The Lady Justice
[She carries the scale, a sword or scroll and she is often blindfolded]
The blindfolded “Lady Justice” holding the beam balance is familiar to everyone’s mind when whenever we start talking about the noble profession of law but most of us are unaware about this famous Lady Justice beyond the image. She symbolizes this profession so universally that it is important for every lawyer, judge and even support system entering the profession to understand its significance. Justice is so akin to the legal system and the noble profession so even we as lawyer stands for stands with the duty to assist legal system in the dispensation of the same. Martin Luther King Junior said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Dispensation of justice, saving life and teaching are some of the streams which attach nobility to the profession and to the professionals wherever they exist. Maybe reading this article awakens each one of us deeper in our role.
Themis is an ancient Greek Titaness. She is the personified as Lady of divine order, fairness, law, natural law, and custom. Her symbols are the Scales of Justice, tools used to remain balanced and pragmatic. The personification of abstract concepts is characteristic of the Greeks. The ability of the goddess Themis to foresee the future enabled her to become one of the Oracles of Delphi, which in turn led to her establishment as the goddess of divine justice. In western tradition, Lady Justice sometimes wears a blindfold and carries a sword and scales. She symbolizes the fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, avarice, prejudice, or favour.
In a traditionally male-dominated ancient world, she was a predominant and coveted authority of prophecy, advice, and law. She is credited as being the first counselor and the first Oracle at Delphi, even before Apollo. In her time, she was the final decision maker on the laws of man and nature. Her popularity influenced and was mixed into other myths and gods. Around 22 A.D. she first appeared on Roman coins as the Roman goddess Justitia, ‘Justice’. She had become a blend of Greek and Roman stories. She also borrowed select traits and accessories of other goddesses such as Dike and Fortuna amongst others. Additionally, every period and people have added their changes to Lady Justice even as gods and goddess had declined with the rise of Christianity.
The Lady Justice is a metaphorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems. Her attributes are a blindfold, a balance, and a sword. Lady Justice is also known as Iustitia or Justitia after Latin: Iustitia, the Roman goddess of Justice, who is equivalent to the Greek goddess Themis and Dike.
The Scales of Justice represents the balance of the individual against the needs of society and a fair balance between interests of one individual and those of another. The personification of justice balancing the scales dates back to the Egyptian Goddess of Justice, Maat, who stood for truth and fairness. The scales represent that Lady Justice carefully weighs the claims of each side.
The Sword represents the enforcement measures of Lady Justice. It means Themis stands ready to obligate faithfulness to her decision of reason and justice by both parties.
The Blindfold today probably her most famous symbol – it first appeared in the fifteenth century. The blindfold represents decisions of objectivity and/or impartial decision or decision not influenced by wealth, politics, popularity or infamy etc. Blind Justice is the theory that law should be viewed objectively with the determination of innocence or guilt made without bias or prejudice.
Overview of the Lady Justice in Sculpture across Globe
1. Lady Justice with sword and scales, blindfold in Berne Switzerland.
2. Supreme Court of Brazil
3. The Palace of Justice, Rome Italy.
4. The Sculpture of Lady Justice, Frankfurt Germany.
5. Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa Ontario
6. The Central Criminal Court or Old Bailey London,
7. Themis Japan
8. The power of law at Olomouc, Czech Republic
9. Shelby County Courthouse, Memphis, Tennessee, United States
10. Justitia, Tehran Court House, Iran
11. Supreme Court of Queensland Australia
12. New Jersey
13. Justitia in Superior Court Building, Budapest, Hungry.
The beginning of the first written record of word “justice” can be traced from 12th Century. The origin, however, can be traced from English, French and Latin word. Justice comes from the Middle English word justice, which in turn is coming from the Old English word “justise” and the same is traceable to Latin word “Justitia” which is a word created from “justus”. The first written record of the modern English word justice was found in the mid-12th century as a title for a judicial officer.
In India, the common parlance can be drawn from the word “Nyaya” however it is important for us to stand notice that not only it dates back 2nd century BC in India but was impregnated in our Indian philosophy since ancient times. Nyaya is a Sanskrit word meaning “Rule” or “Method”. The major contribution of the Nyaya system is its working out an as inference (“ anumana”).
Symbol of the Mother and Child in Supreme Court of India
A black bronze sculpture of 210-centimeter height was installed on the lawn of the Supreme Court (February 20, 1980). It portrays Mother India in the form of the figure of a lady, sheltering the young Republic of India represented by the symbol of a child, who is upholding the laws of land symbolically shown in the form of an open book. On the book, a balance is shown, which represents dispensation of equal justice to all. The sculpture was made by the illustrious artist Chintamoni Kar.