Maintaining familiarity between quasi-judicial bodies and the principles of natural justice
Natural justice is an essential part of administrative law. The essence of natural justice derived from the simple and fundamental notion of human consciousness. It imposes a code of fair procedure, including the right to a fair trial, the opportunity to present one's case, the right to have a decision made by an unbiased or disinterested decision maker and the right to have that decision based on logically probative evidence etc.
There are mainly two principles revolving around natural justice.
One is "audi alteram partem" or the right to fair hearing which implies that no one should be tried unheard. Another one is "nemo judex in causa sua" or no man can be a judge in his own cause.
The principles above mentioned are the sine qua non, i.e., inseparable and inalienable rights. We have also seen other imperatives for ensuring the fulfilment of natural justice, like communication of the result or speaking order etc. For example, if the authority dismisses any public servant without any proper reason, there creates enough doubt for reasonably assuming the violation of natural justice.
In the arena of administrative function, natural justice demands that there must be a reasonable cause and the reasons must be stated properly. The non-existence of the abovementioned imperatives may prove to be mountable to the violation of natural justice. Therefore, the application of natural justice in administrative function for example, in the administrative tribunal is not only essential but fundamental in its proper disposition.
Although, some exceptions can be found to these principles in emergency cases; exigency or the safety and security of the state; public safety and welfare policies of the state etc. So, true objectives of 'natural justice' disperse us with; positively safeguarding the aggrieved party and to put restrictions against the arbitrary use of judicial and quasi-judicial executive and administrative powers.
Quasi-Judicial bodies are therefore subject to natural justice in their decision-making process. The question remains now whether controversy about the violation of natural justice can substantially affect the order of a quasi-judicial administrative unit like the administrative tribunal.
In the case of , BLAST, ASK and others vs. Bangladesh and others, Civil Petition No. 405 of 2007 (arising out of Writ Petition No. 5588 of 2004) [Agargaon Basti Eviction' Case] the petitioners argued that the threatened eviction without any notice or alternative for rehabilitation is in violation of natural justice and also a breach of the express provision of Section 5 of the Local Authority (Land and Building) Recovery Ordinance, 1970 along with the fundamental rights to equality, equal protection of law and right to life as guaranteed under Articles 27, 31 and 32 of the Constitution, keeping in mind Article 15 of the Constitution of Bangladesh.
Reality check, on the other hand, shows us that judiciary faces hardship to deal with every streak of quasi-judicial branches of administrative law. Main causes for the establishment of quasi-judicial bodies were to avoid the long, complex and time-consuming judicial proceedings as well as emphasizing on the cases where focused litigation of is required.
Notable safeguards like Article 102 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, which permits writ petitions to be filed at the High Court Division for reviewing the actions of public authorities; may be used to bar quasi-judicial bodies to go beyond the principles of natural justice.
So, Administrative Tribunal, International Crime Tribunals, Administrative Appellate Tribunal, Labour Appellate Tribunal, Cyber Tribunal; Customs, Excise and VAT Appellate Tribunal; Taxes Appellate Tribunal, Court of Settlement, Special Tribunal, Securities and Exchange Commission etc. must maintain the familiarity between quasi-judicial bodies & the principles of natural justice.
Mahjubah Marzan is contributor, Law & Justice, the Daily Observer