It is the first principle of civilized jurisprudence that person against whom an action is sought to be taken, or whose right or interest is being affected, should be given a reasonable opportunity to defend himself.
The main question regarding this is what are the components of fair hearing?
There is no uniform body of procedural norms to be followed by adjudicatory bodies.These norms may vary from a mere written submission by the affected person to a full-fledged hearing. Hearing involves a number of stages and it will be convenient to see what the position is with respect to each of these.
Generally hearing involves following stages:
- Hearing: A hearing to be fair must fulfill several conditions-
- Receiving evidence produced by the individual
- Disclosure of materials to the party
- Opportunity to cross-examine witnesses
- Right of counsel
- Reasoned Decisions
A basic principle of natural justice is that before adjudication starts, the authority concerned should give to the affected party a notice of the case against him so that he may adequately defend himself. Any proceeding taken without notice violate natural justice. It is the sine qua non of fair hearing.
Oral hearing is not regarded as an essential part of natural justice that in every case there should be oral hearing. Natural justice does not necessarily predicate an oral hearing unless the context requires otherwise.
Right of counsel
This right is generally denied in administrative law in India and it is justified on the ground that it saves expenses and thus protects the poor against the rich, reduces delay, and prevents the proceedings from being formalized and technical. But it is permitted in exceptional cases.
Until a few years back, it was thought that the requirement for adjudicatory bodies to give reasons for their decisions was not a part of natural justice and, accordingly, adjudicatory bodies were not obliged to give reasons in support of their decisions.
But after the decision of Maneka Gandhi’s case it is now settled law of the land that it is necessary to give reasons for decision of the case.
Thus audi alteram partem is an integral part of Natural justice. Denial of this right amounts to violation of natural justice