Date with Data #3: Stories from Indian justice system

A Discussion on the India Justice Report 2020

Justice Hub conducted the 3rd edition of Date with Data with the prominent academics and practitioners who compiled and formulated the India Justice Report 2020 like Maja Daruwala, the Chief Editor; Valay Singh, the Project Lead; Surya Prakash, Fellow and Program Director, DAKSH, and others.

Here’s an overview of where the discussion has lead us:

Tata Trusts’ India Justice Report ranks the states of our country based on their capacity to deliver justice and their respective condition of the Legal System, through its four pillars: Police, Judiciary, Prison, and Legal Aid. It contemplates their respective budget, infrastructure, workload, diversity, and human resources and also draws a comparison with its 2019 Report. The efforts of numerous individuals and organisations such as the CHRI, DAKSH, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, How India lives, NALSA and others aided the making of the Report.

Key Takeaways from the Report:

Maharashtra occupies the first position in the larger states category while Tripura does so in the smaller states. West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Meghalaya are among the lowest ranks. 

  1. Underutilisation of Budget: Across all the pillars of our Legal system, either there has been a deficient budget allocated for a particular program, or there has been underutilisation of budget that is provided to the states.  However, the states’ contribution to legal aid spend has seen an increase in the years 2019-20.

  1. Improvement needed for critical infrastructure: Poor infrastructure which includes dingy courtrooms, lack of required number of legal aid cells and police stations in rural areas, and absence of proper prison facilities is observed. Attempts to modernise the infrastructure suffer drawbacks as the majority of the allocated funds remain under-utilised. The lack of proper medical and mental health facilities in prison is concerning.

  1. Huge backlog of pending cases: The number of pending cases in the courts is a matter of concern, especially amidst the pandemic. It is reported that at least 40 million cases are pending in the courts across the country and that the average number of pending cases in High Courts and subordinate courts has increased. However, in this regard, Chhattisgarh has shown remarkable performance. Pending cases cause overcrowding in the prisons. 69% of the prison inmates comprise those who are under trial and undergoing investigation. 

  1. Lack of representation: India has a long way to go before its legal system can declare itself an inclusive institution. Though diversity, in regards to gender and caste, is observable to an extent among the lower echelons of the system, representation becomes poor in the higher posts. Karnataka is the only state which has met its caste quota for employment.

  1. Large number of vacant positions: Lesser number of judges, police officers, constables, correctional officers, legal aid service providers add up to a system full of faults. Even if appointments are conducted in the lower facets of the system, the higher end sees a much larger gap. This deficiency in human resources directly relates to the lack of infrastructure.

  2. Solution: The way through which the present situation could be improved is a complete review of the current system by the Government and utilisation of modern technology to disentangle the issues. Dead cases, both from the courts and police stations, must be weeded out. More importantly, vacancies and infrastructural deficiencies must be resolved to take the Indian Justice System a way forward.

Missed the Date with Data #3? Watch the recorded session on the link below.