LEGAL LACUNA RECTIFIED BY APEX COURT
The principle of Natural Justice is observed and obeyed by one and all in a civil society. In a country where the Rule of Law prevails, the principle of Natural Justice has to be observed and obeyed. In a court of law, when a case is heard, it is seen by the Presiding Officer that in the normal course of action what the outcome would be. However, in the absence of an established law or an act passed by the relevant legislature and assented to by the Rajyapal of the State or the President of India, courts of law rely on the principle of Natural Justice. Let us take an example. When a court hears a case against an individual, the principle of natural justice demands that the said individual should be present at that time in the court and should be given an opportunity to cross examine the witnesses deposing against him. Not doing so would amount to a violation of the principle of Natural Justice.
A case was put up before the Supreme Court of India recently where law of the land and principle of Natural Justice were equally involved. A man called Ramdeo Chauhan was found guilty of murder under section 302 IPC and was sentenced to death by the trial court and the high court. He filed a mercy petition praying for commutation of the death sentence which was accepted by the Governor of Assam and the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
However, the family of the deceased filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against this commutation which was accepted. However, on acceptance of that reference and restoring the death sentence it was discovered later that the main man to be affected, Ramdeo Chauhan was not present in the Supreme Court and had no opportunity to plead his case. Thus, not giving an opportunity to the accused to be heard before the orders were passed amounted to a violation of the principle of Natural Justice. Ramdeo Chauhan prayed to the Supreme Court that the decision to pass a death sentence against him be reviewed by the Apex Court and that he be given an opportunity to plead his case and he be heard.
Supreme Court accepted this plea of the accused, Ramdeo Chauhan and the death sentence passed against him earlier was held in abeyance until the final disposal of his present appeal. Thus the principle of Natural Justice and Law of the Land were not violated and observed in letter and spirit meriting a mention in the national press.
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
UPVAN 609, Sector 29, NOIDA – 201303.