Wednesday, 29 August 2012


(Natural Justice is another name of common-sense Justice)

In India there is no statute laying down the minimum procedure which administrative agencies must follow while exercising decision-making powers. This  minimum fair procedure refers to the principles of natural justice. 

Natural justice is a concept of  common law and represents  higher procedural principles developed by the courts, which every judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative agency must follow while taking any decision adversely affecting the rights of a private individual.

Natural justice implies fairness, equity and equality.

The principle of natural justice encompasses following two rules: -

  • Nemo judex in causa sua - No one should be made a judge in his own cause or the rule against bias.
  • Audi alteram partem - Hear the other party or the rule of fair hearing or the rule that no one should be condemned unheard.

The other principle which has been stated to constitute elements of Natural Justice is:
The Court / Tribunal must act honestly and impartially and not under the dictation of other persons to whom authority is not given by Law.

No one should be made a judge in his own cause…….

‘Judges, like Caesar’s wife, should be above suspicion. The Principle is not confined merely to the case where the Judge is an actual party to a cause, but applies to a cause in which he has an interest. An “Interest”, has been defined as a legal interest or a pecuniary interest and is to be distinguished from “favour”. Such an interest will disqualify a Judge. The interest (or bias) which disqualifies must be one in the matter to be litigated. A mere general interest in the general object to be pursued will not disqualify a magistrate. The interest or bias which disqualifies is an interest in the particular case, something reasonably likely to bias or influence the minds of the magistrates in the particular case. The Law in laying down this strict rule has regard, not to the motive which might bias the Judge but it is to promote the feeling of confidence in the administration of Justice. ’ (Lecture delivered by Justice T.S.Sivagnanam at Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy on 01.06.2009to the newly recruited Civil Judges (JR Division) during Induction Programme 2009)


When there is a face off between a deciding or authoritative party and someone who is either on his side or against him, there occurs something called personal bias that may either be positive or negative in its effect.
This sort of bias is characteristic of judge-witness, prosecutor-judge, and judge-witness-prosecutor combinations.
An illustration would be Mineral Development Corporation Ltd. V State of Bihar, the Court quashed the Government’s notification that cancelled the petitioners mining license as there was political rivalry between the minister and the petitioners in a previous criminal case.

When an adjudicating body has any financial interest, even to a very paltry extent, its decision would be subject to the suspicion of pecuniary bias.

The subject of this project, official bias, has often emerged as a matter of dispute in many cases both in India and other countries as well. Official bias is, in most cases, characteristic of disputes in administrative activities, where the judging authority has sizeable interest in the prosecution.
Gullapalli Nagesh Rao v APSRTC, where the government nationalised road transport. The contention of bias was rooted on the fact that the Secretary of Road Transport Department who heard the matter was biased as he was in charge of commencing the scheme as well as adjudging its prudence.

Prejudgment of issues:
A person who made a prior statement on the subject matter can not be a judge on disputes on the same subject matter.

  •  Right to notice.(Time, place and nature of hearing, Legal authority under which hearing is to be held, Statements of specific charges which the person has to meet.)
  • Right to know the evidence against him.
  • Right to present case and evidence.
  • Right to cross-examination.
  • Right to counsel.

Some Exceptions to the Rule of Right to be Heard
Some exceptions to the rule of fair hearing as recognised by courts are as follows:
  • Public Interest:: Where defence and state secrets are involved.
  • Emergency: Urgency is pleaded as an excuse for not complying the principles of Natural Justice.
  • Impracticability: In extreme situations it may highly impracticable to comply the rules. In Radha Krishna V. Osmaina University (AIR 1974) the decision of the university cancelling the entire MBA examination on the reason of mass copying with out hearing students held valid.

In this context, it is pertinent to note Article 14 in The Constitution Of India 1949:
The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.)


No comments:

Post a Comment