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Meghalaya ranks poorly in justice delivery

Shillong, Nov 7: Meghalaya was ranked poorly on justice delivery among small states of India.
Maharashtra topped the list of ranking of states on justice delivery among the 18 large and mid-sized states.
This is as per the India Justice Report (IJR) prepared by Tata Trusts in collaboration with Centre for social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Daksh, TISS-Prayas and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
The India’s first-ever report was unveiled by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Madan B. Lokur today.
The ranking assesses the four ‘pillars’ of the justice system – police, prisons, legal aid and the judiciary – in each state to deliver on their mandates. It also examines five-year trends to demonstrate a state’s intention to improve access and delivery of justice by increasing resources, repairing shortfalls and clearing blockages.
Overall, the report ranked Meghalaya in fifth position among the seven small states of the country. The State scored just 3.81 points.
Goa topped the list on justice delivery among small states of India followed by Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Mizoram.
Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura were positioned in the sixth and seventh rank respectively.
In terms of legal aid, Meghalaya secured the sixth position among the seven small states. Goa topped the ranking followed by Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Tripura. Moreover, Arunachal Pradesh figured in the seventh position.
In terms of capacity to deliver justice by judiciary, Meghalaya got the fourth position. Sikkim, Goa and Himachal Pradesh were ranked first, second and third.
The report said that 26.0 per cent of ongoing court cases have been pending for over five years in lower courts in Meghalaya.
“At the subordinate court level, in twenty-one states and UTs, a case remains pending for five years on average or more. At the High Court level, among the large and mid-sized states, cases in Uttar Pradesh remained pending the longest at 4.3 years, while cases in Uttarakhand remained pending for 1.7 years. Among the small states, while the High Courts of Meghalaya (1.3 years), Sikkim (1.7 years), and Mizoram (2 years) had the lowest average pendency, Tripura (2.1 years), Goa (2.9 years), and Himachal Pradesh (3 years) had the highest,” the report said.
The only solace for Meghalaya was in terms of good justice for prisoners where the State was ranked second among all seven small states. Goa remained in top position.
The report takes account of the area an urban and a rural police station covers and the number of people it is expected to serve.
It also said that in Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Tripura, urban populations are better served than rural populations. Similarly, in terms of average area coverage, rural police stations in Meghalaya (852 sq. km), Himachal Pradesh (791 sq. km) and Mizoram (759 sq. km) service areas larger than some of the largest states such as Madhya Pradesh (427 sq. km) and Maharashtra (352 sq. km).
Among large and mid-sized states, in rural police station coverage, the best performing were Kerala (79 sq. km per rural police station), Bihar (125 sq. km) and Tamil Nadu (155 sq. km).
The worst among all states and UTs was Jammu and Kashmir (1,842 sq. km), followed by Meghalaya (852 sq. km), Himachal Pradesh (791 sq. km), Mizoram (759 sq. km) and Rajasthan (719 sq. km).
According to the report, of the more than 433,000 prison inmates across the country, nearly 18,500 were women.
Though not exclusively looking after female prisoners, there are just 9.6 per cent women across all levels of the prison administration. Only six states and UTs, Nagaland (22.87 per cent), Sikkim (18.82 per cent), Karnataka (18.74 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (18.18 per cent), Meghalaya (17.05 per cent) and Delhi (15.18 per cent) have more than 15 per cent women staff.
The India Justice Report ranks 18 large and seven small states according to their capacity to deliver justice to all.
It uses government data to assess the budgets, infrastructure, human resources, workloads, diversity and five-year trends of police, prisons, judiciary and legal aid in each state, against its own declared standards.
The ranking, seen through the filters of budget, infrastructure and manpower (including diversity and workload), affirms in terms of objective data that the formal justice system in the country continues to grapple with problems of high manpower shortages, resource misallocation, financial shortfall and structural inadequacies.