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The legal maxim, “Audi Alteram Partem” is one of the essential requirements under the principles of natural justice. In this article, Sahajpreet Bhusari explains the meaning of the maxim with its application and case laws.
Origin and Meaning
Audi Alteram Partem is a legal maxim of Latin origin. Audi means ‘hear/listen’, alteram means ‘other’ and partem means ‘side/ party’ and hence, the maxim Audi Alteram Partem means ‘Listen to the other side or Let the other party be heard’.
Audi Alteram Partem is considered to be one of the basic theories of natural justice. In simple terms, it means that the court must not pronounce any judgment until and unless both the parties are heard i.e. both the plaintiff and the defendant must be given the opportunity to present their case before the judge.
It gives a right to the parties to a suit that no party shall be condemned unheard and any decision made without listening to both the parties shall be considered to be against the principles of natural justice.
Steps/Stages of Audi Alteram Partem include the following:
- Right to Notice: It basically refers to the right of being aware. The notice must contain all the necessary details including the date, time, and place as to where the person needs to be present. An order passed without any prior notice is against the principles of Natural Justice.
- Hearing: Hearing can be oral as well as in person. It is a right given to both the parties to present their side of the case before the court of law.
- Evidence: No evidence must be presented in front of the court of law ex parte. It must be done in the presence of both parties.
- Legal Representation: Both parties must be given a fair chance to present themselves in the court of law through a legal representative of their own choice. Article 22(2) of the Indian Constitution also guarantees this right.
The principle of Audi Alteram Partem has the following exception:
- Statutory Exclusion
- Legislative Function
Important Case Laws
In the case of Punjab National Bank v. All India Bank Employee Federation, penalty was imposed on certain charges which were not mentioned in the notice sent to the person on whom such penalty was imposed. The court held that the notice was improper and hence, the imposition of penalty was invalid.
In the case of Harbans Lal v. Commissioner, the Supreme Court of India held that the person/ party on whom the penalty was imposed must be given a fair chance to prove the same and that it is a very essential part of the doctrine.
 1953 AIR 296.
 2002 (80) ECC 97.
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