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Analysis Of Administration Of Natural Justice Under Administrative Law

The principle of natural justice comes from the word "Jus Naturale" in Roman law, which is closely linked to common law and moral principles but is not codified. It is a natural law that is not derived from any law or constitution. The principle of natural justice should be followed by all citizens of a civilized country.

Natural justice is the creation of a reasonable and fair decision-making process on a particular subject. Sometimes it doesn't matter what a reasonable decision is, but ultimately, it involves making all reasonable decisions, even if the matter is practical. It is not limited to the concept of justice, which has different colours and shades which differ from the context.

The principles of natural justice should be free of discrimination, parties should have the opportunity to be heard, and all reasons and decisions taken by the Court should be informed to the parties.

The Supreme Court has stated that the objective of the judicial and administrative bodies is to reach a fair and just judgement. The main purpose of natural justice is to prevent miscarriage of justice.

The paper checks the state of natural justice in administration of justice and when the natural justice is applied with its principles. The paper concludes with whether the natural justice is applied in constitution.

The natural justice principle is a very old idea that originated from an early age. The Greeks and Romans were well aware of this concept. In the days of Kautilya, arthashastra and Adam the concept of natural justice was acknowledged. According to the Bible, in the case of Eve and Adam, when they ate the fruit of knowledge, they were forbidden by God. Before giving the sentence, eve was given a good chance to defend himself and also the same process was followed in the case of Adam too.

An English jurist later adopted the idea of natural justice. The word natural justice comes from the Roman words "jus-naturale" and "lex-naturale", which planned the principles of natural justice, natural law and equity.

"Natural justice is a great humanizing principle intended to invest law with fairness and secure justice and over the years it has grown into widely pervasive rule affecting large areas of administrative action."[1]

"The judiciary has laid down uniform standards to adjudge the validity of statutory provisions conferring discretionary powers. They are a violation of fundamental rights, abuse of discretion, no- application of mind, ultra-virus act and non-observance of principles of natural justice."[2] The principles of Natural Justice are attracted when prejudice is caused to the person, because of some administrative action. "Observance of principles of natural justice can be made as a fundamental tool to control administrative discretion."[3]

Objectives of the study
The objectives of the study are to see whether the natural justice is applied in administrating justice and identify if natural justice is implemented in constitution or not.

Research Problem
Natural justice is based on the natural mind of a man about whether it is true or wrong. The principle of natural justice guarantees equality, justice and equity. It is not a codified cannon. The use of natural justice improves the quality of administrative decisions. It protects the rights of the people from the arbitrary system of administrative power.

The main motto of natural justice is to prevent the miscarriage of justice. This would ensure justice for both sides of the dispute. The violation of the principles of natural justice is arbitrary and unjust, and this decision is void or voidable. There is a lack of clarity as to what natural justice is and when it will be used.

Research Questions:
  1. What is natural justice and when is it enforced?
  2. Is natural justice considered in administrating justice?
  3. Does Indian constitution consider natural justice?
Research Methodology
The subject matter of my research is, "Analysis Of Administration Of Natural Justice Under Administrative Law". My study is based totally on "DOCTRINAL METHOD." There are many concepts or doctrines in this challenge. And additionally, this venture contains maximum of the issues related to this subject matter. This undertaking is really primarily based on studies methodology.

The source materials are secondary. I even have used secondary assets like books, articles, and journals, and Internet-based research.

"Natural justice is a sense of what is wrong and what is right."

The word 'natural justice' is derived from the Roman word 'Jus Naturale', which means principles of natural law, justice, equity, and good conscience. These principles did not originate from any divine power but are the outcome of the necessity of judicial thinking, as well as the necessity to evolve the norms of fair play.

These are the principles that every disciplinary authority should follow while taking any decision, which may adversely affect the rights of individuals. It is to be seen that rules of natural justice are not codified anywhere; they are procedural in nature and their aim is to ensure the delivery of justice to the parties.

It is very important to comply with natural justice rules recognized by all civilized states, whether to resolve disputes between the parties through a quasi-judicial body or to challenge any administrative or disciplinary action. Natural justice rules act as a pretext to defend against gross discrimination against the rights of individuals. These rules are implemented to prevent such authorities from doing injustice.

With the evolution of society, as well as legal jurisprudence, the concept of natural justice has also undergone a change. Rules of natural justice are not embodied in any statute.

These rules have become an integral part of the law, as well as procedure. They can be determined by the nature of the obligation to be fulfilled by law. The facts and circumstances of each case depend on what particular rule of Natural Justice will apply to. Over time, the old distinction between judicial act and administrative act has disappeared. Disciplinary authorities' orders covering the civil consequences must comply with natural justice laws, otherwise, the courts will set aside the orders.

The rules of natural justice is flexible. They change with a sense of time and circumstances for each case. They may seem vague or uncertain because of their flexibility, but they are welcomed by the Indian legal system. Its aim is to prevent a miscarriage of justice as well as arbitrariness.

They cannot be enforceable as fundamental rights, but they provide strong protection against any arbitrary act that violates the rights of individuals. The courts define them as the minimum protection of the rights of individuals from arbitrary conduct acceptable to the judicial or quasi-judicial committee. These rules are enforced to prevent authorities from doing injustice.

These principles are well settled and classified as:

  1. Every person whose civil rights are affected shall have reasonable notice of the case
  2. There should be a reasonable opportunity to hear his or her defense
  3. The investigation should be an impartial tribunal
  4. Power must not act in arbitrary, but in good faith
  5. This order shall be an order of speech

The objective of the principles:

  • Provide equal opportunities for being heard.
  • Concept of justice.
  • Implement gaps and loopholes in the law.
  • Protection of fundamental rights.
  • Basic features of the Constitution.
  • No miscarriage of Justice

Administrative Law and Natural Justice

Administrative law is a form of common law, particularly in the public interest. It was formed at a time when the functioning of the State had changed in the post-independence period and priority had been given to the well-being of society. In addition to a unilateral decision, the law provides discretion and guidelines for exercising the power to keep in check.

According to K. C. Davis, "Administrative law concerns with the powers and procedures of administrative agencies, including especially the law governing judicial review of administrative action". The subject of our discussion has deep roots in the statute mentioned above. The principles of natural justice are used in administrative activities such as a fair trial, fair governance and limited use of managers' powers to avoid abuse of widespread discretion of powers.

'Fairness' is the keyword for natural justice, and these principles are also known as substantial Justice or fundamental Justice or Universal justice or fair play in action. The principles of natural justice in India were first highlighted in the case of "Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, 1978"[4].

Justice v. Natural Justice

Justice is the idea of ethics and morality in terms of law, justice, equality and religion. When the principles of natural justice are not codified, legal justice operates on the basis of the legal framework established, governed and implemented by the courts; these cases are based on the willingness of judges to get involved in certain cases or not.

There is no standard or scientific interpretation of the principles of natural justice. Such principles can only be an administrative procedure that violates a person's rights. The importance of these principles can be recognized in different laws because each law has the ingredient of equity in it. These principles and postulates are not practical in the absence of a good judge. Neutrality, Impartiality and Unprejudiced- are the three essential qualities which a good judge should possess.

Significance of Natural Justice under Administrative Law

Administrative law is a branch of the common law whose primary objective is to resolve disputes between the state and the public. Administrative legal development in India is post-independent development. The most appropriate reason for the development of administrative law is to change the concept of the State.

The state has become a welfare state and a police state. For this reason, the administrative will has been implemented. In administrative law, conscience is chosen through an available option, but in the light of the rules of justice, not according to one will. This law gives discretion to the executive and also gives instructions to exercise those powers. There is no concept of absolute power that can lead to arbitrariness. The purpose of administrative law is to check on discretionary power.

Arbitrary and unfairness leads to wide discretion. The judiciary can intervene if the discretionary is misused or overused. However, it may intervene only if any person or persons feel that his or their right has been abrogated by any action of the administrative authority.

Principles of Natural Justice

  • Nemo Judex In Causa Sua (rule against bias)
    "No one should be a judge in his own case" because it leads to discriminatory rules. Bias is an act that leads to inappropriate action at a conscious or unconscious stage in relation to a party or a particular issue. The judge should therefore be tried fairly on the basis of the evidence recorded in the case.

Types of Bias:

  1. Personal Bias

    Personal bias arises from the relationship between the party and deciding authority. This leads the authority to make unfair decisions in a suspicious situation, make an unfair activity and give judgement in favour of his person. These equations are the result of different forms of personal and professional relations.

    In a successful appeal against an administrative procedure based on personal biases, it is necessary to give a reason for their bias.

    "Ramanand Prasad Singh vs. UOI"[5]

    The Supreme court held that one of the members of the panel of selection committee his brother was a candidate in the competition but due to this, the whole procedure of selection cannot be quashed.

    Here, to avoid the act of biases at the turn of his brother respective panel members connected with the candidate can be requested to go out from the panel of the selection committee. So, a fair and reasonable decision can be made.
  2. Pecuniary bias

    If the judiciary has any kind of financial benefit, how small it may be, it may lead to the administrative authority for discrimination.
  3. Subject matter bias

    When a particular case, the deciding authority is involved has the power to decide directly or indirectly.

    The court refused to quash the Election Tribunal's decision because the members of the Congress party, who were defeated by the petitioner in "Muralidhar v Kadam Singh"[6], were the leader's wife.
  4. Departmental bias

    The problem or issue of departmental bias is very common in every administrative process and it is not checked effectively and on every small interval period, it will lead to a negative concept of fairness that will get vanished in the proceeding.
  5. Policy notion bias

    Issues arising out of preconceived policy notions is a very dedicated issue. The audience sitting over there does not expect judges to sit with a blank sheet of paper and give a fair trial and decision over the matter.
  6. Bias on the account of the obstinacy

    The Supreme court has discovered new criteria of biases through the unreasonable condition. This new category emerged from a case where a judge of Calcutta High Court upheld his own judgement in appeal. A direct violation of the rules of bias is done because no judge can sit in an appeal against in his own case.

Audi Alteram Partem (Rule of Fair Hearing)

It is the second most important basic rule of natural justice. This means that no one should be condemned without being heard. If action is taken against someone, they must have an equal opportunity to be listened to and defend themselves.

This gives them the right to respond to the evidence against them and to choose a legal representative of their choice. The principles of natural justice create a fundamental and just process between the parties when they decide on a dispute in a court or tribunal. It is the duty of any person or body performing judicial or quasi-judicial action to act wisely and to ask both sides before issuing an order.

No party will be made to suffer in person without giving not only fair opportunity of being heard but to correct any relevant statement made, which is prejudicial to any of them. While deciding any case fairly it is not mandatory for any decision-making authority to follow the same procedure as that followed by a Court.

While the legislature specifically approves executive powers to proceed without giving an opportunity of hearing, the law violates the principles of a fair trial. The court may therefore overturn any decision that violates Audi alteram partem policy against the principles of natural justice.

In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, the Government of India confiscated the applicant's passport in the public interest. The complainants were not given any chance before taking the impugned action. The Supreme Court ruled that the order violated the principles of natural justice.

Components of Fair Hearing:

Some requirements in order to constitute the principle of fair hearing are:

  1. Notice:
    He terms notice means knowledge of circumstances or to make something known, of what a man was or might be ignorant of before. To achieve a fair hearing, the first step is to serve notice to the affected person to show the cause against the proposed action and seek his explanation.

    Any order passed without giving notice to the person is against the principles of natural justice and is void ab initio.

    In Fazalbhai v. Custodian[7], Supreme Court said that notice should be issued even if there is no provision in the law for issuing notices. However, if the law avoids notice, in particular, no notice is required as natural justice laws do not change the law.

    In Olga Tellis v. BMC[8] the court held cannot justify the court department's argument that submission of Suo moto revision or the claim that there can be no defence to the action proposed that is, this requirement of natural justice.

    In Punjab National Bank v. All India Bank Employees Federation[9], the notice contained some charges but did not mention the penalties for the charges against him. Therefore, the court's opinion is inappropriate and, ultimately, it is not right to impose a fine.
  2. Right to Know the Evidence Against Him:
    A fair practical policy should include full disclosure of open facts and all documents. This means knowing which authority determine the decision and the general principle is that decision-making power should be based on evidence known to both parties. The party concerned cannot make a decision on the basis of unknown evidence. Taking evidence behind the person concerned is a violation of natural justice.

    In S.P Paul v. Calcutta University [10], The Calcutta High Court said it was a violation of natural justice unless it heard evidence of witnesses behind the candidates.

    In the Supreme Court case, Hiranath Mishra v Rajendra Medical [11] was tried alleging that you entered the girls' room and treated some girls badly. The investigation team recorded the complainant's statement but in the absence of the appellants.

    The college team found them guilty, so they were expelled from the university for two academic years. They challenged the matter because the evidence was taken from their back. The Court noted that there had been no denial of natural justice, although a summary of the evidence had been presented to it and had the opportunity to withdraw it. The court said that the girls did not dare to make statements in the face of appeal, except that there was a high risk of reprisals and harassment.
  3. Cross Examination:
    Cross-examination is one of the most effective ways to prove the truth and expose the lie. This does not mean, at least in the administrative provisions, that the person concerned should have the right to cross-examine witnesses. This depends on the facts and circumstances of the case, i.e., the absence of a right of cross-examination unless the party can grant effective immunity. Refusing such cross-examination is a violation of the principles of natural justice.

    In Kerala State vs. K.T. Shaduli [12] the defendant filed returns based on his account book, which later appeared to be wrong with the sales tax officer. Some of the sales that appear in wholesalers' account books were said to be not mentioned in the defendant's account books.

    He asked to give him a chance to cross-examine wholesalers, rejected by the sales tax officer. The Supreme Court ruled that an impartial trial had been denied to dismiss the concessionaires' request for cross-examination of the wholesalers, stating that the appraisers could only establish by cross-examination that the reference in its books of accounts was correct and that it was wrong to mention it among the wholesalers.
  4. Representation by A Lawyer:
    Representation by a lawyer means everyone should be given a chance to represent himself or herself in the court of law through a lawyer of their own choice.

    In administrative proceedings the right of representation by a lawyer is not ordinarily considered as an important part of natural justice[13] and as such is not claimable as a matter of right unless the said right is conferred by the statute.

    In case the statute is silent, the courts have in certain situations recognized that some professional assistance must be given to the party to make his right to defend himself meaningfully. Such a situation may arise when the affected party is illiterate, or a question of law is involved, or the matter is complicated or technical or where expert evidence is on record.

    In the case "Board of Trustees of the Port of Bombay v Dilip Kumar"[14], which involved a disciplinary proceeding against an employee of statutory authority. It was held that it will be a violation of the rule of natural justice if the employer is represented by a presenting officer who is legally trained before the enquiry officer while the employer denies such a facility to the employee.

Reasoned Decision
Basically, it has 3 rules on which it depends:
  1. The affected party shall have the opportunity to demonstrate before the Court of Appeal and Review what led the authority to reject it.
  2. This is a satisfactory part of the party against whom the decision will be taken.
  3. The responsibility for recording the reasons shall constitute an obstacle to the arbitrariness of the judicial authority conferred on the executive authority.

Exceptions to Natural Justice
These principles of Natural Justice are excluded from the exceptions of:
  1. Statutory Provisions
  2. Constitutional provisions.
  3. Legislative act.
  4. Public interest and welfare.
  5. Urgent action or in case of emergency or necessity.
  6. Ground of chaos.
  7. Confidentiality.
  8. Educational postponement.
  9. Interim prevention action.
  10. Fraud cases.

Evolution of Natural Justice through various Precedents in India

In Mohinder Singh Gill and Anr. V. The Chief Election commission, New Delhi & Ors.[15], the court mentions that the court should uphold the application of natural justice on the basis of existing law, case laws or other favourable principles and not pieces of history. Here, natural justice is seen as an element of secular law, where spirituality touches on law, administration and arbitration to ensure the fundamental element of "fairness."

In Ak Kripak. V. Union of India[16], Hon'ble Supreme Court held that rules of natural justice are operated in areas outside the purview of the law. It says that whenever a complaint is lodged before a court violating certain principles of natural justice, the court has to decide whether it is necessary to follow that rule for judicial judgement on the fact of the case. The provision that testing must be carried out in a harmonious, fair, arbitrary or erroneous manner is covered by natural justice. These observations made by the court reinforce the practical logic contained in ancient times.

In the case of Chairman, Board of Mining Examination. v. Ramjee[17], the Court attempts to link the concept of a fair opportunity to the concept of natural justice. The court said that if a fair defendant shows justice, he cannot complain of a violation of natural justice. In this case, the court brings the concept of a fair chance to the accused.

Principles of Natural Justice and In Indian Constitution

In the Constitution of India, nowhere is the expression Natural Justice is used. However, the principles of natural justice can be recognized through the body of the Indian constitution. The preamble of the constitution includes the words, 'Justice Social, Economic and political' liberty of thought, belief, worship… And equality of status and of opportunity. This ensures fairness in the social and economic activities of the people. It also acts as a shield to an individual's liberty against arbitrary action which is the basis for principles of Natural Justice.
  • Article 14 ensures equal protection of law and equality before the law to the citizen of India. In some cases, the courts demanded that the person badly affected by the administrative action should be empowered to make efforts before issuing an order against him. Such practical protection may reduce the chances of a governing officer implementing a unilateral mandate. Thus, the principle that natural law is an integral part of the administrative process is from the Art. 14.

    There are many instances where the Art 14 of the Constitution was used to protect individuals from violation of natural justice principles. For example, in the famous case, Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India the Supreme Court said that Art 14 is a right to claim that the principles of natural justice are an integral part of the guarantee of equality promised by Art. 14 an order to deprive a person of his civil right suffers from the disorder of violation of natural justice.
  • Article 21 guarantees the right to life and freedom, which is a fundamental provision to protect freedom and ensure life with dignity. The Supreme Court of India knew the importance of 'fair trial' through a liberal interpretation of Art. 21, made several provisions for the safety of the accused and provided adequate protection to justify his case. The Supreme Court observed that fair trial is the cornerstone of democracy for those accused of criminal offences. It is beneficial for the accused and society to have a fair hearing. The punishment resulting from an unfair trial is contrary to our concept of justice.
  • Article 22 guarantees natural justice and the provision of a fair hearing to the arrested person. A person who is arrested should be informed of the grounds for his arrest as soon as he is arrested. The arrested person has the right to consult and to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. A person who is arrested and detained in custody must be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court of the magistrate.
  • Directive principles of state Policy especially Article 39-A take care of social, economic, and politically backward sections of people and accomplish the objective of natural justice. Article 93-A ensures free legal aid to indigent or disabled persons.
  • Articles 32 and 226 provide constitutional remedies in cases of violation of any fundamental rights, including the principles of natural justice. Article 32 of the Indian Constitution deals with constitutional measures which an Indian citizen can seek from the Supreme Court and the High Court against violation of his fundamental rights. The Supreme Court has the power to issue writs to enforce rights under Article 32, while the High Court has the same power under Article 226.

There are 5 types of writs: Habeas Corpus, mandamus, prohibition quo-warranto and certiorari. The writ of Habeas Corpus is invoked to prevent unlawful detention and Mandamus is invoked to compel a public official to perform his legal duties. Writ of Prohibition and Certiorari is used to prevent Judicial and quasi-judicial bodies from acting without jurisdiction, in excess of jurisdiction, or where an error of law apparent on the face of the record, violation of Fundamental Right and on the ground of violation of Principles of Natural Justice. Quo- warranto is used to test a person's legal right to hold an office.

· Article 311 of the Constitution ensures constitutional protection for civil servants. Clause (2) of the Art. 311 declares that no such person shall be dismissed or removed or reduced to rank, without informing him of the allegations against him and giving him a reasonable opportunity to investigate those allegations. The word 'fair opportunity of being heard' covers all aspects of the principles of natural justice. Thus, civil servants cannot be dismissed, removed or reduced from rank without giving them a proper opportunity of being heard.

Natural justice is seen as an element for ensuring fairness and a reasonable opportunity for all. From our Ancient time itself, we have systematically embodied the principles of natural justice, through the appointment of counsels and thus keeping a check on ensuring Natural justice. however, in modern times, the judiciary took up the role of ensuring Natural Justice, and through various precedents, the concept of Natural Justice is elevated, thus invoking and recognizing sound principles into this very concept.

The principles of natural justice have been adopted and followed by the judiciary to protect public rights against arbitrary decisions by the administrative authority. One can easily see that the rules of natural justice symbolize the concept of fairness: they support survival and the protection of fair trade.

Therefore, no authority which gives up judicial work is fully accepted at all levels of the process but the main objective of the principal is to prevent miscarriage of justice. It is supreme to note that any decision or order violating natural justice is declared void in nature, so it should be remembered that the principles of natural justice are necessary to be executed in any administrative solution.

The principle of natural justice is not limited to restricted walls but depends on the application of the principle but on the characteristics of jurisdiction, grant to administrative authority and nature of rights affecting the individual.

The judiciary has adopted the principles of natural justice to prevent misuse of power and to control arbitrary decisions of administrative officers, and protect the rights of the people.

In a democratic country like India, the judiciary should find and declare natural justice in action to uphold the supremacy of the rule of law. Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution in India provide the principles of natural justice. With the introduction of the concept of substantive and procedural due process in Article 21; principles of natural justice can be read in Art. 21. Violation of natural justice principles creates an arbitrary situation and such a decision is void or voidable.

  1. A.Beula Chrismak Darius and Ms.R.Dhivya, "Applicability of Principles of Natural Justice to The Administrative Proceedings" 120 IJPAM 2015 (2018
  2. Ibid. at p. 2018
  3. Id.
  4. AIR 1978 SC 597
  5. AIR 1996 SCC 64
  6. AIR 1954 MP
  7. AIR 1961 SC 284
  8. AIR 1986 SC 180
  9. AIR 1960 SC 16
  10. AIR 1970 Cal 282
  11. AIR 1973 SC 1260
  12. AIR 1977 SC 1627
  13. Kalindi vs. Tata Locomotives, AIR 1960 SC 914
  14. 1983 AIR 109, 1983 SCR (1) 828
  15. 1978 SCR (3) 272
  16. WP (C) No.541/2019
  17. 1977 SCR (2) 904

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