Constitutional, Statutory and Quasi-Judicial Bodies

There are multiple types of government bodies in India, that we hear on a daily basis in the news. They are very important for the UPSC exam since many of them play vital roles in Indian polity and economy. In this article, you can read about constitutional, statutory, quasi-judicial, judicial and regulatory bodies.

Constitutional Bodies

Constitutional bodies are important bodies in India that derive their powers and authorities from the Indian Constitution.

  • They are specifically mentioned in the Constitution, meaning they have dedicated articles.
  • Any change in the mechanism of these bodies would require a constitutional amendment.
  • Important bodies such as the Finance Commission, the UPSC, the Election Commission, the CAG, National Commissions for SCs and STs, etc. are constitutional bodies.

For more on constitutional bodies and examples of such bodies, check the linked article.

Statutory Bodies

These are non-constitutional bodies as they do not find any mention in the Constitution.

  • They are also important bodies due to their function.
  • They are created by an Act of Parliament.
  • They are called ‘statutory’ since statutes are laws made by the Parliament or the legislature.
  • Since these bodies derive their power from statutes or laws made by the Parliament, they are known as statutory bodies.
  • For example, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is a statutory body. It was set up in 1988 and was given statutory powers in 1992 through the passing of the SEBI Act, 1992.
  • Other examples: NHRC, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Central Information Commission, etc.

Regulatory Bodies

Regulatory bodies are public or government agencies responsible for exercising autonomous authority over some area of human activity in a regulatory or supervisory capacity.

  • Some regulatory bodies are independent, which means they are independent of any branch of the government.
  • They are set up to enforce safety and standards.
  • They have the charge of establishing norms of a particular area of human activity, and also supervising the bodies employed in that activity.
  • They are established by legislative acts. 
  • Examples of the regulatory body are given in the table below:

Important Regulatory Bodies in India

Regulatory Body Sector 
SEBI Securities and capital market
RBI Banking, monetary policy and finance
NABARD Financing rural development
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) Insurance 
Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA) Pension
National Housing Bank (NHB) Housing finance
SIDBI Financing MSME
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Telecom and tariffs
Central Board of Film Certification Film certification and censorship
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Food safety
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Standards and certification
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Cricket 

Executive Bodies

These bodies are non-constitutional and non-statutory. 

  • They are not mentioned in the Constitution.
  • They are also not established by an act of Parliament.
  • They are formed by executive resolution or action, which means that they are formed by the government’s action only.
  • They can be converted into a statutory body by enacting a law. For example, the UIDAI was made into a statutory body after it was established by enacting a new law.
  • Examples of executive bodies: the now-defunct Planning Commission, the NITI Aayog, National Law Commission, etc.

Judicial Bodies

Judicial bodies are courts in India. Their chief objective is to provide justice by following the laws of the land.

Quasi-judicial Bodies

A quasi-judicial body can be an individual or body with powers resembling a court of law.

  • They can adjudicate and decide penalties on the guilty.
  • They are different from judicial bodies in that their field is limited compared to a court.
  • They can be formed on a matter pending in court, by court order if the court considers it necessary; the court reserves the right to appoint members of such a body.
  • They can be tribunals for a specific domain, or like an arbitrator.
  • Quasi-judicial bodies have adjudicating powers in such matters as:
    • Breach of discipline
    • Trust in money matters or otherwise
    • Conduct rules
  • Their authority is limited to specific areas like:
    • Financial markets
    • Land use and zoning
    • Public standards
    • Employment law
    • Specific set of regulations of an agency
  • Decisions of a quasi-judicial body are often legally enforceable under the laws of a jurisdiction.
  • Examples of quasi-judicial bodies: National Human Rights Commission, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Competition Commission of India, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal for Electricity, Railway Claims Tribunal, Intellectual Property Appellate Tribunal, Banking Ombudsman, etc.

Difference between Judicial and Quasi-judicial Bodies

  • Judicial decisions are bound by precedent in common law, whereas quasi-judicial decisions are generally not.
  • Judicial decisions may create new laws, but quasi-judicial decisions are based on existing law.
  • Quasi-judicial needn’t adhere to strict judicial rules (of procedure and evidence).
  • Quasi-judicial bodies can hold formal hearings only if they are mandated to do so as per their governing laws.

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