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Aakritu   22 January 2022

Legal maxim

What is the scope of the maxim "Delegatus Non Potest Delegare"?


 2 Replies

Aarushi   22 January 2022

The maxim “Delegatus Non Potest Delegare” literally means “a person who is a delegate cannot himself delegate his powers”. This expression means that a delegate cannot delegate. A delegated authority cannot be redelegated. The expression basically meand that once an office is assigned to a person, he cannot delegate that office upon someone else, unless prompted by authority. This maxim is not only applicable in executive power but also in Administrative Law. This maxim is usually applied in the Law of Contracts. According to Section 190 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 an agent cannot employ a sub agent to perform any act which he has expressly agreed to perform.

Allingham v. Minister of Agriculture

In this case, a committee was authorised under the Defence Regulations, 1939 by the Miniter of Agriculture to direct the farmers with respect to cultivation, management and use of land for agricultural processes. This committee sub-delegated its order to a Subordinate Offer. The Court applied the maxim of Delegatus Non Potest Delegare and held that the sub-delegation of such power by the committee was not permissible.

Jackson v. Butterworth

In this case, the Court held that the act of sub-delegating the issue of circulars to local authorities was desirable and convenient but was not permissible by law. But the Court also held that if there was a mention of the phrase “two or more tiers of sub-delegation” indicated that sub-delegation was permissible under an Act or order.

States v. Bareno

In this case, when the President sub-delegated his powers of making regulations concerning exports and imports to the Board of Economic Welfare, who further sub-delegated its powers to its Executive Director, who in turn sub-delegated his powers to his assistant, who further sub-delegated the powers, the Court held it to be valid.

State v. Amir Chand

The Punjab High Court held that the power of sub-delegation cannot be inferred.

Narendra Kumar v. Union of India

Finally, in this case, the Supreme Court noted that sub-delegation cannot be allowed until it is expressed in the publication of the act or order.

Dr J C Vashista (Lawyer)     23 January 2022

Well explained and answered examination hall question.

However, do you have any problem / dispute / issue involved / your locus standi to the maxim ?

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