This maxim means “hear the other side” or no man should be unheard, both the parties have an opportunity of being heard. Justice will be given to both parties. Audi Alteram Partem is a Latin phrase “audiatur et altera pars”. This is a very strong rule which means no one will be judged without fair hearing. Its motive is to provide an opportunity to other party to respond to the evidence against him.
The concept of natural justice has evolved through this maxim, it is a concept of civil law, which means judgement which is given should be fair and reasonable. Equity and equality should be there. In India, the principle of natural justice can be traced from Article 14 and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Article 14 says about the equality before the law and Article 21 talks about the protection of life and personal liberty. Maneka Gandhi v. The Union of India (1615) in this case Article 21 was defined, it was held that law and procedure which is followed should be just, fair and reasonable kind.
The rule of natural justice comes into power where no partiality is done with anybody during any regulatory activity. Rule of Audi Alteram Partem is the primary notion of the principle of natural justice. Fair hearing and justice will be done towards both the parties, both the parties have right to speak and have an opportunity to protect themselves. No decision will be taken by court without hearing the parties.
The principle of hearing is basically a code of procedure and thus covers every stage through which an administrative jurisdiction passes that is from notice to final determination. A person will not suffer unless and until he had an opportunity of being heard. In this maxim two principles are considered that is fundamental justice and equity.
The essential elements of this maxim are as follows:
Before any action is taken against the party who is affected. A notice must be provided to them in order to present a cause against the proposed action and pursue his application. If any order is passed without giving notice then it is against principle of natural justice and is void ab initio which means void from beginning. The right to notice means right to be known. Notice is essential to begin any hearing. Notice must contain the date, time, place of hearing and also the jurisdiction under which a case is field. If any of the thing is missing in the notice than notice will be considered invalid.
Case: Keshav Mills Co. Ltd. v. Union of India (1973) A.I.R Punj. 263 33
The notice which is given to the parties should be clear and unambiguous. If it is ambiguous and it is not clear then the notice will not be considered as reasonable and proper.
The second most essential element of Audi Alteram Partem is fair hearing. If the order passed by the authority without hearing the party or without giving an opportunity of being heard then it will be considered as an invalid.
Evidence is considered as a most important part which is brought before the court when both the parties are present there and the judicial or quasi judicial authority will act upon the evidence which is produced before the court.
Case: Hira Nath v. Principal
In this case, it was held that this principle is not registered to the mainly formal evidence but any information regarding previous conviction on which court may rely without giving a chance to the affected party to deny it.
- Cross examination
The court should not require to reveal the person concerned or material to be taken against him, but an opportunity is provided then to deny the evidence. The question arises that will witness will be cross examined.
- Legal representation
Genuinely, the representation through a legal advisor in the authoritative arbitration is not considered as an imperative piece of the reasonable hearing.
Case: J.J Mody v. State of Bombay and Krishna Chandra v. Union of India
In this case, it was held that refusal of legal representation amounts to the violation of natural justice because the party was not able to understand the rules of law effectively and they should get a chance of being heard once again.
- Statutory exclusion
Exclusion to make reference to one side of hearing in the statutory arrangement does not reject the hearing of the other party.
- Legislative function
There are certain circumstances in which hearing might be prohibited. Generally, an order which is of general nature is not applied to one or more specified person and is regarded as legislative in nature.
The concept of natural justice is involved when it is practicable to do so but it is not applied in the case where it is impracticable to apply the rule and in such a situation it is excluded.
- Academic evolution
Where nature of power are absolutely regulatory then no privilege of hearing can be asserted.
- Inter – Disciplinary action
The words like suspension etc. which is inter – disciplinary action in such cases there is no need of the rule of natural justice.
Rule of natural justice has advanced by human progress. The significance of a proverb itself says no individual will be denounced unheard. Thus, judgement of a case will be not given in the absence of another party. Natural justice implies that equity ought to be given to both parties in a simple, reasonable and sensible way. Under the watchful eye of the court, both the parties are equivalent and have an equivalent chance to speak and to prove themselves.