Fiat Justitia Ruat Caelum

The Latin maxim ‘fiat justitia ruat caelum’ is what first comes to mind on a reading of Article 142 – let justice be done though the heavens fall. This maxim was quoted by Lord Mansfield in R. v. Wilkes, (1770) 4 Burr 2527: (1558-1774) All ER Rep. 570.

The Article gives a very wide power to do complete justice to the parties before the Court, a power which exists in the Supreme Court because the Judgment delivered by it will finally end the litigation between the parties.”

Hon’ble Justice R.F. Nariman, Central Bureau of Investigation v. Kalyan Singh & Ors., [Criminal Appeal No. 751 of 2017].

Fiat Justitia appears at the bottom of the 1835 portrait of the Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall by Rembrandt Peale, which hangs in a conference room at the Supreme Court Building in Washington.

Fiat Justitia.jpg

It is also the motto of the Massachusetts Bar Association, appearing on the official seal.


1933, Judge James Edwin Horton quoted it when explaining why he set aside the Death Sentence of Haywood Patterson, a black man wrongfully convicted of raping two white women – Victoria Price and Ruby Bates – in Alabama, although he knew it would be the end of his Judicial Career.

Fiat justitia ruat caelum‘ even finds its way into movies, such as JFK (1991, dir. Oliver Stone) in which New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) uses the phrase during investigation.