28 January, 2021

Maharashtra tops justice delivery in India, southern states dominate ranking 29% judges are women, in High Courts only 11.4% 2/3rd inmates are undertrials

January 28, 2021, New Delhi: The second edition of the India Justice Report, India’s only ranking of states on delivery of Justice to people, announced here today, ranks Maharashtra once again at the top of the 18 Large and Mid-sized states (with population of over one crore each), followed by Tamil Nadu (2019: 3rd), Telangana (2019: 11th) Punjab (2019: 4th) and Kerala (2019: 2nd). The list of seven Small States (population less than one crore each) was topped by Tripura (2019: 7th), followed by Sikkim (2019: 2nd) and Goa (2019: 3rd).

The India Justice Report (IJR) is an initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, DAKSH, TISS–Prayas, Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and How India Lives. The maiden IJR was announced in 2019.

Through a rigorous 14-month quantitative research, the India Justice Report 2020 once again tracks the progress states have made in capacitating their justice delivery structures to effectively deliver services to all. It takes account of latest statistics and situations as they existed prior to March 2020. It brings together otherwise siloed statistics from authoritative government sources, on the four pillars of Justice delivery–Police, Judiciary, Prisons and Legal Aid.

Cluster of 18 large-and mid-sized states

Maharashtra 1 1 0
Tamil Nadu 2 3 1
Telangana 3 11 8
Punjab 4 4 0
Kerala 5 2 -3
Gujarat 6 8 3
Chhattisgarh 7 10 2
Jharkhand 8 16 8
Haryana 9 5 -4
Rajasthan 10 14 4
Odisha 11 7 -4
Andhra Pradesh 12 13 1
Bihar 13 17 4
Karnataka 14 6 -8
Uttarakhand 15 15 0
Madhya Pradesh 16 9 -7
West Bengal 17 12 -5
Uttar Pradesh 18 18 0

The Report highlights stark conclusions, when aggregated for an all-India picture. Women comprise only 29% of judges in India. Two-thirds of the country’s prisoners are yet to be convicted. In the last 25 years, since 1995, only 1.5 crore people have received legal aid, though 80% of the country’s population is entitled to.

Each pillar was analysed through the prism of budgets, human resources, personnel workload, diversity, infrastructure and trends (intention to improve over a five-year period), against the state’s own declared standards and benchmarks. Basis these themes, the Report assesses how all the 29 states and 7 UTs have capacitated themselves and, out of them, ranks the 18 Large and Mid-sized states and 7 small-sized states introducing a spirit of competitiveness.

Cluster of 7 small states

Tripura 1 7 6
Sikkim 2 2 0
Goa 3 1 -2
Himachal Pradesh 4 3 -1
Arunachal Pradesh 5 6 1
Mizoram 6 4 -2
Meghalaya 7 5 -2

Pillar-wise performance

l. Judiciary

Top States: Tamil Nadu (of 18 L-M sized states) and Sikkim (of 7 small states)

Big gains (in rank against IJR 2019):

  • Chhattisgarh: 12th to 4th- more HC judges, more courtrooms, brought cases pending for over 5 years in sub. courts down to < 4%
  • Telangana: 11th to 6th- more HC judges, more women sub. court judges, more courtrooms
  • Mizoram (small state): 5th to 3rd- more HC and sub. court judges, more women sub. court judges, declining 5-year trend in HC of cases pending per judge and total cases pending

Big drops (in rank against IJR 2019):

  • West Bengal: 10th to 16th- lowest national spend, fewer HC judges, most cases pending for over 5 years in sub. courts, falling CCR in HC and sub. Courts
  • Odisha: 9th to 15th- falling CCR in sub. courts, fewer HC judge and staff, more vacancy in HC and sub. court over 5 years, falling spend on judiciary over 5 years
  • Meghalaya: 4th to 7th- less HC judges, still no female HC judge, less women subordinate court judges, most cases pending over 5 years among small states

II. Prisons

Top states- Rajasthan (of 18 L-M sized states) and Himachal Pradesh (of 7 small states)

Big Gains (in rank against IJR 2019)

  • Rajasthan: 12th to 1st- better budget utilisation, more officers and cadre staff, reduced overcrowding, more women prison staff
  • Telangana: 13th to 2nd- better budget utilisation, more officers and cadre staff, most prison staff trained
  • Himachal Pradesh (small state): 6th to 1st- better budget utilisation, more officers and cadre staff, no medical officer vacancy, most prison staff trained among small states

Big Drops (in rank against IJR 2019)

  • Kerala: 1st to 5th -poor budget utilization, growing vacancy, overcrowding, falling budget.
  • Karnataka: 3rd to 14th- poor budget utilisation, more staff and cadre vacancy, very few trained staff, increasing workload
  • Mizoram (small state): 4th to 7th- less officer and cadre staff, no correctional staff, no V-C facility

III. Legal aid:

Top states: Maharashtra (of 18 L-M sized states) and Goa (of 7 small states)

Big gains (in rank against IJR 2019)

  • Bihar: 16th to 2nd- More NALSA fund utilised, more state funds, most pre-lit. cases disposed
  • Jharkhand: 14th to 4th- More NALSA fund utilised, more state funds, more legal aid clinics
  • Tripura (small state): 5th to 2nd- More NALSA fund utilised, more state funds, more DLSA secretaries and DLSAs

Big drops (in rank against IJR 2019)

  • Karnataka: 7th to 16th- fewer women panel lawyers, few front offices in LSIs, fewer cases disposed by Lok Adalats
  • Kerala: 1st to 7th- fewer cases disposed by Lok Adalats, reduction in state funds
  • Himachal Pradesh (small state): Rank 3rd to 6th- less legal aid clinics, lok adalats disposed less pre-litigation cases, less PLVs and women PLVs

IV. Police:

Top state: Karnataka (of 18 L-M sized states) and Himachal Pradesh (of 7 small states)

Big gains (in rank against IJR 2019)

  • Chhattisgarh: 10th to 2nd- more officers, more women in police, more SC, ST, OBC officers, over 5 years: decline in officer and constable vacancies)
  • Karnataka: 6th to 1st- only state to meet SC, ST and OBC diversity for officers, more women in police, falling officer and constable vacancies
  • Himachal Pradesh (small state): 6th to 2nd- more women in police, increasing police budget

Big drops (in rank against IJR 2019)

  • Punjab: 3rd to 12th – falling modernisation fund utilisation, increasing officer and constable vacancy, falling police budget over 5 years
  • Maharashtra: 4th to 13th- increasing officer and constabulary vacancy, fewer women officers, fewer rural police stations
  • Goa (small state): 3rd to 7th- less officers, less women in police, unable to meet SC/ST/OBC quotas

Broad national findings:


a. Nationally, in IJR 2020, vacancies in the justice system are at

  • Police (Jan 2020): 20% (from 22% in Jan 2017)
  • Prisons (Dec 2019): 31% (from 35% in Dec 2016)
  • Judiciary (2018-19): 22% - 38% (from 23%- 40% in 2016-17)
  • Legal aid (Mar 2020): 10% (from 13% in 2019)

b. Kerala and Meghalaya were the only ranked states to show increasing vacancies over all pillars and posts over 5 years

c. The largest reductions seen were:

  • Police: Uttar Pradesh in constabulary from 53% to 24% and over 63% to 40% in police officers;
  • Prisons: Punjab among medical officers (20% to -34%),
  • Judiciary: Mizoram among sub.court judge vacancies (52% to 28%) and in Chhattisgarh among High Court judges (53% to 31%);
  • Legal aid: Manipur for DLSA secretaries (100% to 60%)


a. Karnataka is the only state to meet its officer diversity quotas (SC, ST and OBC); Karnataka and Chhattisgarh were the only states to meet these quotas for constables

b. Women in:

  • Police up to 10% (Jan 2020) from 7% (Jan 2017);
  • Prisons up to 13% (Dec 2019) from 10% (Dec 2016),
  • Judiciary: up to 29.3% (2019-2020) from 26.5% (2017-18)


a. In 24 States and UTs, police stations exceed the required norm of covering 150 sq. km, a benchmark given in 1981 by the National Police Commission. In IJR 2019, this figure stood at 28 States and UTs.

b. In nearly 35 of 36 states and UTs, the share of undertrial inmates was above 50 per cent (Dec 2019)


a. As of July 2020, 5 states/UTs had one in four cases pending for more than five years in lower Court; this is down from 7 states/UTs in IJR 2019

b. Only 761 correctional staff for 4,78,600 inmates (31st Dec 2019).


a. The per capita spend on Legal Aid has increased to Rs. 1.05 (2019-20) from 75p (2017-18).

b. Not a single large and mid-sized state whose increase in spends on Police, Prison and Judiciary were able to exceed the increase in overall state spend (FY 2014-2018)

c. Average spend per prisoner has gone up by nearly 45% -- Andhra Pradesh records the highest annual spend on a prisoner at Rs. 2,00,871; Meghalaya spends the least at Rs. 11,046.

Commenting on the Report, Justice (retd.) Madan B. Lokur, said, “While ranking states, the Report does not play up one state against another—it merely highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each pillar in each state thereby encouraging internal assessments for introducing positive changes in the delivery of justice. 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.”

Mr. N Srinath, CEO of Tata Trusts, said, "The India Justice Reports of 2019 and now 2020 make a significant contribution to laying the evidence base for policy makers and civil society to initiate early improvements for the benefit of us all."

Ms. Shloka Nath, Head – Policy and Advocacy, Tata Trusts, said, “The India Justice Report assesses all the pillars of justice delivery– Police, Judiciary, Prisons and Legal Aid—as one system. The justice system in India is overburdened and stressed making it difficult for most people to access justice services. The Report demystifies the system as a whole through statistics across the four pillars. We hope that like the first report, this second edition too, fosters a more informed discourse and perhaps most importantly, serves as a tool for policymakers, and other stakeholders to identify areas of quick repair."

Ms. Maja Daruwala, Chief Editor, India Justice Report 2019, said, “The justice system has been neglected for too long. It entered the pandemic era with co-morbidities—underfunding, large vacancies, poor infrastructure and inadequately trained personnel at all levels. It must be designated as an essential service and be equipped as a first responder to provide the public with its services in every situation especially emergencies and certainly in the on-going pandemic.”

Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of the NITI Aayog, has said, “Justice delivery is an underlying essential service upon which rests the success of other development goals. I commend the India Justice Report team for bringing out the second edition of the report. At NITI Aayog we have been striving to foster wider discussions on improving overall justice delivery. The IJR 2020 will help the states to identify areas of immediate improvement and the rankings will hopefully give them an incentive to do better."

Note to editors:

1. For key findings on each pillar, please refer to the Key Findings document
2. For further details and perspective please refer to respective pillar backgrounders or visit: https://www.tatatrusts.org/insights/survey-reports/india-justice-report
3. For an interactive web-visualisation to compare and assess states, please visit: https://www.tatatrusts.org/insights/survey-reports/India-justice-report-2020/index.html
4. The India Justice Report 2020, national factsheet and an interactive web output will be available at www.tatatrusts.org
5. The IJR 2020 uses the latest official data available at the time of going to press: for the police it is 1 January 2020; prisons 31 December 2019; judiciary uses data from 2018-19, 2019 and 2020; and for legal aid 2019-20 and March 2020. Population figures are sourced from the National Commission on Population 2019 and budget figures rely on Comptroller and Auditor General reports for 2017–2018.

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