Meaning of ‘purposes of justice’

The words “purposes of justice” in Clause 13, Letters Patent, are in my opinion advisedly general and wide so as not to fetter the discretion of this Court in any way. To attempt to define these words will be to defeat the amplitude of the provision. To conclude from various decisions from time to time the enunciation of different grounds on which transfer can be made under this clause and then to say that those grounds are exhaustive will be an unnecessary limitation of the scope of this provision.

The Letters Patent are to be construed as a Statute and if the Statute has not chosen to formalise or exhaust the grounds on Which suits may be removed from other Courts to this Court it is not for this Court to define or delimit such grounds. The clause in the Letters Patent prescribes that “when the said High Court shall think proper to do so for purposes of justice” it will have the power to remove a suit from the Court mentioned therein and to try and to determine such suit here in this Court.

What are the “purposes of Justice” and when “the said High Court shall think proper to do so” are, in my opinion questions better left to be decided on the merits and facts of each case. To define justice in this context as ‘a principle which regulates the distribution of things valued by men’ may not be as complete a definition as that statement would imply.

Justice may be defined in various ways and has been so diversely defined through centuries of legal evolution. Leaving aside Plato’s idea of justice as based on the differentiation of citizens according to status and capacities. Aristotle distinguishes between corrective justice, distributive justice and general justice and according to that definition to describe justice as a principle regulating distribution of things would only come under one aspect of justice which Aristotle called distributive justice. The inadequacy of making justice mean a principle of distribution of things will appear from such consideration that it is the purpose of justice to afford protection to a man’s life and even take a man’s life by sentencing him to death and yet it is not the case of ‘distribution of things’.

From the Greek Jurisprudence we come to the more sweeping concept of justice in Roman Law as homenam cause omne jus constitutum. Similarly to define justice as something which “gives to every one that which is his” is an inadequate attempt to simplify a complexity of notions. For it may be purpose of justice in a particular situation to deny a man which could have been his but for certain circumstances the Court withholds it from him. From this particular point of view the definition of Justinian is less open to criticism when he says justice is rendering to every man his legal due.

Salmond describes this aspect of justice as merely a “rule of apportionment”. Justice like the true diamond has myriad facets and nothing is so misleading as to see one facet for describing its totality. The English jurists see justice as the rule of law while the new school of sociological jurisprudence so ably developed by the American jurists sees justice as the recognition of social interest in the security of social institutions. Manifestations of justice are as manifold as its concept and attempts to objectify its standards have never succeeded.

Refer: Calcutta High Court-Baburam Agarwalla vs Jamunadas Ramji And Co.- AIR 1951 Cal 239, 54 CWN 189

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