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Right to break a contract

Monday December 13 2004 08:41 IST

By Karmayogi

A contract is legally binding on the parties. To break a contract is to break the law. The British courts had granted the right to labour to break any contract! If this was 200 years ago, when times were said to be good, what about the present?

Man is part of the society, an inseparable part of the society, which functions by LAW. It is lawful life that makes us civilised. Without law in the country, it is jungle life where the strong rule by a strong arm.

Of the many hallmarks of life, law-abiding attitude is one, perhaps a very important one. Life, in its most ideal conditions, contains an element of mystery. It is usually a paradox or contradiction.

One such is that humanity arrives at Justice through ways unjust.

Youngsters in high families often come across such instances and feel outraged. They are consoled by the elders saying they would not understand such things at this age, but as they grow up they will know the significance of such apparently unjust ways of life.

A father refuses the rightful share to one of his sons because he is a profligate. Another son would feel acutely the injustice done to his brother. He is unable to see what justice is there, because he does not see the boys profligacy.

Her husband not coming to the rescue of Draupadi is not an act with which any semblance of justice can be associated. Still, it is that act which gave her Krishnadarsan. This is not wholly true as every truth is partial.

Using this as an excuse, employers exploited the labour as the labour now exploits the management. A worker committed a murder in his neighbourhood and was sentenced to death.

The factory where he was working dismissed him. After several years, the courts have decreed that that murder and his job are unconnected. So, he must be reinstated and back pay be given to him.

How can management manage with a murderer on the labour force? This is the social justice today, because whatever the law, the courts have taken the side of the labourer. The rationale behind this is that the courts in earlier times have always taken the side of the employer.

In different periods, the society delivers social justice - a higher justice - by going around the law or bending the law in favour of the oppressed.

It can also be used as an instrument of oppression. That shift towards labour began in 1820 in England when law gave labour the right to break a contract. It is illegal, but there is justice in it, a justice of the times.

On the surface, we see law; behind it is a higher justice. Further beyond lies the world of dharma, which defies law as well as justice. It is the Lords Dharma. At its height, it can be only good.

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