Justice is Delayed But Not Denied
You may have come across the concept of “natural justice”. It sounds vague but it is a way of talking about certain aspects of procedural fairness. Natural justice is about making the process fair and equal. The concept is important to know about as it is a part of your rights when punishing a worker, especially in the context of unfair dismissal laws. Contrary to this, most government departments a lot of us deal with will have to observe the natural justice when it comes to making decisions. The rules of natural fairness are: Hearing rule No bias rule Evidence rule Hearing Rule The hearing rule simply means letting a person narrate their side of their story before a decision is being made for them. As an employer, it simply means that the employee gets the time to prepare and present a defense to an allegation of misconduct. It places an obligation to write to the employee under the given situation and specify what the allegations have been made against them. Offer as much detail as possible, given them a chance to respond to the allegations. When an employee gives you their response, you need to show you have taken their answer into consideration. No Bias Rule The second rule, as the name suggests, a decision maker should make an unbiased decision. Employers often get into trouble as they sack workers they don’t contrary to genuine performance issues, even though it is not a very strict rule when to come to an unfair dismissal law. The no bias rule could help you deal with a Government body which has made a decision you are not happy with. The rule applies to any process that leads to making a decision itself like only going to one party for information and not the other. Evidence Rule A decision maker needs to make sure the evidence they have is enough to support their decision. A decision can’t be made on conjecture or speculation covered by natural justice. The conclusive decision made has to be based on evidence relevant to the issue. A further obligation under this rule is that the decision maker explains reasons for their decision with reference to the evidence. The rule also means that the evidence related to the allegations made by one party should disclose to the other before the decision is made. Based on the above-mentioned rules, let’s us take a look at how they are applicable to an employee in detail along with certain cases. Terminating an employee whether he is worker or staff or a probationer, is really important to an organization. It is natural for strong reactions to be evoked. The first reach would be a case of victimization. The employee will always have a lot more sympathizers than the employer. The court will take a pro-employee attitude. It is important under such situations that: Every action of the employer is fair and without blame In the interest of the organization Genuine need Carried forward in a proper manner, in good faith, with or without putting any pressure on an employee in terms of non- misconduct. Enough compensation has to be paid which would include statutory payment (if any) The above should be put down on paper or other pieces of evidence. Most importantly, the principle of natural justice should be strictly followed as it is the touchstone on which every action of the employer would be tested. These things should not be overlooked as an employer could end up reinstating the employee whose services was terminated and with back wages. What does the above-mentioned principle mean? It is the nomenclature given to the principles of law based on equity, justice, and conscience. In simple terms, it means an employer while taking extreme steps of terminating his employee’s services should be given a chance to defend himself by narrating his side of the story. The employer will have to prove his or her innocence and will be allowed to continue without a black mark against his reputation. There are several case laws here. Cases Example: Meenglas Tea Vs The Workmen AIR 1963 S.C. 1719. The Supreme Court has seen that a person whose need to answer a charge should know the accusation and the testimony supported by the accusation. He should be given a chance to hear the evidence in support of the charge and appropriate questions by the way of cross-examinations as he wants. He should be given a chance to deny the evidence against him. It is the basic form of an inquiry. If the procedure is not followed properly, the punishment imposed could be quashed by the courts. Case 2 The apex court in a Union of India v. T.R. Varma 1958 S.C.R. 499 case, had taken the rules of natural justice into consideration. The law was that a party should be given the chance to introduce all the relevant evidence on which he depends on, the opponent’s evidence should be taken into the presence and should be given the chance to cross exam the witness and no material should be used against him without being given the chance to explain it. Study the principles of natural justice that have been put together by an employer in letter and spirit before the employee’s services can be terminated. The following steps are important as the employer’s actions may not be challenged by the party in the court of law. A basic investigation is made by the company to find out whether the action is required, issue charge sheet to the employee telling them about the charges leveled against him or her and requesting them to submit an explanation. If the explanation is not up to the mark, the employee has to be given a notice of holding an inquiry for the charges held against him, holding a fair domestic injury in the presence of the employee giving him the amenities for holding his defense and recording of the evidence of the inquiry officer. The authority will need to take it forward and consider the inquiry officers’ report and come to an unbiased conclusion that the employee’s services are to be terminated.