In an Op-Ed for the Hindustan Times, CEGA Research Director Bilal Sidiqqi and coauthors cite their recent research, which finds no evidence of in-group bias based on gender or religion in India’s lower judiciary courts. The results come from their current project, Using Administrative Data Systems to Improve Court Efficiency, which is funded through CEGA’s Economic Development and Institutions Initiative. Their findings come in stark contrast to evidence from other parts of the world where judges are found to favor litigants which similar gender or religious backgrounds to their own:
“There is evidence from around the world that judges discriminate in favour of litigants who share their identity. For example, in Israeli courts, Arabs whose cases are heard in front of Arab judges get more favourable decisions than Arabs whose cases come before Jewish judges. In the United States, women are more likely to win sexual discrimination lawsuits when their cases are heard by female judges.
We expected to find the same kind of bias in India’s district courts. Our own prior research shows that Muslim men are worse off than Dalits and Adivasis in terms of upward economic mobility. The 2006 Sachar committee reported that Indian Muslims fare worse on every human development indicator, are over-policed, and are often killed in botched police encounters. Given a climate of prejudice, we had reason to suspect bias in judicial decisions.”
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