This article is written by Akhilandeswari Bonam, a student of Sri Padmavati Mahila Visvavidyalayam.

INTRODUCTION

The Principles of Natural Justice are about protecting the people from abuse of power by government officials. It is an important aspect of Administrative Law. Natural justice means making a sensible and reasonable decision on a matter. Natural justice is like a weapon to secure justice. Its aim is to protect justice and prevent injustice. However, its definition has not yet been definitively given anywhere.

Various judges defined the term principles of natural justice as “universal justice, requirements of substantial justice, fundamental justice, fair play in action, a duty to act fairly, common fairness.” It is a legal system doctrine that protects against arbitrary exercise of power by ensuring fair play.

Object

The main object of principles of natural justice is to prevent the miscarriage of justice and protect the rights of the individuals. 

A common man view these principles in the way as- what is right? Or what is wrong? And what is fair? And what should be the duty?

Constitution on Principles of Natural Justice

The aim of principles is to ensure law with fairness and to secure justice by judicial process. According to article 14 all are equal before the law and equal protection of the laws. When a person deprived of his life and personal liberty, it can be seen into Article 21. Article 311 embodies right to hearing as a basic principle of natural justice.

Delhi Transport Corporation vs.DTC Mazdoor Union case 

Development of Natural Justice

     In earlier years, the rules are applicable only to judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings later, the Supreme Court have specifically held that the principle of natural justice is applicable also in administrative proceedings. The court held that violation of the rules of natural justice amounts to jurisdictional error.

The first case in which the concept of PNJ was introduced was Mohinder Singh vs. Chief Election Commissioner, the concept of fairness should be in every action whether it is judicial or quasi-judicial, administrative or quasi-administrative work.

      The principle of natural justice based on two rules:

            1. Rule against Bias

            2. Rule of Audi alteram partem.

These rules may be the reasons for not giving a standard definition of principles of natural justice.

  1. Rule against Bias: It is rule against bias and based on maxims Nemo debut ease judex no propria causa means no man shall be a judge in his own cause and Nemo judex in causa sua also means no man should be a judge in his own case. This maxim applies where justice must not merely be done, but appear to be done manifestly and undoubtedly. Judges should be above suspicion. Bias should be distinguished from malafide and prejudice.

The doctrine of bias categorised into 3types:

                     * Personal Bias

       BIAS: –  * Pecuniary Bias

                     * Bias as to subject matter                             

  • Personal Bias: It means a judgement or an order passed in the favour of personal feeling or family, friends etc (or) against party, enemies, in the feeling of jealous and hatred. 

Case law: A.K.Kraipak vs. Union of India,1969, in this case the petitioner was a candidate for              the selection of some posts in AIFS. A special selection board was constituted under Indian Forest Service. Here one member of the board was himself a candidate for selection. He had taken part in selection of other candidates including his rival candidates but he didn’t act as member of board while his own selection. The petitioner contended that the selection is based on likelihood bias.

  • Pecuniary Bias: A judgement given due to the financial interest of the judge connected to that case. Pecuniary interest may be a small amount it should be taken as a valid ground. Though the government give permission to continue as a judge to a person in which case he is a party, the judge must serve judgment on the rules of principles of natural justice. If any judge deliver judgement in his or her favour, it should be void.

Case laws: Dimes vs. Grand Junction canal co, 1852 and RC Cooper vs. Union of India, 1970.

  • Bias as to subject matter: When a judge has general interest or negative opinion on any subject matter. It means that a judge is himself a party or has some direct connection with the litigation, so as to constituted a legal interest.

Case law: G.N.Rao vs. AP State Road Ways Transport Corporation.

  1. Rule of Fair Hearing or Audi Alteram Partem: It is based on the maxim Audi Alteram Partem which means, no man should be punished or condemned unheard. This envisages that the right to be heard must be effective and adequate. Before passing any judgement both the parties have the right to be heard. No party should suffer without fair hearing.

The two incidents are well settled in this rule: 

  1. Notice                  
  2. Fair Hearing.           
  3. Notice: It is an essential of right to fair hearing. A notice to be served before taking any charges or proceedings against a person. Any proceedings taken without notice would be against the principles of natural justice. Notice with vague allegation is a defective notice and hence invalid held in S.R.SHARMA VS.STATE OF U.P.
  1. Fair Hearing: It is an essential aspect of administrative and quasi-judicial proceedings. Any order passed without opportunity of being heard is illegal and must be set aside. The opportunity of hearing has two elements:- 
  • opportunity must be given and,
  • Opportunity given must be adequate and reasonable.

The object of fair hearing is to provide opportunity to raise the evidence and authority to receive all relevant evidence.

Exceptions under Article 311(2): 

      This clause says that dismissal or removal or reduces in rank, further that this clause shall not apply;

  • Where a person is dismissed on the ground of any criminal charge, or
  • Where the removal of a person by the authority is satisfied for some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry,
  • Where the removal related to the security of the state.

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