What is India Justice Report?
The India Justice Report ranks 18 large and 7 small states according to their capacity to deliver justice to all. It uses government data to assess the budgets, infrastructure, human resources, workloads, diversity and 5-year trends of police, prisons, judiciary and legal aid in each state, against its own declared standards.
Four Pillars of Justice assessed in report
- Legal aid
This first of its kind initiative was supported and facilitated by Tata Trusts in partnership with Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Daksh, TISS-Prayas and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
What is aim of IJR?
The aim is to spur states to improve their performance in building the capacity of their respective subsystems of the formal justice system to deliver timely justice to citizens. A state-wise ranking across the four pillars would create a healthy competition among states.
What are key findings of report?
- Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the top three states in the effective functioning of the police, prisons, the judiciary and legal aid, the report says, while Uttar Pradesh (18), Bihar (17) and Jharkhand (16) are the bottom three states in the report’s comparative ranking of the capacity of their justice systems.
- Report finds women poorly represented, accounting for 7 per cent of the police, 10 per cent of prison staff and about 26.5 per cent of all judges in the high courts and subordinate courts.
- The report points out that all states have vacancies across four pillars of the justice system, most states fail to utilize allocated funds,
- States spend less than Rs 1 per capita per annum on providing legal aid—free legal services meant for the marginalized.
- In nearly all the states, the problem of budget inadequacy is juxtaposed with that of underutilization of available funds
- Dismal condition of free legal aidà None of the states and UTs used up their National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) budget. NALSA provides free legal services to the weaker sections of society and to organize Lok Adalats (people’s courts) for amicable settlement of disputes.
- Despite having smaller jurisdictions to govern, populations and areas, the data shows that small states are not able to outperform their large state counterparts.
What difficulties are shown in report in implementation of free legal aid?
- Legal aid is intended to help the poorer sections of society to ensure that no one is denied an opportunity to secure justice. The per capita spend on legal aid was just Rs 0.75 per annum (2017-18).
- The biggest challenge in the implementation of legal aid services is the uneven organizational practices in the delivery of legal services across districts and sub-divisions.
- states/UTs have fewer than 10 para-legal volunteers who provide legal services to remote locations and to the marginalized, per 100,000 population.
- Lack of awareness in people about free legal aid
What is significance of report?
The findings are important because India is ranked 68—below Sri Lanka and Nepal—among 126 countries on the Rule of Law Index, 2019.
Millions of cases are stuck in the Indian justice system, causing anguish and protracted costs to litigants. There were over 4.2 million cases pending in the 24 high courts on February 4, 2018, 49 per cent of these more than five years old, as IndiaSpend reported on February 12, 2018. This report is meant to start competitive federalism between states in delivery of justice.