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Rule of law index: India scores a mixed bag

India figures in the top 50 countries in the world for an effective criminal justice system, according to a new study that ranks countries on how the rule of law is experienced by citizens.

However, the study finds that it is among the worst performing countries when it comes to civil justice.

The Rule of Law Index 2015, released by the U.S.-based World Justice project on Tuesday, analyses 102 countries worldwide using a survey of over a 1,000 respondents from three big cities, along with local legal experts, in each country. The data, collected in 2013, measures how the rule of law is experienced in practical, everyday situations using 47 indicators across eight categories — constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.

According to the Index, India’s overall rule of law performance places it in the third position out of six countries in the South Asian region, 10th out of 25 among lower middle income countries, and 59th out of 102 countries worldwide. The top overall performer in the WJP Rile of Law Index 2015 was Denmark while in the South Asia region, the top performer was Nepal.

India’s performance for criminal justice places it at 44 rank globally, Number 1 in South Asia and number 4 among lower middle income countries. The surveys analysed whether the criminal investigation and adjudication system is effective, whether it was impartial and free of corruption and whether the rights of the accused were protected.

In stark contrast, the corresponding ranking in civil justice for India is 88 globally, third in South Asia and 19th among lower middle income countries. The survey looked at accessibility to civil justice, which inlcudes general awareness of available remedies, availability and affordability of legal advice and representation, and absence of excessive or unreasonable fees and hurdles. It also asks if the civil justice system is free of discrimination and corruption and whether it is subject to unreasonable delay.

Four dimensions

India ranks high in the category of Open Government, placing it 37th globally and at three among lower middle income countries. The open government index uses four dimensions to measure government openness — publicised laws and government data, right to information, civic participation and complaint mechanisms.

The country performs worst however, in the category of order and security, placing at 90 worldwide, fourth in South Asia and 20 among lower middle income countries. The measures used for this category are absence of crime; absence of civil conflict, including terrorism and armed conflict; and absence of violence as a socially acceptable means to redress personal grievances.

Driving down India’s score are the perceptions of corruption, of the effectiveness of the civil justice system, the regulatory enforcement environment and the criminal justice system, all of which reflect that less than half of the respondents showed faith in these systems’ ability to deliver justice. India did comparatively better in people’s minds in terms of government freedom.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 2:44:15 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rule-of-law-index-india-scores-a-mixed-bag/article7275999.ece