Administrative adjudication is an important technique of modern Public Administration by which administrative agencies settle issues arising in the course of their work, and where legal rights are in question. Prof. L .D. White defines administrative adjudication as “the investigation and settling of a dispute involving a private property on the basis of law and facts by an administrative agency”. Administrative adjudication differs from both- the administrative and the judicial action though it combines in itself the features of both Administrative Tribunals provide a mechanism for administrative adjudication.
In fact, Administrative Tribunals have come to stay as an integral part of democracies. The growth of Administrative Tribunals both in developed and developing countries became a significant phenomenon of the 20th century. France is said to be the home of Administrative Tribunals. It was after France that most of the European countries decided to go in for such tribunals. In India also, several tribunals have been set up from time to time both at the Centre and the state levels, covering various areas of activity like trade, industry, banking, taxation etc. The establishment of Administrative Tribunals has been made to provide speedy and inexpensive relief to government employees in matters relating to grievances regarding recruitment or other conditions of service. Due to the heavy rush of cases and a long list of pending cases, judicial courts could not offer the much-needed remedy to the government employees. Hence, the need arose for the setting up of Administrative Tribunals which could help in dispensing prompt relief to the harassed employees who perceive a sense of injustice and lack of fair play in dealing with their service grievances. This was considered essential for motivating the employees better and for raising their morale which in turn was needed most for their productivity.
Definitions of Administrative Tribunals:
Administrative Tribunals have been mainly concerned with the task of performing judicial or quasi-judicial functions. The dictionary meaning of the word “Tribunal” is the seat of a judge. But in administrative law, the term “Tribunal” is used in a special sense and it refers to adjudicatory bodies created outside the sphere of ordinary courts of the land.
Blacklay and Oatman define Administrative Tribunals as “authorities outside the ordinary court system which interpret and apply the laws when acts of public administration are attacked in formal suits or by other established methods”.
Prof. Dimock defines it as the “process by which administrative agencies settle issues in the courts of their work when legal rights are in question”.
A tribunal is one that possesses the following features-
- The proceedings before it must commence on an application which is in the nature of a complaint.
- It must have the power of a court relating to discovery, inspection and taking of evidence.
- It must allow examination and cross-examination of witnesses.
- It must allow legal representation.
- It must decide on the basis of evidence before it and according to the provisions of the statute.
- The members constituting a tribunal must be qualified to be judges.
- It must be required to sit in public.