Jobs for justice(s): corruption in the Supreme Court of India

Madhav Aney, Shubhankar Dam, Giovanni Ko

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We investigate whether judges respond to pandering incentives by ruling in favour of the government in the hope of receiving jobs after retiring from the Court. We construct a dataset of all reported 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, where we define pandering incentives as being jointly determined by 1) the importance of the case (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 (since the date of retirement is exogenously determined by law to be their 65th birthday). We also find that authoring judgements in favour of the government is positively associated with the likelihood of being appointed to a prestigious post-Supreme Court job. These findings suggest the presence of corruption in the form of government influence over judicial decisions that seriously undermines judicial independence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-511
Number of pages33
JournalThe Journal of Law and Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • judicial decision-making
  • corruption
  • separation of powers
  • career concerns
  • public sector incentives
  • supreme court
  • India
  • judiciary


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