[Polity] Delegated legislation: meaning, advantages, criticism explained

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  1. What is Delegated Legislation?
  2. Advantages of Delegated Legislation
  3. Lack of Time
  4. Lack of Expertise
  5. More flexible
  6. Anti-Arguments
  7. Safeguards
  8. #1L Parliamentary Safeguards:
  9. #2: Judicial Safeguards:
  10. Mock Questions

What is Delegated Legislation?

  • MP/MLAs make the law only in a broad skeletal form.
  • Then executive (union/state Government  and its bureaucrats) fill up the minor technical details.
  • When legislators outsources the law making work (partially) to the executives (Bureaucrats), this is known as Delegated Legislation / subordinate legislation.
  • In other words, delegated legislation =When parliament confers the law making power to the executive.
  • For example, legislature enacts a law regarding the registration of Motor Vehicles.  Then executive (Government  and its bureaucracy) make provisions regarding who will get the license and how? (Bring proof of residence, Passport size photos etc. you’ll have to pass a written test on traffic signs, then you’ll have to drive vehicle in presence of RTO inspector and so on)

Advantages of Delegated Legislation

Delegated Legislation is universally recognized and is both desirable and legitimate.

Lack of Time

  • Parliament and State Legislative assembly (SLA) are too busy, they’ve to make laws affecting every one’s life from womb to tomb.
  • And often these houses are adjourned due to shouting and ruck sacking of MPs/MLAs.
  • In such situation, delegated legislation is inevitable.

Lack of Expertise

  • Modern legislation requires technical expertise of the subject matter for example IT security, money laundering, clinical research etc.
  • MP/MLAs are representatives of people. They’re not representatives of physics, chemistry, economics or medical science.
  • Therefore, Parliament / SLA is not omniscient (=knowing everything).
  • Parliament/SLA does not possess the expertise to decide whether thalidomide or lomotil should be administered to expecting mothers, or what type of powers should be given to an investigating officer dealing with IT security.
  • So it is better to allow bureaucracy to fill out those details in a law.

More flexible

  • In delegated legislation, parliament / SLA makes law in a broad skeletal form. Then executive (Government/ bureaucrats) fill up the minor details. So those minor details can be changed immediately without requiring a formal amendment in the parliament / SLA. = more flexible.
  • Delegated legislation can be rapidly adjusted to meet the local requirements. (e.g. during outbreak of epidemic, natural disaster).
  • Delegated legislation helps during unforeseen crisis e.g. war, epidemic, natural disaster, economic crisis etc.
  • Delegated Legislation allows experimentation. In the light of experience, you can change it immediately.


  1. The argument that politicians lack technical expertise is hollow because even executives (bureaucrats) are not expert on all technical matters, they’d need to consult the experts in the respective field (e.g. medicine, IT, economics etc.)
  2. Government (and its Bureaucrats) often make provisions under delegated legislation that it becomes difficult and cumbersome for common man to seek remedy even in the courts. For example, in 1999, Department of Telecommunications had issued a notification under the TRAI Act that if there is any dispute between licensee (company) vs Government, then only Government can make reference to TRAI. (Meaning company cannot directly approach TRAI in case of telecom related dispute.) this is a blatant misuse of delegated legislative powers.
  3. Law making power in the hands of executive = curtails individual liberty, leads to arbitrariness and injustice.
  4. sometimes even tax related laws are also delegated, it goes against the principle of “no taxation without representation.”
  5. Administrators don’t consult common people even while making laws that affect their lives.
  6. Delegated legislation will decrease the control of legislature over executives.
  7. The constitution entrusts the duty of law making to the parliament and the various state legislatures. They cannot betray the trust and transfer this duty to some other authority.
  8. In the name of technical law making by executive sometimes even basic or those that can be made by the legislature.
  9. The executive is unconnected with the people and thus they would not take into account a lot of substantive interests of people. They’re more  focused on technicalities of implementation or whatever serves their interest. (e.g. presently under R.T.I act, the bureaucracy must give information within 30 days. But if the same R.T.I law making was delegated to them, they’d have given deadline of 90 days instead of 30 days!)
  10. Parliament does not have adequate facilities to scrutinize every piece and section of delegated legislation. (The parliamentary committee  on subordinate legislation is not a  Committee of technical experts. hence lacks the acumen to check.) this turn delegated legislation into one form of despotism.


#1L Parliamentary Safeguards:

  • Parliament has various Committees (like Public accounts Committee, departmental standing Committees). Similarly there is one Committee on Subordinate legislation.  It carries out detailed scrutiny of all the rules framed by the executives through delegated legislation.
  • The committee then submits its report to the speaker of the Lok. A copy also tabled in Rajya Sabha.
  • If executives make some mischief in law making,  parliament / SLA can always over ride it. Delegated legislation is meant to save the time of legislators without undermining their responsibility .

#2: Judicial Safeguards:

Judiciary can declare a delegated legislative acts as “invalid” if

  1. The parent act (enabling act) itself is ultra vires (against the Constitution).
  2. The provisions of subordinate legislation violates the Constitution
  3. Subordinate legislation is moving in a different direction than the parent act (enabling act).

Mock Questions

  1. What is the meaning of Delegated legislation
    1. When parliament confers the law making power to the judiciary.
    2. When executive confers the law making power to the parliament.
    3. When parliament confers law making power to state legislative assemblies.
    4. When parliament confers the law making power to the executive.
  2. Which among the following Committees of parliament, is responsible for scrutinizing delegated legislation?
    1. Committee of privileges
    2. General purpose Committee
    3. Rules Committee
    4. Committee on subordinate legislation.
  3. What is the purpose of Art 50 in the Constitution of India?
    1. Separation of legislature from the executive.
    2. Separation of law making power from law executing power.
    3. Separation of judiciary from executive.
    4. Separation of delegated legislation from enabling legislation.
  4. Which among the following arguments favors delegated legislation?
    1. Bureaucrats are incompetent and greedy.
    2. Legislators have sufficient time and expertise to enact every law in full detail.
    3. legislators  donot have sufficient time and expertise to enact every law in full detail.
    4. judiciary is better equipped to enact laws than legislature.
  5. The prerequisite for a delegated legislation is:
    1. 2/3rd majority of all members of both the houses.
    2. 2/3rd majority of all members of only lok sabha
    3. 2/3rd majority of all members of only Rajya Sabha
    4. None of above.
  6. Delegated legislation concept is applicable to
    1. Only parliament
    2. Only state legislative assembly
    3. Both
    4. None of above.


  1. Major Inputs from Mr.Palas Nuwal
  2. Public Administration by Avasthi and Maheswari.
  3. http://www.preservearticles.com/2012032528857/what-is-delegated-legislation-and-which-are-the-factors-responsible-for-its-increase.html
  4. http://www.mightylaws.in/418/definitions-delegated-legislation-growth
  6. Introduction to the Constitution Of India – Sharma & Sharma.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books
  2. Environment by ShankarIAS
  3. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  4. Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania (Hindi | English)
  5. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  6. Bipin Chandra: Post Independence
  7. Fast-track to Arithmetic Rajesh Verma
  8. MK Pandey’s Analytical Reasoning
  9. Disha’s Topicwise Paperset (Hindi | English)
  10. School Atlas
  11. Mains: Language papers
  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

So far 38 Comments posted

  1. neha


  2. vij

    भाई तुम तारीफ के काबिल हो

  3. DVK


    1. deepak

      1) d

  4. Naveed

    Hi all/Sir

    I have a question, i am B.tech EEE(electrical engineering) – Can i apply for IFoS??
    I am very much confused, as i dont see Electrical in IFoS optionals. Please helpppp..
    Can i apply for IFoS being Electrical Engineer.

    1. Ruskin

      Definitely you can apply for Indian Forest Service no matter which background/stream you are from. But you’ll have to choose any one optional from the given list for IFoS which does’t include Electrical. You can choose any other one. List of optional subjects is given here:

      1. Naveed

        Thank you soo much Ruskin..

        Also just wanted to know.. if there will be any disadvantage for me if i apply both. Coz my primary aim is Civils. As i am eligible, i jus wanted to try IFoS as well. Please suggest.

        1. Yashpal

          Why waste your attempts if you just wanted to get feeling of it. I am just saying…

        2. Ruskin

          See, there will ofcourse be no disadvantage even if you apply for both. But for the sake of keeping your preparation simple you should choose an optional which is COMMON to both. Otherwise you’ll have to prepare two different subjects which will ofcourse be tiresome.
          Just try to keep one optional common for both exams. Rest depends on your strategy and determination.

  5. Amol

    Sir, plz upload sri lankan unhrc issue.

  6. LUCKY

    IBPS has allotted banks 2nd time. But it has sent only messages to mobile no.s. My sim had not been in the phone for 2 months. So, I could not get t he message. They haven’t send amy email this time. Now, how can I know my result? Pls tell.

  7. shilpa

    BPS has allotted banks 2nd time. But it has sent only messages to mobile no.s. My sim had not been in the phone for 2 months. So, I could not get t he message. They haven’t send amy email this time. Now, how can I know my result? Pls tell.plz help what to do

    1. PRAKASH


      Nothing to worry,First cross check ur marks with cutoff which IBPS has published if u r falling in range then u can just drop a mail with ur Roll & Registeration no or u can directly contact thru phone. For contact details check IBPS site

  8. hari

    dear mrunal,

    i applied to csir case 2013 exam and quite filled the form and it shows teh application status as pending…

    1. vishakha

      almost same problem with me
      status shows that i have not submitted my form finally
      please let me knw if dere is ne chance to solve dis prblm

  9. pankaj

    is it possible to elaborate the ch. Chain rule from rs agrawal.I find it tough to solve the problem related to fr how many days food will last, how many additional men need.. Please.

  10. Praghu

    d,d,c,c,a,c. sir please check the answers.

    1. Praghu

      sir plz clarify the 5th ans.

  11. Shashank Shekhar Roy

    1 D
    2 D
    3 C
    4 C
    5 D
    6 C

  12. Divya

    Sir, Could you please release the key for the article “Delegated Legislation.” I have doubt regarding 5th and 6th questions.

  13. Prateek Gupta

    Dear Mrunal

    I am a general category student preparing for upsc (ias ips).i attempted upsc 3 times..this year i dont want to attempt upsc but the preliminary exam of ifs is also conducting along with ias ips etc so if i attempt the xam and fill the choice of ifs only then my attempt will be count or not?

  14. zarna

    Thanks a lot for such educative articles
    could plzz put few more articles for csir

  15. sreekanth

    Very well explained Mrunal. Many thanks.

    Answers (acc. to me):-
    1)d 2)d 3)a 4)(c 5)d 6)c

  16. AKB

    JAI HIND..

  17. chandu

    well explained.

  18. sandepp

    very good explaination sir….
    writting style is too much good.

  19. MD. WASIM

    nice explanation ,mrunal sir

  20. Ajeet

    Dear Mrunal Sir,
    I have a question regarding the definition. It says “delegated legislation =When parliament confers the law making power to the executive.”
    However, the information in http://www.prsindia.org/administrator/uploads/general/1370586704_Parliamentary%20Scrutiny%20of%20Executive%20Rule%20Making.pdf

    Says that delegated/subordinated legislation is framing of “rules”(not law) according to the guidelines laid down in the Law. These are known as rules, regulation, bye-laws, order and notification.

    Please pardon me for raising this point if I misunderstood it. As Looks like the Law making power is reserved for the legislature only.


  21. DORIS


  22. Harpreet bhasin

    sir please send me more slides on judiciary ,executive,and legislature plsssssssssssssssss………………………

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