Do Politicians in Power Receive Special Treatment in Courts? Evidence from India
73 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2020 Last revised: 11 Jan 2023
Date Written: December 15, 2022
Do politicians in power receive special treatment in courts? I study judicial discrimination in the world’s largest democracy, India, by analyzing whether pending criminal cases against politicians who marginally win their election are more likely to be closed without a conviction than cases against politicians who marginally lose their elections. I find that winning office increases the chances of a favorable outcome only for politicians from the ruling party. Evidence suggests two main explanations for this result: (1) members of the legislative assemblies aligned with the ruling party misuse executive powers to manipulate prosecutors and police officers, and (2) witnesses turn hostile in high-profile criminal cases.
Keywords: Political power, judiciary independence, discrimination, corruption, criminal justice
JEL Classification: P16, D72, D73, K14, K42
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