The concept of ‘Principles of Natural Justice’ were derived from the Romans who believed that some Legal Principles need not require a statutory basis but that principles are ‘Natural’ and ‘Self-evident’. Almost all the Judicial and Quasi-Judicial authorities usually adopt this concept before reaching to the judgment of the deciding case.
MEANING OF NATURAL JUSTICE:
The ‘Natural Justice’ implies fairness, reasonableness, equity and equality. The expression ‘Natural Justice’ is nothing but Justice based upon innates moral feelings of the mankind. Though there is no particular definition has been given but the basic requirements of the natural justice are well known and have been repeatedly affirmed by the Courts of highest authority. ‘Natural Justice’ is also an expression of art that denotes of specific procedural rights in English legal system and systems of other nations based on it, while most of the times the term ‘Natural Justice’ is replaced and extended by the general duty to act fairly and impartially. The term ‘Natural Justice’ can be defined in the following ways such as:
1. ‘Natural Justice’ is a Universal Justice.
2. ‘Natural Justice’ is the administration of justice.
3. ‘Natural Justice’ is natural sense of what is right and wrong.
4. ‘Natural Justice’ is a fundamental justice.
5. ‘Natural Justice’ is a duty to act impartially and action should be taken fairly.
6. ‘Natural Justice’ means to act fairly, bona- fidely, without bias and in judicial temper.
Essential Features of Natural Justice:
The law requires fairness from a person exercising an administrative power. This is not something that can be set down in anticipation or in a fixed body of rules, as what is fair in any given situation depends on the circumstances. The main features of Natural Justice are as follows:
1. The right to be heard by an unbiased Tribunal
2. The right to have notice of charges of misconduct,
3. The right to be heard in answer to that charge
AIM AND OBJECTS OF NATURAL JUSTICE:
1. The main aim of the ‘Natural Justice’ is to prevent mis-carriage of justice.
2. To provide a person opportunity of being heard before passing the final order of the case.
3. There should not be involvement of any kind of bias among the judges while deciding the matter.
What exactly are these principles?
Basically, these are principles, which are necessary for a just and fair decision-making. These principles are often embedded in the rules of procedure, which govern the judiciary. For example, the Civil Procedure Code prescribes a detailed procedure under which the Defendant has the right to reply to the Plaint; both sides have the right to inspect the documents relied upon by the other side and both sides have the right to cross-examine one another’s witnesses. The judgment must give reasons for the decision.
PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL JUSTICE:
The concepts of social and economic justice that can be seen in the Preamble of the Constitution are based on the principles of natural justice. Article 311 incorporates many of the features of the natural justice without explicitly mentioning it. Violation of natural justice is equal to violation of Equality of the Article 14.
The ‘Principles of Natural Justice’ (PNJ) are those rules, which have been laid down by the courts as being the minimum protection of the rights of the individuals against the arbitrary procedure that may be adopted by a judicial and quasi- judicial authority while making an order affecting those rights. These rules are intended to prevent such authority from doing injustice.
An adjudicating authority must act impartially and Principles of Natural Justice to be adopted before reaching to the judgment of any case. The principles of Natural Justice includes certain rules are as follows:
1. No man should be condemned unheard whereas party should be given a right to be heard.
2. No man shall be a judge in his own cause.
3. A party is entitled to know the reasons for decision.
4. Making available to parties to a statutory enquiry into the matter of dispute.
All the above stated Principles of Natural Justice concern about the procedural fairness that protects rights of individuals and enhances public confidence in the process. In English jurisprudence Principles of Natural Justice consists of two elements which are in Latin Maxims but simple are as follows:
a) Doctrine of Audi Alteram Partem:
It means hear the other side or no men should be condemned unheard. Whenever a case comes before adjudicating body, each party or individual must be given a fair opportunity to present his case and both the parties should be heard fairly so that no man should be penalized by a decision affecting his fundamental rights.
The authoritative body while deciding the matter must act fairly and in a bona- fide manner by giving an opportunity to both the parties to present their case so that no party will be condemned unheard’ The Doctrine of Audi Alteram Partem or the right of fair hearing includes certain essential elements which are as follows:
1. Prior notice of the hearing.
2. The opportunity to be heard.
3. The conduct of the hearing.
4. The right to legal representation.
5. The decision and reason for it
There are also exceptions to the doctrine of Audi Alteram Partem. In the cases of urgency, post decision hearings and where no prejudice has been caused by the person action can be taken without a hearing.
b) Doctrine of Nemo Debet Ersse judex in Propria Causa:
A fair and impartial hearing is at the root of this principle.
It means rule against bias or no man judge of his own cause. Bias is a predisposition or an influence or unfairly opinion that prevents a person from impartially evaluating the facts, which were presented for determination. A decision maker of the case must act impartially and in an unbiased manner.
The two essential aspects of the rule against bias are that a person or judge while adjudicating the matter or any litigation must have no pecuniary interest in the outcome of the proceedings. An adjudicating body should not hear the case of a company in which case he is also one of the parties of a dispute.
The term bias can be in the form of actual bias, imputed bias and apparent bias. The ‘Actual Bias’ is established where the Adjudicating Authority was influenced in favour or against one of the party of the case. The ‘Imputed Bias’ is established where the Adjudicating Authority is one of the party to a suit and having a pecuniary interest in the outcome of the decision. The ‘Apparent Bias’ is established where Adjudicating Authority is neither a party to a suit nor influenced by any of the party to a dispute but it is the conduct and behavior of the decision maker, which leads to degree of suspicion that proves the apparent biased.