This article is written by Elham Mohammed Elamin of 6th Semester of University of Khartoum, an intern under Legal Vidhiya.
Administrative decision making is the process by which administrative agencies, which are government entities created by law to carry out specific functions, make decisions that affect the rights, liberties, or property of individuals and organizations. Administrative agencies in India play a crucial role in the implementation of government policies and programs, the regulation of businesses and industries, and the provision of public services. However, there are a number of problems that can arise in administrative decision making, such as lack of transparency, conflicts of interest, lack of judicial review, delay, and complexity. This article discusses the most common problems of administrative decision making in India and proposes potential solutions to improve administrative decision making and make it more fair, transparent, and accountable.
Keywords: Administrative decision making, problems of administrative decision making in India, challenges of administrative decision making, lack of transparency, lack of judicial review, conflict of interest, role of administrative agencies, need of administrative decision making in India, development of administrative decision, solutions of administrative decision making problems, Improve Administrative Decision-Making.
Initially, the definition of administrative decision making is a matter of debate but a widely accepted definition of Administrative decision making is that the process by which administrative agencies, which are government entities created by law to carry out specific functions, make decisions that affect the rights, liberties, or property of individuals and organizations.
In his book Administrative Behavior, Herbert A. Simon defines administrative decision-making as the process of selecting a course of action from among several alternatives, and he identifies three key steps in the administrative decision-making process: intelligence gathering, design, and choice.
However, it is important to note that this definition is not universally accepted. Some scholars argue that administrative decision making should be defined more broadly to include all types of decisions that are made by administrative agencies, regardless of whether they involve selecting a course of action from among several alternatives.
The Importance of administrative decision making in India illustrated from the vital role that the administrative agencies play; it helps to implement government policies and programs. Administrative agencies are responsible for implementing a wide range of government policies and programs, such as social welfare programs, environmental regulations, and economic development initiatives. It provides a forum for public participation in government. Administrative agencies are required to provide opportunities for public input before making decisions on matters that affect the public interest. This helps to ensure that the government is accountable to the people. And It helps to protect individual rights and liberties. Administrative agencies play an important role in protecting individual rights and liberties, such as the right to due process and the right to equal protection under the law.
Administrative agencies in India play a crucial role in the implementation of government policies and programs, the regulation of businesses and industries, and the provision of public services. They are also responsible for adjudicating disputes and making decisions that affect the rights and interests of individuals and organizations. In this article we will briefly discuss role of administrative agencies in India for more understanding to their importance.
There are a number of problems that can arise in administrative decision making. Such as lack of transparency, conflicts of interest, lack of judicial review, delay, and complexity.
In this article we will discuss the most common problems of administrative decision making in India and we will try to give potential solutions for those problems to improve administrative decision making and make it more fair, transparent, and accountable.
Development of administrative decision:
Administrative decision-making has a long history, dating back to ancient times. Initially, rulers and leaders made decisions based on their own judgment or advice from trusted advisors. However, as societies became more complex, a more systematic approach to decision-making became necessary.
One significant milestone in the development of administrative decision-making was the emergence of bureaucracy in the 19th century. Bureaucracies provided a framework for making decisions based on rules, procedures, and expertise. This approach aimed to ensure that administrative decisions were consistent, fair, and efficient.
Scholars such as Max Weber further refined the principles of administrative decision-making. Weber emphasized the importance of rationality, hierarchy, specialization, and impersonality in bureaucratic decision-making processes. These principles formed the foundation for modern administrative decision-making practices.
India’s unique historical context and socio-political dynamics have influenced the development of administrative decision-making in the country. After gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1947, India adopted a democratic system with a focus on social justice and economic development.
The Constitution of India plays a crucial role in shaping administrative decision-making in the country. It provides a framework for governance that emphasizes principles such as equality before law, due process, transparency, accountability, and protection of fundamental rights. These principles guide administrative authorities in making decisions that are fair and just.
India’s administrative system is characterized by a hierarchical structure with various levels of government – central government, state governments, and local governments – each responsible for different aspects of governance. Administrative decisions are made at these different levels based on constitutional provisions and delegated powers.
The Indian judiciary has also played a role in the development of administrative decision-making. The judiciary has actively intervened to ensure that administrative decisions adhere to constitutional principles through judicial review. Courts have established precedents that guide administrators in making decisions within the boundaries set by law.
Technological advancements have also had a significant impact on administrative decision-making processes in India. The use of information technology has enabled greater efficiency and transparency in decision-making through e-governance initiatives such as online portals for citizen services and digital record-keeping systems.
Needs for Administrative decisions:
Administrative decisions provide a framework for governance and guide public officials. They translate legislative intent into actionable plans and programs. Without administrative decisions, laws would remain unenforced.
One of the primary goals of administrative decision-making is to efficiently allocate resources. Governments have limited resources, and they need to be allocated effectively to achieve desired outcomes. Administrative decisions help prioritize projects, allocate budgets, and distribute resources based on identified needs and objectives.
Administrative decisions are also vital for maintaining public order and safety. They allow governments to respond promptly to emergencies, enforce regulations, and protect citizens’ rights. For example, during natural disasters or public health crises, administrative decisions play a critical role in mobilizing resources, coordinating relief efforts, and implementing preventive measures.
In India, administrative decision-making is particularly important due to the country’s diverse population, complex socio-economic challenges, and federal structure of governance. India’s administrative machinery operates at various levels, each making decisions that impact millions of people.
The need for administrative decision-making in India can be observed through various examples. For instance, the formulation of economic policies such as taxation reforms or foreign investment regulations requires careful analysis and decision-making by government authorities. Similarly, social welfare programs like healthcare initiatives or poverty alleviation schemes necessitate well-informed administrative decisions to ensure effective implementation.
Furthermore, India’s democratic system relies on administrative decision-making to uphold principles of transparency and accountability. Decisions made by public officials must be justifiable and subject to scrutiny by citizens or judicial bodies if necessary. Administrative decisions should be based on evidence-based research or expert opinions while considering diverse perspectives from stakeholders.
Role of administrative agencies in India:
1. Implementation of government policies and programs: Administrative agencies are responsible for implementing a wide range of government policies and programs, such as social welfare programs, economic development initiatives, and environmental regulations. For example, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is responsible for implementing the government’s food security program, while the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is responsible for implementing the government’s environmental policies.
2. Regulation of businesses and industries: Administrative agencies are responsible for regulating businesses and industries in a variety of sectors, such as banking, finance, insurance, telecommunications, and healthcare. For example, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulates the banking sector, while the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulates the securities market.
3. Provision of public services: Administrative agencies are responsible for providing a variety of public services, such as education, healthcare, transportation, and energy. For example, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is responsible for regulating secondary education in India, while the Indian Railways is responsible for providing railway transportation services.
4. Adjudication of disputes: Administrative agencies are also responsible for adjudicating disputes between individuals, organizations, and the government. For example, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) adjudicates consumer disputes, while the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) adjudicates disputes between government employees and the government.
Problems of Administrative Decision Making:
Before delving into the most common problems that arise in administrative decision making in India let us briefly discuss what the American social scientist, economist and computer scientist, Herbert A. Simon in his book “Administrative Behavior “, in this book he laid the foundation for the study of organizational behavior and administrative decision-making.
Herbert A. Simon identifies a number of problems that can arise in administrative decision making, such as;  Bounded rationality: Administrative decision-makers are limited in their ability to process information and make rational decisions. This can lead to decision-making errors, such as satisficing (accepting the first good enough solution) and heuristics (using rules of thumb to make decisions).  Organizational culture: The values, norms, and procedures of an organization can influence the way that decisions are made. For example, an organization that values consensus decision-making may take longer to make decisions than an organization that values hierarchical decision-making.  Political factors: Decision-makers may be influenced by political factors, such as the need to build consensus or to appease powerful stakeholders.
Most common problems of administrative decision making in India:
1.Lack of Transparency:
Transparency is essential in administrative decision making because it ensures that decisions are fair and impartial, reduces the risk of corruption, and promotes public trust in government. However, the lack of transparency in administrative decision making in India is a serious problem. This has a number of negative consequences, such as:
Unfair decisions: When the public does not know how administrative decisions are made, it is difficult to ensure that these decisions are fair and impartial.
Corruption: Lack of transparency can create opportunities for corruption, as public officials may be able to make decisions that benefit themselves or their cronies without being held accountable. Transparency International ranked India at 85 among 180 countries in its Corruption Perception Index In 2021, “There are concerns over the country’s democratic status, as fundamental freedoms and institutional checks and balances decay.” the report said.
Public distrust: Lack of transparency can erode public trust in administrative agencies and the government as a whole.
Transparency in Indian administration faces challenges due to:
Lack of legal requirements for transparency: There is no comprehensive law in India that requires administrative agencies to disclose information about their activities and decision-making process.
A culture of secrecy: There has traditionally been a culture of secrecy in Indian bureaucracy. This is reflected in the fact that many administrative agencies are not required to disclose information about their activities, even to the government itself.
Lack of capacity: Many administrative agencies in India lack the capacity to implement transparency measures. This is due to a number of factors, such as lack of staff, resources, and expertise.
Transparency is an indicator of a good governance. It requires that administrative agencies disclose information about their activities and decision-making process to the public. Transparency is important for a number of reasons such as ; It allows the public to understand how their government is operating and to hold agencies accountable for their decisions, it encourages public participation in decision-making, which can help to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of the public, and it reduces the risk of corruption and abuse of power.
So That the Indian government should take steps to address the lack of transparency in administrative decision making as a priority, by Enacting a comprehensive law on transparency, Changing the culture of secrecy, Building capacity for transparency.
2.Conflict of interest:
A conflict of interest arises when a person has a personal or professional interest that could influence their decisions in an unfair way. Conflicts of interest can occur in all walks of life, but they are particularly problematic in administrative decision making, where public officials have the power to make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people, for example administrative officials may be subject to political pressure to make decisions that benefit certain groups or individuals.
There are a number of reasons why conflicts of interest are a problem in administrative decision making in India. First, there is no comprehensive law that prohibits conflicts of interest in public office. Second, there is a culture of impunity among public officials, and many officials do not believe that they will be held accountable for engaging in conflicts of interest. Third, many administrative agencies in India lack the capacity to prevent and detect conflicts of interest.
Problems caused by conflicts of interest in administrative decision making include :
Biased decisions: Conflicts of interest can lead to administrative officials making decisions that are biased in favor of their own interests or the interests of those close to them.
Public distrust: Conflicts of interest can erode public trust in administrative agencies and the government as a whole.
3. Lack judicial review:
As we know judicial review is the power of the courts to review the decisions of administrative agencies and to overturn them if they are found to be illegal, unreasonable, or arbitrary. Judicial review is an important safeguard against the abuse of power by administrative agencies.
But the reason that the scope of judicial review is limited in India, could be due to a number of factors such as;
- The doctrine of sovereign immunity: Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the government cannot be sued without its consent. This means that individuals and businesses cannot challenge administrative decisions in court unless the government has specifically granted them the right to do so.
- The principle of deference: Indian courts have traditionally deferred to the expertise of administrative agencies. This means that courts are reluctant to overturn administrative decisions, even if they have doubts about the legality or reasonableness of the decision.
- The lack of a comprehensive law on judicial review: There is no comprehensive law in India that sets out the scope of judicial review of administrative decisions. This has led to uncertainty and inconsistency in the way that courts have applied judicial review.
Problems caused by the lack of judicial review of administrative decisions in India:
Injustice: When administrative decisions cannot be challenged in court, it leaves individuals and groups with no recourse when they are harmed by unfair or unjust administrative decisions.
Abuse of power: The lack of judicial review can also lead to administrative agencies abusing their power, knowing that their decisions cannot be easily challenged.
How to Improve Administrative Decision-Making:
Generally, there are some steps that should be taken by the Indian government in order to improve administrative decision making and make it more fair, transparent, and accountable. Including:
- Increase transparency: Administrative agencies should be required to disclose more information about their decision-making process and to provide more opportunities for public participation in decision-making.
- Reduce conflicts of interest: Administrative agencies should implement conflict of interest policies and disclose potential conflicts of interest to the public.
- Expand judicial review: The scope of judicial review of administrative decisions should be expanded to ensure that people have a way to challenge unfair or unjust administrative decisions.
Key Legal Precedents in Administrative Decision-Making in India :
In L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India. (2011), the Supreme Court held that the government’s decision to award a contract for the construction of a highway without following a transparent and competitive bidding process was not subject to judicial review. The Court reasoned that the decision was a matter of economic policy and that courts should defer to the expertise of the government in making such decisions.
This case illustrates the limited scope of judicial review in India. Courts are often reluctant to review administrative decisions that involve economic policy, national security or public order, or that are procedural in nature.
Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997), this case set guidelines for the prevention and redressal of sexual harassment in the workplace. It highlighted the need for administrative decisions to protect fundamental rights and ensure a safe working environment.
Environmental cases like M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (1986) and Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India (1996) have emphasized the duty of administrative agencies to protect the environment and public health.
Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978), this case expanded the scope of personal liberty by stating that the procedure established by law under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution must be fair and reasonable. It emphasized the importance of natural justice in administrative decisions.
Administrative decision making plays a vital role in India, helping to implement government policies and programs, regulate businesses and industries, and provide public services. However, administrative decision making can be fraught with problems, such as lack of transparency, conflicts of interest, lack of judicial review, delay, and complexity.
In this article we have explored the concept and importance of administrative decision making, the role of administrative agencies and the most common problems of administrative decision making in India and has some potential solutions to improve administrative decision making and make it more fair, transparent, and accountable. Some of the proposed solutions include increasing transparency, reducing conflicts of interest, expanding judicial review, streamlining administrative decision-making processes, and simplifying administrative decisions.
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- India Chapter of Chambers Global Practice Guide 2022 on Technology, Media, and Telecom (Mar 16, 2022).Author: (TMT) Srinath Dasari
Associates: Adoksh Shastry, Ritum Kumar.
Available at: https://www.azbpartners.com/bank/tmt-2022-india/.
- Express News Service. “India ranks 85 in Transparency International’s corruption index.” The Indian Express. January 26, 2022. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-ranks-85-in-transparency-internationals-corruption-index-7741760/lite/.
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- L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India. (2011) 1 SCC 489.
- Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978): AIR 1978 SC 597.
- Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997): (1997) 6 SCC 241.
- M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (1986): AIR 1987 SC 965.
- Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India (1996): AIR 1996 SC 2715.
 India Chapter of Chambers Global Practice Guide 2022 on Technology, Media, and Telecom (Mar 16, 2022).
Author: (TMT) Srinath Dasari
Associates: Adoksh Shastry, Ritum Kumar.
Available at: https://www.azbpartners.com/bank/tmt-2022-india/
 Express News Service. “India ranks 85 in Transparency International’s corruption index.” The Indian Express. January 26, 2022. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-ranks-85-in-transparency-internationals-corruption-index-7741760/lite/.
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