Principles of Natural Justice and Implementation in Criminal Justice of India

Author: Shalini Dhyani, Law Student at Vasudev College of Law, Haldwani, Nainital

Edited By: Gyanu Patel, Law Student at Amity University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh


The principle of natural justice is not a new concept in the criminal justice system in India. The natural justice system is the procedure of fairness. One of the most prestigious courts of the country is the Supreme Court of India which deals with legal cases and proceedings daily that cover different parts or branches of the legal sphere while keeping in mind the principles of natural justice to meet transparency and fairness in the criminal justice system. This article covers the historical background of the natural justice system with its jurisprudential essence, also it deals with the incorporation of the natural justice system in the Indian legal system. Furthermore, it focuses on the judicial interpretation helps in shaping the concept of natural justice in India. Natural justice is one of the fundamental factors that helps in administrative and legal processes, with our comprehensive research this article focuses on the crucial role of the natural justice system in protecting basic human rights and advocating a fair judicial system in India.

Keywords: natural justice, criminal justice system, Fairness, India, Supreme Court, legal, justice.


Lord Esher M.R defined Natural Justice as “the natural sense of what is wrong and what is right also he explained natural justice as fundamental justice[1]

The term Natural Justice is taken from the Latin word  that is “Jus Naturale” which means natural law or natural right. To prevent injustice or arbitrary decisions made by those in positions of authority, it is a philosophical system of moral principles based on human nature and moralistic notions of good and evil. Natural justice principles have been developed by courts to keep order, stop power abuse, and guarantee the efficient administration of justice.[2] Justice has come from the Latin word ‘jus’ which means right. Justice is located into the several conceptions like morality, righteousness, rationality etc. Need, Equality are the main core principles of justice. Justice should not only be done but it should seen to be done. Ensurance of justice is not only the purpose of the principle  but maintaining  the transparency and fairness of the process is also important. It is a concept that is essential in order to maintain the trust of the public in the legal system.


The notion of natural justice, which has its origins in ancient times, was acknowledged by both the Greeks and Romans. The concept of divine prohibition is illustrated in the biblical narratives of Kautilya, Arthashastra, and Adam, where Eve and Adam were explicitly forbidden from consuming the fruit of knowledge. The notion originating from the Roman phrases ‘jus-naturale’ and ‘lex-naturale’, which encompass principles of natural justice, natural law, and equity, was later acknowledged by English jurists. Natural justice refers to an innate understanding of moral correctness and ethical principles.[3] In the matter of electoral disputes the case upheld the principle of Audi alteram partem. It was held that the natural justice principle is applicable to those administrative actions which are not quasi-judicial in nature. It highlights the significance of granting a just, fair or impartial hearing prior implementation of unfavorable measures.[4] The concept of justice is not a static one it is a very complex and it should be noted that the changes don’t come overnight, it came gradually and similarly, this concept has been developed over centuries among various nations and still in the phase of change. It must be noted that human fairness be first priority.[5]


The principle of natural justice has certain aims from giving the opportunity of a fair hearing to protecting the justice from miscarriage. The following are the main aims of the principle of natural justice:

  • The first aim of the principle of natural justice is to provide the opportunity of fair hearing or to give an equal opportunity to be heard in a case.
  • It is one of the aims of the principle of natural justice is to adhere to the principle of equality and to provide fairness in the proceedings.
  • Another aim of the principle of natural justice is to remove all the vulnerabilities of the legislature and to protect fundamental rights from further loopholes or flaws.
  • The main purpose of the principle is to provide fair justice and to make sure that the justice should not face any kind of miscarriage in any case or in any field. It is to be noted that the justice should not be compromised at any cost.


Justice is an essential element that should not be compromised or there should not be any place for injustice. There are the three principles of natural justice which are as follows:

  • Nemo in propria causa judex, esse debet
  • Audi alteram partem, and
  • Speaking orders or reasoned decisions.

Nemo in propria causa judex, esse debet: it is a rule against bias or a doctrine of bias that states that no one can be judged in his case.  The principle mandates that decision-makers should remain neutral and unbiased in resolving disagreements. This principle requires no personal or financial stake in the outcome and no preconceived assumptions about the parties involved or the subject. Bias refers to any operating predisposition held by the judge, whether conscious or unconscious. This principle is fundamental to any administrative action, ensuring that administrators have no personal or private interest in the outcome and no reasonable grounds to believe the decision was biased.[6] This rule of bias consists of three kinds of biases those are:

  • Personal bias: Personal bias occurs when an individual has a connection, professional animosity, or enmity towards the other parties involved in a judgment. It is vital to assess if there is a valid basis to presume bias. For example, if a judge has a personal contact with either party in a legal issue, it is vital for the judge to recuse himself from the case.[7]This bias undergoes two kinds of tests mainly (Reasonable Suspicion of Bias and Real Likelihood of Bias).
  • Pecuniary bias: The smallest financial interest in a litigation matter is regarded as disqualifying from sitting as a judge, and any financial involvement in the dispute is presumed to prohibit a person from serving as a judge.[8] Pecunious bias is the state in which a judicial body or authority stands to receive any kind of financial advantage, no matter how little, which could cause biassed decision-making.[9]
  • Subject-matter bias: Mere involvement does not invalidate the administrative decision in circumstances when a deciding officer is either directly or indirectly involved in the matter unless there is a clear chance of prejudice. Magistrates in R v. Deal Justices Exparte Curling were not disqualified to try a case of cruelty to an animal because of their royal society membership for animal control.[10]

Along with it, there are departmental biases, policy notion biases, and bias on account of obstinacy.

AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM: it means let both the parties be heard. It is a rule of hearing that there should not be any injustice to any other party by not giving them proper time to hear them. Natural justice principles are critical in legal procedures because they ensure that no one is condemned without being heard, and both sides must be heard before any order is issued. These principles are universally applicable and can invalidate the exercise of power in situations where an authority has the right to issue orders affecting an individual’s liberty or property without a prior hearing provision. They supplement land law and apply to quasi-judicial and administrative tribunals. However, these principles are adaptable and may not be required in all cases.[11] This rule of hearing has some components which are essential for acknowledging this doctrine.

  • There must be issuance of notice.
  • There should right to present the case and evidence as well as.
  • There must be cross-examinational rights.
  • Legal representative rights must be present.


The concepts of natural justice are not only significant in the administration of justice but also in administrative and regulatory decision-making. Administrative authorities, such as regulatory agencies and tribunals, are expected to respect the principles of natural justice when making judgments that may affect individuals or corporations. This entails allowing parties to be heard and providing an impartial and unbiased decision-maker.[12]

WEDNESBURY PRINCIPLE:  This principle came into force in 1948 as it is a European concept and it has came from a landmark case named Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation[13], Wednesbury’s principle is based on the rationality of the decision, it states that whenever a decision is taken by the public authority and that decision is so irrational or unreasonable that no person acting reasonably would agree to do it. This means that it is so absurd to find such a decision irrational or unreasonable. Generally, it is based on the concept of testing the reasonability of the decision made by the public authorities.

DOCTRINE OF PROPORTIONALITY: it is a similar concept that of Wednesbury principle but it is a more nuanced concept. This doctrine defines that any decision that is taken by a public authority must have a proportionate relation to the aim it seeks to achieve. The decision should not be restrictive to the goal that is used to be achieved. It not only focuses on rationality but also on fairness, reasonability, equitability, and a balanced view of judgment or decision.


The Constitution of India has the following components of the natural justice system although it is not explicitly mentioned there there are some article that holds the essence of the principle of natural justice: Preamble, Articles 14, 19, 21, and 22 of the Constitution of India.


The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that reflects these values at several points has underlined the natural justice concepts. These provisions and values guarantee the accused gets equitable treatment. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the three natural justice values are combined and underlined under a division.

  1. Right to a Fair Hearing

The CrPC highlights in certain provisions that the accused shall have a right to a fair hearing. Section 207 mandates that the accused receive a copy of police report and other documentation including the FIR filed under section 154, the statements recorded under section 161 or any other documentation the prosecutions rely on and have sent to the magistrate under section 173(5). The provision ensures that the accused fully understands the charges and proof against them, so enabling a fair possibility for the development of a defence.

Under Chapter 24 Section 303 the CrPC grant a Right of Person against Whichever Proceeding is Instituted to be Defended. It assures that a pleader of inclination has the right to defend anyone against whom proceedings are started under the CrPC. This part ensures that the accused could have legal counsel, therefore safeguarding his right to a fair trial.

Further Section 311 of the Code addresses the ability to call upon material witness or examine person present. It permits the court call any person as a witness or recall and re-examine any person should their evidence seem essential for the just decision of the case. This power ensures that all relevant data is considered, therefore supporting a fair hearing.

  1. Rule Against Bias

The Judges and Magistrates are forbidden under Section 479 of the Code not to try cases in which they personally are interested. Judges and magistrates are not allowed to try or commit from a case in which they have a personal interest or to which they are a party. This guarantees objectivity and hence helps to avoid any possible prejudice in court processes.

  1. Doctrine of Reasoned Decisions

The principle is clearly expressed in Section 354 of the Code, which defines the language and subjects of a ruling. This section clearly states that every ruling has to be recorded in the court’s official language. It has to include the particular problem or conflicts to be fixed, the related resolution, and a thorough justification of the decision. This encourages responsibility and openness in court decisions so that the engaged parties may understand the reasoning behind them.

  1. Other Relevant Provisions

Section 235: Decision on Either Conviction or Acquittal

After a trial ends, this part calls for the judge to render an acquittal or conviction judgement together with reasons for their decision. This guarantees that the judgement is grounded on a careful and equitable review of the facts and conforms with the idea of rational decisions.

Section 313: Power to investigate the accused

After the evidence of the prosecution has been given, this part lets the court probe the accused generally on the case. It guarantees that the accused has the chance to clarify any situation that the evidence seems to point against them, so supporting a fair trial procedure.

These and other provisions are included into the CrPC to support the natural justice values inside the criminal justice system. These values are basic guarantees of fair, objective, transparent administration of justice, therefore protecting of individual rights engaged in criminal procedures.


  1. Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India[14]: This case plays an important role in the growth of the principle of Natural Justice in India. Here the honorable court held that there must be reasonability, justiciability, and fairness be present in the procedure that established by the law. Any kind of arbitrariness will not be practiced in the law. In this case the Supreme court emphasised on the one of the principle of natural justice that is Audi alterem partem which is the opportunity of being heard or fair hearing along with opportunity to defend oneself before any arbitrary decision of the court. Here the Court held that denial of one’s right to life and liberty is a severe violation of principal of natural justice.
  2. Chairman Mining Board v. Ramjee[15]: In this case, the court interpreted the concept of natural justice and defined that natural justice is a fundamental principle that guarantees equity in judicial proceedings, taking into account the specific details and conditions of each individual case. It is a pivotal procedural principle that ensures fairness in court. The principle of natural justice can be aggravating if it has been expanded without  administrative realities. Courts cannot view law abstractly or natural justice as a mere artifact. If the totality of facts satisfies the court that the party visited with adverse order has not suffered from denial of fair opportunity, they will not be punctilious or fanatical, as if the standards of natural justice were hallowed scriptures.[16]
  3. Ridge vs Baldwin: This case is one of the most crucial case in the field of administrative law which focuses on the principles of natural justice and also focuses on the right of fair hearing. Here Mr Ridge did not get proper opportunity to be heard, he was unable to defend himself against the allegations of conspiracy so court here held that right to fair hearing is one the basic principle of natural justice and court also ensured that there should not be biasness while making the decisions in simple terms there should not be arbitrariness in decision of administrative authorities.


It can be concluded that with time the judiciary has relied upon the importance of natural justice through its judicial precedents. The principle of justice is not only applied to solely courts of law it has been extended to tribunals and statutory and administrative authorities who have the responsibility of determining the rights and duties of the people. It is well said that justice must not only be done but it must also be done. The main purpose of this principle is to protect public rights against the arbitrariness of administrative authorities. Fairness is the main component that can be seen to be alive. Any decision that violates or infringes this principle may be declared null and void. For a valid administrative settlement, one should keep in mind that there is a need for the principle of natural justice.


[1] ‘Audi Alteram Partem and Nemo Judex In Causa Sua: The Two Pillars of Natural Justice’ Surbhi Jindal and Anunay Pandey, ‘Audi Alteram Partem and Nemo Judex in Causa Sua: The Two Pillars of Natural Justice’ (articles.manupatra.comDecember 2023) <>. accessed 11 June 2024.

[2] Sneha Mahawar, ‘Application of Principles of Natural Justice’ (iPleaders, 13 August 2023) <> accessed 11 June 2024.

[3] Sahithi reddy, ‘Principles of Natural Justice’ (lawyersclubindia4 May 2023) <> accessed 3 July 2024.

[4] Ruchika Mohapatra, ‘Detailed Notes on the Principles of Natural Justice’ (CLATalogue18 November 2023) <> accessed 3 July 2024.

[5] Siddharth R and A Sreelatha, ‘Principle of Natural Justice and Its Application in Indian Legal System’ (2018) 120 International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics.

[6] ‘Audi Alteram Partem and Nemo J Siddharth R and A Sreelatha, ‘Principle of Natural Justice and Its Application in Indian Legal System ’ (2018) 120 International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics.

[7]‘Principles of Natural Justice’ (Unacademy) <> accessed 3 July 2024.

[8]Ramachandra Mcrhrdit, ‘Principles of Natural Justice’ <> accessed 11 June 2024.

[9] LawBhoomi, ‘Rule against Bias’ (LawBhoomi5 August 2023) <> accessed 3 July 2024.

[10] Umashankar Dhakar, ‘Rule against Bias’ (2022) 10 International Journal of Creative Research Thoughts 2320 <> accessed 3 July 2024.

[11]Ram Dutt Sharma, ‘Updates_Concept_Principle_Natural_Justice’ ( <> accessed 13 June 2024.

[12] Aishwarya Sandeep, ‘Important Role of Doctrine of Natural Justice and the Support of Constitution – Aishwarya Sandeep- Parenting and Law’ (26 February 2023) <> accessed 11 June 2024.

[13] [1948] 1 KB 223

[14] [1978] 1 SCC 248 (SC).

[15] 1977 AIR 965 SC.

[16] Ram Dutt Sharma, ‘Updates_Concept_Principle_Natural_Justice’ ( <> accessed 3 July 2024.