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Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Written by: Shreemh Agarwal


Before directly jumping on to the legal maxim let us get familiar with what justice means and why justice is needed. Justice comes from the Latin word “jus” meaning right or law. Justice is nothing but the quality of being just, the upkeep or administration of what is just under the law, such as by judicial or other actions. According to the scholars such as Plato justice is a virtue and can be used as a tool in establishing rational order, wherein it won’t be interfering with any other functioning rather performing each part appropriately. As described by Aristotle justice contains words like fair, rational, and such fairness that involves equitable distribution and correction of what is inequitable.[1]Justice not only upholds the administration of law now it is more based on ethics, morals, religion, equity. Law will come to a be standstill if justice is not delivered. Justice helps in making a balance in law and order, keeping peace in the society by making sure the offenders are behind the bars, serving the rights of the aggrieved party. Justice helps in restoring faith in humanity and making the world a better place by providing rights, opportunities, and facilities in all fairways. Even in the Indian constitution Art. 142 talks about complete justice, this article grants power to the Honorable Supreme Court for passing any decree to ensure complete justice. Remarkable cases where the Supreme Court increased their ambit to deliver justice under Art.142 were the union carbide case (Bhopal gas tragedy case), coal block allocation case. [2] Hence delivering rational justice should be of maximum importance.

Legal Maxim

Bypassing time for modern civilization, justice has become a functional part. Presenting here the statistics according to the state affairs the number of pending cases increased from 3.68 crores to 4.4 crore cases by 25th march 2020. [3]The most obligatory action would be to maintain justice unless the people will start to lose faith in the Indian judiciary system. After all, this caseload people still look up to courts for serving them justice.

The legal maxim “justice delayed is justice denied” was put forward by William E Gladstone in the late 1800s. He was a former British statesman and prime minister. The expression "justice delayed is justice denied" signifies that if justice is not served within a given time frame, and therefore even if justice is rendered later, it is not justice because justice was not served during that time frame. According to Martin Luther King, "Injustice everywhere is a danger to justice everywhere." When it comes to a legitimate legal system, justice should be fair, inexpensive, and quick. Though justice being everyone’s right, naming it to be the guardian of civil rights and the shield of innocence. This maxim holds huge importance if there is a delay in the process of justice that is exceedingly more than a reasonable period following such ignorance will make the culprit easily flee, increase the suffering of the victim and a constant threat to the society, which will automatically lead to a weaken judicial system. The most serious crime is knowing the truth and doing nothing about it. Many cases are pending in India's courts, and the legislation is insufficient to resolve them all in the allotted period. People seeking justice must navigate many ups and downs on their journey. It makes no difference whether the case is civil or criminal. Justice is the only thing that counts. It is hard to earn people's faith in the legal system without justice. People who have filed their cases in the courts are eagerly waiting for justice to be served unlike in history when kings or rulers deliver judgments without any delay. As the king had the power to punish and deliver justice. But in modern days scenario, if justice takes time, it will give room to the criminal for proving himself or herself innocent by tampering and altering the evidence.

Why justice is deferred?

The foremost reason is the investigation running by the police which delays as it is impossible to keep them behind bars for long. Even if the police investigation is accomplished with proofs and the witness, still there are many law and order duties to be facilitated. Negligence done on the part of the police delays the justice, due to very obvious reason police denies to file charge sheets or to conduct the investigation in the right manner. In the court, it is still a long process as the culprit and client lawyers defend respective cases.[4]There are no special courts to deal with the most heinous crimes, such as murder, rape, and burglary. These courts are dedicated solely to such offenses. They must be set up with supremacies to take direct cognizance of offenses. They must conduct a trial daily after they have identified the perpetrator. Unfortunately, our jurisdiction lacks such a mechanism for punishing the offender. In such a sluggish jurisdiction procedure, the victim's family has a limited amount of time to seek justice. Furthermore, in our nation, the courts are subjected to an excessive amount of litigation from the government, as many of the lawsuits are brought against government departments. Even the number of judges is not sufficient as per the population which is a major drawback the total number of judges in India is 17,615 that to a population of more than 100 crores. All these listed reasons delay in the procedure of serving justice which renders in no justice at all. The classic example is the Nirbhaya case where a decree to hang the offenders was given after 7 years of the incident took place. Another case is of Ram Mandir case where judgment came on November 9 2019 though being the oldest case.[5]


To ensure faith in the judiciary and the legal system of Indian it is very important to serve justice within a limited time frame and relief should be given to the victim. But there is no law that states any specific time for discharging any particular case. Hence it could be concluded that if the system is not reformed then eventually, we will continue to face such problems and maybe at colossal in the times to come.

[1]Malpas, J.,” Donald Davidson”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta(ed). [2]King Stubb & Kasiva, Article-142 constitution of India- is it sword of complete justice?available at [3]Pradeep Thakur, “Pending cases in India cross 4.4 crores, up 19% since last year”, The Times of India. [4]June Rhee, Justice deferred is justice denied, [5]Burstyner, Naomi &Sourdin, Tania. (2014). Justice Delayed is Justice Denied. Victoria University Law and Justice Journal. 4. 10.15209/vulj. v4i1.61.

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