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Audi Alteram Partem

BY- Garima Kodan

(Rayat College of Law, Ropar)

Abstract :

There are different maxims in the legal language. Many of the concepts have come into existence through these maxims. The concept of natural justice has been evolved through the maxim “audi alteram partem”. The concept of Natural justice is from civil law, which means judgement which is delivered should be fair and reasonable. Equity should be present there.

In India, the principle of natural justice came from from Article 14 and Article 21 given in the Indian Constitution. Article 14 covers the equality before the law that every person should be treated equally be law . And Article 21 covers the protection of life and personal liberty.

Article 21 came into existence from a landmark case - Maneka Gandhi v. The Union of India

In the above case, Court held that the law and procedure must be fair, just, and reasonable. When no partiality is done with anyone in the country during any regulatory activity. This principle comes into light when no prejudice is caused to anyone by any of the administrative action.

The doctrine of Natural Justice states that no person shall be condemned unheard. This is to ensure that there is a fair hearing and fair justice to both the parties. Here ,both of the parties have the right to speak. No decision can be declared by the authority without hearing both the parties. The principle gives an opportunity to both parties to defend themselves during the case proceedings.


This maxim ‘audi alteram partem’ means “hear the other side” or “no man should be unheard”, both the parties have given an opportunity of being heard. Justice will be provided to both parties. Audi alteram partem originated from a latin phrase “audiatur et altera pars”. The meaning of this term is also the same as hear the other side. This is a very strong rule which means no one will be judged without a fair hearing. The main motive of this maxim is to provide an opportunity to other party also to respond to the evidence provided against him.

Meaning :

This maxim has been provided to ensure fair play and justice to the affected person. This maxim is mainly applied in the field of administrative action. In other words a party cannot be left to undergo a degree of punishment without an opportunity given to him of being heard. The person should be given an opportunity so that he can defend himself from the other parties allegations before the court of law. The person who decides anything without hearing the other side although he says what is right but he would not have done the fair justice with the other party. The principle of hearing the other party is basically a part of procedure and thus covers every stage by which an administrative jurisdiction goes through which is from notice to final determination of the case .

The parties should be allowed to represent themselves and state the facts in for themselves accordingly. Before any order is passed by any court against any person, a fair chance of being heard must be given to him. In this maxim there are two principles that are kept in mind which are the fundamental justice and equity.

For example- When a person is arrested after that he is to be brought before the court of law within twenty four hours of his arrest. This is known as Habeas Corpus.

If any person is unable to represent himself by the help a lawyer then it the duty of the state to provide him legal aid. If the person arrested is not able to afford legal services then he has a right to free legal aid.

Elements essential :

The essential elements for the maxim are:

1. Notice

Before taking any action against the party affected the party must be provided with a notice in order to present a cause against the proposed action and pursue his application. If any order is passed by the court without giving notice to the affected party then the order would be against the principle of natural justice and will be void ab initio i.e. void from the very beginning.

It is a right of every affected person to know about the facts of his case before any action is taken against him and without knowing the proper facts, an affected person cannot protect himself. The right to notice means right to be informed. The parties should be aware about all the facts before the hearing of the case. Notice is essential to begin any hearing. Any notice by the court of law must contain the date, time, place of hearing ,case no. , charges against the person and the jurisdiction under which the case has been filed. It must also contain the charges proposed against that person. If any of the above mentioned thing is missing in the notice then notice will be considered invalid. And this affects the Principle of Natural Justice.

In the case of Keshav Mills Co. Ltd. v. Union of India, it was held that the notice which is given to the parties must be clear and apparent and explicit .If the notice provided is not clear then it would be considered improper and unreasonable notice.

2. Hearing

The another most essential element of the maxim audi alteram partem is fair hearing. If any of the order that is passed by the authority without hearing the affected party or without providing him an opportunity of being heard then the order would be considered as an invalid order of the authority.

3. Evidence

The another most essential element for this is evidence. It is considered to be the most important part to be brought before the court when both the parties are present there and the judicial authority will act upon the evidence which is produced by the parties against one another before the court of law.

4. Cross-Examination

The court need not require to reveal the person concerned or material to be taken against him, but an opportunity must be provided to them to deny the evidence. The question here arises that will witness will be cross examined or not.

Kanungo & Co. v Collector of Customs

In the above case, the business property of a person was investigated and some watches were seized by the police who was in power under the Sea Customs Act. The person who gave the information to the police was not allowed to be called for cross examination. Hence the, principle of natural justice was not violated here and the court held that principle of natural justice does not permit any person to cross examine against any of he witness in the matter where goods were seized under the Sea Custom Act.

5. Legal Representation

In specific circumstances in the event that the privilege to legal representation is not rejected and at that point natural justice is denied to the person. The right to legal representation is denied, then it amounts to a violation of natural justice.

In the case, Krishna Chandra v. Union of India, it was held by the court that if the legal representation of the person is denied by the court then it would lead to the violation of the rule of natural justice .

Exceptions to the rule :

1. Statutory exclusion

Natural justice is submitted by the Courts when the parent statutes under which an action is made by the administration is quiet as to its application. Exclusion to make reference to one side of hearing in the statutory arrangement does not reject the hearing of the other party.

In Maneka Gandhi v.Association of India

The court held that a rule could be bar natural justice either explicitly or by necessary implication. This rule might be tested under Article 14 so it must be lawful and licit.

2. Impractibility

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.

3. Academic Evolution

Where nature of power are absolutely regulatory then no privilege of hearing can be asserted.

4. 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.

S.A Khan vs. State of Haryana, Mr. Khan an IPS Officer holding the post of Deputy Inspector General of Haryana; Haryana Govt., was suspended by the Haryana Government due to various complaints against him. The SC held that the suspension being interim-disciplinary action, there is no requirement to afford hearing.


The principle of natural justice has evolved over time with human development and progress. Every individual human has a right to be heard when any charges or allegations are put against him . Thus the maxim itself says that no person should be left unheard. And if any authority does so than that judgment delivered will be against the principle of natural justice. Also there are many instances where this principle is excluded and they are the exceptions for this rule. It means that justice should be given to both the parties because in the eyes of the law both the parties are equal and hold same position until their offence has not been justified.

References :

· The Indian Kanoon

· Investopedia

· Legal Vision

· Law Times Journal

· Legal Service India

[DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only. We have tried to include as much information as possible but there are chances that some important information may have been missed .It is NOT to be substituted for legal advice or taken as legal advice. The publishers of the this article shall not be liable for any act or omission based on this note].

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