The concept and the administration of justice is one of the most essential features of the government. The administration of justice is carried out by the state through the means of physical force to maintain peace and order within the territory.
The concept of Justice
The concept of justice did not originate recently but its origin is as old as the existence of humans. This concept evolved more noticeably along with the development of the concept of state, which assures justice to every single citizen of the country through the instrument of law. Humans sustain an inherent social nature and want to live peacefully in this society and try to avoid conflict of interest. Every individual expects rightful conduct from other individuals. Therefore, justice is a significant instrument from which the concept of rights, duties, and equality evolves. In a territory, without the weapon of justice, it becomes very difficult for the government to retain an orderly society. Further, with the development of law, the concept of delivering justice also broadened. The significance of legal justice is that it tries to ensure uniformity and certainty of law but at the same time, it also ensures that the rights and duties of every citizen are duly respected. Hence, an essential feature is an element of being impartial while delivering justice and one should be just and fair. The modern concept of justice is expressed as justice according to the law which is also known as the rule of law.
Origin of administration of justice
The concept and administration of justice, which is prevailing in recent contemporary societies, developed through several stages. In a primitive society, private retribution and self-help were the only remedies accessible by the wronged person against the wrongdoer. The second stage of development of the society is characterized by the state coming into existence and taking its fundamental form when the functions were persuasive in nature. The third stage of the development of society witnessed retaliation of wrongs by making payment of compensation by the wrongdoer to the victim who is affected by the wrongful act. But over the course of its duration, the government exerted its authority and took the responsibility for the administration of justice. It was the responsibility of the government to punish the wrongdoer by utilizing its power whenever necessary and delivering it to the citizens. This stage of development witnessed that acts of wrong done by any individual were no longer treated as a private wrong but it was contemplated as an offence against the state and such individuals will be punishable according to the law of the country. Accordingly, the prevailing administration of justice owes its origin and growth to the incremental evaluation of the state and its power. Thus, with increasing state power the self-help remedies which existed in the earlier stage were substituted by the administration of criminal and civil justice through law courts of the nation.
Dealing with justice
Dealing with justice pertains to the decision-making process of the court. In such a process of decision making, courts have to encounter various kinds of difficulties which are presented before while performing their judicial duties and delivering justice to the people. These cases may be easy, intermediate, or hard. But especially while dealing with the hard cases, they may have to come across numerous situations wherein the court is required to exercise discretion in the larger public interest. During such circumstances, the court comes across several possibilities, all of which appear to be lawful within the context of the system and during such circumstances, judicial discretion exists as a choice not between lawful and unlawful but between lawful and lawful amongst which the court is supposed to choose the solution which is in the larger public interest. Therefore, discretion, when applied to a court of justice, means sound discretion guided by law.
Importance of administration of justice
Every human being commonly inherits a selfish nature and that is the reason there is a requirement of external coercive authority in order to maintain an individual within limits and restrain the unfettered liberty of that individual. Unlimited and unrestrained liberty would lead to a situation of chaos. The true meaning of liberty is that liberty comprises the power to do everything that does not injure another which implies that every individual is unrestricted to do whatever he desires provided that his actions must not infringe on the equal freedom of any other individual. Thus, liberty speaks about the freedom of action so far permitted by law. In order to keep people within control, a common power is necessary and the state also requires force to prevent the recalcitrant minority from attaining an unfair benefit over common law-abiding people. Hence, the force of the state is an inevitable instrument for the protection of the rights of individuals in society.
Justice is said to be the absolute end of law and the goal of society, which judges of the court have been pouring into law with new variants of justice in the form of contemporary values and need-based rights like freedom, liberty, dignity, equality, social justice as authorized by the constitutional document and access to justice to the people is, therefore, the foundation of the Constitution of India.
According to Dicey, rule of law meant treating people equally and every human being is subject to the law of the territory. Law is an effective weapon to render justice to each individual of the country but it can also be utilized as a device to cause massive exploitation of people which was witnessed during British rule. After independence and particularly during the post-emergency era the higher courts have recognized that the constitution which is the supreme law if the country guarantees not the only rule of law but also the rule of justice and if any law is not just, fair and reasonable then it will be considered as invalid under the constitution.
Advantages and disadvantages of administration of justice
In order to make effective and efficient administration of justice by the courts of law has currently become one of the important functions of the state. The courts of the country are accountable for the effective administration of justice according to the laws formulated by the legislature. Uniformity, certainty, impartiality, and equality are the most significant elements for the adequate administration of justice. The judge cannot act arbitrarily while imparting justice, it is bound to deliver its judgment according to the fixed principles of law. For the application of the laws uniformly without any kind of fear or favour, the judges of every court are provided with the codified laws which they are bound to follow.
But despite that, the administration of justice has to suffer from certain drawbacks. Rigidity, formality, and complexity of laws are some of the main drawbacks coming in between the effective administration of justice, and hence, Salmond was of the view that the law is a remedy for greater evil but it brings with it evils of its own.
Civil and criminal justice
Justice can be classified into two different groups, civil and criminal. The former refers to the violation of civil or legal rights of an individual called civil injuries, while the latter is in the nature of the violation of public rights and duties which affect the community as a whole and are referred to as crime. Therefore, crime is considered to be a wrong against the community as a whole and the state is responsible to punish the criminals, while on another side the civil wrong is an infringement of the legal right of an individual which does not affect the society in general and is redressible by monetary compensation.
Differences between civil and criminal justice
- In civil cases, remedies are sought by the aggrieved parties but in criminal cases proceedings are instituted by the state.
- In civil cases, it is upon the judge to determine whether the civil rights of the plaintiff are affected or violated and if so whether the individual is entitled to any relief, but in a criminal trial, the magistrate is to determine the guilt or otherwise of the accused based on the evidence before him.
- A civil case may result in an award of compensation or dismissal of the case but a criminal trial results in conviction or acquittal of the accused.
- A civil proceeding in case succeeds, results in a decree of a court for the enforcement of the claim of payment of a debt, award of damages, injunction restitution, specific performance, etc whereas a criminal proceeding results in the infliction of punishment ranging from a sentence of death to mere fine or binding over the lawbreaker to keep peace on his release on probation after admonition.
The main objective of civil proceedings is to enforce the rights of the citizens whereas the objective of a criminal proceeding is to punish the offender but it is not necessary, especially in juvenile and the first offender cases who are only admonished or released on probation rather than being sentenced. In civil proceedings also in circumstances of disobedience of an injunction order of the court the person may be sentenced to imprisonment. Thus, civil and criminal justice is not to be considered in terms of the nature and consequences of the act but the legal implications which follow as a result of the act.
Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation was of the view that true justice lies in fighting against injustice, tyranny, inequality, racialism, etc. in order to establish a socio-economic order based on truth, equality, and fraternity. Therefore, the state needs to administer justice in such a manner that it must not violate the right of another individual. The state also shall utilize its power and force to render justice to the citizens of the country.
Common Cause v. Union of India, (2018) 5 SCC 1.
 State of Haryana v. Darshana Devi, AIR 1979 SC 855.
BY RUMA MINJ | INDIAN INSTITUTE OF LEGAL STUDIES