Principles of Natural Justice under the administrative law

Principles of Natural Justice under the administrative law

Introduction :The problem facing the various subjects in this administrative age of the government is to subject the administration to certain broad limitations so that the wide powers may be conferred on it are exercised properly. Natural justice is thus one of the techniques followed by the courts reviewing the actions of administration.

Definition : According to justice S.M sikri, Natural justice is the piece of rule of law.[1]

Justice Hedge had expressed his views on natural justice – ‘The aim of the rule of natural justice is to secure justice or to put it negatively to prevent miscarriage of justice. The rules can be supplemented by the law but cannot supplement it.[2].

In the case of Meneka Gandhi vs Union of India ; it was held by the supreme court that “Natural. Justice is an essential apart of philosophy of law .

There is nothing rigid or mechanical about it .Any analysis must bring into relief rather than the spirit and then inspiration, then any precision of definition or precision as to application.

Again in National textile workers union vs P.R ram krishnan[3]. Natural justice is not exclusively a principle of administrative law .It is universal principle of law

Principles of Natural justice :

The principles of Natural justice are :

Nemo judex in causa suo : No one should be made a judge in own case 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. ”

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The above mentioned principles are elaborated below :

Rule against bias – “Bias” means an operative prejudice whether conscious or unconscious in relation to a party or issue, therefore the rule against bias strikes against those factors which may improperly influence a judge in arriving at a decision on any particular case. The requisite of this principle is that the judge must be impartial and must decide the case objectively on the basis of evidence on record. In Ashok Kumar Yadav vs state of Haryana [4]it was held by the supreme court that “ it is also important to note that this rule is not confined to cases where judicial powers in the strict sense is exercised. There are the following varieties of bias –

Personal bias — It arises from a certain relationship equation between deciding authority and the parties which incline him unfavorably or otherwise on the side of one of the parties before him .In A.P.S.R.T.C B’s satyanarain transport Ltd .AIR 1965

, the petitioner challenged the action of the state government nationalising road transport on the ground of personal bias. In this case the minister who heard the objections of the private bus owners had asked the petitioner to persuade the members if the Congress party to vote for him in the elections. The petitioner inspite his efforts did not succeed as a result of which the minister lost the election.

Pecuniary bias – The judicial approach is united and decisive on the point that any financial interest, however small it may be would vitiate administrative action.

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Subject- matter bias – The cases which fall under this category are where the deciding officer is directly or otherwise involved in the subject matter of the case . In murlidhar vs kadam singh AIR 1954

Departmental bias : The departmental bias is something which is inborn in the administrative process , and if it is not effectively checked , it may negate the very concept of fairness in the administrative proceedings .

In G.Nageshwara Rao vs A.P. S.R.T.C AIR 1959 in this case the court quashed the order on the ground that under the circumstance , the secretary was biased and hence no fair hearing could be expected.

2) Audi Alteram parten : This is the second long arm of the natural justice which protects the ‘little man ‘ from arbitrary administrative actions whenever his right to person or property is jeopardised.

The expression “ Audi Alteram partem simply implies that a person must be given an opportunity to defend himself . The following are the rules of Audi Alteram partem :

Right to notice : Notice is the beginning of stage of any hearing .Unless a person knows how to formulate the subjects and issues involved in the case he cannot defend himself. Generally the notice to be adequate must contain the following :

• Time , place , and nature of hearing must be duly stated .

• Legal authority under which hearing is to be held .

• Statement of specific charges which the person has to fulfill.

Right to present case and evidence : The adjudicatory authority should accord reasonable opportunity to the party to present his case.

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In A.k Roy vs Union of India [5]

the supreme court held , the detenue desires to examine any witnesses, he shall have to keep them present at the appointed time and no obligation can be cast on the advisory board to summon them.the board can also limit the time within which the detenue must complete his evidence.

Report of the enquiry to be shown to the other party: it is the established rule of Natural justice that the report of the enquiry is to be shown to the other party. In England as a matter of practice the report of an equiry is usually shown to the other party.

In Suresh kashty vs University of Kerela[6] the court considered the question of showing report of enquiry and gave a diluted decision holding that since the copy of the report was not specifically asked for , there was no breach of natural justice .

Rule against dictation : any administrative authority invested with the power of decision making must exercise this power in exercise of its own judgement.The decision must be actually of the one who decides.

Exceptions to Audi Alteram partem:

• Where the functions of the authority concerned are held to be policy oriented

• Where the authority concerned is vested with wide discretion.

Author: Harshita Swami,
Guwahati University BALLB 9 th sem

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