Uttar Pradesh's justice delivery system the worst, Maharashtra is the best: Study

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on November 07, 2019

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The study states that India’s per capita expenditure on free legal aid is 75 paise per annum

The justice delivery system in Uttar Pradesh is the worst among the large states, according to a first-of-its-kind report by Tata Trusts. Maharashtra is at the top of the list ( States with population of over one crore each), followed by Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Haryana.

However, the study states that the data paints a grim picture of justice being inaccessible to most. "The findings highlight that each individual subsystem is starved for budgets, manpower and infrastructure; no state is fully compliant with standards it has set for itself; gender and diversity targets are improving only sluggishly, and are not likely to be met for decades; and governments are content to create ad hoc and patchwork remedies to cure deeply embedded systemic failures. Inevitably, the burden of all this falls on the public," said the report.

The ranking is part of the India Justice Report (IJR) 2019, an initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, DAKSH, TISS- Prayas and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.

Through a rigorous 18-month quantitative research, the India Justice Report brings together, in the first such exercise, otherwise siloed statistics, from authoritative government sources, on the four pillars of Justice delivery – Police, Judiciary, Prisons and Legal Aid. These four pillars have to function harmoniously for citizens to be satisfied with the delivery of justice.

The report also highlights stark conclusions, when aggregated for an all-India picture.

Vacancy is an issue across the pillars of the Police, Prisons and the Judiciary, with only about half the States having made an effort to reduce these over a five-year period. For instance, the country has about 18,200 judges with about 23 per cent sanctioned posts vacant.

Women are also poorly represented in these pillars, constituting only 7 per cent of the police force.

Prisons are over-occupied at 114 per cent, where 68 per cent are under-trials awaiting investigation, inquiry or trial. Regarding budgets, most States are not able to fully utilise the funds given to them by the Centre, while the increase in spending on the Police, Prisons and Judiciary does not keep pace with overall increase in State expenditure. Some pillars also remain affected by low budgets.

India’s per capita expenditure on free legal aid—which 80 per cent of the population is eligible for -- for instance is 75 paise per annum.

Speaking at the launch, Justice (Retd) Madan B Lokur said, “This is a pioneering study, the findings of which establish beyond doubt very serious lacunae in our Justice delivery system. I fervently hope the Judiciary and the Government will take note of the significant findings, and the States too will act to urgently plug the gaps in management of the Police, Prisons, Forensics, Justice delivery, Legal Aid and filling up the vacancies.”

National Main Findings

  • Nationally, high vacancies in the justice system; 22 per cent in the Police (1st Jan 2017), 33 per cent - 38.5 per cent in Prisons (31st Dec 2016) and in the Judiciary 20 per cent - 40 per cent (2016-17)
  • Over five years, Gujarat was the only State to reduce vacancies across all posts across the Police, Prisons and Judiciary. Jharkhand saw an increase in the same posts over five years (CY 2012-2016 for Police and Prisons, and CY 2013-2017 for Judiciary)
  • No State/ UT is able to meet all its diversity quotas (ST, SC and OBC); Karnataka comes closest -- having met its ST and OBC reservations, and missing its SC reservation target by four per cent
  • Women are poorly represented across the Justice system. They account for seven per cent of the Police (2017), 10 per cent of Prison staff (2016) and about 26.5 per cent of all judges in the High Court and subordinate courts (2017-18)
  • The average area covered per rural Police station in 28 States and UTs, exceeded 150 sq. km, a benchmark given in 1981 by the National Police Commission. Legal services clinics, created for easily accessible Legal Aid and assistance, served 42 villages on average, nationally (2017-18)
  • The Justice system is affected by low budget allocations. The per capita spend on Legal Aid was just 75 p (2017-18). Punjab was the only Large state whose Police, Prison and Judiciary expenditures were able to increase at a pace higher than the increase in overall state expenditure (FY 2012-2016)
  • As of 2016-17, only six States i.e. Gujarat, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli,Tripura, Odisha, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, and Manipur managed to clear as many court cases as were filed. As on August 2018, Bihar, UP, WB, Odisha, Gujarat,Meghalaya and A&N Islands, had nearly one in four cases pending for more than fiveyears
  • Undertrial prisoners, awaiting investigation, inquiry or trial, account for 68 per cent of the inmate population (Dec 2016). In 33 States and UTs, the share of undertrial inmates was above 50 per cent (Dec 2016). Over five years, only 13 States and UTs were able to annually reduce this population.
  • Nationally, as of March 2018, there is a shortage of 4,071 court halls against the sanctioned number of judges.
  • On average, there’s only one correctional staff for every two prisons with only 621 correctional staff across 1412 prisons (31st December
Published on November 07, 2019

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