Table of Contents
“Justice above self” written by Munshi Premchand , revolves around the fact that Justice always lies above self. God lives in the heart of the Panch and his voice is the voice of God.
The story revolves around two best friends, Jumman and Algu. It deals with their roles as the head of the village in the village panchayat and how they change as soon as they acquire the position of a head member of the society. Their friendship was so strong that when either of them went away from the village, the other looked after his family. Both were highly honoured and dignified in their village.
Algu, The Sarpanch
Jumman had an old aunt, who had some property in her name. She transferred her property to Jumman so that she would stay with them and he would look after him.The situation altered after a couple of years passed. The old woman was not served even a little food to survive. Besides she suffered from starvation and had to tolerate insults. Unable to bear any more insults, she decided not to stay with Jumman. One day asked him to give her monthly allowance so that she could set up a separate kitchen. Jumman Shaikh argued on behalf his wife, as she knew best to run the house. This made the old woman angry. The old woman decided to take the case to the village Panchayat and consult to Algu Chowdhary. Algu Chowdhary did not know what to do, because Jumman Shaikh was his best friend. He could not go against his friend. The old lady asked Algu to come to the Panchayat and give her a fair justice. In the Panchayat meeting all members gathered. After consulting others and analysing the situation, Algu declared that Jumman must pay his aunt (the old lady) a monthly allowance, or else the property would go back to her. The verdict of Algu made Jumman angry and somewhat feel insulted. After this the bond of friendship between Algu and Jumman was broken. Jumman saw Algu as an enemy and wanted to take revenge.
Jumman, The Sarpanch
Days passed. Due to his ill luck, Algu was in trouble. Therefore he sold one of this bullock to Sanju Sahu, a cart driver of the village. The understanding was that Sahu would pay the price of the bullock in a month’s time. It so happened that the Bullock sold by Algu, died written a month several months since the death of bullock, Algu reminded Sahu of the money he had not yet paid.But Sahu firmly told him that he could not pay him a penny for the wretched beast he had sold him, he brought us nothing but ruin. He did not argue with him. He decided to the case to the Panchayat.
The Panchayat was held under the same old banyan tree. Algu told before the Panchayat that the voice of the Panch was the voice of God and he said that he would abide by the decision of the panch, whoever he might be.
The authority of nomination of the Panch was given to Sahu. Thinking it a good Sahu opted the name of Jumman. Algu’s heart sank and turned pale. Jumman became the head panch. He realized his responsibility as a judge and the dignity of his office. It was a good chance for Jumman to take revenge Algu. But Jumman decided not to allow his personal feelings to come in the way of speaking the truth and doing justice. On the day of the Panchayat meeting, both Algu and Sahu presented their cases.
After hearing their cases Jumman announced that Sahu should pay Algu the price of the bullock because when Sahu bought the bullock it had not suffered from any disability or disease. The death of the bullock was unfortunate but Algu could not be blamed for it. On hearing the decision, Algu could not believe his ears because he had thought Jumman would take revenge. But it was not so happened. He shouted loudly as victory to the Panchayat and said that was the justice and God was there in the voice of the Pancha. Soon after this both friends embraced to each other and became close friends as they were before.
The values we learn from the lesson are: Justice is impartial. No feelings of friendship, enmity and relationship on the way of justice. Voice of justice is voice of God.
After the Panchayat, Algu and Jumman became friends again. Throughout the short story, both characters understand their responsibility to spare friendships and partiality in order to enact justice during the Panchayat. The theme of “Justice above self ” is to highlight the significance of putting justice above one’s own interest.