Principles of Natural Justice and Constitution of India

If we look into the Indian Constitution, we find many instances of the concept of the natural justice principle

The article 14 of the Indian Constitution[1]: Article 14 of the Indian constitution provides for all citizens equality before law and equal protection of law. It hinders any form of discrimination and forbids both discriminatory laws and administrative action.

The article lays down the principle of all the person has to be treated in a similar way and no one should be discriminate from ne another

In Delhi Transport Corporation v. DTC Mazdoor Union[2], the Apex Court held that “the audi alteram parterm rule, in essence, enforce the equality clause in Article 14 of the Constitution, is applicable not only to quasi-judicial bodies but also to an administrative order adversely affecting the party unless the rule has been excluded by the Act in question.”

The court made it expressly clear in the case of the Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India[3] that the Article 14 comprises the elements of natural justice principle and is part to provide the concept of equality as assured under article 14 of the constitution.

The rule of Audi alteram partem was accepted by the court in the case of Cantonment Board, Dinapore vs Taramani Devi[4] the court was of the view that the rule of the Audi alteram is a ingredient of Article 14.

Article 21 Constitution of India

The article 21 of the Indian Constitution[5] talks about right to life and the term procedure established by law can be interrupted as the principle of natural justice.

Late Mr. Bhagawati J. stated, “the principle of reasonableness which legally as well as philosophically is an essential element of equality or non-arbitrariness pervades art 14 like a brooding omnipresence”

Therefore article 21 should be followed in a right , fair and a just manner. There should be any arbitrary action or oppressive action whatsoever.

Application of rules of natural Justice In Income-tax proceedings It is well settled that while acting in their quasi-judicial capacity the in-come tax authorities have to adhere to the principles of natural justice. In Suraj Mall Mohta and Co. v. A. V. Visvanatha Sastri[6], the Supreme Court has held that the assessment proceedings before the Income-tax officer are judicial proceedings and all the incidents of such judicial proceedings have to be observed before any conclusion is arrived at. The assessee has a right to inspect the record and all relevant documents before he is called upon to lead evidence in rebuttal. This right has not been taken away by any express provision of the Income Tax Act.

In Dhakeshwari Cotton Mills Ltd.v.CIT[7], the Supreme Court emphasised that the principles of natural justice are applicable to the proceedings under the Income-tax Act. It observed: “It is surprising that the Tribunal took from the representative of the department statement of gross profit rates of other cotton mills without showing the statement to the assessee and without giving him an opportunity to show that statement had no relevancy whatsoever to the case of the mill in question.”

In the case of Gargi Din Jwala Prasad v. CIT[8] also, the Court has held similarly. The power of revision conferred by section 25 of the Wealth Tax Act, 1962 is not administrative but quasi-judicial in nature. The expression ‘may make such inquiry and pass such order thereon’ does not confer any absolute discretion. In exercising the power the Commissioner must decide the issue with an unbiased mind, consider the objections of the affected party impartially and decide the dispute by following the principles of natural justice. He cannot make his judgment based on matters not disclosed to the assessee. He cannot act according to the dictates of another authority. This was so held by the Supreme Court in Sirpur Paper Mill Ltd. v. CWT[9]


[1] “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”

[2] 1991 AIR 101, 1990 SCR Supl. (1) 142

[3] 1978 AIR 597, 1978 SCR (2) 621

[4] 1974 96 ITR 97 All

[5] “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”

[6] 1954] 26 ITR 1 (SC)

[7] [1954] 26 ITR 775 (SC)

[8] [1974] 96 ITR 97 (All.)

[9] 1970] 77 ITR 6 (SC)

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Author Details: Shubhang Gomasta (LLM student, MATS University, Raipur, Chattisgarh).

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