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Principles of Natural Justice - Consequences if not followed

Natural Justice is an important concept in administrative law. The principles of natural justice of fundamental rules of procedure is the preliminary basis of a good administrative set up of any country.

Principles of Natural Justice

Image Credits © Michael Ferguson

In India it was laid down by the Supreme Court in one case that administrative Tribunals and Quasi-Judicial bodies are not required to adhere to the rules of evidence or to other court procedure is fairly established.

In another case, the Supreme Court again pointed out that the rules of natural justice vary with varying constitution of statutory bodies and the rules prescribed by the legislature and that the question whether in a particular case they have been contravened must be judged not by any preconceived notion of what they may be but in the light of the relevant Act.

square Basic Postulates of Principle of Natural Justice ↓

In order to satisfy the test of "fair hearing" the following is important :-

  1. Nemo Judex in cause sua (The adjudicator must be disinterested and unbiased.)
  2. Audi alteram partem (The parties must be given adequate notice and opportunity to be head) are the important aspects in functioning of judicial, quasi-judicial bodies like tribunals, etc.

In English law, the rules of natural justice perform similar functions as is performed by the "due process" clauses of 14th Amendment of the constitution of USA.

The English lawyers took a close relationship in common law and moral principles. Therefore committee on Administrative Tribunals and Enquiries also known as Frank Committee concealed that it would be a mistake to introduce strict rules of evidence of courts into proceedings before the administration tribunals.

square Violation of Rule of Natural Justice ↓

The violation of rules of Natural Justice generally happens either due to :-

  1. Excess of Jurisdiction or
  2. Lack of Jurisdiction.

square Norms of Natural Justice ↓

The Frank Committee also laid down the following norms of natural justice :-

  1. No man shall be condemned unheard.
  2. No man shall be a Judge in his own cause, and
  3. A party is entitled to know the reasons for the decision.
  4. A fourth possible principal norm is the making available to parties to a statutory enquiry.

square Legal Consequences and Implications If Principles of Natural Justice are not followed ↓

The most frequent cause of judicial interference with the exercise of judicial and quasi-judicial powers is a disregard of what are known as the "rules of natural justice". These rules do not require that the proceeding of an administrative court must be conducted as in a court of law or in accordance with strict rules of evidence, but they seek to ensure that justice shall be done.

Natural justice is name given to certain fundamental rules which are so necessary to the administrative sphere.

There are some essentials of the concept of natural justice. They are as follows :-

  1. An impartial Tribunal,
  2. Notice,
  3. Orderly course of justice and
  4. Opportunity to be heard.

The right of a person to be given a hearing before he suffers in some way under the official rod, is a vital principle which, if only the judges themselves would apply it constituently would soon achieve recognition in every branch of Government activity.

For countries like India, What is the "Procedure" established by saw (clause has been inserted in the constitution). It is said that the scope of natural justice has been belittled, because the clause tied down the broad interpretation of the term law which is possible only under the clause "due process of law" that is recognised in United States of America.

These rules provide a fair play which is the peg to good administration. If these rules are denied in the sphere of administration it should turn to be arbitray and oppressive. Influenced by these considerations.

Prof. Wade in his book "Administrative Law" wrote, "Just as the broad constitution in the United States for the imposition of a general standard of justice, so in England the concept of "Natural Justice" should provide the foundation on which the principle of good administration should rest".

Since the functions, of the state have multiplied enormously, the ambit of the rule of law has also been enlarged. It has become necessary that the ubiquitous authority of the state manifested in myriad fields must also be subject to imitations consequently, even in the realm of administrative action same safeguards and restraints have been evolved and infringement of the same renders the action void. (Yadav Medical Stores, Allahabad Vs. State of U. P. an others. AIR 1981, All. 139).

It is unwritten rule of law, constitutional and administrative, that whenever a decision making function is entrusted to the subjective, that whenever a decision making function is entrusted to the subjective satisfaction of a statutory functionary, there is an implicit obligation to apply his mind to pertinent and proximate matters only, eschewing the irrelevant and remote, where there is further an express statutory obligation or communicate not merely the decision but also the grounds on which the decision is founded, is a necessary corollary that the grounds communicated, i.e. the rounds so made known, should be seen to pertain to pertinent and proximate matters and should comprise all the constituent facts and materials that went in to make up the mind of the statutory functionary and not merely the inferential conclusions. The devision to detain a person depends on the subjective satisfaction of the detaining authority. The constitution and the statute case a duty on the detaining authority to communicate the grounds of detention to the detenu. Therefore the grounds communicated to the detenu must reveal the whole of the factual material considered to the detenu must reveal the whole of the factual material considered by the detaining authority and not merely the inferences of fact arrived at by the detaining authority and secondly, an opportunity to make a representation against the order of detention. (Smt. Salini Soni Vs. Union of India and Others A.I.R. 1981 S.C. 431.)

It was held by the Supreme Court in Amrik Singh & Other Vs. Union of India (A.I.R. 1980 S. C. 1447) case that "a rule must contain guidelines and the Govt. must be satisfied," not to subjectively but objectively that any rule or regulation affecting the conditions of service of a member of the All India Service causes undue hardship than the iniquitious consequences there of may be relieved against by relaxation of the concern rule or regulation.

The relaxations must be provided in dealting with the case in just and equitable manners to avoid hardship. It is so that it can be said that those are the perfect guidelines what is more, there is implicit in the rules, the compliance with natural justice that nobody may by adversely affected even by the administrative action without hearing.

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