Natural Justice

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PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL JUSTICE
Lecture delivered by Justice T.S.Sivagnanam

at Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy on 01.06.2009 to the newly recruited Civil Judges (JR Division) during Induction Programme 2009 All of you who have assembled here have been newly Inducted in to the Judicial Family. There lies an onerous responsibility on each one of you to carry forward your office with dignity and decorum. The post of Civil Judge Junior Division is the foundation of our Judicial Structure. It is common knowledge that unless the foundation is strong and firm, one cannot raise a tall edifice on it. The Subordinate Judiciary is the root of our Judicial system and each one of you should strive hard to inspire confidence in the society that they would get Justice. With these words let me proceed to the topic for the day. The Judicial Academy has classified the subject allotted under the head - General Topics. Though I may not strictly agree with such classification, it is to be noted that though the topic would appear to be general in nature, its roots are deeply embedded and its forms the basis for administration of Justice which is so essential to preserve social order and security. I am aware of the nature of litigation which would be assigned to a Civil Judge Junior Division and it is all the more essential that all of you observe the principle in both your Judicial as well as your Administrative work. For the sake of convenience I propose to analyze the topic – Principle of Natural Justice under the following heads. 1. The Principle and its essential elements 2. How the name came ? 3. How it developed over the years ? 4. How and where it has to be applied ?

2 1. The Principle and essential elements of Natural Justice: In a famous English decision in Abbott vs. Sullivan reported in (1952) 1 K.B.189 at 195 it is stated that “the Principles of Natural Justice are easy to proclaim, but their precise extent is far less easy to define”. It has been stated that there is no single definition of Natural Justice and it is only possible to enumerate with some certainty the main principles. During the earlier days the expression natural Justice was often used interchangeably with the expression natural Law, but in the recent times a restricted meaning has been given to describe certain rules of Judicial Procedure. There are several decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court which I shall refer at the appropriate place and these Judgments are sufficient to summarize and explain the two essential elements of Natural Justice namely a. No man shall be Judge in his own cause b. Both sides shall be heard, or audi alteram partem The other principles which have been stated to constitute elements of Natural Justice are i. The parties to a proceedings must have due notice of when the Court / Tribunal will proceed ii. The Court / Tribunal must act honestly and impartially and not under the dictation of other persons to whom authority is not given by Law These two elements are extensions or refinements of the two main principles stated above. 2. How the expression Natural Justice came ? We have seen the essential elements of Natural Justice and its extensions or refinements. In Maclean vs. The Workers Union (1929) 1 Ch. 602, 624 it has been stated as follows.

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“The phrase is, of course, used only in a popular sense and must not be taken to mean that there is any justice natural among men. Among most savages there is no such thing as Justice in the modern sense. In ancient days a person wronged executed his own justice. Amongst our own ancestors, down to the thirteenth century, manifest felony, such as that of a manslayer taken with his weapon, or a thief with the stolen goods, might be punished by summary execution without any form of trial. Again, every student has heard of compurgation and of ordeal; and it is hardly necessary to observe that (for example) a system of ordeal by water in which sinking was the sign of innocence and...
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