Audi alteram partem
(or audiatur et altera pars) is a Latin phrase
meaning listen to the other side
, or let the other side be heard as well
(i) BALCO Employees' Union v. UOI
- The second fundamental principle of natural justice is Audi alteram
partem, i.e. no man should be condemned unheard, or both the sides must be heard
before passing any order.
- This is the basic requirement of rule of law.
- It has been described as foundational and fundamental concept.
- It lays down a norm which should be implemented by all courts and
tribunals at national as also at the international level.
A. Notice Right to Notice
- Audi Altrem Patrem is the second long arm of natural justice which
protects the little man from arbitrary administrative actions whenever his
right to person or property is jeopardized
- Thus, one of the objectives of giving a hearing in application of the
principles of natural justice is to see that an illegal action or decision
does not take place.
- Any wrong order may adversely affect a person, and it is essentially for
this reason that a reasonable opportunity may have to be granted before
passing an administrative order.
- In short, before an order is passed against any person, reasonable
opportunity of being heard must be given to him.
- Generally, this maxim includes the following elements:
(i) Canara Bank v. Debasis Das
- The term notice originated from the Latin word notitia which means
being known. In its popular sense it is equivalent to information, intelligence
or knowledge. In legal sense it embraces knowledge of circumstances that ought
to induce suspicion or belief, as well as direct information of that fact.
(ii) BALCO Employees' Union v. UOI
- Notice embodies rule of fairness and must proceed an adverse order.
- It should be clear and precise so as to give the party adequate
information of the case he has to meet Phil stuff time given should be
adequate for a person so that he could prepare an effective defense full
stuff denial of notice and an opportunity to respond make an administrative
decision completely vitiated.
But generally, a notice in order to be adequate must contain the
- The rule of Fair hearing is the basic concept of the principles of
natural justice. The Omni potency inherent in the doctrine is that no one
should be condemned unheard.
- In the field of administrative action, this principle has been applied
to ensure fair play and justice to affected persons.
- However, the doctrine is not the cure to all ills and the process. Its
application depends upon the factual metrics to improve administrative
efficiency, expediency and to mete out justice.
- The procedure adopted must be just and fair.
(iii) State of U.P. v. Vam Organic Chemicals Ltd.
- Time place and nature of hearing
- Legal authority under which hearing is to be held
- Statement of specific charges which the person has to meet
- Particular penalty or action which is proposed to be awarded or taken
(iv) Keshav Mills Co. Ltd v. UOI
- The Supreme Court stressed that before any notices issued, there must
exist sufficient reasons for your proposal action for which notice is to be
- Therefore, reasons are a precondition for issuing the notice, and these
must be contained in notice.
- In this case a person was granted recognition certificate for dealing in
certain items. Thereafter, government decided to delete certain items from
- Quoted that sufficient reasons are a precondition before notice is
issued and they should form part of the notice.
- The code further emphasized that even if it is a rectification of a
mistake, notice must be given very a person would suffer a serious
prejudice. Rectification cannot die vest a vested right.
Consequences of non-issue of notice:
- The requirement of notice will not be insisted upon as a mere technical
formality when the party concerned clearly knows the case against it, and
he's not there by plagiarized in any manner in putting up an effective
- Therefore in this case the court did not crash the order of the
government taking over the mill for a period of five years on the technical
ground that their parents were not issued notice before this action was
taken, as at an earlier stage a full scale hearing had already been given
and there was nothing more which the appellants wanted to know.
- Non issuance of notice or mistake in the issue of notice, or defective
service of notice does not affect the jurisdiction of the authority if,
otherwise a reasonable opportunity of being hard has been given.
- Issuance of notice as prescribed by law constitutes a part of reasonable
opportunity of being heard.
- If Richard eyes has been caused by non-issuance or invalid service of
notice, the proceedings would be vitiated. But, irregular service of notice
would not render the proceedings invalid, more so if the person by his
conduct has rendered service impracticable or impossible or is otherwise
aware of the proceedings or notice either actually or constructively.
- In case of non-issuance of northeast or defective service which violates
the principles of natural justice, the administrative authority may decide
the case de Novo With proper notice. Violation of the principles of natural
justice vitiates Older but not the preceding.
- He show-cause notice if contains unspecified, vague or unintelligible
allegations would imply a denial of proper opportunity of being heard
(i) Cooper v. Wandsworth Board of Works[6
- The second requirement of Audi alteram partem maxim is that the person
concerned must be given an opportunity of being heard before any adverse action
is taken against him.
(ii) Fateh Singh v. State of Rajasthan
- The defendant Board had power to demolish any building without giving
any opportunity of hearing if it was erected without prior permission.
- The Board demolished the house of the plaintiff under this provision.
- The action of the Board was not in violation of the statutory provision.
The court held that the Board's power was subject to the qualification that
no man can be deprived of his property without having an opportunity of
(iii) Union of India v. J.P. Mitter
- The reasonable opportunity of hearing which is also well known as 'fair
hearing' is an important ingredient of the audi alteram partem rule.
- This condition may be complied by the authority by providing written or
oral hearing which is the discretion of the authority, unless the statue
under which the action being taken by the authority provides otherwise.
- The rule of fair hearing requires that the affected party should be
given an opportunity to meet the case against him effectively and this may
also be achieved by providing opportunity to the affected person by making
'written representation' instead of oral or personal hearing
- Right to present case and evidence/ oral hearing
- A.K. Roy v. UOI
- Supreme Court held that if the detenu desires to examine any
witnesses, he shall have to keep them present at that point at a time and no
obligation can be cast on the Advisory Board to someone them.
- The board can also limit the time within which the detenu must
complete his evidence.
- Right to rebut adverse evidence
- Dhakeshwari cotton Mills Limited v.Commr of Income Tax
- The court quashed the order of the tax tribunal where the information
supplied by the Department against the assesses was not disclosed to him.
- This does not, however, necessitate the supply of adverse material in
original in all cases.
- It is sufficient if the summary of the contents of the adverse material
is made available, provided it is not misleading.
(D) Cross Examination:
- Stafford v. Minister of Health
- Evidence is an important part which is to be brought properly before the
Court in the presence of both the parties and a judicial or quasi-judicial
authority must have to act on the evidence produced.
- Ordinarily, no evidence personal or oral should be received at the back
of other party and if any such evidence is recorded, it is duty of the
authority that such evidence must be made available to the other party.
- Keshav Mill Co. v. Union of India
- The Supreme Court was not ready to lay down an inflexible rule that it
was not necessary to show the report of enquiry committee to the affected
- The court made it clear that whether the report of the enquiry committee
should be furnished or not depends in every individual case on merits of the
(i) Kanungo & Co. v. Collector of Customs
- The adjudicating authority in a fair hearing is not required only to
disclose the person concerned the evidence or material to be taken against
him, but he should be provided an opportunity to rebut the evidence or
- The important question before the authority is that the witness should
be cross-examined or not.
- The business premises of a person were searched and certain watches were
confiscated by the authority under Sea Customs Act.
- The said person was not allowed to cross-examine the persons who gave
information to the authority.
- There was no violation of the natural justice and the Court held that
the principles of natural justice do not require the authority to allow the
person concerned the right to cross examine the witnesses in the matters of
seizure of goods under the Sea Customs Act.
- If the person concerned is allowed the right to cross-examine, it is not
necessary to follow the procedure laid down in the Indian Evidence Act.
(E) Legal Representation
- Normally, the representation through a lawyer in the administrative
adjudication is not considered as an indispensable part of the fair hearing.
- But, in certain situations if the right to legal representation is
denied, then it amounts to violation of natural justice.
Exceptions To Audi Alteram Partem:
- M.H. Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra
- The Supreme Court held that while importing the concept of Fair
procedure in Article 21 of the Constitution, held that the right to personal
liberty implies provision by the state of free legal service to a prisoner
who is indigent or not, held that the right to personal Liberty implies
provision by the state of free legal service to a prisoner who is indigent
or otherwise disabled from securing legal assistance where the ends of
justice call for such service.
- Khatri v. State of Bihar
- The Supreme Court further ruled that state is constitutionally bound to
provide legal aid to the poor or indigent accused not only at the stage of
trail but at the time of remind also.
- Such right cannot be denied on the ground of financial constraints or
administrative inability or that the accused did not ask for it.
- The Supreme Court emphasized that it is the duty of the presiding
officer to inform the accused of such right.
- Statutory Exclusion:
(i) Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India
- Natural justice is implied by the Courts when the parent statute under
which an action is being taken by the Administration is silent as to its
- Omission to mention the right of hearing in the statutory provision does
not ipso facto exclude a hearing to the affected.
Mohinder Singh Gill vs. CEC
- Whether notice and right to be heard must been given or not was been
laid down before the SC.
- In Firozhpur Constituency Parliamentary Election counting was been
going on where in some segments counting were going on and in some it was over.
- One candidate was having a very good lead but before the declaration the
very purpose of surveillance and there is every possibility of the ends of
justice being defeated instead of being served.
Bihar School Examination Board vs. Subhash Chandra
- The Board conducted final tenth standard examination
- At a particular centre, where there were more than thousand students, it
was alleged to have mass copying.
- Even in evaluation, it was prima-facie found that there was mass copying
as most of the answers were same and they received same marks.
- For this reason, the Board cancelled the exam without giving any
opportunity of hearing and ordered for fresh examination, whereby all
students were directed to appear for the same.
- Many of the students approached the Patna HC challenging it on the
ground that before cancellation of exam, no opportunity of hearing was been
given to the students.
- The HC struck down the decision of the Board in violation of Audi Alteram Partem.
- The Board unsatisfied with the decision of the Court approached the SC.
- The SC rejected the HC judgment and held that in this situation,
conducting hearing is impossible as thousand notices have to be issued and
everyone must be given an opportunity of hearing, cross-examination,
rebuttal, presenting evidences etc. which is not practicable at all.
- So, the SC held that on the ground of impracticability, hearing can be
(i) Jawaharlal Nehru University v. B.S. Narwal
- A student of JNU was removed from the rolls for unsatisfactory
academic performances without being given any pre decisional hearing.
- The Supreme Court held that the very nature of academic adjudication
appears to negative any right of an opportunity to be heard.
- Therefore, if the competent academic authorities examine and asses the
work of a student over a period of time and declare his work unsatisfactory,
the rules of natural justice may be excluded.
(i) S.A Khan vs. State of Haryana
- Mr. Khan an IPS Officer holding the post of Deputy Inspector General
of Haryana; Haryana Govt., was suspended by the Haryana Government due to
various complaints against him.
- Thus, he approached the Supreme Court on the ground of violation of PNJ as he was not given an opportunity to be heard.
- The SC held that the suspension being interim-disciplinary action, there
is no requirement to afford hearing.
- It can be ordered without affording an opportunity of hearing.
- 2001 IIIAD Delhi 717
- (2000) 2 CALLT 170 HC
- (2002) 2 SCC 333
- 1998 4 AWC 600
- 1973 SCR (3) 22
-  143 ER 414
- AIR 1995 Raj 15
- 1971 SCR (3) 483
- 1982 SCR (2) 272
- 1955 SCR (1) 941
- [I946] i K.B. 62I
- 1973 SCR (3) 22
- 1979 SCR (1) 192
- 1981 SCR (2) 408
- 1978 SCR (2) 621
- 1978 SCR (3) 272
- 1970 SCR (3) 963
- 1981 SCR (1) 618
- AIR 1993 SC 1152