The India Justice Report (IJR) 2020 has said that in the delivery of justice to the people, non-BJP-ruled States have a higher ranking than BJP-ruled one. The report says that the five non-BJP ruled States of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab and Kerala are top of the list and even outperform the ‘model’ State of Gujarat, which stands at Number 6 in the list of 18 States that have been ranked by the report. The two non-BJP States of West Bengal and Odissa fell back from the findings in the IJR’s 2019 report.
The study also shows that the three non-BJP-ruled States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan have bettered their own 2019 ranking of justice delivery systems but three other BJP-ruled States — Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana — dropped behind from their 2019 rankings. The report unconditionally finds that the worst performance comes from BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh.
This is the IJR’s second report. The study ranks States on Police, Judiciary, Prisons and Legal Aid. It is an initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, DAKSH, Tata Institute of Social Sciences–Prayas, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, and How India Lives.
The report says this second edition “is all about comparisons and tracking the rise and falls in each State’s structural and financial capacity to deliver justice, using the latest available government figures…. The ranking is based on quantitative measurements of budgets, human resources, infrastructure, workload, diversity across police, judiciary, prisons and legal aid in 18 large and medium sized States with a population of over 1 crore and 7 small States. Data for 7 Union Territories (UTs) and 4 other unranked States is also provided. IJR 2020 not only provides pillar and theme wise comparisons between similarly situated States one against another, but also allows for an understanding of what improvements and shortfalls have been made within each State’s own pillars and themes since IJR 2019 and over 5 years. This report is based on publicly available data of different government entities and the judiciary.”
Asserting that its purpose is not to set one State against another, the report, IJR says, is meant to be used as “a tool to assist policymakers and duty holders, particularly at the State level, to plug gaps in the delivery of justice.”
But the report also hopes to foster healthy competition. In his Foreword, Justice (Retd) Madan B. Lokur writes, “The report fosters competition between States but more importantly, places the State in competition with itself to provide its people with the best possible justice delivery.”
Using government data, it assesses 25 States based on the accepted four pillars of the formal justice system. Thus, data on police, prisons, judiciary and legal aid are analysed and presented using “pillar and theme-wise comparisons between comparable States” as well as comparisons within each State based on the State’s 2019 rankings. While acknowledging that the data are pre-COVID, the report says that its findings are “reflective of the historically diminished capacity of the justice system”.
Writing on the urgent need for improvements all around, Justice Lokur said, “Every pillar was indeed overwhelmed with legacy issues. But the strength of any institution lies in its capacity and capability to fight fire and douse it. One might ask, for example, why were vacancies not filled up despite every pillar being aware and forewarned? Do existing processes need re-engineering? Specific to the judiciary, while acknowledging that it is overwhelmed with pending cases, was any plan of action formulated to ensure that the caseload does not become unmanageable and unbearable? Despite any possible vaccines, the pandemic is not going to disappear; therefore, we can only hope that we have learnt our lessons well. The time has come to sit down, introspect and brainstorm, take stock of the grim situation and conduct social audits. The new year presents the opportunity and we need to seize it.”