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Doctrine of Ultra Vires in Public Law

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Doctrine of Ultra Vires in Public Law

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  • November 2011
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INTRODUCTION:
In a welfare state a government undertakes many ventures for the benefit of the people. This invariably means, powers have to be delegated to sub-ordinate bodies for the smooth functioning and administration of these bodies and ventures, as the Parliament cannot run all these bodies on its own. As the state’s involvement in public affairs increase, more and more power is devolved and as a consequence the need to regulate and restrict this power too increases. In doing so there is a delicate balance to be preserved. On one hand it has to be ensured that the authorities and bodies do not exceed their powers and thus abuse them and on the other hand they should have the powers which are reasonably required to make them effective in carrying out the purpose of the legislative. The Courts, which is charged with achieving this difficult balance, carries out its task on the basis of the perceived intention of the Parliament by constructing the relevant statute granting the power to the body or authority. In doing so they read in between the lines or rather write in between lines of the statute, the presumed, implied intention of the Parliament. This is called the legal construct of the statute or statutory construction. Consequently, most of the Administrative law concepts and doctrines are Judge made law, which have to be read in conjunction with any statute delegating power to a official, body or tribunal. OBJECTIVES OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW:

Since the Parliament grants the widest possible power and has little control over how these powers are exercised, the objectives of the administrative law are two fold. On one hand it has to protect the citizens from the abuse of power by Public authorities by exercising them arbitrarily and unfairly and on the other hand it has to compel them to exercise those powers, where they should do so but fail to act. DOCTRINE OF ULTRA VIRES:

The Doctrine of Ultra vires is produced by the Constitutional principles of the...

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