Principle of Natural Justice
Author: Harshit Khandelwal
Principle of Natural Justice is extracted from the word ‘Jus Natural’ of the Roman law and it is related to Common law and moral principles but is not systematized. It is a law of nature which is not extracted from constitution or any statute. The principle of natural justice is adhered to by all the citizens of civilised State with Supreme significance. In the prehistoric days of fair practice, at the time when industrial areas ruled with a severe and rigid law to hire and fire, the Supreme court gave order with the passage of duration and establishment of social, justice and economy statutory protection for the workmen.
Natural justice clearly means to make a reasonable and sensible decision making procedure on a specific issue. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what is the rational decision but in the end, what matters is the course of action and who all are involved in taking the reasonable decision. It is not confined within the idea of ‘fairness’ it has divergent colours and shades which may vary from the context.
Basically, natural justice consists of 3 rules.
The initial one is “Hearing rule” which signifies that the party or person who is affected by the decision made by the jury of expert members should be given a fair opportunity to convey his point of view to guard himself.
Secondly, “Bias rule” normally conveys that panel of expert should not be biased while taking the decision. The decision should be given in a free and fair manner which can execute the rule of natural justice.
And lastly, “Reasoned Decision” which affirms that order, decision or judgement of the court given by the Presiding authorities with a valid and reasonable ground.
The concept of natural justice is a very old and it was originated at an early age. The people of Roman and Greek were also familiar with this concept. In the era of Kautilya, arthashastra and Adam were acknowledged the notion of natural justice. According to the Bible, in the case of Eve and Adam, when they ate the fruit of knowledge, they were debarred by the god. Before giving the sentence, Eve was given a fair chance to guard himself and the same procedure was followed in the case of Adam too.
Subsequently, the concept of natural justice was welcomed by the English jurist. The word natural justice is extracted from the Roman word ‘jus-naturale’ and ‘lex-naturale’ which planned the principles of natural justice, equity and natural law.
“Natural justice is a sense of what is wrong and what is right.”
In India, this notion was established at an early time. In the case of Mohinder Singh Gill vs. Chief Election Commissioner, the court held that the notion of fairness should be in every action whether it is judicial, quasi-judicial, administrative and or quasi-administrative work.
When it can be claimed ?
Natural justice can be claimed when acting judicially or quasi-judicial like panchayat and tribunals etc. as well. It incorporate the concept of fairness, basic moral principles and various different kinds of biases and why the natural justice is needed and what all special cases or situation it incorporate where the principles of natural justice will not be relevant.
In the case of the Province of Bombay vs. Khushaldas Advani, it was said that natural justice will be appropriate on statutory as it is a basic principle of Natural justice which leads to justice and fairness.
Effect of function
- Administrative action.
- Civil consequences.
- The doctrine of Legitimate exception.
- Fairness in action.
- Disciplinary proceeding.
In the case of Board of high school vs. Ghanshyam, a student was apprehended while cheating in the examination hall and was debarred for such an act. Supreme Court announced that student cannot file a Public Interest Litigation against the examination board.
Rules of Natural Justice
- NEMO JUDEX IN CAUSA SUA
- AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM
- REASONED DECISION
Nemo Judex In Causa Sua
“No one should be a judge in his own case” because it leads to rule of biases. Bias means an act which leads to prejudiced activity whether in a conscious or unconscious stage in connection to the party or a particular case. Therefore, the prerequisite of this rule is to make the judge unbiased and to pronounce judgement on the basis of evidence recorded as per the case.
Audi Alteram Partem
It merely includes three Latin words which generally means that no person can be punished or condemned by the court without having a fair chance of being heard.
The precise meaning of this rule is that both parties should be given a fair opportunity to present themselves with their relevant points and a fair trial should be conducted.
This is a prime rule of natural justice and its pure form is not to punish anyone without any valid and reasonable ground. Advance notice should be given to a person so that he can prepare to know what all charges are mounted against him. It is also known as a rule of fair hearing. The elements of fair hearing are not rigid or fixed in nature. It differ from case to case and authority to authority.
The principles of natural justice have been embraced and followed by the judiciary to safeguard public rights against the arbitrary decision by the administrative authority. One can easily see that the rule of natural justice incorporate the concept of fairness: they stay alive and support to protect the fair dealing.
So at all the phases of the procedure if any authority is given off the judicial function is not entirely welcomed but the main reason of the principal is to avert the miscarriage of justice. It is supreme to note that any decision or order which breaches the natural justice will be declared as null and void in nature, hence one must carry in mind that the principles of natural justice are crucial for any administrative settlement to be held justifiable.
The principle of natural justice is not limited to restrict walls the applicability of the principle but depends upon the attributes of jurisdiction, permit to the administrative authority and upon the nature of rights affected of the individual.
 Board of High School v Ghanshyam Air 1962 SC 1110