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Theory Of Justice And Its Relevance In Indian Judicial System

In politics conflicts between proposals for universal, egalitarian welfare systems and demands for more individual freedoms frequently arise. Rawls theory of justice aims to address these conflicts using the three important methods. John Rawl assumed some features of a free society and some ideas on how a certain society and people within should be studied.

Rawl also thinks that people who believe in different ideologies could agree with some sort of principles to resolve conflicts of distributional effects of social institutions. The second method is to emphasize on the contract theory of political philosophy, where he says consent is necessary for the state to exercise their legitimate power.

The third method is that Rawl outlines a few principles for a civilized society that everyone should embrace. The main concept of these principles is that civil and political rights must be safeguarded and all the individuals must be given equal opportunity. The distribution of economic benefits under this approach place a definite emphasis on the socioeconomic group who are underprivileged. Rawl also stated that justice as fairness is preferable to utilitarianism, which is the dominant school of modern political philosophy.

Rawls theory of justice is also a substitute to utilitarianism as most of the principles stated by Rawl focus on promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people as the guiding principle. Rawl wanted to organize a society in which everyone has as much freedom as possible while making sure that no individual's freedom infringes on that of others.

In contrast to an equal distribution, Rawl also provided economic and social disparities, with the condition that this arrangement should aid the most disadvantaged in becoming better off in society. Lastly Rawl believed that the goal behind such inequality should be to help those without resources to get a position of power in the public domain.

Using a hypothetical idea of original position, Rawl elaborates on his views on justice. The original position has certain characteristics with social contract theory in terms of how nature is. When members of a society are in their original positions, it is assumed that the parties are unaware of their conceptions of the goal or their unique psychological characteristics. This idea holds all individuals within a society in this "hypothetical device" known as the original position. Rawl referred to that as keeping individuals behind a veil of ignorance.

Veil of ignorance assumes that people do not know or they become ignorant of themselves in matters of their social standing, for instance they would not know if they are rich or poor, young or old, class and position etc. People who are behind this veil are unaware of how their fortune will be determined by the allocation of their natural resources and skills. But Rawl thinks in a society this philosophy would help in preventing advantages from being adjusted to one's own preference.

Which then results in the distribution of benefits that are equitable to everyone because, if a person does not know how he will function in his own imagined society, he is unlikely to favor or grant privilege to any one class of people but, rather, will develop a justice system that treats everyone equally.

In Rawls opinion this would result in maximizing the advantages for the least advantaged members of society. For this social contract to be just the people of a society need to make the ruler based on everyone being in the same starting position, instead of assuming the outcome will be in a certain way and so allowing the ruler to benefit the poor more greatly.

Two guiding principles stated by John Rawl are:
  • First principle; "Each person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties, which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all"
  • Second Principle: "Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions:
    1. They are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity;
    2. They are to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society.

The first principle guarantees as much liberty as possible to individuals as long as their freedom does not hinder the fundamental liberty of others, they should be free to act as they choose.

The second principle has two parts, the first part explains that we can have economic and class differences even if the most disadvantaged individuals in a society are benefited in some way. The second part explains that socio economic inequalities must be such that everyone has a fair and equal opportunity of obtaining them.

Rawls theory of justice has influenced a lot of current political states and the way they function. India is one among the countries that have been influenced by Rawls theory of justice, India too also has similar aims to safeguard and provide justice for all. The values of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity were appropriately included into the Constitution of India's provisions starting with the preamble, basic rights, guiding principles of state policy, and other sections as well while considering the needs of the future society.

Strating with the preamble of the Constitution, preamble too lays down key principles of the constiution. India is said to pursue social, economic, and political justice among other things to guarantee equality for all of its residents. In this context, the term "justice" refers to the lack of arbitrary behaviour, the significance of the rule of law, and a framework that guarantees everyone in Indian society the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities. vii The preamble's principles of justice serve as the basic foundation of John Rawls' theory of justice.

The articles of the constitution has also influenced Rawls theory of justice. In accordance with Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, everyone living on Indian soil has the same access to legal protection. It ensures equality for all people, including locals, businesses, and travelers. One of the positive ideas of equality is the equal protection of the laws. It places a positive duty on the state to stop rights violations.

Socioeconomic changes can do this. Since everyone has access to justice, equality before the law is viewed as the converse of equality. The right to equality also stops the state from acting arbitrarily. This article opposes the idea of arbitrariness and states the equal protection of the laws. Every governmental body is subject to a number of limitations to prevent arbitrary action. To stop the state's organs from making arbitrary decisions, this is a crucial step.

The term equality therefore refers to both social and economic equality. This social and economic fairness should be upheld by the state at their own costs. The socially disadvantaged members of society must get special attention in order to put them on level with the privileged members of society in order to attain equality. With his difference principle, John Rawls aims to do just this.

According to Article 15 "the state is not allowed to discriminate against any of its citizens on the basis of their race, religion, caste, sex, or place of birth. Article 16 of the Indian Constitution ensures equal opportunity to all citizens and forbids discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, place of residence, or any combination of these with respect to employment in the public sector." Additionally, it allows for the reserving of state services in favour of the underprivileged group of residents.

'Discrimination against any of India's citizens on the basis of their race, caste, sex, religion, or place of birth is prohibited' according to Article 15 of the Indian constitution. 'All Indian citizens have an equal opportunity to work in the public sector' and Article 16 of the Indian Constitution and ensures that there is no discrimination based on race, sex, caste, religion, or place of birth. Additionally, Article 16 contains a clause that reserves governmental services for the benefit of the underprivileged segment of people.

As a result, it may be claimed that articles 15 and 16 are in line with John Rawls' theory of justice, which holds that arbitrary elements like one's caste, creed, race, or other characteristics should not affect one's chances of obtaining anything greater than what he or she was born with.

However, he stresses giving those who are below average preferential treatment to bring them up to the average, to attain equality in genuine sense, and calls it positive inequality in order to maximise the advantages for the least fortunate members of society. Article 21 of the Indian constitution provides that "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law."

It has a much broader definition that covers the right to a decent life, a means of subsistence, a right to health, etc. These rights are exclusively available to everyone on the basis of being born as a human being, without any favouritism or discrimination. This Article enshrines the fundamental principles of equality, where basic human rights are accorded to everybody on the sole presumption that they are all born as humans. John Rawls similarly imagines a world where everyone is treated fairly and equally.

Despite the fact that Rawls' book "A Theory of Justice" was written before the Indian Constitution was drafted. In order to strike a balance for the Empowerment of Justice for All, our Constitution places women, Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Class, and many other underrepresented groups of society on an equal footing with Rawls' theory of justice.

List of References:
  1. John Rawls, a Theory of Justice, edited by Otfried H�ffe, BRILL, 2013.
  2. The Lovett, Frank. Rawls's 'a Theory of Justice' : A Reader's Guide, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2011.
  3. Rawls John, A Theory of Justice : Original Edition, 1971
  4. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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