India Justice Report: Ranking States on Police, Judiciary, Prisons & Legal Aid


Published in January 2021 by the Mumbai-based Tata Trusts, this report discusses the structural and financial capacity of the government’s law-enforcement infrastructure. It ranks 25 states based on indicators across four themes: judiciary, police, prisons and legal aid. It also contains data on India’s remaining states and union territories. This is the second India Justice Report (IJR), the first of which was released in November 2019.

The 118-page publication uses government data on the budgets, infrastructure, human resources and five-year trends, of the police, judiciary, legal aid and prisons. The report – referred to as IJR 2020 – adds 10 new indicators to the existing 78, such as the cost of training each police personnel; number of police personnel per training institute; number of trained prison staff; and the extent to which Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and Other Backward Class (OBC) quotas are met for constables.

The report was compiled in collaboration with the Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad; Common Cause – a Delhi-based advocacy group; DAKSH, Bengaluru, which works on judicial reforms; global non-profit organisation Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; Prayas, a social development initiative by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, New Delhi; and How India Lives, a Delhi-based data analytics firm.


  1. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana were the top three rank-holders among 18 large and mid-sized states listed in IJR, scoring 5.77, 5.73 and 5.64 on 10. The bottom three states in the ranking were Uttar Pradesh (3.15), West Bengal (3.89) and Madhya Pradesh (4.39). The overall ranking covered indicators on the police, judiciary, legal aid and prisons.

  2. Among the seven smaller states listed in the IJR, the top overall performers were Tripura and Sikkim, with scores of 4.57 and 4.48 on 10. Meghalaya (3.11) and Mizoram (3.88) ranked lowest.

  3. Women’s representation in the police, judiciary, legal aid and prisons, has improved according to the 2019 and 2020 IJRs; although this has been restricted to lower level positions.

  4. At 25.3 per cent, Bihar employed the highest share of women in its police force among the 25 states listed. It was the only state whose police force was more than 20 per cent female. However, women made up only 6.1 per cent of its officers. In contrast, Tamil Nadu’s police force was 18.5 per cent female, but women accounted for 24.8 per cent of its officers.

  5. The highest portion of women high court judges were reported to be in Sikkim (33.3 per cent), Delhi (21.9 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (19.1 per cent). Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand and Tripura had no woman judges in their high courts.

  6. Following a 2009 advisory by the government of India, 10 states and nearly all UTs have fulfilled the 33 per cent reservation target for women in the police department. (The states are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Sikkim and Telangana.) Still, the national average for women in the police force is as low as 10 per cent.

  7. Karnataka is the only state which has met its quotas for SC, ST and OBC reservations among officers and constables in the police.

  8. The average population covered by a police station is lower in rural areas as compared to urban areas in several states. But rural police stations cover much bigger areas than those in urban centres (except in the state of Kerala).

  9. India’s prison population grew from 4,33,003 to 4,78,600 inmates between 2016 and 2019 – the report notes, citing data from the National Crime Record Bureau’s 2019 report Prisons Statistics India. The rate of overcrowding in 2019 was 19 per cent – a five percentage point rise from 2016. The report says that this due to unnecessary arrests, ‘conservative’ approaches to granting bail, inaccessible legal aid and delays at trial – among other reasons.

  10. The report notes that the country’s legal services institutions suffer from a lack of infrastructure, inadequate human resource distribution, poor utilisation of central funds and the inability to effectively use Lok Adalats. (Lok Adalats are forums wherein pre-litigation or pending cases can be settled amicably; they were given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987.)

  11. Lok Adalats settled over 1.17 lakh cases in 2019-20, as compared to about 1.24 lakhs in 2017-18. Every state is mandated to establish a Permanent Lok Adalat by the Legal Services Authorities Act, yet some such as West Bengal have not done so.

  12. Roughly 24 per cent of cases in India’s subordinate courts have been pending for over five years as of 2020.

  13. The average rate of case clearance in India is higher in subordinate courts (93 per cent) than in high courts (88.5 per cent). The report states that subordinate courts in 12 states and union territories have a clearance rate of 100 per cent, as compared to four high courts.

  14. Nearly 80 per cent of India’s population of 1.3 billion is eligible for free legal aid. Yet, the central government has provided legal aid to just over 15 million people since 1995. Its per capita expenditure on legal aid in 2019-20 was only Rs. 1.05.

    Focus and Factoids by Gautami Kulkarni.


Tata Trusts


Tata Trusts


Jan, 2021