RULE OF LAW BY A.V. DICEY and the effect of administrative law on it

 Rule of law means that the government cannot run solely on the whims and fancies of its own rather it has to abide few principles of law. This concept was originated by Edward Coke and was further developed by A.V. Dicey. There are 7 principles of Rule of law:

  1. Absolute Supremacy of law, which means the Indian government has to follow the constitution which is the supreme law.
  2. Equality before the law, which means that no person should be discriminated against on any grounds and all are equal before the eyes of the law. This is also mentioned under Article 14 of the Act.[1]
  3. Pre-dominance of legal spirit, which means that the Constitution recognizes the rights of the individuals and the courts further help them to enforce it.
  4. No person should be punished except for the breach of law.
  5. Every function of the three organs must be subjected to the Rule of law.
  6. Exclusion of administrative discretion and arbitrariness.
  7. Governmental action should be based on known principles of law.

However, despite all this, there still existed room for criticisms for this concept and was not widely accepted.

The case of Kesavananda Bharti vs State of Kerala[2] further recognised this principle and stated that Rule of Law is part of the ‘Basic Structure of the Constitution.’ The Supreme court held that parliament is given unlimited powers but it cannot interfere with the basic features. In the case of ADM Jabalpur vs Shiv Kant Shukla,[3] a large number of people were detained in the case of Emergency. People then filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Act[4] and stated that their Right to life and personal liberty[5] is violated. The court held that this right remains suspended during the period of emergency. However, this decision was reversed later in the year 2017. It is also known as Habeas Corpus Case (to have the body). In another case of Indira Gandhi vs. Raj Narain,[6] the court held that the Rule of law is part of basic structure and no changes can be made in it further.


The growth and development of administrative law have provided a shape to the Rule of law. As discussed above, administrative law is concerned with the executive branch, whereas the Rule of law, prescribes few principles. The entire base of administrative law is the Rule of law. It is present to ensure that there is no scope of arbitrariness and unreasonableness. The Rule of law is one for all and there is no discrimination. It has taken all the responsibilities of administrative law. For the sake of just and fair decisions, these are important principles. The administration must provide effective implementation of Rule of law and therefore, it is a highly relevant concept. It acted as an obstruction to the growth of administrative law. The presence of the Judiciary prevents any kind of impartial decisions. It is a hope that the judges and the courts will take care if things fall apart. In cases when an employee is from the government sector of job, he/she might have different administrative rules, but the Rule of law is the same for all, whether it is the Prime Minister of India or a government employee or any other ordinary person. There is no classification or segregation of people in this and all are treated equal and are on the same footing. The Constitution of India has a preamble, which clearly states out the principles of Rules of law. This plays an effective role in the accountability and functioning of the administration and holds a special significance in the workings of the administration. In the case of Veena Seth vs. State of Bihar,[7] the Supreme court has laid down that these principles would apply to all the lower sectors of the society as it comprises most of the population in India. No matter how rich or how much power a person has, he cannot be treated above the law.


The researcher would like to conclude by stating that the foundation stone of administrative law is the Rule of law and its backbone is the Delegated Legislation. This is not a codified law but its need arose in India because of the increase in the administrative actions and regulations of government. The administrative is responsible to the people and therefore, this increases the burden of the authority to create law, procedure, rules and regulations in the public interest. As we know, India is a democratic country, this is the least that the people can expect from them. The concept of Rule of Law acts as a hurdle in the contextual evolution of this branch but then there is judiciary to look over this matter and take control on its own to any kind of imbalances in the functioning and maintain balance as the ultimate objective of all, is in the best interest of the public at large and the rest of the factors come at a later stage. The Rule of law enters the entire field of administration and regulates every organ of the State.[8]

[1] Constitution of India, 1950.

[2] Kesavananda Bharti vs State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461.

[3] ADM Jabalpur vs Shiv Kant Shukla, 1976 AIR 1207.

[4] Supra at 1.

[5] Article 21 of Constitution of India, 1950.

[6] Indira Gandhi vs. Raj Narain, 1975 AIR 865.

[7] Veena Seth vs. State of Bihar, AIR 1983 SC 339.

[8] V.N. Shukla, Constitution of India (2013), Features of Constitution, Pg. no. A-54.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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