The principal of Natural Justice in administrative law with the help of various case laws



  1. Introduction
  2. Explanation of Natural Justice
  3. Role of Natural Justice in administrative law
  4. The exception of the principle of Natural Justice
  5. Effect of breach of Natural Justice
  6. Conclusion
  7. References



The concept of natural justice based on the view of the ethico-legal.  This ethico-legal is based on the feeling of human beings. Law and society can’t exist individually because they are connected with each other. Before the existence of society, the law prevails. As society became to exist the civilization took place, after that the nature of the law came into form as a rule of natural justice. It implies the rule of fairness and impartiality.

Presently, due to increasing the administrative procedure, the principle of natural justice plays an important role to control the fair procedure. The impact of natural justice in the administrative law is that it controls the abusing of power and provides benefits to people. In the case of King v. Chancellor, University of Cambridge, (1723) 1 Stra, 557, 567 Lordship observed that it is necessary to provide the provision of the right to a hearing; otherwise it will violate the principle of natural justice. The rule of Natural Justice promotes the interest of the people.

Explanation of Natural Justice

The ideal element in the administrative law is obeying the principle of natural justice. The word of Natural Justice also known as popular Natural Law, Fundamental Law, Universal Law, fair play in action. Natural Justice is the difference between legal justice. The principle of Natural Justice is the mother law which follows the other laws. Because legal justice follows the statue procedure where the principal of natural justice tries to be the fairness in law and procedure and also prevents the miscarriage of justice.  The natural law is giving justice to every citizen and it is also considered as a brunch of public law.

Natural law concepts came from the “Jus Natural”. According to De Smith, the principal of natural justice define the close relationship between the common and moral principal. There is no proper definition of Natural Justice. It ensures the fundamental liberty. It is a golden rule which describes the right and wrong procedure. According to Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the rule of law has its stamp on natural justice and it secures social justice. In the case of Franklin v. Minister of Town and Country Planning, 1948 AC 87 (HL), it was observed the in all the administrative order or procedure the principle of natural justice should be followed.


Role of Natural Justice in administrative law

In the administrative law, natural justice is the concept where administrative agencies making fairness rules forever individual. Fairness rules mean fair procedures. In another word rule of Fair procedure is bestowed on the legal maxims “Audi Alteram Partem”, which means hear both sides. Justice is not the same for everyone, because it depends on each and every circumstance. In the case of Union of India v. P.K. Roy, the court observed that justice is not a rigid formula that will be the same for everyone. The administrative authority should look into each and every circumstance than only a decision can be taken.

In the case of Maneka Gandhi vs. The Union of India, it was held that the law should be just fair and reasonable. Audi Alteram Partem is the basic principle of natural justice, which means no one shall be condemned unheard. This doctrine speaks that both the party have the right to speak. The decision should be given to listen to both parties. This maxis include two concepts, one notices and another is hearing. In this case, the affected party must be given the notice to present her view regarding the issues and will give his explanation. In this case, there must be a reasonable opportunity to be heard before any action is taken. If notice and hearing are not proper than imposing penalties will be invalid. And in the end, there will be a gross violation of justice. So, audi alteram partem is the fundamental principle to stop the miscarriage of justice. Natural Justice Principal based on the principle of the rule against biasness. The rule against biasness meaning administrative when will make any rules and taking any decision, at that point in time authority must be neutral and impartial. The rule against biasness based on two principles, those are-

  1. No man shall be a judge in his own case (Nemo Judex in Causa Sua); and
  2. Both sides must be heard (Audi Alteram Partem). In each and every case according to circumstance judges should be free from biasness. The judge should give judgment judiciously and objectively.

Biasness appears in various way, those are classified four ways:

  • Pecuniary Bias: If any authority taking any decision on the basis of his or her pecuniary interest than that decision will against the Natural Justice. Pecuniary Bias based on the principles that no person can judge his own case.
  • Personal Bias: Personal Bias means the judge can’t give any judgment which shows any favors his or her relatives, close person. The decision should be based on neutral ways.
  • Subject- matter Bias: In a case where the judge has the general interest on the subject matter of the case than at that point in time Subject matter biasness arises.
  • Departmental Bias: In the administrative process to take any decision person should take fair and neutral procedures. For taking any decision departmental bias should be avoided. So, for taking any decision and placing any judgment the administration should avoid the biasness and should be acting as judiciously. Biasness should be avoided each and every place.
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Reason decision:

Reasoned decisions also known as speaking orders. It is the third principle of natural justice. In other word reasoned decisions means to give justification on every decision. In a case, the party has right not only knows the decision taken by a judge but also has a right to know the reason for the support of decisions.

The main object of reasoned decisions is to give justice with a better explanation. The value of decision with reasonable explanation created the lack of use of arbitrariness on administrative power. It also creates an obligation on the judge to give a proper reason on the adjudicated matter. Recording reason is to create the right to appeal otherwise it will be a gross failure of justice. Reason recorded by the judicial authority is subjected to judicial review. So, a reasonable decision with an explanation is required. This is a cardinal principle of natural justice.

The exception of the principle of Natural Justice

In all administrative action principles of natural justice must be followed. But in certain circumstances the principle of natural justice not follows.  This exception can’t use as a strait-jacket in all circumstances. Those are respectively;

  1. In the statue, if any rules mention and the provision id slice about the principal of natural justice the court should follow this. But it is also mentioned that Parliament is not supreme to make all the statutory provisions because the statue passed by the parliament must be qualified for the constitutional test. So, the principle of natural justice is followed, when the court states that the statue qualified the constitutional test.
  2. In certain cases, legislation action is required to lay down rules and regulations. Like the example of price-fixing of any product. So, in that situation, the principle of natural justice is not followed by the legislative authority.
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III.             In an emergency situation where preventive action is required at that point in time the principal of natural justice not follow.

  1. In the interest of public safety, the public morality principle of natural justice not be invoked.
  2. If any student is removed from any educational institution on the ground of unsatisfactory performance at that point in time pre-decisional hearing is excluded.
  3. In the time of inter-disciplinary action, where disciplinary action is preventive in nature, the principle of natural justice will not be invoked.

VII.          In certain cases judiciary also not invoke the principle of natural justice. Like in the case of R. Radha Krishanan v. Osmania University AIR 1974 AP 283

, the court held that the M.B.A entrance exam was canceled because of the mass copying. So, there will no invocation of the right to heard.

VIII.       The termination of a contractual act will not invoke the principle of natural justice because it is not an administrative act and not and quasi-judicial act.

Effect of breach of Natural Justice

Natural justice is the soul of the laws, which protect everyone’s rights. The breach of natural justice is the golden threat overall laws. In India, the order passed by the court in the violation of natural justice will be void. Because the principles of natural justice have been adopted and followed by the judiciary to protect public rights against the arbitrary decision by the administrative authority. As a result, we can say that a breach of natural justice takes the right to fairness from the people. It will be called a miscarriage of justice. So, the principle of natural justice is essential for any administrative settlement.


Natural justice is one of the rules which follow universally to bring justice. It helps and brings justice in every matter. It is applicable in all laws. It helps the judges to take any decision. Not only judges but also quasi-judicial authority helps to make fair and reasonable procedure.  So, to bring justice and to prevent the miscarriage of justice following natural justice is required.


Author: Sonali Gorai,
Adamas University, 3rd Year/ Law Student (Pursuing BALLB(H))

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