Justice In India: A Report Card For Indian States
India’s richest state is also the best in the country when it comes to delivering justice to its citizens.
Maharashtra has topped the overall ranking for justice, including police, prisons, judiciary and legal aid, according to the India Justice Report 2019 by Tata Trusts. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the next two on the list.
Interestingly, Maharashtra does not top the ranking in any of the four pillars that comprise justice. But a consistent performance across board helped the state top the ranking.
Still, that is not a cause for cheer in a country that ranks 68 in World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index. India’s formal justice delivery system is plagued with issues like outdated legal framework, inadequate resources, poor oversight and serious lack of quality, according to Maja Daruwala, chief editor of the report.
“India’s performance on delivering fair and speedy justice urgently needs to be spurred to reform,” Daruwala said in the report. “The delivery of justice is an essential service. Today, the system is unable to deliver. It is only when we stop denying the undeniable and defending the indefensible that we can move towards reform and repair of this broken system.”
Our hope is that states that feel themselves judged harshly through the dry truth of numbers and digits (of the report) will focus sweat and sinew on implementation.Maja Daruwala, Chief Editor, India Justice Report 2019.
Police: Need For More Gender Equality
Of all the four pillars, it’s the police that has the least share of women representation. In only eight of the 36 states and Union Territories women form more than 10 percent of the total police staff.
Women have a mandatory presence in police stations and they have exclusive functions when gender-based crimes are reported. But they are “woefully” in short supply, the report said. Chandigarh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have the highest female representation in the force.
There are a total of just over 7 percent women in the police.India Justice Report 2019
Prisons: Plugging The Deficits
Overcrowding, poor sanitation, nutrition for prisoners, overstays, shortage of staff and doctors—there’s a lot to fix in India’s prisons.
Half of India’s prisons are operating at more than 100 percent capacity. And while occupancy remains high, there’s not enough correctional staff. Take Uttar Pradesh for instance, among the worst for prisons: there are more than 95,000 inmates for every one sanctioned correctional staff.
“The continued lack of money, personnel and infrastructural wherewithal required towards ensuring the humane treatment of prisoners and staff who care for them, is testimony to the lack of intention to support the avowed ‘correctional’ aspects of imprisonment,” the report said.
Judiciary: Spending Needs To Grow Faster
Indian judiciary is fabled for its pending cases and delays. But another structural issue that is bogging down India’s courts is the inadequate spending on the judiciary.
It’s not like judicial spending for states is not growing. It’s just growing at a slower pace then the states’ total expenditure. And that means administrations have “less fiscal room to fill gaps and effect improvements”, the report said. The Supreme Court, itself, has highlighted the lack of training among officers to plan and prepare judiciary budgets.
“Currently, judiciary budgets cover establishment costs, that is, salary, allowances, and minimum operational costs, but do not usually stretch to capacity-building or allow for innovation and experimentation,” the India Justice Report said.