Principles of Natural Justice in India


INTRODUCTION


As we have previously discussed, principles of natural justice are as such that they contribute towards the democratic processes of any democracy and maintain as well as preserve the rights and privileges enjoyed by any and all citizens of a country, while imposing restrictions and procedural requirements over the Government authorities.


In India as well, the framers of the Constitution and the Indian Judiciary as well as the Parliament has recognized the importance of Natural justice and its implementation in laws, procedure as well as execution of such laws and procedure.


The Constitution has contemplated principles which further the course for Natural justice, and also provides remedies for the violation of such principles.


Let us understand the various applications and expressions of Natural Justice in the Indian context.



The Constitution of India


ARTICLE 14:


Article 14 guarantees all citizens equality before law and equal protection of law. It hinders any form of discrimination and forbids both discriminatory laws and administrative action. Article 14 of Constitution of India establishes to be safeguard against any arbitrary or discriminatory State action. The sphere of equality as embodied in Article 14 has been expanding as a result of the judicial decisions.


This Article laid down a general preposition that all persons in similar circumstance shall be treated in a similar way both in privileges and liabilities imposed.


Article 14 manifests in the form of following propositions:

  1. A law granting freehand and unhindered power on an authority is dreadful for being arbitrary and discriminatory.

  2. Art. 14 illegalizes prejudice in the definite exercise of any discretionary power.

  3. Art. 14, smacks at arbitrariness in administrative action and guarantees fairness and equality of treatment.


  • In Delhi Transport Corporation v. DTC Mazdoor Union, the Apex Court held that “the audi alteram partem rule, in essence, enforces the equality clause in Article 14 of the Constitution, is applicable not only to quasi-judicial bodies but also to an administrative order adversely affecting the party unless the rule has been excluded by the Act in question.”



ARTICLE 21:


The most significant expression under this Article is ’’procedure established by law‟ the issue arises whether the above-mentioned expression can be read as principles of natural justice. For which, the Supreme Court of India in majority ruled that the word ‘’law‟ under Art. 21 could not be read as rules of natural justice. Since, the rules of natural justice are vague and imprecise and thus the Constitution could not be read as laying down an indistinguishable standard.


The Supreme Court has taken a massive inventive step forward in improving the administration of criminal justice by suggesting that free legal support to poor prisoners by the State undergoing imprisonment. When an accused is sentenced to imprisonment by a Court and if the accused is entitled to appeal against the order/judgment/decree, the Accused has the right to claim legal aid and if he is unable to meet the expense, the State shall make all such arrangements in order to provide legal aid.


ARTICLE 22:


This Article provides protection to arrested person from arrest and detention in certain cases which within its sphere contains fundamental element of natural justice.

Article 22 (1) and (2) grants the following fundamental rights upon a arrested person:

  1. Right to be informed, instantaneously the grounds for arrest.

  2. Right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.

  3. Right to be produced before the nearest magistrate within twenty-four hours from arrest excluding of travel from the place of arrest to the Court of Magistrate.

  4. Right not to be detained in custody without the authority of the Magistrate beyond the period of twenty-four hours from arrest.


  • In Joginder Kumar V. State of U.P, the Supreme Court observed that no arrest can be made because it is lawful for the Police officer to do so. The existence of the power to arrest is one thing. Arrest and detention in lock-up of a person can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person.


No arrest should be made by Police Officer without reasonable satisfaction after some investigation as to the genuineness and bona fides of a complaint and a reasonable belief both as to the person's complicity and even so as to the need to effect arrest. If an Accused is sentenced to imprisonment, it is nearly unable to exercise the constitutional or statutory right of appeal of the Accused, inclusive of special leave to appeal for want of legal assistance.


The court may judge the situation and consider from all angles whether it is necessary for the ends of justice to make available legal aid in the particular case. This is the present position pertaining to legal representation to the arrested person under Article 22(1).


The Other relevant provisions in this regard


Scales of justice and Judge gavel

ARTICLE 32, 226 AND 227:


Article 32 and 226 of the constitution provides for remedies for violation of fundamental Rights and as well as other statutory rights, Under Article 32 and Article 226 the remedies can be exercised by seeking for orders for issuance appropriate Writ, Directions and Orders.


  • In U.P. Warehousing Corporation v. Vinay Narayan Vajpayee, the Court held that Writ of certiorari or prohibition usually goes to a body which is bound to act fairly or according to natural justice, and it fails to do so. In the same manner where the decision is affected by bias, personal, or pecuniary, or subject matter as the case may be considered as violation of principle of natural justice. In such circumstances also writ of certiorari and prohibition can be issued both Under Art 32 and 226.



ART. 311 AND PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL JUSTICE:


Art 311 deals with removal, Dismissal or reduction in rank of persons employed in Civil Capacities, under the Union or State, though Art. 310 of the constitution adopt the “Doctrine of Pleasure”.


The expression “reasonable opportunity of being heard” includes all the aspects of the Principles of Natural Justice and accordingly no dismissal, removal, or reduction of rank of a civil servant can be ordered without giving reasonable opportunity of being heard.


  • In Punjab National Bank v. Kunj Behari Misra, the following question was raised: when the Inquiry Officer, during the course of the disciplinary proceedings, comes to the conclusion that charges of misconduct against an official are not proved, then can the disciplinary authority differ from that view and give a contrary finding without affording an opportunity to the delinquent officer.


The Court has ruled that natural justice demands that the authority which proposes to hold the delinquent officer guilty must give him a hearing. If the inquiry officer holds the charges to be proved, then the report has to be given to the delinquent officer who can make a representation before the disciplinary authority takes further action prejudicial to the delinquent officer.


That's it on principles of natural justice, in PART 1 we had already covered the core principles and in the current article, we looked at how those principles have taken chief priority under the Constitution of India.


#Keep on the lookout for more such posts under this category (administrative law) :)


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