The IJR tracked the rise and fall in each state’s structural and financial capacity to deliver justice, using the latest available government figures from budgets, human resources, infrastructure, workload, and diversity across police, judiciary, prisons and legal aid in 25 states.
That 2/3rds of the prisoners are undertrials is a telling commentary on hiw slowly the wheels of justice grind in India. These detainees are trapped in a helpless limbo. This is a human rights issue. Such a high number of undertrials only highlights the crying need for speeding up the judicial process, which translates into more judges and more benches.
Telangana showed the highest improvement in justice delivery and ranking as it rose to the third position from the 11th it held in 2019 while Kerala slipped from the second position in 2019 to fifth in 2020. The list of seven small states (population of less than one crore each) was topped by Tripura (2019: seventh), followed by Sikkim (2019: second) and Goa (2019: third).
The report, an initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, DAKSH, Tiss-Prayas, Vidhi and How India Live 2020, highlights stark conclusions when aggregated for an all-India picture.
The report said, “Two-thirds of the country’s prisoners are yet to be convicted” or acquitted. In the last 25 years, only 1.5 crore people have received legal aid, though 80% of the population is entitled to it, and women comprise only 29% of judges in India. Maharashtra saw a decline in women police officers — less than 10% are women — but a rise in women overall. Gujarat was the only state that saw a rise in women’s employment across departments of police, prisons and judiciary in 2020.
“In 27 states, the share of women judges in subordinate courts has improved. However, in high courts, the increase is seen less, and the glass ceiling remains,” said the report. Andhra Pradesh has the highest percentage of women HC judges at 19%, followed by Haryana with 18.2%, and Tamil Nadu in the third place with 16.7%. Eleven out of the 18 large and mid-sized states have more than 33% women in the subordinate judiciary as judges; four states (Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Punjab) have more than 40%.