Administrative Law

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QUESTION:

Discuss the salient dimensions of administrative justice and making reference to case law highlighting the most important rights linked to administration of justice.

AUTHOR: KATALILO JOY

INTRODUCTION
This paper will be a discussion of the leading dimensions of administrative justice and will highlight the fundamental rights linked to administration of justice.

Governments exist to provide guidance to its people. In fulfilling this important duty, governments make decisions that affect the members of society. The government makes decision through its various agencies. These agencies are given powers which fall under the legislature and the judiciary. The legislative powers of the agency gives it authority to make laws such as regulations, rules or procedures while the judicial powers give it the powers to adjudicate over contested cases within its area of jurisdiction. The later power of adjudication is what is known as administrative justice.

Administrative justice can also be defined as a procedure for settling disputes in the area of administrative law or the organisation, powers and procedures of the courts that carry the bulk of the control of “administration” by legal standards[1].

The definitions above do indicate that there are institutions or bodies that do administer administrative justice. These bodies do not fall in the concrete definition of a court as they receive their judicial powers from the Executive branch of government and not from the Constitution.

Prominent among these institutions are:

a) Commissions of Inquiry

These are appointed by the President using powers vested onto him by the Inquiries Act under which section 2 of the Act empowers him/her to issue Commissions. The Act is important in that it gives the president a chance to appoint independent persons to inquire into a matter which he feels he can not make a unilateral decision. It is a requirement that before the President issues a Commission, he/she has to be convinced that indeed the matter exist and that it is a serious matter that is of public interest. The Commssioners thus appointed has a task of getting views from the public on the matter and make recommendations to the President.

The First republican President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda was faced with such a matter in 1973 when, in his opinion, he felt that the multi-party system of governance was not suitable for Zambia. He initiated a Commission of inquiry with the late Mainza chona as the commissioner to obtain views on the matter from the general public. The result was the introduction of a one-party system of governance with UNIP as the sole political party.

Other Commissions of inquiry were appointed by the Second Republican President to inquire in the death of Baldwin Nkumbula. The essence of the inquiry was to investigate the general notion that the late Nkumbula was a victim of the administration.

The essence of the Commissions of Inquiry is to remove the general suspicion that the administration is imposing its will on the people or that it act without checks. It can be argued that since the Commissions are a discretion of the President, there recommendations are or can be tailored to the wishes of the appointing authority. This may not be the case as the persons usually appointed to head the Commissions are persons of high standing with international reputations to protect. For example the Constitutional Commission of 1993 was headed by john Mwanakatwe and the recommendations made were representative of what the people wanted. The problem with Commissions of inquiry is usually with the appointing authority. In the case of the Mwanakatwe Commission, the appointing authority (President) rejected the recommendations.

b) Tribunals

The objective of a tribunal is to establish the facts of a situation presented to it and render a decision that is just and fair taking the circumstances of...
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