3. Principles of Natural Justice



3.1 Explaining the above Constitutional provisions, the Supreme Court held that the rules of natural justice require that —
(1) charged employee should be given notice of the charges he is called upon to explain and the allegations on which those are based;
(2) evidence should be taken in the presence of the charged employee;
(3) he should be given opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses;
(4) he should have the opportunity of adducing all relevant evidence on which he relies;
(5) no material should be relied on against him without giving him an opportunity of explaining such material.

3.2 Principles of Natural Justice operate in areas not covered by any rule or law; they do not supplant the law but only supplement it.

3.3 The following are the two important basic principles of natural justice:
(i) No one can be a judge in his own cause (‘Nemo debet essa judex in propria cause’),
(ii) Hear the other side (‘Audi Alteram Partem’).

3.4 The principle, ‘No one can be a judge in his own cause’ implies that the accuser must not sit in judgment on the accused. The judge can under no circumstances combine in himself the roles of judge and jury, of judge and witness or judge and prosecutor. He must be totally free from any bias. Bias can be of three types: (a) a pecuniary interest, (b) a personal interest, and (c) a general interest, in the subject matter brought before him for decision. Bias is relevant not only in the disciplinary authority but also in the inquiry officer even where the inquiry officer is a different person from the disciplinary authority.

3.5 The second principle, ‘Hear the other side’ means (a) that a judge must hear both sides and must not hear one side in the absence of the other. It means that the delinquent Government servant has a notice of the charges he is called upon to explain and the allegations on which those are based; (b) that he has access to all relevant evidence that he wishes to adduce; (c) that he is given the opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses and to produce witnesses in defence and offer himself for examination; (d) that no evidence should be recorded behind his back but all of it should be taken in his presence; and (e) that no materials should be relied on against him without his being given an opportunity of explaining them.

3.6 The following further principles emerge from a consideration of what is stated above: (i) that the decision must be made in good faith and (ii) an order must be a speaking order.

3.7 The principle that the decision must be made in good faith implies that the judge has bestowed due consideration to the facts and evidence adduced during the inquiry and has not taken into account any extraneous matter not adduced during the inquiry and that he has arrived at the decision without favour to any of the parties.

3.8 The principle that the order must be a speaking order is based on the premise that whether the judge has considered all the aspects of a matter before him can be ascertained only if the order which he makes is a speaking order. The requirement of making a speaking order will minimise the possibility of arbitrary exercise of power as the necessary search for reasons will ensure reasonableness. Reasons are the links between the materials on which certain conclusions are based and the actual conclusions. They disclose how the mind is applied to the subject matter while arriving at a decision.

3.9 The provisions of the C.C.A. Rules in fact satisfy the requirements and the principles of natural justice will be satisfied if the procedures laid down in the Andhra Pradesh Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1991 are scrupulously followed.

3.10 The Supreme Court, in Union of India vs. T.R. Verma, AIR 1957 SC 882 has summarised the principles of natural justice thus: “Stating it broadly and without intending it to be exhaustive, it may be observed that rules of natural justice require that a party should have the opportunity of adducing all relevant evidence on which he relies, that the evidence of the opponent should be taken in his presence, and that he should be given the opportunity of cross-examining the witness examined by that party, and that no material should be relied on against him without his being given an opportunity of explaining them.”

3.11 Hence, the rules of natural justice are violated:
(a) where the inquiry is confidential and is held ex parte (without valid reasons) or the witnesses are examined in the absence of the charged officer;
(b) where the charged officer is denied the right to call material defence witnesses or to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses, or he is not given sufficient time to answer the charges, or the Inquiry Officer acts upon documents not disclosed to the charged officer;
(c) where the Inquiry Officer has a personal bias against the person charged.

3.12 However, in this connection, the famous dictum of Lord Denning, Master of the Rolls in the case of R vs. Secretary of State for Home Department, (1973) 3 All ER 796 of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, published in the All England Law Reports, that “Rules of natural justice must not be stretched too far. Only too often the people who have done wrong seek to invoke the rules of natural justice so as to avoid the consequences”, approvingly quoted by the Supreme Court of India in the case of H.C. Sarin vs. Union of India, AIR 1976 SC 1686, sounds pragmatic.