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Principles of Natural Justice

Natural justice is an essential concept in administrative law. In this article, we will read about the principles of natural justice.

The principles of natural justice are the primary basis for the administrative layout of any country. The concept and doctrine of principles of natural justice have been here since the beginning and are not new concepts. Natural justice is a representation in common law that needs procedural fairness regulations. This law has many colours and shades as well as many forms and shapes. 

What are the Principles of Natural Justice?

The phrase “Principles of Natural Justice” came from a Roman Law expression “Jus Natural”. They do not have legal force because they may or may not form part of the statute, but they must be followed. When a quasi-judicial body is tasked with resolving conflicts or any organisational action involving civil consequences is at stake, adherence to principles of natural justice as recognised by all civilised States is critical. 

Natural justice is the core of fair judgement, firmly embedded in heritage and sense of morality, and should be considered fundamental. The goal of adhering to natural justice principles is to avoid miscarriages of justice.

What are the Three Principles of Natural Justice?

Natural justice recognises three principles: 

  1. Nemo judex in causa sua
  2. Audi alteram partem
  3. Speaking orders or reasoned decision

The first two are from Roman law, and the third is a modern invention due to the rapid development of constitutional and administrative law.

Nemo judex in causa sua 

The first principle of impartiality translates to “no one shall be an arbitrator on his own or a cause in which he is interested.” This idea is also known as the Doctrine of Bias, which means the authority to which the case is assigned should be unbiased and act without favouritism. To instil trust in the system, justice must be done and seen to be done.

Bias can be classified into peculiar, personal, and official. 

  1. The adjudicator’s decision will be influenced if he has a financial interest in the subject matter of the proceedings. 
  2. For example, suppose a book is to be launched, the author of the book is a member of the committee formed to select books, and his book was also under consideration by that committee, the possibility of bias could not be ruled out, and the committee’s selection could not be upheld. As a result, in addition to the direct personal interest, the court’s test requires it to consider the actual likelihood of bias.
  3. Personal bias occurs when the deciding party has a relationship, a professional grudge, or even animosity with the other two parties. The chances of occurrence of these biases are given more importance than the actual bias. As a result, we must determine whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that they were biased.
  4.  For example, if there is a case for a company versus government and the judge knows any of the two parties, then he should excuse himself from the case. 
  5. Official bias may occur when a supervisor who pronounces and then has to carry out an official policy is entrusted with the duty of listening to objections from those affected by the policy’s execution. 
  6. In this case, the general rule is that bias is likely to arise because the adjudicator has an overall interest in the subject matter, and management of the policy in his professional duties would not disqualify him. For example, I am required to punish a child, but I am against the idea of giving punishment, so my general interest in the subject will hamper my actions. 

Audi alterem partem

The second natural justice principle translates “to listen to the other side.” This principle is required for a fair hearing, and the rule against partiality would undoubtedly be part of the procedure.

A conclusion has been deduced from the preceding two rules, specifically, the Audi alterem partem rule that “qui aliquid statuerit parte inaudita alteram actquam licet dixerit, haud acquum facerit,” which means he who shall decide anything without hearing the other side will not have said what is right, or justice should not only be done but should patently be seen to be done. 

When it is said that you should listen to the other side, listening should not be lowered to decorum and should not be limited to auditory hearing alone. It should be a good hearing.

Speaking Orders or Reasoned Decision

The third component of natural justice necessitates verbal orders or rational decisions. Giving explanations for a decision is now universally recognised as one of the basics of effective governance and protection against arbitrariness. The refusal to provide reasons may raise the possibility that there are no good reasons to support the decision. As a result, reasons are useful because they can reveal a legal error, provide grounds for an appeal, or simply remove a lingering sense of injustice on the part of the unsuccessful party.


There are, nevertheless, some exceptions to natural justice. Natural justice principles do not apply in situations where they are expressly or impliedly prohibited by statute. Similarly, no principle of natural justice is invoked in the case of legislation enacted by Parliament if such legislation falls within the legislature’s competence. Even if the person entitled to adjudicate is disqualified based on bias, his decision will not be overturned on that basis if there is no other person competent or authorised to adjudicate on that matter under the statute.


Frequently asked questions

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On which two rules the principles of natural justice are based?

Answer: Natural justice principles worry procedural fairness and guarantee tha...Read full

What is the purpose of natural justice?

Answer: Natural justice aims to ensure that decisions are fair and reas...Read full

What is not an exception to natural justice?

Answer: Natural justice can only be used when it is useful and appropriate. Ho...Read full

What do you mean by the rule against bias?

Answer: The authority making decisions must be made up of impartial people who act fairly, without prejudice or bias...Read full