Principles of Natural Justice


Principles of Natural Justice

Natural Justice in simple terms means the minimum standards or principles which the administrative authorities should follow in deciding matters which have the civil consequences.

There are mainly two Principles of Natural Justice which every administrative authority should follow, whether or not these are specifically provided in the relevant Acts or rules.

The two main Principles of Natural Justice are:

  • ‘Nemo judex in causa sua’. No one should be made a judge in his own case.
  • ‘Audi alteram partem’ means to hear the other party or no one should be condemned unheard.

 

The third principle of Natural Justice, which is also equally important is the no bias requirement – which means that the person making the decision in any case must act impartially when considering the matter, and must not have any relationships with anyone that could lead someone to reasonably doubt their impartiality.

Concept of Natural Justice

Natural Justice implies fairness, reasonableness, equity and equality. Natural Justice is a concept of Common Law and it is the Common Law world counterpart of the American concept of ‘procedural due process’.

Natural Justice represents higher procedural principles developed by judges which every administrative agency must follow in taking any decision adversely affecting the rights of a private individual.

Natural Justice meant many things to many writers, lawyers and systems of law. It is used interchangeably with Divine Law, Jus Gentium and the Common Law of the Nations. It is a concept of changing content. However, this does not mean that at a given time no fixed principles of Natural Justice can be identified.

The principles of Natural Justice through various decisions of courts can be easily ascertained, though their application in a given situation may depend on multifarious factors. In a Welfare State like India, the roles and jurisdiction of administrative agencies are increasing at a rapid pace.

The concept of Rule of Law would lose its validity if the instrumentality of the State are not charged with the duty of discharging these functions in a fair and just manner.

The expressions “natural justice,” “procedural fairness” and “administrative fairness” are sometimes used interchangeably, however, natural justice is the historical foundational concept that has been expanded to include the more modern principles of procedural fairness and administrative fairness.

Natural Justice & the Indian Constitution

The principles of natural justice are firmly grounded under various Article of the Constitution. With the introduction of the concept of substantive and procedural due process in Article – 21 of the Constitution all that fairness which is included in the principles of natural justice can be read into Article – 21 when a person is deprived of his life and personal liberty.

In other areas it is Article – 14 which incorporates the principles of natural justice. Article – 14 applies not only to discriminatory class legislation on but also to arbitrary or discriminatory State action. Because violation of natural justice results in arbitrariness therefore violation of natural justice is violation of Equality Clause of Article – 14.

Therefore, now the principle of natural justice cannot be wholly disregarded by law because this would violate the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles – 14 and 21 of the Constitution.


Questions

Define ‘Natural Justice’.

Natural Justice implies fairness, reasonableness, equity and equality.

What is the constitutional basis of the principles of Natural Justice.

Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution provide the strong basis of the principles of Natural Justice. Article – 14 bars arbitrary actions whereas Article – 21 provides for substantive and procedural fairness in matters which effect the life and liberty of individuals.

State two main principles of Natural Justice.

Two main principles of Natural Justice are
(i) No one should be the Judge in his/her own case and
(ii) each party should be given the opportunity to be heard.


Acknowledgement : This article is adapted from Swayam-NIOS course material.

Principles of Natural Justice LawMint For LLB and LLM students