In dealing with the concept of social-justice, it becomes essential to differentiate between the traditional idea of ‘justice’ and modern idea of ‘social justice’ intended to establish an egalitarian society.
In modern liberal philosophy “justice” is defined in terms of rights not as duties. The source of such rights is the state legislation, which limits the state power non-infringing or taking away fundamental rights. In modern societies, almost all constitutions guarantees such rights and ensure their effective implementation. In this sense justice becomes a disposition to give everyone’s his rights.
The notion of social justice, however, is relatively recent phenomenon and largely a product of the modern social and economic developments. The traditional idea of justice which is described as often conservative approach, focused on the qualities of ‘Just’ or virtuous man, while the modern idea of social justice assumes a Just-society. In ancient Greek and Hindu approach, the justice is concerned with functioning of duties, not with notion of rights. Both Plato and Aristotle hold the state to be prior to the individual. Under ancient Indian tradition, Dharma is another name of code of obligations and justice is nothing but virtuous conduct with dharma.