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[Answered] What do you understand by the term ‘right to due process’? Discuss its significance in a democracy.

Demand of the question Introduction. Contextual introduction. Body. Discuss how significant is the right to due process in a democracy? Mention due process and procedural established by law in Indian context. Conclusion. Way forward.

The term due process embodies society’s basic notions of legal fairness and means that legal procedures are reasonable, fair and just. It is a requirement that legal matters be resolved according to established rules and principles, and that individuals be treated fairly. The rights to due process include fair trial, presumption of innocence and independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

Significance of right to due process in a democracy:

  1. Balance power: Due process balances the power of law of the land. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due process violation, which offends the rule of law.
  2. Establish procedural justice: Analogous to the concepts of natural justice, due process ensures procedural justice. The interpretation of due process is expressed as a command that the government must not be unfair to the people.
  3. Prevent abuse: The rights to due process place limitations on laws and legal proceedings, in order to guarantee fundamental justice. Due process of law is a constitutional guarantee that prevents governments from impacting citizens in an abusive way.
  4. Establish fairness of law: The due process clause, gives the judiciary the power to question the law made by the legislature on certain grounds. That ground is whether that law is in keeping with certain fundamental principles relating to the rights of the individual.
  5. Guarantee fairness: Due process is to guarantee a fair trial both in procedure as well as in substance. The procedure should be in accordance with law and should be appealable to the conscience of the democracy.
  6. Strengthen rights: Under due process, it is the requirement that the state must respect all of the rights that are owed to a person and laws that states enact must confirm to the laws of the land like fairness, fundamental rights, liberty etc.

Due process and Indian procedure established by law: The due process doctrine is followed in the United States of America, while the Indian constitutional framers had left that out.

  1. Article 21: The term procedure established by law is used directly in the Indian constitution. Article 21 of the Constitution provides that ‘no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law’.
  2. Just and reasonable: The concept of ‘procedure established by law’ under Article 21 is required to be just, fair and reasonable because of the interactions of Articles 14, 19 and 21.
  3. Maneka Gandhi judgement: In Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India case, SC held that ‘procedure established by law’ within the meaning of Article 21 must be right, just and fair and not arbitrary or oppressive otherwise. Thus, the procedure established by law has acquired the same significance in India as the ‘due process of law’ clause in America.

The Constitution guarantees certain rights to the citizens of this country. It is the duty of both legislative and judiciary to establish rule of law and ensure that a person enjoys fundamental rights as established under the constitution. For a state it is necessary to ensure the right to due process and prevent abuse to its citizens.

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