PRINCIPLE OF NATURAL JUSTICE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
Authored By — Fardeen Khan
BBA LL.B ( Hons )
Justice is a virtue of establishing national order. The Principle of Natural Justice is a principle under a legal system which protects people against the arbitrary exer- cise of power to ensure fair play. The term ‘Natural Justice’ assures people fair- ness, reasonableness, a good conscience, equity and equality.
Aiming to prevent a miscarriage of justice and arbitrariness, natural justice is a scientific term for the ‘Nemo judex in causa sua’ which means rule against bias and ‘Audi alteram partem’ which means the right to a fair hearing that has large- ly been extended to ‘duty t o act fairly’.
Grounded in the Constitution of India, the doctrine of Natural Justice protects the fundamental rights of people and to feature the concept of fairness by the administrative authorities. The main objective of this paper is to check the feasi- bility of the Principle of Natural Justice in India by referring to some of
the important cases related to it.
Atural Justice: Concept And Meaning:
Natural Justice is an important concept in administrative law. The principles of natural justice of fundamen- tal rules of procedure are the preliminary basis of a good administrative set up of any country. The concept and doctrine of Principles of Natural Justice and its application in Justice delivery system is not new. It has its place since the beginning of justice delivery system. Natural justice is an expression of English common law, which involves a procedural requirement of fairness. It is an important concept in administrative law. In the words of Justice Krishna Iyer Natural justice is a pervasive fact of secular law where a spiritual touch enlivens legislation, legislation and adjudication to make fairness a creed of life. It has many colour and shades, many forms and shapes.1 It is no doubt, a procedural requirement but it ensures a strong safeguard against any Judicial or administrative; order or action, adversely affecting the substantive rights of the individuals. Different jurists have described the principle in different ways. Some called it as the unwritten law (jus non scriptum) or the law of reason. It has, however not been found to be capable of being defined, but some jurists have described the principle as a great humanising principle in- tended to invest law with fairness to secure justice and to prevent miscar- riage of justice. With the passage of time,some principles have evolved and crystallised which are well recognized principles of natural justice. Natural Justice is an important concept in administrative law. The term natural justice signifies basic principles of justice, which are made available to everyone litigant during trial. Principles of natural justice are found- ed on reason and enlightened public policy. These principles are adopted to cir- cumstances of all cases. Such principles are applicable to decisions of all govern- mental agencies, tribunals and judgments of all courts. In the present world the importance of principle of natural justice has been gaining its strength and it is now the essence of any judicial system. Natural justice rules are not codified laws. It is not possible to define precisely and scientifically the expression ‘natural justice’. They arebasically common – sense justice which are built- in the conscience of human being. They are based on natural ideals and values which are universal in nature. ‘ Natural justice’ and ‘legal justice’ are substances of ‘justices’ which must be secured by both, and whenever legal justice fails to achieve this purpose, natural justice has to be called in aid of legal justice. Rules of natural justice have developed with the growth of civilization. It is not the cre- ation of Constitution or mankind. It originated along with human history. In or- der to protect himself against the excess of organized power, man has always ap- pealed to someone which is not been created by him and such someone could only be God and His laws, Divine law or Natural law, to which all temporal laws must and actions must conform. It is of ‘higher law of nature’ or ‘natural law’
which implies fairness, reasonableness, equity and equality.
1 Lord Esher MR in Vionet VS Barrat, (1885 ) 55 LJQB 39
Principle Of Natural Justice
The principles of natural justice emanating from common law in England are based on two Latin maxims, (which were drawn from jus natural).
In simple terms, English law recognizes three principles of natural justice as ex- plained below: –
• Nemo Judex in causa sua or Nemo debet esse judex in propria causa or Rule against bias (No man shall be a judge in his own cause).
• Audi Alteram partem or the rule of fair hearing (hear the other side).
• Reasoned Decision
2 MR in Vionet VS Barrat ( 1885 ) 55 LJQB 39
1. Nemo judex in causa sua or Rule against bias
“No one should be a judge in his own case” because it leads to rule of biases. Bias means an act which leads to unfair activity whether in a conscious or unconscious stage in relation to the party or a partic- ular case. Therefore, the necessity of this rule is to make the judge im- partial and given judgement on the basis of evidence recorded as per the case.
Rules against prejudice can be classified under the following three heads: –
• Pecuniary bias
• Personal bias Bias as a subject
1. Pecuniary bias: – This bias arises when the assistant/judge has monetary/ economic interests in the subject of the case. The judge, while deciding a case, should not have any kind of pecuniary or economic interest. In other words, a peculiar interest in the subject of litigation disqualifies a person from acting as a judge.
2. Personal bias: – Personal biases arise from near and dear ones, that is, friendships, relationships, business or professional relationships. Such a rela- tionship disqualifies a person from acting as a judge.
Bias as a subject: – Any interest or partiality will disqualify a judge from hear- ing the case. When the adjudication or judge has a general interest in the subject on his dispute with the administration or private body, he will be dis- qualified on the basis of prejudice when he is identified with the issues in dis- pute. In order to be disqualified on the ground, there should be an intimate and direct connection between the debate and the issues in dispute. Now the question is whether this principle can be extended to administrative fa- vors as well.
Case laws: –
1. Jeejeebhoy vs. Asst. Collector: – In this case, it was found that one of the
1. Meenglass Tea Estate vs. Their Workmen: – In this case, the manager of the factory investigated against the workers who were alleged to have been assault- ed. The court disqualified the manager based on personal bias.
3.. Chellian vs. Chairman Industrial Finanve Corporation: – In this case, disci- plinary action against an employee was taken by the chairman of the corpo- ration. There was a statutory provision for appeals ranging from chairman to board of directors. The chairman was also a member of the board of direc- tors.
2. Audi Altarem Partem
Audi Alteram Partem, the first principle of the civilized jurisprudence and the second long arm of natural justice is to “hear the other side” or “no man should be condemned unheard” or the “Rule of Fair Hearing”. This doctrine is a code of procedure and hence covers every stage through which administrative decision making passes. The laws made by God and man gives the opportunity to the party to defend himself, thus, a person who is facing charges must be given an opportunity to be heard before any decision is passed against him. This was provided in the case of Copper vs. Wands worth board of Works
The Rule of Fair Hearing includes some essential in it. They are-
Notice is the starting point of hearing in all cases as hearing starts with the no- tice to the affected person by the authority. It was held in the case of Public Prosecutor vs. K.P. Chandrashekharan that a notice must give sufficient time to the person concerned.
3 Lord Esher
4 1963 AIR 1719 , 1964 SCR (2) 165
5  143 ER 414
A notice must also be clear, specific and unambiguous and the charges imposed on it must not be vague and uncertain- Canara Bank vs. Debaris Das. Thus, the ab- sence of notice, in any case, leads to the violation of rules of natural justice.
Hearing is an important essential of audi alteram partem as before passing of any order, both sides must be heard- Maneka Gandhi vs. Unoin Of India . It is also very important that the deciding party should be impartial and fair hearing must be done- Sri Krishada vc. State of MP. Thus, every person is entitled to be heard unless it is expressly or impliedly barred by any statute.
6 . Reasoned Decision
“Reason is an essential requirement of the rule of law. It provides a link between fact and decision, guard against non-application of mind, arbitrariness, and main- tains public confidence in judicial and administrative authorities. Reasons also serve a wider principle that justice must not only be done, it must also appear to be done.
1. Reasoned order states that the aggrieved party has the right to know the reason for the decision or judgement given by the case.
2. Speaking order means an order which contains reasons for the decision. The ad- ministrative authority exercising quasi judicial function should give reasoned desi- cion.
3. There should be a valid and reasonable ground for the decision or judgment giv- en by the court.
4. It is a satisfactory part of the party against whom the decision is made.
The responsibility to record reasons works as obstacles against arbitrary action by the judicial power vested in the executive authority.
AIR 1978 SC 597
AIR 1970 MP 162
The Doctrine of Natural Justice has been evolved and followed by the judiciary to protect the fundamental rights of people and to feature the concept of fairness by the administrative authorities. At every stage of the proceedings, the essentials and principles of natural justice are always kept in mind so as to prevent the miscarriage of justice and arbitrariness and to uphold fairness, reasonableness, good conscience, equity and equality. The doctrine of natural justice is so flexible in nature that it changes itself to an extent where the rights of an individual are infringed.
If any judicial authority violates the principle of “Nemo judex in causa sua” then the order passed would be voidable, i.e. it can be challenged by any court. But if any judicial authority violates the principle of “audi alteram par- tem”, then the order would be regarded as void ab initio. Thus, the adjudi- cating authority must have sufficient knowledge about the principles of natu- ral justice i.e. “nemo judex in causa sua” and “audi alteram partem” before ar- ticulating any judgment. Hence, it should be concluded that-
“The universal and absolute law is that natural justice which cannot be written down, but which appeals to the hearts of all”.