Access to Justice

Access to Justice

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• As of December 2015, 67 percent of prisoners in Indian prisons were ‘undertrials’ – people who were awaiting trial or whose trials were still ongoing, and who have not been convicted. In other words, there are twice as many undertrials in India’s prisons as there are convicts #

• India’s undertrial population has a disproportionate number of Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis. About 53% of undertrials are from these communities, which make up 39% share of the population of India. 29% of undertrials are not formally literate, while 42% had not completed secondary education. A quarter of all undertrials have been in prison for more than a year #

• There were 69446 pending matters as on 30/06/2013 before the Supreme Court of India &

• The National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms has undertaken measures for addressing the backlog of cases and high pendency in the courts. As many as 73 Fast Track Courts (FTCs) have been established since January, 2013 for trial of offences against women in the country. Three new High Courts have been established in the North East in the states of Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura. Nearly, 12234 subordinate courts have been computerised in the country against a target of 14249 to be achieved by March, 2014 $

• The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Preventation, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2013 has been passed by both the Houses of Parliament and has received the assent of the President of India. It is a historic step towards gender equality. It mandates a safe environment for women $

• Based on the recommendations of the Government constituted Committee headed by late Justice JS Verma, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 was enacted, which provides for stringent punishment for heinous sexual offences against women $   

• To deal with cases of child sexual abuse in a more effective manner, a special law, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 has come into force with effect from 14th November, 2012. The Act is a comprehensive law to provide for the protection of children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harrassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts $

• Under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, more than 12.80 lakh titles covering forest area of 18.80 lakh hectare have been distributed as on 28th February, 2013. During 2012-13, Forest Rights Rules have been amended and revised guidelines have been issued to streamline and give further impetus to the implementation of the Act $

• The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 as passed by the Lok Sabha on 27 December, 2011, was referred to the Rajya Sabha. Official amendments to 'The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011', after considering the recommendations of the Select Committee, have been approved $

• The Government has introduced a Bill during 2012-13 seeking amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act with a view to punishing the guilty and protecting honest public servants more effectively $

• 1,486 Undertrials (0.6% of total undertrials) were detained in jails for more than 5 years at the end of the year 2011. Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of such undertrials (340) followed by Bihar (252) @

• In India women make up only 2.2% of one of the largest police forces in the world**

• India has a National Human Rights Commission as well as 206 separate state human rights commissions but does not have a single dedicated civilian oversight mechanism for its 35 police forces, many of which are frequently cited for excessive violence and abuse of power**

• The justice system is weakened by long delays; prohibitive costs of using the system; lack of available and affordable legal representation, that is reliable and has integrity; abuse of authority and powers, resulting in unlawful searches, seizures, detention and imprisonment; and weak enforcement of laws and implementation of orders and decrees***
# Justice Under Trial: A study of pre-trial detention in India (July 2017), please click here to access
& Supreme Court of India,

$ Report to the People 2012-13, Government of the United Progressive Alliance,

@ Prison Statistics 2011,

** Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (2005): Police Accountability: Too important to neglect, Too urgent to delay

*** Access to Justice, Practice Notes, United Nations Development Programme-UNDP (2004)



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