One of the key questions about judicial involvement in policymaking, which is increasing everywhere, is the extent to which rights-based litigation is as redistributive as it is intended to be. A number of scholars have expressed doubt that it can be, citing the facts that social, and procedural barriers prevent the great majority of poor people from making claims in courts; accumulated experience gives the rich and the powerful advantages in the courtroom; patterns of judicial recruitment and retention, which reflect prevailing configurations of political power, significantly affect the attitudes and calculations of judges and without the active support of elected officials, opponents can easily limit and undermine the implementation of pro-poor rulings. But empirical assessments of these hypotheses are in short supply. To address this question, DECHD researchers coded the contents of court decisions relating to public interest litigation; scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and other backward classes; and women's and children's rights that reached the Indian Supreme Court in the last forty years. They also coded the social class of the claimant. Analyses of the data showed that win rates for fundamental rights claims are significantly higher when the claimant is from an advantaged social group than when he or she is from a marginalized group, which constitutes a social reversal, both from the original objective of public interest litigation and from the relative win rates in the 1980s. These data have been used for research,1 and have been cited in a number of media outlets and blogs.
Kind of data
Administrative records data [adm]
Researchers from the World Bank coded the contents of court decisions relating to public interest litigation; scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and other backward classes; and women's and children's rights that reached the Indian Supreme Court in the last forty years.
Producers and sponsors
India Supreme Court
Dates of collection
Mode of data collection
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The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.