Karnataka has the highest ranking among states with respect to police and diversity
The recently released India Justice Report 2020 shows how much work all the states, and therefore the whole country, has to do to ensure a fair level of justice for the citizens. The Supreme Court has ruled that access to justice is a fundamental right. But then, it is not a real and accessible right for many and is unequally dispensed across states, classes and other social and economic groups. Justice itself can be of different kinds like social justice and economic justice, but the report has mainly studied the state of legal justice available to citizens. It is a comprehensive study done with the help of a number of reputed institutions, and has ranked states on the basis of their ability to deliver justice. This is the second edition of the report. Maharashtra ranks as the best-performing among the major states and Tripura tops the ranking among small states. UP continued to be at the bottom. Karnataka slipped to the 14th position from the sixth place that it held last year.
The study was based on factors like human resources of the justice system, workload, infrastructure, police, prisons, legal aid and diversity across judiciary. While different states performed differently on each of these factors, even the top state, Maharashtra, did not score more than 60% with respect to key indicators like the police, judiciary, prisons and legal aid. The report notes that nearly two-thirds of the prisoners are undertrials. That shows not just the overcrowding of the prison system but the malfunctioning of the justice system as such. There is a shortage of judges in all courts, and courts are slow and handicapped for various reasons. Women comprise only 29% of judges and their
representation is low in all institutions like the police. Though the numbers are increasing, they are mostly in the lower ranks. In fact, all institutions which are part of the justice system are understaffed. Legal aid is important for many people but very few people have access to it. The report says that 80% of the country are entitled to it, but in the last 25 years, only 1.5 crore people have got it.
Karnataka has the highest ranking among states with respect to police and diversity. It has the highest SC, ST and OBC diversity for officers and has increased number of women in the police force. But lok adalats in the state disposed of fewer cases than last year and its prison administration slipped from last year’s ranking. Every state needs to address its weaknesses and improve its functioning in those areas. Justice is a public good and it is the duty of the state to provide it to its citizens equally and efficiently.