Natural justice is an important concept in administrative law. That is a principle for protecting the individuals from discrimination of their rights. Natural justice is considered as an outcome of necessity for equality. So this concept was evolved through various judicial thinking. Importance of natural justice is authority should apply natural justice principles while taking a decision related to the rights of individuals. De Smith addresses natural justice as a relationship between the common laws and moral principles and it has an imperative ancestry. Main aim of natural justice is invested with fairness to secure justice and to prevent miscarriage of justice. There is no clear definition for natural justice.
Though natural justice is highly attractive and potential, it is a vague and ambiguous concept and having been criticized as sadly lacking in position. Next, we will see about nature scope and aim of natural justice. Natural justice is a branch of public law, and it is a part of law which relates to administration of justice. These principles control all actions of public authorities by applying rules relating to reasonableness, good faith and justice, equity and good conscience. So, rules of natural justice are indeed great assurance of justice and fairness. The underlying objects of rule of natural law is to ensure fundamental liberties and rights of subjects. It also helped to prevent arbitrariness as well as miscarriage of justice. The essence of natural justice is good conscience in a given situation nothing more but nothing less.
Next is about historical development of natural justice. Principle of natural justice are of very ancient origin and was known to Greek and Roman. Greeks has accepted the principle that no man should be condemned unheard. The principal word accepted as early as in the days of Adams and Kautilya’s Arthashastra. Later in England the rule of natural justice was placed so high. England’s law declared that no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this. So, a court of law could disregard an act of parliament if it is contrary to natural law. The concept of natural law and natural rights influenced the drafting of the Constitution of USA also.
Natural justice is considered as the basis of international laws, conventions, covenants, and declarations.
Whether the adjudicating authority is bound to follow the principle of natural justice if the statutory provisions are silent about natural justice? This question is well settled after the powerful pronouncement of Cooper v Wanderworth Board of Works. This case states that even though the statute is silent the adjudicating authority is bound to follow the principles of natural justice. Then De Smith in his book also says that Court would apply rule as it is of universal application and founded on the plainest principle of natural justice and Wade stated that rule of natural justice operates as implied mandatory requirement; non-observance of which invalidates the exercise of power. Indian courts also accepted this principle through various case laws like A.K.Kraipak v Union of India, Manake Gandhi v Union of India and so on.
Whether natural justice principle is applicable to administrative authorities?
It is well settled that natural justice are bind on all codes, judicial bodies and quasi-judicial bodies. Formerly court had taken the view that the principle of natural justice was inapplicable to administrative orders but later principle of natural justice are applicable to almost the whole range of administrative powers. This principle is accepted in India also. According to Russell v Duke of Norfolk natural justice is not applicable to every kind of inquiry and every kind of domestic tribunal. Requirements of natural justice must be dependent on the circumstances of the case, the nature of the inquiry, the rules under which the tribunal is acting, the subject matter that being dealt with and so forth.
The norms of natural justice are based on two principles: Nemo debet esse judex in propria cause which means no man shall be a judge in his own course, or no man can act as both at the one and the same time. In other words, deciding authority must be impartial and without bias. Second principle of natural justice is Audi Alteram Partem which means no man should be condemned unheard or the person who has to be affected by a decision has a right to be heard.
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