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Principles of Natural Justice
Introduction
• Procedural fairness is regarded as an integral element of
administrative process and law.
• The principles of natural justice constitute an essential component of
procedural fairness.
• Natural justice comprises of two components. First is hearing, or the
doctrine of audi alteram partem, which means 'listen to the other
side'. The other is the doctrine of bias or nemo judex in re sua
meaning that a man should not be a judge in his own cause. The
maxim has come to mean that the deciding authority must be
impartial. Both are at times included in the term ‘fair hearing’.
Why Natural Justice assumes importance?
1. Natural Justice protects infringement of individual rights from
actions and inactions of administrative authorities.
2. By adhering to the principles, the administration gains a position of
fair institution.
Scenarios where P. of N.J. may be invoked
• Principles of natural justice are attracted whenever a person suffers a civil
consequence, or a prejudice is caused to him by any administrative action.
• More specifically, a person can claim fair hearing in the following cases:
i. Administrative action infringes any fundamental rights
ii. The parent statute under which the Administration proposes to take an action against a person may itself impose
expressly the requirement of hearing.
iii. Right of hearing is claimed in the residuary area, i.e. when it is not explicitly mentioned in the parent statute. (It
is here that the courts must play an active role. This is the point where the discussion over the difference
between quasi-judicial and judicial comes into play.)
iv. If the parent statute is silent / does not explicitly mention the requirement of fair hearing, then the courts need to
investigate what is the type of administrative action which has caused the infraction of civil rights of the
individual. If the administrative action is quasi-judicial (meaning of the term must be clarified) then natural
justice will become applicable. [Recent judicial approach has been that regardless of the fact whether the
administrative action is quasi-judicial or not, it must involve fairness. Reason for adopting this approach
is that difference between quasi-judicial and administrative is artificial formality.]
AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM
• It means that the party whose civil or fundamental rights are infringed is given an
opportunity to present her/his case. More importantly, the hearing should not be sham
but meaningful.
• Some of the components of fair hearing include:
i. Service of Notice, Sufficient time to Reply
ii. DISCLOSURE OF MATERIALS TO THE PARTY
iii. HEARING
iv. Right to rebut the evidence against him/Cross-examination
v. Legal representation
vi. Ex-parte evidence cannot be entertained without the knowledge of the party
vii. Right to receive evidence adduced by the other party
viii. Reasoned decision
ix. ONE WHO DECIDES MUST HEAR
x. DISCLOSURE OF THE HEARING/INQUIRY OFFICER'S REPORT
Important case laws on Audi Alterman Partem
1. R. v. University of Cambridge (also known as the Dr Bentley case), 93 ER 698
The Court of King's Bench held that the University of Cambridge could not cancel the
degree of a great but rebellious scholar without giving him an opportunity of defending
himself.
2. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of lndia, AIR 1978 SC 597
Mrs. Gandhi’s passport was impounded by the authorities. Under S. 10(5)of the Passport
Act, 1963, the authority is to record its reasons and furnish a copy of the same to the
concerned individual on demand while impounding his passport. The authority may
however refuse to give reasons in public interest among other grounds.
The SC observed that the Central Government was wholly unjustified in withholding the
reasons for impounding the passport of the petitioner, and in this way not only a breach of
statutory duty was committed but it also amounted to denial of an opportunity of hearing
to the petitioner.
NEMO JUDEX IN RE SUA
• The maxim nemo judex in re sua literally means that a man should not be a
judge in his own cause. The maxim has come to mean that the deciding
authority must be impartial. This is known as the rule against bias. The
principle that bias disqualifies an individual from acting as a judge flows
from the following two maxims:
(i) No one should be a judge in his own cause; and
(ii) Justice should not only be done but also seen to be done.
• Bias is usually of three kinds: (i) Pecuniary Bias; (ii) Personal Bias; and (iii)
Departmental or Policy Bias
Important case laws on Personal bias
1. Mineral Development Corpn. Ltd. v. State of Bihar, AIR 1960 SC 468
In this case, the petitioners were granted mining licence for 99 years in 1947. But in 1953, the Secretary of the Revenue Board sent a notice to the
petitioners to show cause within 15 days why the licence should not be cancelled for violations of Sections 10, 12 and 14 of the Mining Act, 1952.
The petitioners submitted a written reply denying the allegations. Two years later, the government issued a notification cancelling the licence. The
action of the government was challenged on the ground of personal bias. The facts relevant to personal bias before the court were
(1) that Raja Kamakhya Narain Singh, the owner of the Mineral Development Corporation Ltd., had opposed the Minister in the General Election
of 1952; and
(2) that the Minister had filed a criminal case under Section 5oo of the Penal Code, 1860 against the petitioner which was transferred by the Bihar
High Court to Delhi on the ground of political rivalry between the parties.
The court quashed the order of the government, among other grounds, on the ground of personal bias.
2. A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India, AlR 1970 SC I50
In this case, Naqishbund, who was the Acting Chief Conservator of Forests, was a member of the selection
board and also a candidate for selection to the All-India cadre of the Forest Service. Though he did not take
part in the deliberations of the board when his name was considered and approved, the Supreme Court held
that there was a real likelihood of bias, for the mere presence of the candidate on the selection board may
adversely influence the judgment of the other member.
Important case laws on Pecuniary bias
1. Jeejeebhoy v. Collector, AIR 1965 SC 1096
The Chief Justice reconstituted the Bench when it was found that one of the members of the Bench
was a member of the cooperative society for which the land had been acquired.
2. Visakapatnam Coop. Motor Transport Ltd. v. G. Bangaruraju, AIR 1953 Mad
709.
The Madras High Court also quashed the decision of the Collector who in his capacity as the
Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority had granted a permit in favour of a cooperative
society of which he was also the Chairman
Important case laws on Departmental bias
1. G. Nageswara Rao v. APSRTC, AIR 1959 SC 308
In this case, the petitioner challenged the order of the government
nationalising road transport. One of the grounds for challenge was that
the Secretary of the Transport Department who gave the hearing was
biased, being the person who initiated the scheme and also being the
head of the department, whose responsibility was to execute it.
The court quashed the order on the ground that, under the
circumstances, the Secretary was biased and, hence, no fair hearing
could be expected.

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Powerpoint presention on Principles of Natural Justice

  • 2. Introduction • Procedural fairness is regarded as an integral element of administrative process and law. • The principles of natural justice constitute an essential component of procedural fairness. • Natural justice comprises of two components. First is hearing, or the doctrine of audi alteram partem, which means 'listen to the other side'. The other is the doctrine of bias or nemo judex in re sua meaning that a man should not be a judge in his own cause. The maxim has come to mean that the deciding authority must be impartial. Both are at times included in the term ‘fair hearing’.
  • 3. Why Natural Justice assumes importance? 1. Natural Justice protects infringement of individual rights from actions and inactions of administrative authorities. 2. By adhering to the principles, the administration gains a position of fair institution.
  • 4. Scenarios where P. of N.J. may be invoked • Principles of natural justice are attracted whenever a person suffers a civil consequence, or a prejudice is caused to him by any administrative action. • More specifically, a person can claim fair hearing in the following cases: i. Administrative action infringes any fundamental rights ii. The parent statute under which the Administration proposes to take an action against a person may itself impose expressly the requirement of hearing. iii. Right of hearing is claimed in the residuary area, i.e. when it is not explicitly mentioned in the parent statute. (It is here that the courts must play an active role. This is the point where the discussion over the difference between quasi-judicial and judicial comes into play.) iv. If the parent statute is silent / does not explicitly mention the requirement of fair hearing, then the courts need to investigate what is the type of administrative action which has caused the infraction of civil rights of the individual. If the administrative action is quasi-judicial (meaning of the term must be clarified) then natural justice will become applicable. [Recent judicial approach has been that regardless of the fact whether the administrative action is quasi-judicial or not, it must involve fairness. Reason for adopting this approach is that difference between quasi-judicial and administrative is artificial formality.]
  • 5. AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM • It means that the party whose civil or fundamental rights are infringed is given an opportunity to present her/his case. More importantly, the hearing should not be sham but meaningful. • Some of the components of fair hearing include: i. Service of Notice, Sufficient time to Reply ii. DISCLOSURE OF MATERIALS TO THE PARTY iii. HEARING iv. Right to rebut the evidence against him/Cross-examination v. Legal representation vi. Ex-parte evidence cannot be entertained without the knowledge of the party vii. Right to receive evidence adduced by the other party viii. Reasoned decision ix. ONE WHO DECIDES MUST HEAR x. DISCLOSURE OF THE HEARING/INQUIRY OFFICER'S REPORT
  • 6. Important case laws on Audi Alterman Partem 1. R. v. University of Cambridge (also known as the Dr Bentley case), 93 ER 698 The Court of King's Bench held that the University of Cambridge could not cancel the degree of a great but rebellious scholar without giving him an opportunity of defending himself. 2. Maneka Gandhi v. Union of lndia, AIR 1978 SC 597 Mrs. Gandhi’s passport was impounded by the authorities. Under S. 10(5)of the Passport Act, 1963, the authority is to record its reasons and furnish a copy of the same to the concerned individual on demand while impounding his passport. The authority may however refuse to give reasons in public interest among other grounds. The SC observed that the Central Government was wholly unjustified in withholding the reasons for impounding the passport of the petitioner, and in this way not only a breach of statutory duty was committed but it also amounted to denial of an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner.
  • 7. NEMO JUDEX IN RE SUA • The maxim nemo judex in re sua literally means that a man should not be a judge in his own cause. The maxim has come to mean that the deciding authority must be impartial. This is known as the rule against bias. The principle that bias disqualifies an individual from acting as a judge flows from the following two maxims: (i) No one should be a judge in his own cause; and (ii) Justice should not only be done but also seen to be done. • Bias is usually of three kinds: (i) Pecuniary Bias; (ii) Personal Bias; and (iii) Departmental or Policy Bias
  • 8. Important case laws on Personal bias 1. Mineral Development Corpn. Ltd. v. State of Bihar, AIR 1960 SC 468 In this case, the petitioners were granted mining licence for 99 years in 1947. But in 1953, the Secretary of the Revenue Board sent a notice to the petitioners to show cause within 15 days why the licence should not be cancelled for violations of Sections 10, 12 and 14 of the Mining Act, 1952. The petitioners submitted a written reply denying the allegations. Two years later, the government issued a notification cancelling the licence. The action of the government was challenged on the ground of personal bias. The facts relevant to personal bias before the court were (1) that Raja Kamakhya Narain Singh, the owner of the Mineral Development Corporation Ltd., had opposed the Minister in the General Election of 1952; and (2) that the Minister had filed a criminal case under Section 5oo of the Penal Code, 1860 against the petitioner which was transferred by the Bihar High Court to Delhi on the ground of political rivalry between the parties. The court quashed the order of the government, among other grounds, on the ground of personal bias. 2. A.K. Kraipak v. Union of India, AlR 1970 SC I50 In this case, Naqishbund, who was the Acting Chief Conservator of Forests, was a member of the selection board and also a candidate for selection to the All-India cadre of the Forest Service. Though he did not take part in the deliberations of the board when his name was considered and approved, the Supreme Court held that there was a real likelihood of bias, for the mere presence of the candidate on the selection board may adversely influence the judgment of the other member.
  • 9. Important case laws on Pecuniary bias 1. Jeejeebhoy v. Collector, AIR 1965 SC 1096 The Chief Justice reconstituted the Bench when it was found that one of the members of the Bench was a member of the cooperative society for which the land had been acquired. 2. Visakapatnam Coop. Motor Transport Ltd. v. G. Bangaruraju, AIR 1953 Mad 709. The Madras High Court also quashed the decision of the Collector who in his capacity as the Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority had granted a permit in favour of a cooperative society of which he was also the Chairman
  • 10. Important case laws on Departmental bias 1. G. Nageswara Rao v. APSRTC, AIR 1959 SC 308 In this case, the petitioner challenged the order of the government nationalising road transport. One of the grounds for challenge was that the Secretary of the Transport Department who gave the hearing was biased, being the person who initiated the scheme and also being the head of the department, whose responsibility was to execute it. The court quashed the order on the ground that, under the circumstances, the Secretary was biased and, hence, no fair hearing could be expected.