India has been placed at 66 out of 113 countries in the world for upholding the rule of law according to a freshly released report by World Justice Project.
Rule of law can commonly be understood as the observance and maintenance of the law in the workings of a government and the society. To put simply, rule of law refers to the principle that no one or nothing is above the law in a country. In India, the 69-year old and the world’s biggest democracy, however, respect of rule of law has been put under the scanner by this World Justice Project (WJP) report. Ranking 66 out of 113 countries in rule of law index, India was placed 77 out of 113 countries for regulatory enforcement and 93 out of 113 for civil justice.
WJP, an independent, multidisciplinary organisation works to advance the rule of law around the world, which they state, “provides the foundation for communities of opportunity and equity – communities that offer sustainable economic development, government accountability, and respect for fundamental rights.”
The WJP released its report through calculations based on multiple factors. The research took into consideration constraints on government powers, the status of corruption and the extent of the open nature of the government. Fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice were also considered as important indicators in determining whether or not the rule of law was followed thoroughly in a country.
In the global rankings, Denmark bagged the top spot, followed by Norway and Finland. The UK was placed 10th. Regionally, India fared better than China, Pakistan and BRICS partner, Russia. The list saw Afghanistan, Cambodia and Venezuela at the bottom of the pile.
India did poorly, compared to last year, in safeguarding fundamental rights, including “effective enforcement of the right to life, rights of the accused and fundamental labour rights” among others, said the report. Among the failures pertaining to the rule of law within India, structural and societal injustices perpetuate and are perhaps not being paid heed to. Fundamental rights, through the lens of human security, which includes not only rights to physical but also educational and social security, is at threat for certain populations in the country. Social justice, in terms of economics, gender and access to basic resources are yet to be dealt with adequately.
Need for introspection
There have been continual human rights abuse in Jammu and Kashmir and is a direct result of abuse of law, as was pointed out by Amnesty International India, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on October 15. The issue is yet to be addressed. In the Global Hunger Index, India ranked 97 out of 118 countries, even as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner had stated earlier that “hunger is a violation of human rights.”
Apart from the looming threat to human rights, human security is far from being realised. Disregard to environmental laws, an inefficient judiciary and lack of adequate enforcement mechanisms for laws plague India currently, worsened by a large population which remains starkly uneducated. Ranking 71 in criminal justice and 93 in civil justice, India faces a challenge in providing legal remedy to its citizens. With the focus of the government however increasingly turned towards international security and regional power balance, with a reported expenditure of EUR 4.1- 4.5 billion on a recent weapons deal with Russia, it remains to be seen whether internal issues pertaining to rule of law will be given priority.