[Landmark Judgement] Canara Bank V. Debasis Das (2003) 

Landmark Judgment Law Insider (1)

Published on: February 18, 2024 at 13:54 IST

Court: Supreme Court of India

Citation: Canara Bank V. Debasis Das (2003) 

Honourable Supreme Court of India has held that adherence to principles of natural justice is of supreme importance when a quasi-judicial body embarks on determining disputes between the parties, or any administrative action. The first and foremost principle is what is commonly known as audi alteram partem rule. It is held that Notice is the first limb of this principle which must be precise and unambiguous. Notice should apprise the party determinatively of the case and time given for the purpose should be adequate so as to enable him to make his representation.

In the absence of a notice of the kind and such reasonable opportunity, the order passed becomes wholly vitiated. Thus, it is but essential that a party should be put on notice of the case before any adverse order is passed against him. This is one of the most important principles of natural justice.

12. Residual and crucial question that remains to be adjudicated is whether principles of natural justice have been violated; and if so, to what extent any prejudice has been caused. It may be noted at this juncture that in some cases it has been observed that where grant of opportunity in terms of principles of natural justice does not improve the situation, “useless formality theory” can be pressed into service.

14. The expressions “natural justice” and “legal justice” do not present a watertight classification. It is the substance of justice which is to be secured by both, and whenever legal justice fails to achieve this solemn purpose, natural justice is called in aid of legal justice. Natural justice relieves legal justice from unnecessary technicality, grammatical pedantry or logical prevarication. It supplies the omissions of a formulated law. As Lord Buckmaster said, no form or procedure should ever be permitted to exclude the presentation of a litigant’s defence.

Drafted By Abhijit Mishra

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