Legal Maxim

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Literal meaning

No one is a judge in his own case




The underlying principle of the maxim says that, no one can judge his own case. It is said so because it contradicts the principles of natural justice. The principles of natural justice include three major principles-

  1. Nemo debet esse judex in propria causa/ Nemo judex in causa sua
  2. Audi alteram partem
  3. Speaking order or reasoned decision

The first principle Nemo debate esse judex in propria causa is abbreviated as demo judder in cause sua. This principle of natural justice is often referred to as rule against bias; which simply says that a person shall not judge his own case or any case in which he has an interest. This principle was recognized as a measure of controlling one from defeating the ideals of justice and fair play. It was contended that in order to install confidence in the justice system, it is necessary that justice is not just done but also is seen to be done. The rule simply talks that the person in authority to judge shall be just, impartial, and shall act without bias.

Bias can be of three kinds:

  1. Pecuniary bias
  2. Personal bias
  3. Official bias

The underlying principle is very straightforward and states that, bias is bound to creep in when the one judging the case has any kind of interest in it, be it personal bias, i.e. a person is judging his own case or a case against in his relatives; pecuniary bias where the judge or adjudicator performs partially under the influence of monetary benefits; official bias where bias behavior creeps in because of the influence of position.
It is a well-established fact that the probability of bias is sufficient to invalidate the right to sit in judgment and there is no need to have proof of actual bias.

This principle may also be called:

  • Nemo judex idoneus in propria causa est
  • nemo debet esse judex in propria causa
  • in propria causa nemo judex
  • nemo judex in parte sua
  • Nemo judex in re sua

Needless to say, that, a person judging his own case would be incapable of delivering justice and hence defeating the purpose of law and order in society.


‘A’ is the father of ‘B’ and a judge in the district court where the case of ‘A’ being accused of murder is filed. It is pertinent to note that it is ‘A’ is incompetent to judge this case since his own son is accused in the case and personal bias is bound to creep in. Hence, in order to secure the ends of justice, it is advised that a person having any kind of interest in the case shall be kept away from deciding upon the matter and the case shall be referred to some other judge having competency to decide on the matter.

‘X’ is one amongst the board of directors of a renowned corporate firm. He is accused of sexual harassment against multiple female employees of his organization. A committee meeting is called upon to dispense the matter, and ‘X’ being a member of the board is present to decide his own case, which again falls under the condition of official bias, and hence a review committee was set up to decide the case.

Case laws:

Yunus Khan v. State of Uttar Pradesh and ors.

In this case, it was held that the principle of Nemo judex in causa sua shall be upheld and if there is a case where a person who is accused, himself is the judge or has fiduciary relations with the adjudicator or in any manner whatsoever, is likely to cause bias on the adjudication process, then the judgment or order so passed, shall not be valid and binding in nature.

Sri K. Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy vs Government of Andhra Pradesh and ors

In this case, as well, it was observed that the principle of equity and justice is greatly dependent on the rule against bias. The judgment read as: ‘A Judge is disqualified from determining any case in which he may be, or may fairly be suspected to be, biased. So important is this rule that Coke supposed, as we have seen, that it should prevail even over an Act of Parliament.’

This Maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Mansi Batra during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Mansi is a third-year law student at the Fairfield Institute of Management and Technology, Kapashera, New Delhi.

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