Principles of Natural Justice (PNJ)

The principles of natural justice (PNJ) are set of principles and procedures which are used in adjudication of disputes between two parties, adjudication should happen in an unbiased way, and opportunity to be heard should be given by blithe parties, and bothe should have equal access to the tribunal. There is no specific definition of natural justice, it is a combination of a few principles which is used in the filed of law as common practices. These principles are universally valid, and are usually followed by all. The term natural justice has been derived form the roman term “Jus Natural”, and they are considered to be a part of common law. Ironically they have not been codified, it is assumed that they have to be followed in any situation. The principles state that proper procedure have to be used in the process of decision making, no matter what the decision is, but the procedure should be conductor in an effective and efficient way. There are three principles of natural justice:

1. The Doctrine of Bias: Nemo Judex In Causa Sua is a latin phrase which means “No one should be a judge in his own case” as that leads to a biased decision. The person who has the authority to give the decision in a case, which is usually the judge should be unbiased and impartial, the judgment has to be taken on the basis of arguments and evidence and nothing else. The probability of a bias existing is enough to prevet a judge from sitting in the judgement taking place. There are three kinds a bias which cane take place and they have been discussed as follows: 

  • Pecuniary Bias: When the judge has pecuniary or financial interest or economic interest in the subject matter of the case, the person can no longer be considered a judge. If such a bias is discovered in the process of litigation he/she can be disqualified a s a judge making them unfit as a judge. 
  • Personal Bias: Such a bias takes place when there is some sort of relationship existing between the party in litigation and the judge, the relationship can be in th form of friendship, family relations, professional, and enmity. The above stated reasons may take the form of a biased decision, but such a bias is highly unnoticed by the judge, as it takes place involuntarily just with the emotions. However if it is proved strict actions will be taken against the judge.
  • Official Bias/ Bias as to the subject matter: If the judge has interest in the subject matter of the case, and if judgement is given in a particular manner may favour the judge professionally or personally of considered as an official bias. To disqualify the judge on this ground it has to proves that there is some direct connection between the judge and issues in the dispute.

2. Doctrine of Fair Hearing: Audi Alteram Partem means “to hear the other side”. This second principle pf natural justice means that everyone has to be given the opportunity to be heard. Action cannot be taken against the person if he was unheard. The process of litigation shall happen through fair hearing by both both the parties, they should be given a chance to present their arguments and cases, There are two parts to this doctrine:

  • Notice: A prior notice has to be issued by the deciding authority to party involved against whom action is to be taken. The notice should contain all the necessary information place, times, the nature of hearing, and other material details. After the notice is given the lawsuit will be initiated in a fair manner. The notice should also indicate the evidence upon which the action will be taken . The notice is like the final opportunity the receiver has to resolve the matter without going to the court of law, it is ike the final warning. After the notice has been issued reasonable time has to be given to make representation of the case and evidence in the court. 
  • Fair Hearing: The person against whom the order is passed shall be aware of all the actions that are going to be taken against him in full detail, the right to cross examination and the right to legal representation (right to have lawyer) has to be given to the parties, only if all the above are fulfilled it is considered that the principle of fair hearing has taken place. They are all a part of the right of fair hearing. 

3. The third principle of natural justice of “Reasoned Decision”, it states that reasonable reasons have to be recorded and told to the aggrieved party for taking the decision. Only if they seem satisfactory the decision will be considered valid. Giving reason can also be useful for one to appeal in higher courts as it is a requirement for appeal. Cessante Ratione Legis Cessat Ipsa Lex  means “Reason is the soul of the law, and when such reason ceases to be there so does the law”, this outlines the necessity and importance of speaking order (order containing the reason behind the judgement) or reasoned decision. 

There are several exceptions where the principles of natural justice are not followed , like when it is excluded in statutory provisions, constitutional provisions, are matters of confidentiality, public interest, during emergencies, etc. However it is majorly followed by all. We can come to a conclusion that the principles of natural justices were implemented so that the dignity and human rights of an individual could be protected, against the arbitrary legislative system where there are chances of injustice. It ensures that justice is given to all in a clear and fair manner. Hence, they play an important role in the field of law. 

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