Crime and Punishment: Do Politicians in Power Receive Special Treatment in Courts? Evidence from India
44 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2020 Last revised: 12 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 15, 2020
Are elected politicians treated more leniently when facing criminal charges? I present evidence of judicial discretion for the largest democracy in the world, India. Using a regression discontinuity design, I compare the probability of a pending criminal case being closed without conviction at the end of a legislature for politicians who marginally won the election against those who marginally lost it. I find that winning office increases the chances that a pending cases is closed without a conviction only for politicians from the state ruling party. Evidence suggests that threats and misuse of attributions vested on the executive power to affect law-and-order officials' career are among the main underlying explanations.
Keywords: Political power, judiciary independence, discrimination, corruption, criminal justice
JEL Classification: P16, D72, D73, K14, K42
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