This principle is one of the oldest concepts which has been recognized by Greek and Roman as a concept of ‘Jus Naturale’. It focuses that decision making process should be rationale and fair. It is also known as the principles of procedural fairness, which are fundamental legal concepts that ensure fairness and protect individual’s rights in administrative and judicial proceedings. Its basic idea is that every person has the right to a fair and unbiased process when their rights or interests are being determined by a decision-making authority.
Purpose of Natural Justice
The purpose of the principle of natural justice to ensure fairness, equity, and the protection of individual rights in administrative and judicial proceedings. Rooted in the belief that everyone deserves a fair and unbiased process when their rights or interests are being determined, this principle serves as a vital safeguard against arbitrary, prejudiced, or unjust decisions. By requiring that all parties involved in a case have the opportunity to be heard and present their arguments, natural justice promotes transparency and prevents authorities from reaching conclusions based on incomplete information.
Furthermore, it upholds the accountability of decision-makers by demanding clear and rational reasons for their decisions, fostering public confidence in the integrity of legal and administrative system. Overall, the principle of natural justice ensures that decision-making processes are conducted with due process, balancing competing interests, and ultimately contributing to a more just and equitable society.
Rules for governing the Principle of Natural Justice
1. Doctrine of Bias
It is the concept of Nemo Judex in Causa Suawhich means no one can be the judge in his or her case. The judge of the case should be fair minded and should not be related with the parties of the case or the case of hearing.
The doctrine of bias basically implemented that the judge must be neutral, unbiased and free from any personal interest, prejudice, or conflict of interest that could affect their judgment. This ensures that the decision is reached objectively and without any influence that might compromise its fairness. It has three types:
- Pecuniary Bias: It means matter relating to money. If the judge or judicial body has been related to any financial benefit, it may lead to administrative authority to biasness.
- Personal Bias: It is related to relatives/ friends etc.
- Biasness to the subject matter: It means if the judge has been directly involved in the subject matter of the case, then that certain judge cannot be the judge of that certain case. It has further 4 types:
- Relation with issue in question: It means acting as witness and judge in same time.
- Departmental Bias: If any case is filed by department itself or against the department then in that case, judge of same department cannot be competent to decide or handle the case.
- Disclosing the decision before announcement in the court.
- Decision as per the order: The decision should not be given as per the order given by the superior authority.
2. Theory of Hearing/Doctrine of Fair Hearing
It is the concept of Audi alteram partem which means the accused person have right to fair hearing or fair trial to defend himself or herself. It is the most important rule of the natural justice. This rule enshrines the right of all parties involved in a case to have a reasonable opportunity to present their case, evidence, and arguments before a decision is made that may affect them.
It ensures that no one is condemned or adversely affected without being given a chance to respond to the allegations or arguments made against them. This right to be heard includes the right to know about the case against you, the right to call and cross-examine witnesses, and right to make submissions.
The theory of hearing includes:
- Right to notice
- Right to attend the hearing
- Right to legal representation
- Right to hear decision and reasons for it.
3. Reasoned Decision
It means decision of the court should be according to law and evidences. In this, the aggrieved party can demonstrate before the revisional and appellate court that what was the main reason which makes the authority to reject it. It can be the satisfactory part of the party against whom the decision has been made.
Overall, the principle of natural justice serves to maintain fairness, equity, and the rule of law in various legal and administrative contexts, ensuring that decisions are made through a transparent and accountable process that respects the rights of all parties involved.
The principle of natural justice stands as a cornerstone of legal and administrative proceedings, serving to uphold fundamental principles of fairness, equity, and the protection of individual rights. By guaranteeing parties the right to be heard and ensuring decisions are made without bias, this principle prevents arbitrary and unjust outcomes.
The principle’s role in promoting accountability, transparency and maintaining public trust in the legal system is pivotal. It is not only safeguards against abuse of power but also facilitates effective review of decisions. As a result, the principle of natural justice not only ensures due process but also contributes to the overall integrity and legitimacy of decision-making processes across diverse contexts.