Date of Award

6-9-2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Robert Howard - Chair

Second Advisor

Scott Graves

Third Advisor

Kim Reimann

Abstract

This paper is a study on the effect of caste on bench assignments on the Indian Supreme Court. The objective was to determine whether the Chief Justices have historically assigned associate justices to benches based on their individual castes – Brahmin or Non-Brahmin – in order to tilt the bias of the Court in either an elitist (Brahmin) direction or a non-elitist (Non-Brahmin) direction. Based on a probability analysis of panel assignments, I created a new model to determine the extant of castebased judicial selection bias on the Indian Supreme Court. Using a random sample of cases from 1950 to 2000, a two-sample test of proportionality was employed to test whether any bias was present in the Chief Justice’s bench assignments. No caste bias was discovered in either the fifty-year period of the Court or in a smaller data set of cases between 1977 and 2000 (a period after the emergency between 1975 and 1977).

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