Thus Administrative tribunals have become an important aspect of governance in countries now and provide support to all the other branches of the government.

This article talks about the reasons for the growth of administrative tribunals. It is necessary to understand the emergence of administrative tribunals and their origins and evolution to understand the reasons for their growth and need. Administrative tribunals in India are also one of the sub-topics that the article talks about in brief. INTRODUCTION The developments in the last few decades, the states have been adapting and altering the governance systems, thus establishing the system...

This article talks about the reasons for the growth of administrative tribunals. It is necessary to understand the emergence of administrative tribunals and their origins and evolution to understand the reasons for their growth and need. Administrative tribunals in India are also one of the sub-topics that the article talks about in brief.


The developments in the last few decades, the states have been adapting and altering the governance systems, thus establishing the system of administrative agencies, tribunals, and administrative law governing all this.

This new arm of the law originated in the fundamental changes which occurred throughout the past century in the social and industrial life of the countries and developed from a combination of forces- like an economic and social, revolt against the technicalities and rigidity of a structure that has been followed since older times, which are impractical in the present.

The enormous powers of the executive and increased legislative output, in turn, lead to increased litigation, regulations on the freedom of individuals and the conflict between individuals and authority. All statutes, charters, rules, regulations, and public administration procedures are governed by Administrative law.

According to W. Ivor Jennings[1], “administrative law is the law relating to the administration and determines the organization, power, and duties of administrative authorities”. To ensure that this administrative law is being followed, came administrative tribunals.


In times of monarchy, especially in the British Administration, it was the Crown’s authority to establish the Court of Law, and the Concept of Tribunal was not existing. In India, too, this concept is of recent origins, mainly after the Independence and the adoption of the Constitution, which was aimed at securing justice for all.

Before this, the only concern of the branches of government was the functioning of its primary duties, and then later incorporated the welfare state characteristics. The recent nature of administrative tribunals has emerged as a reaction to the individualistic, technical and formalistic implementation of the Courts, which makes it difficult to deal with a large number of cases and reduces efficiency.

Thus, new adjudication forms were needed, providing cheap, informal and speedy justice to everyone. Thus, indicating the move from “judicial justice” to “administrative justice”.[2]

During the Company rule in India, the administration of that time was mainly focused on the maximum revenue collection and maintenance of law and order in such a way that it is useful for this revenue gain from the public.

When after 1858, under the direct control of the Crown, the scope of the administrative activities widened, for example, the coming up of municipal institutions in towns and local self-governing institutions in the rural areas.

The changes from 1919 further changed the nature of administrative functions, and their application and adjudication in diverse situations increased. But their focus yet remained on, not the welfare of the general people but on the benefit of the ruler solely.

Thus, functioning merely as appendages to the administration and operate oppressively on the people.[3] The citizens started revolting against this injustice and biases of the judicial administrations, and in their demands was the clear separation of judiciary and administrative justice, but the concept of judicialized administration came up.

The people accepted these judicialized administrative tribunals, and hence by 1947, a number of such agencies had emerged. After Independence, there have been phenomenal growths in the sphere of administrative adjudication in all the activities of the government.


In the strive to follow administrative law, there can emerge disputes. These disputes require to be settled through mediation and adjudication. There are administrative organizations other than the courts to arbitrate such issues emerging over the day-to-day activities of the administration.

Administrative adjudication, thus is solving and helping in quasi-judicial issues by authoritative agencies or commissions built for the same reason. Various specialized technical issues and’ debates develop in everyday administration.

The normal courts don’t have the specialized ability, and it turns out to be very slow and expensive to give efficient and timely decisions of these administrative matters. It is only the administrative authorities which are equipped to investigate the issues of regulatory exigencies.

These administrative agencies with the ability to arbitrate the debates emerging from regulatory activity or inaction are called administrative tribunals. Administrative tribunals are specialists outside the normal court framework, which decipher and apply the laws when demonstrations of public administration are addressed in formal suits by the courts or by other systems.

Ultimately, they are organizations made by specific and clear enactments that arbitrate upon questions that may emerge throughout the implementation of the provisions stated or relevant ones. They are not a court, nor are they an executive body. They are a blend of both. They are legal and judicial as, in the courts, they need to study facts, apply them unbiasedly and without the influence of the executive branch.

They are regulatory and administrative because the explanations behind the preference towards these agencies over the general court framework speak of its administrative nature and reasons. The executive establishes them as per statutory arrangements. They are required to act judicially and perform quasi-legal capacities.

The procedures are regarded to be legal procedures, and in certain procedural issues, they have powers of the general civil courts. They are not bound by the intricate guidelines of evidence or systems administering the ordinary courts. They are independent agencies and are just required to pursue the system endorsed by the significant law to the relevant situations and abide by the general principles of ‘Natural Justice’.

They don’t adhere to the details of rules and frameworks and evidence, such as the Civil Procedure Code(CPC)and Evidence Act or others. The administrative tribunals might be all the more fittingly characterized as unique and specialized authorities instituted by law.

Tribunals can be called as “judgment seat or court of justice or board or committee appointed to adjudicate on claims of a particular kind”. The word “tribunal” comes from the Latin word “tribunus” which means literally, a raised platform with the seat of the judge, a court of justice, board or committee, who is appointed by the pleas of protecting the public interests.[4]

H.M. Servai, a leading commentator on Constitutional law and former Advocate General of Bombay, writes that “the development of administrative law in a welfare state has made administrative tribunals a necessity”

A significant case in this context is that of Durga Shankar Mehta v. Raghuraj Singh, the Supreme Court defined tribunal and stated that the word used in article 136 does not mean the same things as the court but includes within its ambit, all adjudicating bodies, provided they are constituted by the state and are vested with judicial functions as distinguished from administrative or executive functions.[5]

Similarly, in the case of Associated cement companies Ltd. v. P.N. Sharma, the Supreme court concluded that tribunals are adjudicating bodies deciding on the controversies between people or units, and they exercise judicial power differently from the other functions of other branches.[6]

Under Articles 136 and 226 for tribunals, it is mentioned that: it is an adjudicating authority other than the court, the power of adjudicating must be derived from a statute or statutory rule, and the power of adjudicating must not be derived from an agreement between the parties.


The Law Commission of India, in its 14th Report on Reform of Judicial Administration, examined the phenomenon of Administrative Tribunals and concluded that the growth of administrative adjudication or Tribunals had become a worldwide phenomenon in the current view. There are manifold reasons for this growth.

Firstly, since these tribunals are sub-delegatory bodies of the other three branches of the government, they are a by-product of the welfare state.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, when the laissez-faire hypothesis held influence, the law courts developed as the overseers of the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. At times they ensured the privileges of all residents at the expense of state authority. With the development of the Welfare State, social well-being started to be given priority over private interests and well-being.

With the improvement of aggregate power over the states of business, way of living and the rudimentary necessities of the individuals, there has emerged the requirement for a strategy of arbitration better fitted to react to the social prerequisites of the time than the detailed and expensive arrangement of the courtrooms. In short, ‘judicialization of administration’ demonstrated a potential instrument for authorizing social policies and legislation.

Next, in perspective of the fast development and extension of industry, exchange and business, ordinary law courts are not in a situation to adapt to the volume of work unloaded onto them. The outcome of this is a huge deferral in choosing cases in any case happens.

Subsequently, various administrative tribunals have been set up in the nation, which can take every necessary step all the more quickly, economically and productively than the ordinary courts.

Thirdly, law courts, by virtue of their detailed systems, legalistic forms and dispositions, can barely render equity to the parties involved, especially in specialized cases. Ordinary judges, raised in the conventions of law, are not skilled enough to comprehend specialized issues which emerge in the wake of modern complex fiscal and social procedures.

To cope with this, administrators specializing in certain fields of knowledge were necessary, as they can handle such issues judiciously and reasonably. To meet this prerequisite, several administrative tribunals came into existence.

Fourthly, many circumstances are with the end goal that they require quick and firm decision-making and actions. Examples where safety is required in circumstances or certain environments, prevention of illegal transactions, etc., such cases, if to be heard in the ordinary courtrooms, would cause tremendous misfortune to the state exchequer and undermine national interest. In this case, the administrative courts directed by the specialists would guarantee timely and fair decision-making.


The main objective of administrative tribunals in India, similar to its functions elsewhere, is to take some burden of cases off the ordinary courts already laden with a volume of work. The Administrative Reforms Commission (1966-70) had suggested the setting up of ‘Civil Service Tribunals’ to function as the appellate authority for the decisions on major punishments of dismissal, removal from service and reduction in rank. The J C Shah committee too recommended the establishment of administrative tribunals for adjudication on service matters.

The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 was enacted by Parliament in pursuance of article 323A of the Constitution of India. Articles 323A and 323B were articles inserted into the Constitution as Amendments and were considered landmark amendments in administrative law.

Article 323A, in brief talked about the following matter:

i. Parliament providing for adjudication on disputes related to recruitment, conditions of service of public servants, of posts in the Union and state government.

ii. And the law of the above clause must provide for establishing an administrative tribunal for Union and state separately, to specify their jurisdictions and powers, to provide for a procedure to be followed, the exclude the jurisdiction of all other courts except the apex court, to provide for the transfer of cases to administrative tribunals in case of pending cases, to repeal or amend any order made by the President and to contain supplemental, incidental and consequential provisions.

Article 323B talks about Tribunals for other matters as follows:

i. the appropriate legislature may provide for adjudication for ii. The matters such as levy, assessment, collection and enforcement of any tax, foreign exchange, import and export across customs frontiers, industrial and labour disputes, land reforms by way of acquisition by the State of certain estates, the ceiling on urban property, etc.

ii. It may provide for the establishment of the hierarchy of tribunals, specify jurisdiction, procedure, etc.[7] Article 136, the Supreme court is empowered to entertain an appeal with special leave from tribunals and under article 227, the High Court has the power of superintendence over courts and tribunals.


Administrative tribunals now have a definite and ascertained meaning that refers to an adjudicatory body other than a court. Thus Administrative tribunals have become an important aspect of governance in countries now and provide support to all the other branches of the government.

And both administrative tribunals and courts have the judicial power of the state, although tribunals have jurisdiction over certain matters only. The growth of the tribunals is natural and has proved beneficial, but it is necessary to keep the right controls and balances so as to ensure that the powers are not exercised beyond the specified guidelines.


  3. Administrative Tribunals in India by Goel, Shivam (2014)
  4. Administrative Law by I. A. Saiyed

[1] Administrative Law and Administrative Jurisdiction by W. Ivor Jennings

[2] Used by Roscoe Pound, 1nhisbook the spirit of Common Law (1963)

[3] Singh, M.M., Justice by Tribunals, (1973)

[4] Administrative Law by Saha, Dr Tushar Kanti,

[5] AIR 1954 SC 520

[6] AIR 1965 SC 1595


  1. Judicial Pronouncements on the Doctrine of Separation of Powers(Opens in a new browser tab)
Updated On 1 Feb 2023 5:06 PM GMT
Sayjal Deshpande

Sayjal Deshpande

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