|K. M. Joseph J, Navin Sinha J, Rohinton Fali Nariman J.
|Failure of natural justice, principles of natural justice
|Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Rakesh Dwivedi
|October 16, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
|November 21, 2020 (Date of publication)
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|The principles of natural justice have undergone a sea change. The earlier view that even a small violation would result in the order being rendered a nullity is not correct. Some real prejudice must be caused to the complainant by the refusal to follow natural justice. The prejudice must not merely be the apprehension of a litigant. No prejudice is caused to the person complaining of the breach of natural justice where such person does not dispute the case against him or it. There is a clear distinction between cases where there was no hearing at all and the cases where there was mere technical infringement of the principle (All imp judgements referred)
Natural justice is a flexible tool in the hands of the judiciary to reach out in fit cases to remedy injustice. The breach of the audi alteram partem rule cannot by itself, without more, lead to the conclusion that prejudice is thereby caused. Where procedural and/or substantive provisions of law embody the principles of natural justice, their infraction per se does not lead to invalidity of the orders passed. Here again, prejudice must be caused to the litigant, except in the case of a mandatory provision of law which is conceived not only in individual interest, but also in public interest.