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Advisors: KOHLI, ATUL
Contributors: Politics Department
Subjects: Political science
South Asian studies
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Scholars have noted the increasing tendency of unelected judges to pass political judgments. A less considered aspect of these judgments is their implementation. Unimplemented judgments reduce the authority of courts, make their activism less defensible. But research on judicial implementation is limited. In contrast, I examine judgments of the Indian Supreme Court. By focusing on an activist court in a developing country, fresh challenges for implementation emerge. In my dissertation, titled ‘After Judgment Day: Under What Conditions Are Court Decisions Implemented?’, I argue that a political judgment is implemented when three conditions are all met: (1) there is no counter-legislation, (2) the state has the physical resources, and (3) the bureaucracy is competent. In the absence of either of the first two conditions, judges are powerless to enforce their will. When only the third condition is missing – i.e. the bureaucracy is too incompetent to implement – courts have an opportunity. Judges can work alongside a determined litigant-movement to monitor the bureaucracy and better implement judgments. This argument is inducted from a legal survey of all Indian Supreme Court judgments on three politically salient issues – caste, land, and religious conflict – from 1993-2012. In particular focus is the implementation of one judgment from each of these issues. The first case study analyzes judgments overseeing rehabilitation for thousands of families displaced by the Narmada dam project. The lesson that emerges is that where the state lacks the resources to implement court decisions, judges are powerless. The second case study, on Hindu-Muslim conflict, examines the courts intervention in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots. I conclude that when the only problem marring implementation is an incompetent bureaucracy, movements and courts can together make the bureaucracy autonomous. The third case studies decisions limiting employment quotas for backward castes. I conclude that judgments are not implemented when politicians enact legislation to formally override judgments. The theory that emerges is a critical account of judicial power. But I also provide the narrow but plausible circumstances when judges and movements can work together to bring about political change.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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