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
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."
"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." 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."
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.
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.
- What is natural justice and when is it enforced?
- Is natural justice considered in administrating justice?
- Does Indian constitution consider natural justice?
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
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
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
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:
- Every person whose civil rights are affected shall have reasonable
notice of the case
- There should be a reasonable opportunity to hear his or her defense
- The investigation should be an impartial tribunal
- Power must not act in arbitrary, but in good faith
- 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".
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
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:
Personal BiasPersonal 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
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"
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.
Pecuniary biasIf the judiciary has any kind of financial benefit, how small it may be, it may
lead to the administrative authority for discrimination.
Subject matter biasWhen 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", were the leader's wife.
Departmental biasThe 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
Policy notion biasIssues 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.
Bias on the account of the obstinacyThe 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
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
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:
Basically, it has 3 rules on which it depends:
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, 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 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, 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.
- 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 , The Calcutta High Court said it was a
violation of natural justice unless it heard evidence of witnesses behind the
In the Supreme Court case, Hiranath Mishra v Rajendra Medical  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 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
- 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  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.
- 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 and as such is
not claimable as a matter of right unless the said right is conferred by the
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", 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.
Exceptions to Natural Justice
- The affected party shall have the opportunity to demonstrate before the
Court of Appeal and Review what led the authority to reject it.
- This is a satisfactory part of the party against whom the decision will
- The responsibility for recording the reasons shall constitute an
obstacle to the arbitrariness of the judicial authority conferred on the
These principles of Natural Justice are excluded from the exceptions of:
- Statutory Provisions
- Constitutional provisions.
- Legislative act.
- Public interest and welfare.
- Urgent action or in case of emergency or necessity.
- Ground of chaos.
- Educational postponement.
- Interim prevention action.
- Fraud cases.
Evolution of Natural Justice through various Precedents in India
In Mohinder Singh Gill and Anr. V. The Chief Election commission, New Delhi &
, 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
, 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
, 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
- 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
· 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
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
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
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.
- A.Beula Chrismak Darius and Ms.R.Dhivya, "Applicability of Principles of
Natural Justice to The Administrative Proceedings" 120 IJPAM 2015 (2018
- Ibid. at p. 2018
- AIR 1978 SC 597
- AIR 1996 SCC 64
- AIR 1954 MP
- AIR 1961 SC 284
- AIR 1986 SC 180
- AIR 1960 SC 16
- AIR 1970 Cal 282
- AIR 1973 SC 1260
- AIR 1977 SC 1627
- Kalindi vs. Tata Locomotives, AIR 1960 SC 914
- 1983 AIR 109, 1983 SCR (1) 828
- 1978 SCR (3) 272
- WP (C) No.541/2019
- 1977 SCR (2) 904