INTRODUCTION to audi alteram partem

As we know, administrative law is the branch of public law and its main concern is not about the power of the state rather how this power is used by the state to promote the public interest. The evolution of this law was seen during the post-independence period because of socio-economic and political activities. In India, no Statute proved the minimum standards that must be followed by providing justice in the administrative proceedings. The keys to natural justice are transparent, impartial and evidence-based and therefore, fair. Natural justice is one of the pillars of administrative law. It is an expression which is from English Common law and has its origin in Jus Naturale, which means Laws of Nature. It contains the procedures that are required for the fairness of administrative proceedings. These principles are embodied under Article 14 and 21 of the Act.[1]

The case of Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India[2] stated that Natural justice is a Humanist theory,[3] which means the imposition of fairness in law. The rules prohibit the authorities from committing contempt of justice as when the authorities confiscated the passport in the name of public interest and Supreme Court has held it aside. This has 2 principles, namely:

  1. NEMO JUDEX IN CAUSA SUA, no man should be a judge in his case.
  2. AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM, hear both sides.

In this paper, the researcher would discuss the second principle of Natural justice in the administrative proceedings, its elements, steps and the exceptions attached to it regarding case laws.

 Audi alteram partem means that listen to the other side or let the other side be heard as well. It is one of the core principles of Natural Justice. It is a principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is allowed to respond to the shreds of evidence that is placed against them with representatives of their choice, in their defence. It is considered to be the principle of Fundamental Justice or Equal Justice or Natural Justice. In cases of violation of these rules, the case stands void and has no value.


  1. NOTICE: It is a general rule that before taking any action, the other party is served notice in advance so that the alleged person is aware of everything.
  2. HEARING: It is a general rule that before taking any action, the other party is given an opportunity of being heard.

This concept of Audi Alteram Partem is not an easy one. It is one of the most important principles of Natural Justice, had this not been there then the system of justice being provided would have been altogether a very different one as it is seen today. It holds many important steps and elements that form a crucial part of it. However, there are exceptions along with it but those are some important ones and they need justification. There has to be a sufficient cause for excluding these principles. No hard and fast rule can be applied to test the inapplicability of these rules, as it varies from case to case. It is upon the judges to act fairly and use it judiciously and not arbitrarily. The objective is to ensure that a just, fair and reasonable decision is taken and justice prevails. These rules are not rigid, however flexible. It can be said as a “Tool” that can be used most appropriately in fit cases to decide administrative proceedings. These act as “Guardians” for the public at large to protect them from arbitrariness and discretion and act in the interest of public policy. As discussed above, it can be noticed that the Supreme Courts and High Court shave acted reasonably in dealing with these principles and have aided in its application to the cases. However, there is still a hole in the justice delivery system as it is not being used effectively, which raises great concern.

[1] Constitution of India, 1950.

[2] Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India, 1978 AIR 597.

[3], last visited 29/05/2021.

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