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Society, law and science

LAW IN THE SCIENTIFIC ERA: Justice Markandey Katju; Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., C-FF-1A, Ansal's Dilkush Industrial Estate, G. T. Karnal Road, Delhi-110033. Rs. 395.

JUSTICE KATJU, with a brilliant flair, has in a challenging mood, produced for popular and juristic critique a new theory in the field of jurisprudence so that law, ``living law'', may grapple with the modern world order which has pushed behind former theories and made a quantum jump to become a relevant instrument of governance in the 21st century.

In the earlier days of classical positivism, of Banham and Austin, the perspective and the process of law did not have a structure or form which could become a partner of social justice in contemporary conditions.

But when social and economic order changed, the mechanical facets of the classical positivists became obsolete. Sociological jurisprudence, founded by Roscoe Pound and other radicals who followed him, stressed social and economic reality and widened the scope of jurisprudence.

Statutory law responded with new legislation and judges ceased to be passive agents handcuffed by dated precedents. Sociological jurisprudence arms a judge with tremendous powers of creative hermeneutics so that advances through activism could make the court a potent instrument of social engineering. Of course, some judges still remain static, status quoist while others use their powers to creatively transform the social order.

The author has produced a remarkable textbook and not merely a collection of adventurist essays. He deals with the origin and development of law, investigates natural law in a successful effort and takes a look at the shape of law in the future.

A whole chapter, devoted to Roscoe Pound's jurisprudence and also corresponding theories in continental Europe, enlivens the book. The present controversy about the pure theory of law, still polemical in Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence but uninteresting to the Sanatana Dharma schools in India, finds a place in this book.

What is remarkable about Katju's vision of jurisprudence is that he moves on to law in the scientific era, law, religion and politics, law and justice in their deeper nexus, and the welfare state, of course; he deals with judicial legislation which is becoming significantly successful in the social justice era we live in and the corrupt operations who control power.

It is difficult for the reviewer to discuss in detail the diverse chapters of the book. But imagine Katju discussing the Indian economy and the role of the Indian judiciary. He proceeds to consider what is very relevant today, namely, the nature and problems of space law, air law and their application to Indian sovereignty. In getting into the 21st century, he has not forgotten to deal with the ``mimamsa'' principles of interpretation and also the challenges before the underdeveloped nations.

A venial touch of vanity has persuaded the author to add quite a number of his judgments in part II of the volume. However, each judgment has a tale to tell, a lesson to teach and a social issue to discuss and decide. Public interest litigation is neither anathema nor allergy to him; but it is an opportunity for judicial effort at transformation of the social order.

The reviewer would like to conclude by saying amen to the last sentence in the preface to the book ``it is submitted that Dynamic Positivism will be the jurisprudence of the scientific era.'' Do remember, dear author and reader, that law is but the means and justice the end; and so, the legal instrument should resist global subversion by the tycoons of the world's ``impoverished incorporated''.

V. R. KRISHNA IYER

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