An Exhibition on Plural Ideas of Justice
What is 'Justice'? by Shubhangi Shukla
Plural Ideas of Justice in the Indian Constitution and their translation into Public Policy The idea of justice is historically a multifaceted one. Depending on times and social contexts, justice has meant different things, the underlying principles have evolved and been delivered by a variety of institutions. Formal courts and the law are only one in a long line of such institutions. Plurality of justice and the evolution of this notion in contemporary India can be traced back to the constitution of India itself. The preamble promises to ‘secure for all its citizens, justice, social, economic and political’ before liberty, equality and fraternity. The promise is articulated further in the fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. Here the idea of justice is taken beyond the punitive, beyond the formal court of law and boundaries of prison, already extended to that of society/ community at large. The understanding of justice in this greater sense to include social, economic and political in the constitution has paved the way for laws and public policies such as the Food security Act, Right to Education, National Employment Guarantee Act, Universal old age pension schemes and many others. They have also helped in the emergence of quasi judicial/ conflict resolving spaces such as the Internal Complaint Committee against Sexual Harassment, Mahila Suraksha Kendras and thanas in the police, Labour and Consumer Courts, and community conflict resolving mechanisms such as Jan Sunwais for Social Audit . In all these instances, the moral principle of justice has been translated into concrete socially transformative policies and practices. Through my illustrations, I wish to explore these linkages of justice between the constitution and policy, how the idea of justice is transformed from principle to practice, from abstract to concrete, visualise how it transforms society, really try and imagine what ‘justice’ really looks like.
(Disclaimer : The artwork in the exhibition represents the views and the work of artist alone)