Monday, 6 August 2012

Basic concept of natural justice

The rule of natural justice with which we are concerned in these Appeals and Writ Petitions, namely, the audi alteram partem rule, in its fullest amplitude means that a person against whom an order to his prejudice may be passed should be informed of the allegations and charges against him, be given an opportunity of submitting his explanation thereto, have the right to know the evidence, both oral or documentary, by which the matter is proposed to be decided against him, and to inspect the documents which are relied upon for the purpose of being used against him, to have the witnesses who are to give evidence against him examined in his presence and have the right to cross-examine them, and to lead his own evidence, both oral and documentary, in his defence. The process of a fair hearing need not, however, conform to the judicial process in a court of law, because judicial adjudication of causes involves a number of technical rules of procedure and evidence which are unnecessary and not required for the purpose of a fair hearing within the meaning of audi alteram partem rule in a quasi-judicial or administrative inquiry.
"As observed by this Court in Kraipak and Ors. v. Union of India the aim of rules of natural justice is to secure justice or to put it negatively to prevent miscarriage of justice. These rules can operate only in areas not covered by any law validly made. In other words they do not supplant the law but supplement it. It is true that if a statutory provision can be read consistently with the principles of natural justice, the courts should do so because it must be presumed that the legislatures and the statutory authorities intend to act in accordance with the principles of natural justice. But if on the other hand a statutory provision either specifically or by necessary implication excluded the application of any or all the principles of natural justice then the court cannot ignore the mandate of the legislature or the statutory authority and read into the concerned provision the principles of natural justice. Whether the exercise of a power conferred should be made in accordance with any of the principles of natural
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justice or not depends upon the express words of the provision conferring the power, the nature of the power conferred, the purpose for which it is conferred and the effect of the exercise of that power"
union of india v tulsi ram patel 11july 1985
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