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Jobs for Justice(s):Corruption in the Supreme Court of India

Madhav Aney (), Shubhankar Dam () and Giovanni Ko ()
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Madhav Aney: School of Economics, Singapore Management University
Shubhankar Dam: School of Law, City University of Hong Kong
Giovanni Ko: Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University

No 6-2017, Economics and Statistics Working Papers from Singapore Management University, School of Economics

Abstract: We investigate whether judicial decisions are affected by career concerns of judges by analysing two questions: Do judges respond to pandering incentives by ruling in favour of the government in the hope of receiving jobs after retiring from the Court? Does the government actually reward judges who ruled in its favour with prestigious jobs? To answer these questions we construct a dataset of all Supreme Court of India cases involving the government from 1999 till 2014, with an indicator for whether the decision was in its favour or not. We find that pandering incentives have a causal effect on judicial decision-making. The exposure of a judge to pandering incentives in a case is jointly determined by 1) whether the case is politically salient (exogenously determined by a system of random allocation of cases) and 2) whether the judge retires with enough time left in a government’s term to be rewarded with a prestigious job (date of retirement is exogenously determined by law to be their 65th birthday). We find that pandering occurs through through the more active channel of writing favourable judgements rather than passively being on a bench that decides a case in favour of the government. Furthermore, we find that deciding in favour of the government is positively associated with both the likelihood and the speed with which judges are appointed to prestigious post-Supreme Court jobs. These findings suggest the presence of corruption in the form government influence over judicial decision-making that seriously undermines judicial independence.

Keywords: Judicial decision-making; Corruption; Career concerns; Public sector incentives (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 37 pages
Date: 2017-02-13
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law
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