Natural Justice

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Natural Justice - Rule Of Fair Hearing
INTRODUCTION.
In India, there is no particular statute, laying down the minimum standard, which the administrative bodies must follow while exercising their decision making powers. There is, therefore, a bewildering variety of administrative procedure. In some cases, the administrative procedure is controlled by the statute under which they exercise their powers1. But in some cases, the administrative agencies are left free to device their own procedure2. But the courts have several times reiterated that the administrative agencies must follow a minimum of fair procedure, while exercising their powers. This fair procedure is called the principles of natural justice. The principles of natural justice have been developed by the courts, in order to secure fairness in the exercise of the powers by the administrative agencies. The principles of natural justice are the Common Law counterpart of the ‘due process of law’ in the Constitution of the United States. However wide the powers of the state and however extensive discretion they confer, the administrative agencies are always under the obligation to follow a manner that is procedurally fair. In a case before the United States Supreme Court, a JACKSON J. said: ‘Procedural fairness and regularity are of the indispensable essence of liberty. Severe substantive laws can be endured if they are fairly and impartially applied’3. ‘The doctrine of natural justice seeks not only to secure justice but also to prevent miscarriage of justice’4. The norms of natural justice are based on two ideas: 1. audi alteram partem,- the person, who has to be effected by a decision has a right to be heard; and 2. nemo judex in re sua – the authority deciding the matter should be free from bias.  However the applicability of the principles of natural justice depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case5. In India, the Supreme Court has reiterated that the principles of natural justice are neither rigid nor they can be put in a straight jacket but are flexible. In the case of R. S. Dass v. Union of India6 , the Supreme Court observed that: “It is well established that rules of natural justice are not rigid rules, they are flexible and their application depends upon the setting and background of statutory provisions, nature of the right which may be affected and the consequences which may entail, its application depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case”. The reason for the flexibility of natural justice is that the concept is applied to a wide spectrum of the decision-making bodies. The project focuses on the rule of fair hearing, which is one of the essential rules of the Natural Justice. NATURAL JUSTICE AND ITS ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS.

The principles of natural justice have been developed and followed by the judiciary to protect the right of the public against the arbitrariness of the administrative authorities. Natural Justice implies fairness, reasonableness, equity and equality. It is the concept of the Common Law, which stands on the same footing as the concept of “procedural due process” of America. According to HEGDE J., the aim of natural justice is to secure justice; to prevent miscarriage of justice and to give protection to the public against the arbitrariness. * Roman law. In Roman law the concept of natural justice consists of two essential rules: 1. audi alteram partem,- the person, who has to be effected by a decision has a right to be heard; and 2. nemo judex in re sua – the authority deciding the matter should be free from bias.  * Common law. From the medieval era, the English Common Law consists of the principles of natural justice. The rules requiring impartial adjudications and fair hearings can be traced back to the medieval precedents and indeed they were not unknown in the ancient world. In Dr. Bonham's Case (1610)7, COKE J. held that an Act of the Parliament is void if it makes a person judge in his own...
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