Yogi led UP worst state in India in justice delivery, finds new report

The report notes that the overall overcrowding in jails has increased and 69 per cent of the prison population still comprise people awaiting investigation and trial.

By Muskaan Lalchandani, TwoCircles.net

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The northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has been ranked the worst among the large and mid-sizes states when it comes to overall delivery of justice, as per the India Justice Report (IJR) 2020. UP scored 3.15 out of 10 among the 18 states surveyed in the report.

As per the report, the rankings are based on 53 indicators which include prison staff, police and police officers, among others.

The report states that the overall overcrowding had increased and 69 per cent of the prison population still comprise people awaiting investigation and trial.

The IJR is an initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with the Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, DAKSH, TISS-Prayas, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and How India Lives. The first IJR was announced in 2019. The IJR helps states in tackling and improving the deficiency in their justice system to ensure justice delivery to the whole population.

The IJR is an assessment of the capacity of the state institutions to deliver justice. The report describes the quality and the functioning of the Indian justice system.

In the words of Maya Daruwala, the chief editor of the India Justice Report, the report’s purpose is to check if the bones are strong enough to become the skeleton for a whole lot of skin and muscles. “The idea was to bring together all the data which lies with the departments of Judiciary but is never brought together. The report uses the state’s standard benchmarks to give the states a ranking; It makes use of the official data which is made available publicly. The report tracks the progress of all of the states and UTs in giving justice,” Daruwala says.

The aim behind the work is to create a matrix for competitiveness—through ranking. The report creates a holistic ready reckoner by which states can compare their capacities and compete internally to give rise to positive changes. These positive changes are for the benefit of the state’s population.

The 2020 edition of IJP compares the new positions of twenty-five states in the ranking, and records changes across pillars and themes. The report also records changes since 2019 and has an addition of 10 new indicators to IJR since 2019’s 78 indicators. The new indicators are related to training, technology, and diversity of cast among constables.

The pillars are indicated as Police, prisons, judiciary, and legal aid; Whereas the themes are described as: Budgets—a measure of the justice system’s budget with the state’s budget and if it keeps pace with the same; infrastructure—are there court halls, supporting staff, etc; human resources—judges, officers, etc; workload—a measure of how much burden is on these people; diversity—is the diversity proportional to the population and trends—measure of the intention of the state and how much effort it has made to improve.

IJR measures states and UTs in groups and clusters. IJR doesn’t rank Union Territories because they are centrally controlled and also doesn’t rank four states which where armed forces special power act is imposed, namely: Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, and J&K.

Some of the main findings of the report include overburdening of the courts, pendency of trials, a bias of access of institutions against rural populations, little or no desire of courts to increase expenditure on prisons and under-resourced legal aid institutions. 

The report states that nationally, vacancies of correctional staff lie between 9% and 42%. “Expenditure on police and prisons has not increased with the state’s budget— meaning, with an increase in the budget, the police do not see an improvement. Prison occupancy has gone from 114% to 119% and only 30% of prisoners are people who ought to be in prisons. Access to institutions between urban and rural is extensive and this gap must close since every person whether they are living in a city or a town deserves justice. Legal aid which could reach 80% is still under-resourced,” it says.

The report also has good news. For instance, the report notes that most states have reduced vacancies. “Even though legal aid is resourced poorly, states have given more money to administrative help; the Share of women has also shown minor changes even though they mostly stay at the bottom end or ranks—Bihar has increased their women police immensely,” the report says.

Since the report is compiled using statistics, mathematical calculations, permutations, and combinations, small changes can change a state’s rank on the report.

The report states that the mathematical measures cannot be taken into measure while surveying culture, empathy, attitude, perceptions, and bias of police constables and the public. “But they can point towards essential areas that need attention and repair,” states the report.

The report also takes into account the road to justice. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of disruption of institutions and individual lives. Since there has been a lot of exploitation, misery, and justice has been limited.

The IJR 2020 gives some specific resolutions and solutions to strengthen the justice system. The report recognizes that if the desire to approach the court increases, it signifies the people’s faith and trust in the system. “If the people’s faith in the justice system increases, demand increases hence access to justice has to increase,” says the report.

The principle must be that the justice delivery system is a necessity like food, healthcare, education, etc, the report notes. “Hence, it needs to be localized and door to door.”

The report explains that this can be done without much money. “Prioritizing the budget and realigning resources is essential. There should be an increase in police chowkis and district courts should be given focus. Rapid upskilling of first responders and update of training institutions are also required. There is also a need to add constitutional law to these institutions to increase uniformity. Prioritization of hiring and diversity is of utmost importance to ensure representation. There should be legal aid lawyers present in police stations to not only protect the accused but also the police constables from getting wrongly accused. At courts, prioritizing cases where there is a loss of life is essential. CCTVs must be installed in all police stations to ensure obedience. Most importantly there should be a measure of public satisfaction and performance at the local level,” the report suggests.

Former Supreme Court Judge, Madan Lokur highlighted the modernization of courts and making them tech-friendly. He described India Justice Report as a call for action and also a roadmap for states.

The report has a variety of parameters and the states can use IJR to use the 88 indicators to improve their overall performance.