Regulatory Bodies: Establishment, Functions, Examples

A regulatory body also called regulatory agency is a public authority or a government agency which is accountable for exercising autonomous authority over some area of human activity in a regulatory or supervisory capacity.

It is 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 implement those standards. Regulatory interventions function outside executive observation.

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 performed 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 important parties and order certain measures.

The notion of the regulatory agency was initiated in the USA and it has been basically an American establishment. The first agency was Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), established by Congress in 1887 to control the railroads.

It was stopped in 1996 but long served as the model of such an agency. Initially, the ICC was to serve only as an advisory body to Congress and the courts, but it was soon granted these powers itself. Furthermore, an independent commission could be unbiased and nonpartisan, a necessity for impartial regulation. The ICC was the first step taken to control industries instead of taking each on a case-by-case basis, as had been previously done.

The proclamation of governmental control in other industries led to the formation of many other regulatory agencies modelled 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). Additionally, regulatory powers were convened upon the ordinary executive departments.

The functions of the FTC illustrate those of regulatory agencies in general. It supervises the packaging, labelling, 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 interested in export business. 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.

All nations outside the USA, 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 generally a part of the executive branch of the government, or they have statutory authority to execute their functions with oversight from the legislative branch. Their actions are generally open to legal review. Regulatory authorities are usually established to implement standards and safety, or to oversee use of public goods and regulate business.

Important Regulatory bodies are as under

  1. Advertising Standards Council of India
  2. Competition Commission of India
  3. Biodiversity authority of India
  4. Press Council of India
  5. Directorate General of Civil Aviation
  6. Forward Markets Commission
  7. Inland Waterways Authority of India
  8. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority
  9. Reserve Bank of India
  10. Securities and Exchange Board of India
  11. Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal
  12. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
  13. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
  14. Central pollution control board
  15. Financial Stability and Development Council
  16. Medical Council of India
  17. Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority
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