Judicial Iconography in India

Published date01 July 2014
Date01 July 2014
Subject MatterArticles
Military-Madrasa-Mullah Complex 89
India Quarterly, 66, 2 (2010): 133–149
A Global Threat 89
Judicial Iconography in India
Rahela Khorakiwala
Courts often create an ‘image of justice’ that has different meanings for different people. These images
of justice are created through the architecture, ceremony, ritual, dress and language that exist within
the walls of a court. Therefore, the entire structure of the court can be said to have a story that is linked
to its ‘iconography’ that covers its exterior and interior façade creating a particular ‘image of justice’.
There are several academic writings in the West on judicial iconography linked to court structures that
influence the way justice is imaged. However, this field of academic research is relatively nascent in
India. This article relates these existing concepts to judicial iconography in India. The available literature
on courts in India is the evidence of the fact that courts in India also provide a particular image of
justice. This is seen through examples from the Supreme Court of India, the Bombay High Court, the
Rajasthan High Court, a District Court in Tamil Nadu and the High Court of Punjab and Chandigarh.
This article therefore addresses how the study of iconography extends to judicial discourse. The infinite
examples and instances of the different images of justice that abound the courts create a space for
research on judicial iconography wherein every court in India has a story to tell and an image to create.
The image of a court has different meanings for different people and these meaning changes through the
architecture, ceremony, ritual, dress and language that exist within the walls of a court. The entire
structure of a court can be said to have a story linked to its ‘iconography’ that covers its exterior and
interior façade that creates a particular ‘image of justice’ which is what is analyzed through the course of
this article.
In the case of India, most academic writing on courtroom studies focuses on the nature of the legal
profession and studies on courtroom iconography are nascent. However, in the West, there have been
several studies on the changing image of justice, courtroom iconographies and judicial meaning articu-
lated through the structure of the court. While Peter Goodrich1 writes about the issues connected
to courtroom speech, language, architecture and dress, Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis2 document the
1 Peter Goodrich, Languages of Law: From Logics of Memory to Nomadic Masks, in Modalities of legal annunciation:
a linguistics of courtrooM speech 179–208 (Peter Goodrich ed., Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1990).
2 Judith resnik & dennis curtis, representing Justice: inventing, controversy and rights in city states and deMocratic
courtrooMs (Yale University Press 2011).
Asian Journal of Legal Education
1(2) 89–101
© 2014 The West Bengal National
University of Juridical Sciences
SAGE Publications
Los Angeles, London,
New Delhi, Singapore,
Washington DC
DOI: 10.1177/2322005814530338
Rahela Khorakiwala, LL.B. Government Law College, Mumbai. LL.M. degree from New York University School
of Law) is currently pursuing her PhD in Law and Governance from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT