According to the Oxford Learners Dictionary, Justice means “the fair treatment of people” or “the quality of being fair or reasonable”[1].

It occupies centre stage both in ethics and in legal and political philosophy. It can be counted as one of the four cardinal virtues, in modern times John Rawls described it as “the first virtue of social institutions”[2]. Sometimes this is used in ways which make it indistinguishable from the rightness in general. Aristotle in[3] distinguished between universal and particular justice where the later has a narrower scope. Justice must be understood in a wider way. It is different at different levels for example, the reasons for justice at the level of public policy is different than economic justice or any other form.  John Rawls in[4] has said that “it does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many”. According to him, there are two principles of Justice and each of them reads as follows[5];

First – Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with similar a scheme of liberties for others.

Second – social and economic irregularities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage, and (b) attached to positions and offices open to all.

Directive Principles of State Policy from Article 36 – 51 talks about the ways through which the state can promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting the social order in which social, economic, and political justice shall be achieved. These are a kind of Justice which the state should make sure to provide to every individual which deals with a different aspect of the social, economic, political, and legal justice.  On analysing the two principles, we can find that in the first opening line, it is clear that each person should have equal rights in everything and there should be similar liberties in everything. And by the second line, we can find that social and economic irregularities are to be arranged so that it is reasonable in everyone’s advantage and the attachment to the positions and offices open to all which clearly means that it is reasonable if there are social and economic irregularities in every concept and they are justiciable.

 Dimensions of Justice

There are basically four dimensions of justice and they are

Social Justice –  

“Social Justice is another name for equal social rights.” – Barker[6].

“By social justice, we mean ending all kinds of social inequalities and then to provide equal opportunities to everyone” – C.JP.B. Ganjendragadkar[7]

It is the concept that arose in the early 19th century during the Industrial Revolution and subsequently in civil revolutions throughout Europe. Its aim was to create a more egalitarian society and remedy the capitalistic exploitation of human labour. During that time, there was a huge gap between the rich and the poor, and hence the early advocates of social justice focused primarily on capital, property, and the distribution of wealth.

By the years, it grew from mere economics to include other spheres also such as environment, race, gender etc. Article 15[8] of the Indian Constitution mandates that there should be no discrimination and hence providing a sense of social justice in India. To ensure workers’ participation in management[9].  To protect scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and other weaker sections of the society from social injustice and exploitation and to take care of their educational and economic interests[10]. There are different other provisions in the Indian constitution like, Article 17, 19, 21 etc. that aims to abolish untouchability and provides equal rights in the workplace and in India to all the citizens so that they have an equal right to life. Social Justice is an attempt to construct the social order keeping the moral principles in mind. These attempts are continuously made to rectify social injustice. For a society, it is very important to keep the people of society in peace and harmony and this can only be achieved if there is no fear and no pressure from the people within the society. For this, it is very important that each of the members of society is seen as equal and provided with equal opportunities in every sphere so that there is no unemployment and everyone is economically and socially strong and there is a representation from every sphere of the society hence there would be no crime and people would live in peace and harmony.

Economic Justice –

Economic Justice is closely related to social justice as an economic system is an integral part of the social system. If there is justice in the economic condition of the people there would be no difference between the classes of the society and hence social justice is achieved. Hence, economic life and opportunities available are always a part of the social system.

If there is economic justice, people in society will get equal opportunities in work and hence they can achieve what they aspire and it is the duty of the state for the same. Economic justice basically means that the people are able to satisfy their basic needs and have a secure future through pension and old age schemes of the government[11].

In India, if we see the Indian Constitution, the lawmakers have especially emphasized on the idea of equality in every sphere. If we see Article 19 (1) (g)[12]  we can find that the lawmakers have categorically mentioned this so that economic justice is achieved by the citizens and hence the duty of the state is fulfilled. There are certain other Articles like To enable economic, political, and social justice for the welfare of the people[13].  To minimise the inequalities of income, status, facilities, opportunities etc[14].  To provide adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work, resource distribution, the safety of citizens and healthy development of Children[15].   To ensure fair wages and a decent standard of life of workers and their partaking in the social and cultural opportunities[16]. To make special provisions for securing the right to work, education, etc. and to public assistance in case of unemployment, old age, sickness, disablement, or any other case. Establishment of schemes such as old-age pension scheme, schemes for sick and disabled, MGNREGA etc.[17] Hence if we see this, it is clearly visible that it is the duty of the state to arrange the economic justice for the citizens and the state has made laws regarding the same through different schemes like MNREGA etc.

It is clear that no person and group should be in a position to exploit the other and there should be free and equal distribution of the resources. Different thinkers have a different approach for this justice as the liberals think that there should be an open competition for the same and the people who are able to grasp as much as wealth should be given but the Socialist have a different kind of approach where they view that the government should have the control of all the wealth and it should provide complete control over every economic aspect and hence making this equal for every citizen. E.g. USA which has a capitalist approach and USSR, which has a socialist approach. India, as a country has always been a mixed economy where both capitalist and socialist approach for the resources of the country is taken as there are instances and rules where state completely own the resources and functioning whereas we have big billionaires also in India.

Political Justice –

For the early thinkers like Plato and Aristotle, the meaning and concept of Political Justice, different as for Plato it was to create an ideal city that is guaranteed by justice. He aimed to create a peaceful united city. While for Aristotle, it was to improve the existing cities and create an environment that has political justice in society.

In Political Justice citizens should have the right to vote and there should be an equal representation of the citizens and no discrimination of any form. Our constitution in Article 19 (1) (a), (b), (c)[18] provides the sense of political justice in India and there are certain other provisions like to organise Panchayats by giving those powers and authority for the development at the rural local levels and enable them to function as units of self – government.[19] To ensure workers’ participation in management[20]. To foster voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control, and inception of the co-operative societies.[21] To promote international peace and security and to maintain abiding relations between nations.[22] These provisions in the constitution make sure that the political rights of the citizens are well protected and hence the country is peaceful and there is no kind of threat internally and externally.

For any country, Political Justice is very important because if we see the examples of countries which has failed the citizens on this subject, there is no peace and the citizens have taken arms against the state resulting in political instability.

The Researcher has taken the example of Syria in this context and will analyse the situation and compare the situation of the country before and after the political turmoil.

Syria is a small, poor, and crowded country. 185,000 square kilometres of land is arable. Most of the part is a desert area. There are dust storms, high temperatures, less rainfall etc. which makes it hard to live and cultivate. In 2012, according to the world bank, agriculture supplied was 20 per cent of GDP and employed 17 per cent of the population. Before the fighting, its oil fields produced about 330,000 barrels per day, but Syrians consumed all but 70,000 of the amount. Before the war, there was a route which transported the oils to the Mediterranean but since the inception of the war, the locals and the rebels have started the smuggling of these[23]. Syria was historically rich in culture and heritage but as we know that the recent fighting and the bombardment by the air from pro and anti-government soldiers have destroyed many of the historically rich towns. There are mass killings and mass graves which are found after every some time and these all the results of the political instability and hence hampering the political justice of the country.

Legal Justice –

Legal Justice means the rule of law and not any person. Legal justice comprises of two things;

 (a) that all men are equal before the law; (b) law is equally applicable to all.

It provides legal security to all. As we know the notion that in law there is no discrimination of any kind and there is no rich and poor in society when it comes to legal justice. Courts are an important part of the legal justice system.

For the delivery of legal justice, it is mandatory that the procedures involved should be simple, quick, fair, inexpensive, and efficient. Our constitution in Article 21 states that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law”, it clearly means that every citizen who has a legal right cannot be taken away from him except the procedure established and hence that ensures the legal justice. There is Equality before the law[24] which means that everyone is equal before the law. The constitution under the Part III has also provided with the Writ Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court[25] which the citizens can exercise if their rights are hampered and that is a legal right, similarly Article 226 of the Indian Constitution also provides for the writ jurisdiction of the High Courts which is more like the writs of the supreme court. The Directive Principles of State Policy also has provisions regarding the legal justice of the citizens which the state should provide and strike for and some of them are, To make the legal system fair and to provide free legal aid by means of some scheme or law[26], To brace a Uniform civil code for the citizens throughout the territory of India[27], Separation of judiciary from the executive to seal public services of the state[28]. These are the provisions related to the legal justice in Indian Constitution but if we see all the laws made as to the law of the land the main aim of all those laws are to make sure that the legal justice system of the country is upheld and anyone who is hampering the rights of the other citizens does not go unpunished.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that in a society, the meaning and type of justice varies from person to person and from the need to need. For some, it can be justice and for some, it can be an injustice. E.g. if someone is hanged for the murder of any person as legal justice, the convicted person and his family might take that as an injustice but the person who was murdered and the society at large will see that as justice delivered.

The society since its inception has always focused on the need for a system through which it can maintain the peace and security of the people living in it and that there is somebody or person to protect them when their right is hampered. The modern legal and economic system and democracy are the result of the long and continuous battles and suffering of the people advocating the establishment of these systems.

Justice is a very essential part of any society because without it there would be no peace and no harmony in the society and the condition of the society will deteriorate further as there would be all kinds of crimes for the search of food and right.

Therefore it is very essential for the state and the organisations to keep the justice intact and hence we as citizens should always make sure that the provisions of the constitution and the laws related should reach the uneducated and less privileged people of the country then only we will a piece of effective and efficient machinery.


[1] https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/justice (Visited on July 25, 2020)

[2] Rawls 1971, p.3; Rawls, 1999, p.3

[3] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book V, chs. 1–2

[4] Rawls 1971, Theory of Justice, P.3

[5] Rawls 1971, Theory of Justice pg 52 – 53

[6] Earnest Barker, Principles of Social and Political Theory (1950)

[7] To The Best Of My Memory P B Ganjendragadkar Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai

[8] Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth

(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them

(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction, or condition with regard to

(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels, and palaces of public entertainment; or

(b) the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public

(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children

(4) Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes

[9] (Article 43-A), The Indian Constitution, 1950

[10] (Article 46, The Indian Constitution, 1950

[11]K.K. Ghai,  https://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/speech/speech-on-justice-meaning-and-types-of-justice/40361 (Visited on July 26th, 2020)

[12] 19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc

(1) All citizens shall have the right

(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

[13] (Article 38) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[14] (Article 38-2) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[15] (Article 39) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[16] (Article 43) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[17] (Article 41) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[18] 19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc

(1) All citizens shall have the right

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) to form associations or unions;

[19] (Article 40) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[20] (Article 43-A) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[21] (Article 43-B) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[22] (Article 51) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[23]William R. Polk, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/12/understanding-syria-from-pre-civil-war-to-post-assad/281989/  December 10, 2013 (Visited on July 27, 2020)  

[24] (Article 14) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[25] (Article 32) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[26]  (Article 39-A) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[27] . (Article 44) The Indian Constitution, 1950

[28] (Article 50) The Indian Constitution, 1950

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