Nemo Debet Esse Judex in Propria Sua Causa is a Latin phrase that literally means ‘no one is a judge on his cause’ which signifies the rule against biasness or interest of prejudice. It is one of the principles of natural justice. This principle is based on three maxims.

Firstly, ‘no one shall be a judge in his own cause’ is the first requirement. It is vital that a judge should be impartial, natural and free from any bias. If the judge is subject to bias in favor of or against either party to the dispute, he is disqualified to act as a judge and the proceedings will be invalidated.

Secondly, ‘Justice should not only be done but manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done’. It is a well-settled principle of law in the case of Rex v. Sussex Justices. Justice can never be seen if a man acts as a judge in his cause or is himself interested in the outcome. This principle is applied not only to judicial proceedings but also to quasi-judicial and administrative proceedings as held in J. Mohapatra & Co. v. the State of Orissa.

Thirdly, ‘Judges, like Caesar’s wife, should be above suspicion’. It means that the judge has to be above all doubts, who is expected to be not influenced by any administrative or judicial matters.

Bias can be examined under three categories –

  • Pecuniary bias
  • Personal bias
  • Official bias

Slight pecuniary bias can disqualify a decision. However, it is not necessary to prove that there is actual bias or likelihood of bias in the circumstances of the case. In a case adjudicated by the Hon’ble Madras High Court, the facts of the case were that, the Regional Authority presided over by the district collector who granted a permit to a co-operative society of which the collector was the president. The Court set aside the order on the ground that the order of the authority was contrary to the principle of natural justice. Similarly, the Court of Appeal in R.V. Mulvihill, held that the test of pecuniary interest in the subject matter of criminal case will not apply.

Personal bias occurs when there exists some relationship between the deciding authority and the parties, which incline the authority favorably or unfavorably on the side of one of the parties. In A.K Kraipak v. UOI, Nakeshpath was a candidate for selection to the Indian forest service and also a member of the election board. He did not seat on the board when he saw his name was considered. The board recommended his name and he was selected. The Court ceased the selection and held that it is against the canon of justice to make a man a judge in his own cause.

Official or subject matter bias may arise when the deciding authority has a general interest in the subject matter. But a mere general interest in the general object to proceeding would not disqualify a judge from deciding the matter. There must be some direct connection with the lawsuit. In Gullapalli Nageswara Rao v. APSRTC (II), the Apex Court quashed the decision of the Andhra Pradesh Government on nationalizing road transport, on the ground that the secretary of transport was given a post interest in the subject matter.

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