Natural Justice

  • The dictionary meaning of justice is ‘moral or legal fairness”.

Classification of Justice:

  • Justice can be classified into two types viz. natural or moral justice and positive or legal justice.

Natural Justice:

  • The word ‘natural justice’ is derived from the Roman word ‘Jus Naturale’, which means principles of natural law, justice, equity, and good conscience.
  • These principles did not originate from any divine power but are the outcome of the necessity of judicial thinking, as well as the necessity to evolve the norms of fair play. Natural justice is also sometimes referred as ‘Divine law’ or ‘Moral Law’.
  • Rules of natural justice are not fundamental rights but they safeguard individual from any arbitrary action which may affect the rights of individuals.
  • In natural justice, the conscience is invoked and not legal principles. Rules of natural justice are not codified, but they are principles ingrained into the conscience of men.
  • Natural justice is the administration of justice is common sense or liberal way. It flows from natural ideas and ends in human values.

Principles of Natural Justice:

Every accused individual must have a reasonable opportunity of being heard in his defence.

  • Here a doctrine ‘Audi alteram partem‘ ’ comes into play. It means that no one should be condemned unheard. The person concerned whose civil rights are affected must have reasonable notice of the case he has to meet.
  • The person (Accused) must be given a fair and reasonable opportunity to defend himself. The person has right to know the accusations levelled against him and the premise on which such accusation is based. A reasonable opportunity and time should be given to the person to adduce all relevant evidence in his defence.

The hearing must be by an impartial tribunal.

  • Here a doctrine ‘nemo debet esse judex in propria causa’ comes into play. It means that no man shall be a judge in his own cause.
  • In natural justice, it is mandatory that the disciplinary authority should be impartial and free from bias. It must not be interested in or related to the cause which is being decided by him.
  • The personal interest can be in the form of some pecuniary benefit or some personal relation or even ill-will or malice or any official bias against any of the parties.
  • In such case, the judge should pass an order “Not Before Me” (NBM).

 The order should be a speaking order

  • The authority must act in good faith and not arbitrarily and the order passed by an enquiry officer or administrative agency must be a speaking order. If the order is not supported by reasons, it will amount to the violation of the rules of natural justice.
  • If the order is passed with reasons, only then will it show that there was a proper appreciation of evidence by the disciplinary authority, otherwise the aggrieved party will not be in a position to demonstrate before the appellate authority, as to the manner in which the order passed by the initial authority is bad or suffers from a particular illegality.
  • In the case of Anjali v. SBI 1993 (2) Bank CLR 372, the termination of the plaintiff from bank service was based on findings which were founded on pure suspicion and surmises without subscribing, any reason. On appeal, it was held that the order was not a speaking order, with no application of mind to the points raised by the employee. Hence, termination from service was quashed, as the principles of natural justice were violated.

Legal Justice:

  • Legal justice is a justice governed by the law of the state.
  • It is codified and principles are followed without any emotions.

Other Classification:

  • The justice can also be classified into two types. viz. Corrective justice and Distributive justice.

Corrective Justice:

  • Corrective justice is a fundamental type of justice, concerned with the reversal of wrongs or the undoing of transactions. Thus corrective justice means restoring the rights to those who were earlier deprived of their rights. E.g. Reservations for socially and economically backward classes.

Distributive Justice:

  1. In distributive justice, there is an equitable distribution of rights between various sections of people according to their rights. In the present time, the justice that is concerned with the distribution or allotment of goods, duties, and privileges in concert with the merits of individuals, and the best interests of society is called distributive justice.

The Responsibility of Justice:

  • Justice should not concern only punishment. It should be concerned with how a person came to be in trouble with the law in the first place.
  • Factors contributing to the behaviour in contravention to society’s laws in an individual perspective and also in social perspective should be studied.
  • Studying this behaviour in relation to social factors such as poverty, racism and education can significantly inform our understanding of preventing crime and government law-making.
  • Trying to understand why poor and marginalized people in our society fill our jails and our hospitals and have higher suicide rates than the rest of the population is also part of the study of justice.

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