INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL THEORY

3. Forms of Justice

Justice may be discussed in two forms: formal and informal justice. Formal justice may be examined in two forms: ‘legal justice’ and ‘social justice’. These forms of justice are essentially formalist in the sense that justice is seen to be done within the formal institutional structure. Apart from these specifications, we may also look into informal justice such as ‘restorative justice’. Here, for our conceptual clarification, formal institutional justice seeks to establish just institutions for fair allocation of social goods. It seeks to redress ‘social injustice’ by applying universal norms and institutions to all similar cases. It assumes that just institutions can deliver perfect justice in the society. On the other hand, informal justice system deals with non-institutional paradigm of justice. It may be understood as a dispute resolving mechanism which falls outside the scope of formal institutional mechanism of justice. In India, informal justice is not 4 Institute of lifelong Learning, University of Delhi institutionally practiced though the concept is quite familiar in Indian tradition. In traditional Indian village community life, or in tribal societies, disputes between two adversaries are often resolved in a panchayat. All the affected parties are summoned in the panchayat and try to resolve the dispute amicably. The panchayat may impose a fine to the violator or ask to tender an apology to the other party, or may ask for both. In return the wrongdoer is expected to forgive. Justice is done in this way.