File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Social Justice: Constitutional Mission And Realities

The word Justice is derived from French word 'Jostise' which means uprightness, equity and vindication of right. It is as old as civilization and society. As enunciated by Plato, a Greek philosopher, Justice means giving everyone their due share. Consequentially, social justice would mean giving everyone their due share in society through social arrangements. The concept of social justice has several dimensions. It is the bedrock of all legal systems.

Social justice as understood today by scholars means that every human being has a right to equitable treatment. Originally, it was meant to emphasize the economic aspect only but now it has encompassed its scope to all possible spheres of society. In the Indian context, Dr.B.R. Ambedkar was one of the key philosophers of this concept.

He believed that the ideal of social justice could be achieved only by providing Constitutional status to certain provisions. However, despite such textual and descriptive provisions, the challenges to social justice have still not cutback. Social justice still seems like a term unknown to certain sections of society. Social domination still gropes the society. Thus, the realities are not in compliance with the aims.

Primarily, the term 'social justice' was used to emphasise equal distribution of resources. But now-a-days the term is used in a much broader sense. It implies equitable distribution of resources along with equality of treatment and opportunity to all without any consideration of factors like caste, class, religion, gender, origin or any of the factor or factors that divide the society.

Opposing, it doesn't mean that special provisions made for those in need of development will amount to breach of rule of social justice. Rather it is an enabling aspect of the concept of social justice. Thus, social justice is not an 'us versus them' rather it is a 'we are in it together' mentality.

It is the identification of where our privileges intersect with somebody else's oppression. Social justice takes within its sweep the objective of removing all inequalities and affording equal opportunities to all citizens in social affairs as well as economic activities.

History of social justice:
Income inequalities during the 19th century industrial revolution gave birth to the notion of social justice. Hence at start, the concept of social justice was pecuniary but with the onset of revolution a plethora of issues came into knowledge like

And since then movements like metoo, black lives matter have been witnessed. Social justice was used as base principle in these movements. In the 21st century, the rule of social justice is not just limited to texts or provisions but has expanded to almost every aspect of human interaction trying to secure equity more than equality.

In modern period, the aim is not to achieve same treatment for all but to give such a level of tailored treatment so as to bring all on same level. Today, concept of social justice often refers to human rights centered around in improving the lives of groups historically marginalized based on race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion and disability.

The phrase social justice draws its roots from Christian theology with first noted use occurring in early 1840s in theoretical treatise on natural law

Objectives of social justice:
  • To achieve the goal of social harmony through removal of inequalities and change in social order
  • To meet the challenge of socio-economic inequality by rule of law
  • To achieve economic justice without any violent conflict
  • To eradicate challenges of casteism, untouchability, and other discrimination in society
  • To ensure life to be meaningful and liveable with human dignity

Principles of social justice:
Social justice is a multi dimensional concept but the underlying goal of all dimensions is usually fairness and inclusion. In order to achieve this goal , following set of principles is established:
  • Access - Equal access to social goods, resources, education, healthcare, employment
  • Equity - Distribution of resources or social order in a way that addresses the specific needs of underprivileged communities or people.
  • Diversity - Not only there should be women and people of colour in positions of power but also the minority communities to prevent discrimination.
  • Participation - Everyone should have a voice in making important decisions either by themselves or by representatives
  • Human rights - Final principle and most arguably includes freedom of conscience, freedom from police abuse and bodily autonomy

Social justice and Law:
Social justice has penetrated the law because crimes are not acceptable in any society and to address these issues should be the top most priority of government. Laws regarding discrimination, sexual orientation are directly related to social justice implementation. Areas of social justice in which a punishment becomes mandatory directly affect the law. These include civil rights violations, domestic violence, statutory rights and other social issues that call for an immediate action on part of authorities. Similarly, the power of law can be used to achieve social justice so that everybody has a fair chance to grow and thrive.

Social justice - Indian Context
Dr. Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution were a great crusader of equality and social justice. Social justice according to him, was a basic requirement for achieving the goal of social harmony. He believed this could be achieved only through removal of inequalities against deprived and depressed ones in social order.

The inequality in Indian society of those days was not only economic in character but also social and political in nature. He favoured a total revolution against the social evils of Indian society. He was highly critical of existing social order in Indian society since it promoted inequality. So, he came up with an alternative model of social order based upon principles of social justice.

Statutory provisions
Ambedkar believed that the ideal of social justice could be achieved by providing constitutional status to such provisions which would force those in power to take measures for achievement of this goal. He laid down a detailed plan of provisions which would offer a sure safeguard to depressed classes of Indian society. He believed that these would go a long way in better recognition of these classes at social levels and would also help them in their economic upliftment. This was his major contribution in accruing social justice to all those classes which had been victims of injustice for centuries.

The Constitution of India has thus, ingrained the spirit of social justice into its provisions. The Preamble to the Indian Constitution mentions 3 kinds of justice- Social, political and economic. All of these are inter connected. Social justice and Equality are complementary to each other.

The 'welfare state' concept & socialistic features of the Constitution and Indian Economy are also a step towards social justice.

Many Directive Principles of State Policy, Fundamental rights embody the principle of social justice. Some of them are:
  • Right to Equality - Article 14, 16, 17 and 18
  • Right to Education - Article 21A
  • Cultural and Educational Rights - Article 29 and 30
  • Right against Exploitation - Article 23, 24
  • Promotion of social welfare - Article 38
  • Distribution of resources as per common good - Article 39
  • Just and humane working conditions - Article 42
  • Promotion of educational and economic interests of the Scheduled castes, Scheduled tribes and other weaker sections - Article 46
All these provisions are constitutional embodiment of principle of social justice and reflects our constitutional mission for same.

Judicial interpretation of Social Justice
The Supreme court in Balbir Kaur Vs. Steel Authority of India (2000) ruled that the concept of social justice is the yardstick to justice administration system or the legal justice & it would be an obligation for law courts to apply the law depending upon the situation in a manner whichever is beneficial for society.

In Consumer Education & Research Centre Vs. Union of India (1995), it was held that ' social justice is a device to ensure life to be meaningful and liveable with human dignity. State has to provide facilities to reach minimum standard of health, economic security and civilized living to workmen.'

Therefore, the Supreme court has always stepped in to protect the interests of Indian citizens. It has used the medium of social justice as an umbrella term to deliver justice.

Challenges to social justice:
After 75 years of independence, hundreds of laws offering variety of special facilities, social justice is still far from reality. Though in any society some form of inequality is unavoidable, but the persistence of large scale economic disparities & undignified living conditions of millions of Indians can't be overlooked.

The conception of social justice encompasses from commitment to protection of human rights and civil liberties. Disabilities, problems of other groups like physically disabled, children, those affected by environmental pollution also form part of agenda of social justice. And surprisingly, these are India's most critical problems.

Inequalities based upon race, age, caste, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, physical or mental ability exists in the society. Social injustice is a critical problem in Indian society. The analysis of society's social stratification based on either caste or class is primarily concerned with definition of inequality.

According to a World Bank working paper issued in month of April 2022, India has more than halved its number of severely poor individuals. Apart from that, women literacy rate in India is still 65% and only a 16% of households enjoy the luxury of electricity and drinking water. All these figures are indicative of social injustice in society and paint quite the opposite picture than expected by our Constitutional goals.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Avneet Kaur
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: OT364542002683-6-1023

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly