Read about quasi-judicial authority, its characteristics, types, powers, and how they differ from judicial authorities.
Quasi-Judicial Authority in India
Quasi-judicial authority refers to the power vested in a government agency or administrative body to make decisions that are similar to those made by a court of law. These agencies are given the authority to hold hearings, gather evidence, and make decisions based on the evidence presented, just like a court of law.
Government agencies are not part of the judicial branch and do not have the same independence as courts. However, they have the power to act like courts in some cases, which helps them make decisions more quickly and with more knowledge in specific areas like the environment, health and safety, and labour relations.
Quasi-judicial authority can resolve disputes faster than traditional courts. This is particularly beneficial in labour disputes, where quick resolution is important to prevent harm to the economy and labour-management relations.
Examples of quasi-judicial authorities include regulatory bodies, such as:
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- The National Human Right Commission (NHRC), etc.
What Is the Difference Between Quasi-Judicial Body and Judicial Body?
The main differences between a quasi-judicial body and a judicial body are the source of their authority, the scope of their powers, and the types of cases they are authorized to hear and decide. Here is more on it:
1. Scope of Their Authority and Their Jurisdiction
The key difference between a quasi-judicial body and a judicial body is the scope of their authority and their jurisdiction.
A judicial body is a court of law that has the authority to interpret and apply the law, hear and decide cases, and enforce judgments. A judicial body is independent of the executive and legislative branches of government and is responsible for upholding the rule of law.
A quasi-judicial body is an agency or tribunal that can act like a court, deciding disputes and enforcing decisions. But, it’s not a full court and has less independence, meaning the executive and legislative branches of government have more control over it.
2. Nature of Cases or Disputes They Hear
Another difference between a quasi-judicial body and a judicial body is the nature of the cases or disputes they hear.
Judicial bodies have the authority to hear a wide range of cases, including civil and criminal cases, while quasi-judicial bodies have limited jurisdiction and can only hear cases that are within their specific area of expertise or subject matter.
3. Limitation and Significance of Decisions
The final significant difference between judicial and quasi-judicial decisions is the subjective extent to which the decision can be made, which is lesser in the case of quasi-judicial decisions in comparison to judicial decisions.
While judicial decisions have the power to establish new legal precedents that can be used in future cases, quasi-judicial decisions are limited to applying existing laws to the specific case at hand. In other words, while quasi-judicial authority is only concerned with deciding a case based on existing law, judicial authority can create new laws through its decisions. For example, some decisions made by judicial authorities are so significant that they are used as legal precedents in other cases.’
Characteristics of Quasi-Judicial Authority
Quasi-judicial authority means a government agency or official has the power to pass orders that are similar to those made by a judge but not the same. Some common characteristics of quasi-judicial authority include:
1. Adjudicatory Function
Quasi-judicial authorities are often bestowed with the duty to resolve disputes and make decisions that affect the rights and interests of individuals or organizations.
2. Limited Jurisdiction
Quasi-judicial authorities typically have a specific, limited area of authority or jurisdiction as defined by statute, regulation, or other legal authority.
Quasi-judicial authorities are expected to act impartially, without bias or undue influence, and to base their decisions on the evidence presented before them.
4. Hearing Process
Quasi-judicial authorities often hold hearings to receive evidence, hear arguments, and allow parties to present their cases.
Quasi-judicial authorities must make decisions based on the evidence presented and apply relevant law or policy to the facts of the case.
6. Judicial Review
Quasi-judicial decisions are subject to judicial review by a higher court or appellate body to ensure that the authority acted within its jurisdiction, followed proper procedures, and made decisions that are supported by the evidence and the law.
What Are the Types of Quasi-Judicial Authorities?
There are various types of quasi-judicial authorities, each with its specific area of jurisdiction and authority. Here are some common types of quasi-judicial authorities:
1. Administrative Tribunals
These are specialised bodies created to resolve disputes within specific areas of expertise, such as labour, human rights, and immigration. Administrative tribunals often have the power to interpret and apply laws, regulations, and policies in their respective fields.
2. Professional Boards
These are regulatory bodies that oversee and regulate professionals in various fields, such as medicine, law, and engineering. They have the power to investigate complaints against professionals and take disciplinary action if necessary.
3. Municipal Boards and Commissions
These are bodies that oversee and regulate activities within a local government’s jurisdiction, such as zoning, land use, and building permits. They often have the power to make decisions that affect the rights of individuals and businesses.
4. Regulatory Agencies
These bodies are created to regulate specific industries, such as telecommunications, energy, and finance. They have the power to enforce regulations and make decisions.
5. Election Commission
These are quasi-judicial authorities that are responsible for conducting and supervising elections. They are empowered to resolve election-related disputes and complaints.
What Is the Power of Quasi-Judicial Authorities?
Quasi-judicial authorities are groups that can make decisions affecting the legal rights of people and organizations. They’re different from courts but have similar powers like hearing evidence, making findings, and applying the law.
1. Conduct Hearings
Quasi-judicial authorities can hold hearings to gather evidence and hear testimony from witnesses.
2. Make Findings of Fact
Based on the evidence presented at a hearing, quasi-judicial authorities can make determinations of fact that are relevant to the issue before them.
3. Apply the Law
Quasi-judicial authorities are typically empowered to apply the law to the facts they have gathered or found and make decisions based on the legal rights, duties, or privileges of the parties involved.
4. Issue Orders or Decisions
Quasi-judicial authorities can issue orders or decisions that have legal force, such as requiring a party to pay damages or comply with certain conditions.
5. Enforce Their Decisions
Quasi-judicial authorities can take steps to enforce their decisions, such as by imposing fines or other penalties for noncompliance.
Quasi-judicial authorities have the power to act like judges, which helps enforce laws and regulations. This can be useful because they are specialized and can handle cases more efficiently. But it must be exercised with care to ensure that parties are treated fairly and that decisions are based on legal authority and not on bias or prejudice.
Also, these authorities continue to play an increasingly important role in modern governance. The principles of natural justice and the use of quasi-judicial authority must be subject to appropriate checks and balances.
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