The Principles Of Natural Justice
The use of the term “Natural Justice” in the judicial context is very important and frequent. Although there is an adjective “natural” qualifying the noun “justice”, the concept has nothing to do with laws of nature which rather runs counter to it. With the advancement of the civilization our lives started to be dominated more by the rules of law, rather than law of nature.
The supreme and sovereign power of the state to make to make laws through the organ of legislatures is one of the essential features of a democratic establishment and the laws enacted by the legislatures are liable to be used arbitrarily in the absence of a well-laid down procedure for its application and administration. The principle of natural justice goes a long way to remedy the situation arising out of the departure from this established procedure.
The principles of natural justice have their roots in two Latin maxims:”Audi alteram partem” and “nemo judex in causa sua”. The first one translated into English means that a person who has charged, must be heard before any is decision is taken and the second maxim means that a person will not judge a matter in which he is interested. In recent times another principle has come into existence and followed by the judiciary is that a judgement should be a speaking one which means it should state the reasons behind arriving at a particular decision.
The principle of natural justice over the decades evolved all over the world which has its genesis in the common law in England. The common law was a set of unwritten laws which existed in the form of usages and conventions and adopted subsequently as laws. The Common Wealth group of countries, USA, Australia, Canada and other countries drew heavily on this source of common laws while framing their laws. In India the application of this principle is found not only in matters as respects governance but includes a broad spectrum of activities such trade, commerce, industry etc.
As has been explained that the it is rule of law which principally guides this concept and the rule of law ensures in arriving at decisions in a fair and just manner. The principles are contained in the act itself. There are certain procedural prescriptions in the Civil Procedure Code which mention various rights of the parties in dispute viz., the right to reply , the right to cross-examine witnesses, inspection of evidences and documents submitted by the respective parties etc. which are all basic rights and any judgement arrived at by violating these rights would broadly come under the purview of natural justice and may be struck down by the appropriate judicial authorities.
There are certain quasi-judicial authorities like tribunals and commissions which exercise authority of a quasi judicial authority and these authorities must follow the principles of natural justice to ensure fairness in their decisions. Any decision which infringes upon the principles may be set aside by the superior judicial authorities. The rights enjoined by these principles are the right to be heard impartially; the right to have the notice of the offence and the right to respond to the charge. These are procedural safeguards to ensure dispensation of justice in a fair manner.
However, it has to be accepted that law is dynamic and living field and by merely cling on to the procedures or strict observance of the rules do not produce a fair and satisfactory outcome. The imaginative application of mind and the appropriate interpretation of the various rules, provisions of the laws is a significant area and the judges have an important to play in this regard.
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