The Equivocal Justice

The equivocal Justice

Justice is a term that is quite frequently used and preached in the lives of humans as individuals and also as societies and nations.[1] Aristotle observed that man is noblest among all animals and when devoid of law and justice behaves the worst. It is the most cherished goal of human existence. The empire of justice from antiquity attracts conflicting ideas having its own justification.

The concept of Justice must spring from necessity while such necessity is determined by reason. It applies only externally to the practical relationship of one person to another. It applies only to the will of individuals, not its wishes or desires. The Universal Principle of Justice suggests an action to be just must coexist with the freedom of everyone in accordance to the universal law.

Though abstract, justice has a great significance for its seekers as that of freedom for the revolutionaries without knowing what it really is. It cannot be defined empirically. It is mostly a subjective concept which depends upon experience of the individual being.

In the words of Winston Churchill,

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”[2]

These all terms are aimed for wider interpretation as they all are subjective and may vary from person to person. The thing which makes it simple also makes it complex. For an Individual to define it is simple but to achieve a consistency in general makes it complex.

Concept of Social Justice:

The social-economic Justice is a living concept and gives effect to the rule of law and significance to the ideal of a welfare State where state works in more active manner. The socio-economic necessity is efficiently enrolled by constitution within legal framework. It sets out the Directive principles of State Policy as the carrier of public Justice. It aims at an egalitarian society through social values, positive discrimination, proper information channel so that an informed polity cannot be compromised etc.[3] The term “Justice without doubt means Justice to the deprived and weaker sections of society bringing an egalitarian order under which opportunities are afforded to the weaker sections of society[4]

Consumer Education Research Centre v. Union of India[5] concept of social justice was opined by Justice K. Ramaswamy, the lordship observed, The Preamble and Article. 38 of the Constitution of India are the supreme law that envisages social justice as its arch to ensure life to be meaningful and livable with human dignity. Justice is the genus, of which social justice is one of its species which is connected to every individuals. It aims at uplifting the weaker section of the society so that their quality of life can be improved.

Concept of Legal Justice:

What people seek from court is the subjective justice while what is given by the court is justice according to law. Thus a more practical take on justice would be “recognition of fixed rules which contemplate the legal rights and duties of individual.

Ex- Some money is lent by the creditor to the debtor. If he claims for it after 3 years, limitation act would be attracted and the claim is immune to be quashed. Though legal justice is provided but it doesn’t conform to public justice.

Necessity of Justice in law:

A herd of wolves is quieter and more at one than so many men, unless they have one reason in them or have one power regulating them”. [6]

–Jeremy Taylor

Human existence in masses can only be possible if equality is maintained, grievances are redressed and a “we feeling” can be maintained without an unjustified polarity. Naturally justice can be different for individual of different views, and pragmatically justice of common parlance should be employed. The common parlance is nothing but the law enacted by the state.

But still the Public opinion (justice according to a group) has force and is indispensible for a system of law because without it there would not be stability and permanence.[7] Public opinion alone has a weak force due to lack of common conscience throughout and can be counteracted by antagonist groups. Example- Public opinion on the Citizenship Amendment Act envisages contradictory views of different groups.

The concept of public opinion somewhat lacks uniformity. Ex- A man cares more for the opinion of his immediate associates than opinion of the world.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Legal Justice:

Legal Justice ensures uniformity and certainty in the administration of state. It secures impartiality in the action of state. At the same time it seems to be rigid and it is unable to comprehend the change in society so often. This many times leads to injustice and hardship. In the words of Sir John Salmond “The Law is without doubt a remedy for greater evils, yet it brings with it evils of its own. [8]


What we usually call “legal justice” is either an appliance of the more basic notion of “social justice” to legal regulations and decisions or is not a matter of justice at all. In other words, the only correct uses of the notion of legal justice are plagiaristic from the notion of social justice and, hence, the alleged conflicts between criteria of social and legal justice result from the confusion about the proper relationship between these two concepts.

[1] Kant, I., & Ladd, J. (1999). Metaphysical elements of justice: part 1 of the metaphysics of morals, Hackett Publishing 2nd edition.p.29

[2] Winston Churchill Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2020, from Web site:

[3] 3 Dr. mayuri pandya ‘social justice a; Dream or realty’ AIR 2009 May Journal p.79 p.2

[4] 4. S. K.K .Gupta ‘minimum Bonus –A search for social justice ILI 1983. Journal vol .25 p. 390

[5] AIR 1995 SC 929 (938).

[6] Mahajan, V.D, Jurisprudence and Legal theory, 5th edition, EBC publication limited., page no-116

[7] Mahajan, V.D, Jurisprudence and Legal theory, 5th edition, EBC publication limited., page no-116

[8] Mahajan, V.D, Jurisprudence and Legal theory, 5th edition, EBC publication limited., page no-119

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