High vacancy at sanctioned posts and poor representation of women and marginalised sections in police and judiciary in Gujarat are causes for concern, stated the release of the India Justice Report 2019 in Gandhinagar on Saturday. Gujarat, however, ranked eighth out of total 18 populous states of India in terms of policing, prison system, judiciary and legal aid.
According to the report findings, Gujarat has failed to implement the policies of reservation system in its police force.
When it comes to representation of scheduled caste community officers in police, Gujarat has done well. Gujarat and Kerala are the only two states to have met the criteria of representation set by its own benchmark. However, when it comes to representation of scheduled tribe community officers, there is 30% vacancy, while there is 61% vacancy of other backward communities (OBC) against the sanctioned posts, the report stated.
The report prepared by various civil organisations in collaboration with TATA Trust was released by former chief justice of Bombay High Court, Mohit Shah along with other academicians at Gujarat National Law University in Gandhinagar on Saturday.
The India Justice Report ranks 18 large and mid-sized states and seven small states, using government data to assess the budgets, infrastructure, human resources, work loads, diversity and past five year trends of police, prisons, judiciary and legal aid.
In its report, which was compiled over a period of 18 months, Maharashtra has topped the charts with 5.92 marks out of 10, followed by Kerala with 5.85 marks and Tamil Nadu with 5.76 marks, whereas Gujarat ranked 8th with 5.09 marks. UP ranked worst among 18 preceded by Bihar.
Individually, Gujarat ranked 12th in terms of functioning of police, 9th in Prisons, 7th in judiciary, and 6th in legal aid as per the report. The report excluded union territories and four states of India where the Armed Forces Special Power Act is in effect.
“We did not set any international standard or our own for ranking and rather used the benchmark set by the individual state according to their police manual and judiciary recommendations. We have found that not a single state managed to reach even 60% of the benchmark set by them. When we look at Gujarat, we see that it is ranked 8th which is surprising given that the state is often called a model state in other sectors of development,” said Shireen Vakeel, head of policy and advocacy at TATA Trusts.
According to the report, in Gujarat, representation of women as police personnel was found at 7.2%, as police officers 5.6%, as prison staff it was 7%, as women judges in high courts it was 9.4%, as women judges in sub-divisional courts it was 15%, as women panel lawyers it was 19% and as women para-legal volunteers was found at 38%.
“As per our report, it will take at least 34 years from now for Gujarat to reach 33% overall representation of women in police and judiciary. There are states that will take 200 years or more. It shows that it is one thing to make rhetorical statements about women representation and completely other to follow it,” said Maja Daruwala, senior advisor, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
When it comes to prisons, Gujarat ranked 9th with 5.23 marks out of 10. The report states that roughly 1 out of 3 posts is vacant for officers, cadre staff and medical staff and only one correction staff has been posted against four sanction staff to serve 12,438 inmates. Budget wise, Gujarat fared poorly as it was found to be spending
Rs 24,483 on each inmate and was ranked 14th out of 18 states.
In Judiciary, Gujarat overall ranked 7th out of 18 states with 5.32 marks out of 10. According to the report, Gujarat accounted for the maximum number of pending cases for most number of years at sub-divisional courts thereby getting 9.5 marks out of 10 (lower the better.) When it comes to pending cases in high court, the state fared better with 3.3 marks out of 10 (lower the better). Even judge vacancy in sub-divisional courts of Gujarat remained high at 34.8% and was ranked 16th in that parameter. While the high court judge vacancy in Gujarat stood at 38.9 %, it fared better than most of the states and was ranked at number 7 out of 18 in that parameter.
“Judiciary plays an important role in process of justice delivery. In my tenure as the Bombay HC Chief Justice, I was apprised about the lack of judges so I had suggested the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa to train lawyers to appear for the examination for posting of judges. I also advocate use of technology in courts,” said Justice Shah.
Gujarat’s performance in legal aid was better as it ranked 6th with 5.30 marks out of 10. When it came to state’s share in legal aid spent, it was found to be at 80%. As per legal services, report findings said that in Gujarat each jail was serviced by at least one legal services clinic. When it comes to workload, Gujarat fared poor as in the Permanent Lok Adalat cases, only 35% of the cases were settled while in Lok Adalat, it was found to be at 31.4%.
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