(1) RULE AGAINST BIAS: The first principle means that the adjudicator should be disinterested and unbiased; that the prosecutor himself should not be a judge; that the judge should be a neutral and disinterested person; that a person should not be a judge in his own cause; that a person interested in one of the parties to the dispute should not, even formally, take part in the adjudicatory proceedings
(2) FAIR HEARING: Another cardinal principle of natural justice is that the body deciding upon the rights of a party must give a reasonable opportunity to the party concerned to present his case. That no one should be condemned unheard is an important maxim of civilized jurisprudence.
Present Context | ‘Natural justice is not a made-to-order formula which has to be fitted to all situations with an iron-bound uniformity’.
Meaning | This means that the application of the principle may vary from case to case though within well-defined parameters. For a better understanding of the statement, reference can be drawn to the observation made in the case of A K. Kraipak v. Union of India that the rules of natural justice are not embodied rules. Thus, what particular role of natural justice should apply to a given case must depend to a great extent on the facts and circumstances of that case.
In furtherance, the question that ‘Whether the principles of natural justice requires circumstantial flexibility’ was considered by the Supreme Court wide case Reserve Bank of India v. M. Hanumaiah, (AIR 2008 SC 994).
Facts: The Reserve Bank of India issued a requisition to the Registrar, Co-operative Societies to supersede the board and appointed an administrator under section 30(5) of Karnataka Cooperative Societies Act, 1959. The requisition was made in public interest and to prevent the conduct of the affairs of the Cooperative Bank in a manner detrimental to the interest of the depositors and for securing proper management of the bank.
Held: The Apex Court rejected the complain that no hearing had been given to the management of the bank and held that on a receipt of a requisition in writing from Reserve Bank of India, the Registrar, cooperative Societies was statutorily bound to issue an order of supercession of the body of management and at that stage the affected Bank or its Managing Committee had no right of hearing or to raise any objection.
Analysis | The Supreme Court has observed that the principles of natural justice have changes drastically and it is now settled that complainant must show that he has suffered some real prejudice. In the case of P. D. Agarwal v. State Bank of India, (2006) the court observed that natural justice is no unruly horse nor could it be put in a strait jacket formula. It is not applied in a vacuum without reference to the relevant facts.
Application of natural justice could be let go on following situations
· Doctrine of necessity and absolute necessity – During absolute necessity to act, natural justice rules may be avoided.
· Statutory exceptions to the rule of natural justice – When statute expressly excludes it then it shall not be called in question
· Exception during situations of emergency – When there is emergency for action and there is no time for natural justice to be followed then it can be avoided.
· Exception where no right of an individual has been infringed – When there is a situation even if natural justice is not followed, no one’s right would be infringed then it would be a mere formality to follow it, so it can be avoided.
· Exception in cases where public interest is of importance – In circumstances where rules of natural justice stands in way of public good it can be omitted
· Exception in cases of impracticality- Where there is not possible to apply principles of natural justice then it can be avoided
· Exception in cases of academic evaluation- academic evaluation do not attract principles of natural justice.