DAKSH conducted an Access to Justice Survey in 2015, a first of its kind for India, to understand the needs and expectations of litigants, their experiences with the judicial system and the socio-economic costs of being a litigant in India. This survey gave us an insight into the parties to a dispute, the kinds of disputes that people approached the judiciary with, reasons why some people do not avail bail in criminal disputes, the costs borne by litigants, how people perceive the judicial system, etc.
While the survey helped provide an understanding of peoples’ experiences with the judicial system, it was felt that access to the judiciary alone does not present a complete picture regarding access to justice in India. It is also equally necessary to understand the non-judicial dispute resolution methods that exist in India, both formal and informal, and to study the experiences and perceptions of the population who have taken assistance from such non-judicial dispute resolution methods. For instance, people approach friends or family members, village elders, caste panchayats, labour unions, NGOs, etc., and people may approach these various people/bodies for dispute resolution depending on the nature of their dispute and/or their socio-economic backgrounds.
DAKSH has now therefore embarked on the Access to Justice Survey, 2017 where we aim to speak to 50,000 people from the general population across India, to understand how many people have justiciable disputes, whom they approach for help with their disputes, why they approach them, etc. Building on our findings from last year, we hope to understand the nature of disputes at a more granular level and would like to observe if people with certain disputes prefer certain dispute resolution methods over others or whether people from certain socio-economic backgrounds prefer approaching some dispute resolution methods over others. During the course of this survey, we also hope to gain more insight regarding the perceptions and experiences of people with the police, why people may not approach the judiciary with their disputes and understand the socio-economic costs involved in non-judicial dispute resolution methods.
The Access to Justice Survey, 2017 is well underway and we look forward to more interesting findings on access to justice in India. Stay tuned for more updates regarding our work in this space!
 Results of the Access to Justice Survey, 2015 can be accessed here: https://www.dakshindia.org/access-to-justice-survey-results/index.html (accessed on 24 April 2017).
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and they do not represent the views of DAKSH.