Judicial Essay on Natural Justice
- Essentials of Natural Justice
- The rule of Bias
- The rule of fair hearing.
The word justice is incapable being defined accurately. The word justice has different connotation for different jurists. Loosely speaking, justice implies fairness— giving one his due. In a sense that good reaps reward, the bad reaps punishment. However, the essence of justice is to objectively weigh the rival claims before an impartial judge, without fear or favour and regardless of money, wealth, power and identity. There is a legal adage that justice should not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. To achieve this objective, the principles of natural justice come to the fore so that justice be administered in its true spirit.
Natural justice is a concept of procedural law that requires every judicial, quasi-judicial, administrative agency to follow certain rules, while taking any decision that may adversely affect the rights of private individual.
The principles of natural justice encompasses following two rules
Nemo judex inn causa sua… No one should be a judge in its own cause
Audi Alterm partem… No one should be condemned unheard
These two Latin maxims thus signify the standards which are to met in the decision making process. They seek to ensure that an individual is given a proper opportunity to present his side of the case prior to the decision being reached and that decision itself is reached in an objective manner by an independent and impartial decision maker.
Bias, which can vitiate proceedings before a tribunal, may be divided into three kinds which are described as official bias, personal bias and pecuniary bias. For the convenience of classification, bias resulting from prejudgment on issues of law and policy is called an official bias. Where the mind of the judge is influenced in favour of one party or against another party, it is described as personal bias. Where the decision-maker has some financial interest in the subject-matter before him/her for adjudication, his decision is also said to suffer from bias.
The second principle of natural justice demands that a decision maker must give an opportunity to a person whose interest may be adversely affected by his decision the opportunity to be heard. This means that an accused person must be provided with as much detail as possible about the allegations against him and the factual basis for those allegations and be afforded an opportunity to respond.
The principle of fair hearing is considered one of the fundamental requirements of adjudication that, whenever the interest of a person is affected by a judicial or administrative decision, that person be provided the opportunity to know and to understand the allegations made against him, and to make representations to the decision-maker to confront those allegations.
Irrespective of the nature of the body making the decision whether that is judicial/quasi-judicial or administrative, the main aim is that a person should be treated fairly. The case law illustrates that the requirements of a fair hearing will vary from case to case depending on the circumstances of each case.
Let us conclude the discussion with the famous saying of the U.S Lawyer L. Spooner that natural justice is the only standard through which any dispute among individuals can be adjudicated rightfully; it has universal application irrespective of place, nation and time; being self-evidently necessary in all times and places; being so entirely impartial and equitable towards all; so indispensable to the peace of mankind everywhere; so vital to the safety and welfare of every human being; being too, so easily learned, so generally known, and so easily maintained by such voluntary associations as all honest men can readily and rightfully form for that purpose. The Principles of Natural Justice has always played a crucial role and its denial will lead to destruction and anarchy.