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    Interpreting the scales of justice: architecture, symbolism and semiotics of the Supreme Court of India

    Kumar, Shailesh (2017) Interpreting the scales of justice: architecture, symbolism and semiotics of the Supreme Court of India. The International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 30 (4), pp. 637-675. ISSN 0952-8059.

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    Abstract

    The neutrality of the art and architecture of courtrooms and courthouses has dominated the public perception in the Indian context. The courtroom design and the visual artistic elements present within these judicial places have very often been considered to be insignificant to the notions of law and justice that they reflect. As art and architecture present certain historical narratives, reflect political allegories and have significant impact on the perceptions of their viewers, they have critical socio-political ramifications. This makes it pertinent to explore them and investigate the paradox of their deployment and interpretation in today’s increasingly mediatized world. Through an ethnographic study of the Supreme Court of India, this paper interprets its art and architecture, and, the symbolism and semiotics reflected through them. Arguing against their neutrality and insignificance, the paper demonstrates how they reflect nationalism, certain ideologies and power-space dynamics. It further argues that they act as evidence of political metaphors related to justice, power and democracy. With a conversation between law, architecture and semiotics, the paper investigates the historical and spatial dimensions of its architecture and artistic elements. Mapping the Court’s architectural elements, I examine how the visual representation of ‘justice as virtue’ finds translation in its design through transfer of certain images, including the image of the ‘scales of justice’, into it, while absenting the notion of ‘justice as struggle’—to contemplate on how legal architecture gives evidence to the vexed relationship between law and justice and also of the break from the colonial past.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Legal architecture, Supreme Court of India, Semiotics, Symbolism, Building, Justice
    School: School of Law
    Depositing User: Shailesh Kumar
    Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2019 12:03
    Last Modified: 25 Jun 2020 08:00
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/26224

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