislators, a shield for the administrators and a provocation to the constitutional jurists. It is praised as a necessity and felt as inevitable in our world where social economic technological psychological and administrative speed outstrips the spacious and placid traditional legislative ideals and processes. It is criticized as an abdication od power by legislators and an escape from the duty imposed on them by voters of democracy. In England the king lost the legislative power at Runnymede and parliament lost legislative at stampede that followed since to provide the government for the country through administration and bureaucracy”[3]

Prof. Wade and Phillips in their Book on Constitutional Law observed:

“The mass of details involved in the modern administration and the extension of the functions of the State to the economic and social sphere have rendered it essential for the Parliament to delegate to the Ministers the power to make statutory instruments.”

According to Prof. Cecill Carr

“ Necessity of delegated legislation is so multitudinous that the statute book would not only be incomplete but misleading unless it be read along with the delegated legislation which amplifies and amend it.

According to Oxford Dictionary of Politics

“Delegated (or secondary legislation) is law made by misters under powers given to them by parliamentary Act (primary legislation) in order to implement and administer the requirements of the Act. It has equal effect in Law. Altough it can be challenged in courts on the grounds that specific pieces of delegated legislation are not properly based on the powers given by the Acts.”

Need of Delegated Legislation and Causes of its Growth

1. Pressure of work Parliament is an extremely busy body. It is overloaded and burdened with legislative work. It has to enact so many legislation that it can hardly look into detail of every law.

2. Technicality of subjects -Some the legislations required to be enacted may be technical in nature . The members of the legislature do not enjoy expertise over every subject.

3. To meet unforeseen/emergency situations– There might arise certain contingency were adjustments are required in the prevailing law urgently or frequently. The process of amendment in the Parliament is a very time consuming and lengthy procedure.Delegated Legislation gives power of adaptation in new situations. ‘ The practice further, is valuable because it provides for a power of adaption of unknown future condition without the necessity of amending the legislation. The method the delegated legislation permits for the rapid utilization of experience, and enables the rules of consultation with interests affected by the operation of new acts to be translated into practice.’[4]

4. Flexibility- In case of delegated legislation changes in the legislation take place more frequently and without delay, this is not possible in legislation by parliament. Moreover, the implementation of law becomes easier and flexible by means of delegated legislation.

[1] Halsbury’s Laws of England, 4th Edi. Vol 44, pp. 981-84

[2] Committee appointed in the year 1929 and submitted its report in 1932.

[3] JIL 1 July, 1959.

[4] Report of the Committee of Minister’s Powers, pp. 51-53.

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