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Federal Statutory Bodies

Statutory Bodies of India
Statutory Bodies of India

Federal Statutory Bodies

 

Statutory bodies are entities created by an Act of Parliament or state legislatures. They are set up by the government to consider the evidence and make judgments in some field of activity. They are usually established to carry out specific functions which a government considers may be more effectively performed outside a traditional departmental executive structure. They fulfill the need for some operational independence from the government; funding arrangements that are not reliant on the annual appropriations processes; or to establish a separate legal entity. They are typically found in countries which are governed under parliamentary democracy form of political setup. Under law statutory bodies are organisations with the authority to check that the activities of a business or organization are legal and follow official rules. The General Medical Council is the statutory body which regulates doctors.

The statutory bodies, however, may be established to allow a certain level of independence from government, the government is still responsible to ensure that taxpayers funds expended in the operations of statutory bodies are spent in the most efficient, effective and economic manner. These bodies are subject to varying degrees of ministerial control which are specified in the statutory body’s enabling legislation. Ministers are responsible to Parliament for the operation of all government boards and agencies within their portfolios, and are required to table their annual reports in Parliament. A state  delegates  its authority to a statutory authority for several reasons i.e. transparency, accountability, efficiency, and bipartisanship.

The definition of a ‘statutory body’ may differ depending upon the legislation. For example, a local council is not a statutory body for the purposes of the Financial Accountability Act, but it is for the purposes of the Statutory Bodies Financial Arrangements Act. Examples of statutory bodies are Reserve Bank of India under the Reserve Bank of India Act, State Bank of India under a similar Act. etc. For the sake of distinction, the constitutional bodies are bodies which are formed to continue the objectives of the Constitution. Examples are Supreme and High Courts, Election Commission of India, Pay Commissions etc.

All statutory bodies are established and operate under the provisions of their own enabling legislation, which sets out the purpose and specific powers of the agency. The enabling legislation may also include provisions i.e.(i)the levels of fees to be charged for services / products provided by the statutory body; (ii) the power of the statutory body to borrow or invest funds; (iii) whether the board can delegate powers to officers of the statutory body; and (iv) whether the body represents the State .

Regulatory Body

A regulatory body or regulatory agency  is a public authority or a government agency responsible for exercising autonomous authority over some area of human activity in a regulatory or supervisory capacity. established by legislative act in order to set standards in a specific field of activity, or operations, in the private sector of the economy and to then enforce those standards. Regulatory agencies function outside executive supervision. Because the regulations that they adopt have the force of law, part of these agencies’ function is essentially legislative; but because they may also conduct hearings and pass judgments concerning adherence to their regulations, they also exercise a judicial function—often carried out before a quasi-judicial official called an administrative law judge, who is not part of the court system. Some independent regulatory agencies perform investigations or audits, and some are authorised to fine the relevant parties and order certain measures.

The idea of the regulatory agency was first advanced in the USA and it has been largely an American institution. The first agency was Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), established by Congress in 1887 to regulate the railroads (and, later, motor carriers, inland waterways, and oil companies). It was abolished in 1996 but long served as the prototype of such an agency. Originally, the ICC was to serve only as an advisory body to Congress and the courts, but it was soon granted these powers itself. Also, an independent commission could be impartial and nonpartisan, a necessity for equitable regulation. The ICC was the first step taken to regulate an entire class of industries, rather than taking each on a case-by-case basis, as had been previously done.

The assertion of governmental control in other industries led to the creation of many other regulatory agencies modeled upon the ICC, chief among these being the Federal Trade Commission (FTC, 1914), Federal Communications Commission (FCC, 1934), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC, 1934). In addition, regulatory powers were conferred upon the ordinary executive departments. The functions of the FTC illustrate those of regulatory agencies in general. It oversees the packaging, labeling, and advertising of consumer goods. It applies broadly stated legislative policies to concrete cases of trade competition by a procedure patterned after that of the courts. It grants licenses to those seeking to engage in export trade. It also regulates collection and circulation of credit information. Regulatory agencies use a commission system of administration, and their terms of office are fixed and often very long.

In almost all other countries outside the USA, including India, the role of regulatory agencies is taken by the regular administrative departments of government and, in the case of utilities and public transportation, often by means of state ownership. Regulatory agencies are usually a part of the executive branch of the government, or they have statutory authority to perform their functions with oversight from the legislative branch. Their actions are generally open to legal review . Regulatory authorities are commonly set up to enforce standards and safety, or to oversee use of public goods  and regulate commerce. Examples of regulatory agencies in India are IRDA, SEBI,TRAI, AERB, DGCA, PESO, etc.

Quasi-judicial bodies

Quasi-judicial bodies are organisations or bodies which have powers similar to that of the law imposing bodies but it are not courts. They mainly govern the administrative areas. The courts (judiciary) has the power to preside over all kinds of disputes but the quasi-judicial bodies are the ones with the powers of imposing laws on administrarive agencies. These bodies help in reducing the burden of the courts. Quasi-judicial activity is limited to the issues that concern the particular administrative agency. Quasi-judicial action may be appealed to a court of law.

Such bodies usually have powers of adjudication in such matters as: breach of discipline, conduct rules, and  trust in the matters of money or otherwise.Their powers are usually limited to a particular area of expertise, such as financial markets, employment laws, public standards, immigration, or regulation.

Awards and verdicts  of a quasi-judicial bodies often depend on a pre-determined set of guidelines or punishment depending on the nature and gravity of the offence committed. Such punishment may be legally enforceable under the law of a country, it can be challenged in a court of law which is the final decisive authority.

Some examples of quasi-judicial bodies in India are – National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission, Central Information Commission, State Information Commission, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Competition Commission of India, Appellate Tribunal for Electricity, Railway Claims Tribunal, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, and Intellectual Property Appellate Tribunal.

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