The importance of legislation as a source of law can be measured from the fact that it is backed by the authority of the sovereign, and it is directly enacted and recognised by the State. The expression ‘legislation’ has been used in various senses. It includes every method of law-making. In the strict sense it means laws enacted by the sovereign or any other person or institution authorised by him.
Kinds of Legislation
The kinds of legislation can be explained as follows:
When the laws are directly enacted by the sovereign, it is considered as supreme legislation. One of the features of Supreme legislation is that, no other authority except the sovereign itself can control or check it. The laws enacted by the British Parliament fall in this category, as the British Parliament is considered as sovereign.
Subordinate legislation is a legislation which is made by any authority which is subordinate to the supreme or sovereign authority. It is enacted under the delegated authority of the sovereign. The origin, validity, existence and continuance of such legislation totally depends on the will of the sovereign authority. Subordinate legislation further can be classified into the following types
When a group of individuals recognized or incorporated under the law as an autonomous body, is conferred with the power to make rules and regulation, the laws made by such body fall under autonomous law. For instance, laws made by the bodies like Universities, incorporated companies etc. fall in this category of legislation.
In some countries, judiciary is conferred with the power to make rules for their administrative procedures. The Supreme Court and High Courts have been conferred with such kinds of power to regulate procedure and administration.
In some countries, local bodies are recognized and conferred with the law-making powers. They are entitled to make bye-laws in their respective jurisdictions. The rules and bye-laws enacted by them are examples of local laws.
Laws made by colonial countries for their colonies or the countries controlled by them are known as colonial laws. For a long time, However, as most countries of the world have gained independence from the colonial powers, this legislation is losing its importance and may not be recognized as a kind of legislation.
Laws made by the Executive:
Laws are supposed to be enacted by the sovereign and the sovereignty may be vested in one authority or it may be distributed among the various organs of the State. In most of the modern States, sovereignty is generally divided among the three organs of the State. The three organs of the State namely legislature, executive and judiciary are vested with three different functions. The prime responsibility of law-making vests with the legislature, while the executive is vested with the responsibility to implement the laws enacted by the legislature. However, the legislature delegates some of its law-making powers to executive organs which are also termed delegated legislation. Delegated legislation is also a class of subordinate legislation. In welfare and modern states, the amount of legislation has increased manifold and it is not possible for legislative bodies to go through all the details of law. Therefore, it deals with only a fundamental part of the legislation and wide discretion has been given to the executive to fill the gaps. This increasing tendency of delegated legislation has been criticized. However, delegated legislation is resorted to, on account of reasons like paucity of time, technicalities of law and emergency. Therefore, delegated legislation is sometimes considered as a necessary evil.