Case Comment Presentation
A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India,
AIR 1970 SC 150. 171
By: Aayushi G Thandassery
BA LLB(H) SEMESTER-7
Natural Justice is the set of fundamental rules which governs the adjudicatory functions
under the Anglo-American Jurisprudence which is also followed in India.
This concept is so basic that every authority discharging judicial or quasi-judicial
functions must follow these rules.
“Nemo judex in causa sua” means that no one can be judge in “one’s own case” means a
case in which one is interested i.e., a case in the outcome of which one is interested. A
person may be interested in a case in many different ways. Therefore, he will be
prejudiced in many ways. Prejudiced means arriving at a decision before hearing a case.
In other words, before hearing the case itself the person will have made up his mind to
decide the case in one way or the other instead of arriving at a decision after hearing the
case. Depending upon different type of interest a person may have in the case, there are
different types of bias which are: personal bias, pecuniary bias, bias as to subject matter,
departmental bias and pre-conceived notion bias.
When the deciding authority himself is a party or is related to one of the parties it is called
In the case of A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India , AIR1970SC150
Here in this case : A.K. Kraipak is the appellant
: Union of India is the respondent
• In 1966, a service called the Indian Forest Service was constituted, the selection for
which was to be made from among the officers serving in the forest department of the
• In this case, Naquishbund, who was acting Chief Conservator of Forests, was a member
of this selection board and was also a candidate for the selection to the All India Cadre
of Forest Service.
• Though he did not take part in the deliberations of the board, when his name was
considered and approved.
• Aggrieved, the Gazetted officers association, J&K along with the interested parties
brought a petition to court challenging the selections notified as being violative of
Article 14 and 16 of constitution and further ground that the selections in question were
made in contraventions of principles of natural justice.
The question before the court was :
I. Assuming that the proceedings in the present case are
administrative in nature, whether the principles of natural justice
applied to administrative proceedings?
II. Whether there was violation of such principles of natural justice?
The court held that the selections made by the Selection Committee were in violation of the
principles of natural justice because there was a real likelihood of a bias for the mere presence
of the candidate on the Selection Board may adversely influence the judgement of other
members. Long with it court further added:
The rules of natural justice are embodied rules and their aim is to secure justice or to
prevent miscarriage justice. If that is their purpose, there is no reason why they should not
be made applicable to administrative proceedings also.
The Supreme court held that though the action of making selection for government service
is administrative, yet the selection committee is under a duty to act judicially.
The court found that the power exercised by the Selection board as an administrative one
and tested the validity of the selection on that basis. It was held that the concept of rule of
law would lose its importance if the instrumentalities of the state are not charged with the
duty of discharging their functions in a fair and just manner in a welfare state like India,
where the jurisdiction of the administrative bodies is increasing at a rapid rate.
The court held that the basic principle of “nemo judex in causa sua” was violated by
appointing Naquishband as a member of the selection board. Though he did not
participate in the deliberations of the board when his name was being considered yet the
very fact that he was a member of the selection board and that too holding the post of t
he chairman had a significant impact on the decisions of the selection board. Also he
participated in the deliberations when the claims of his rivals i.e., Basu, Baig and Kaul
were considered. He was also present when the list of selected candidates in order of
preference was being made. Hence it was very clear that from the very inception of the
selection process, at every stage of his participation in the selection process, there was a
conflict between his interest and duty. Under such circumstances, the court could not
believe that Naquishbund could have been unbiased.
In this case, for the first time, without the assistance of any foreign judgement, the
Supreme court had decided that principles of natural justice were applicable not only to
judicial functions but also to administrative functions.
This case makes it clear that impartiality in adjudication is required not only
in judicial decision but also in administrative matters. The principle of
natural justice would apply on administrative functions also and struck down
the selection process on ground of violation of principles of natural justice.
It was held that the selections made by the selection committee were in
violation of principles of natural justice
The petitioners were finally entitled to the benefit and the court finally decided to set
aside the impugned selection. The court decided it on taking into consideration all
the fact and circumstances of the case. The court held that the aim of the rule of
natural justice is to secure justice and to put it negatively to prevent miscarriage of
justice. The court held that, often it is not easy to draw the line that demarcates
administrative enquiries from quasi-judicial. Enquiries which were considered
administrative at one time are now being considered as quasi-judicial in character. It
was also held that a person cannot be a judge in his own case, is a circumstance
which is abhorrent to our concept of justice. So on that very point it was said that a
person who is a member of the selection board cannot be the person considered for
‘Nemo debet esse judex propria causa’