Jayanth Krishnan-a professor of Indiana University Maurer School of
Law-will serve as project director for an intensive study on the
lower judiciary in India, it has been announced.
Krishnan is professor of law, Charles L. Whistler Faculty Fellow and
head of the India Initiative at the Maurer School’s Center on the
Global Legal Profession.
The research Krishnan is overseeing is being supported by a
261,000-dollar grant from the Ford Foundation to the National Centre
for Advocacy Studies (NCAS), a non-governmental association based in
the state of Maharashtra that has been a pioneer in people-centered
advocacy in India.
Integrally partnering with Krishnan and NCAS will be the Centre for
Social Justice (CSJ), a human rights organization working on access
to justice issues on behalf of vulnerable populations, and Jagori
Grameen, located in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, which
works on equity, gender and justice issues for marginalized
As an important part of its mission, the Ford Foundation supports
such research to secure equal rights and opportunities for all
people. Its efforts help vulnerable populations gain access to the
social, political, and cultural institutions that govern their
This grant, in particular, will also enable the production of
systematic, rigorous research that seeks to improve the status quo.
“India has one of the most backlogged, delay-ridden court systems in
the world and the system has reached a crisis point,” said Krishnan.
He pointed out that between 30,000 and 40,000 cases are pending
before the Supreme Court of India alone, and the number in the lower
courts is thought to be in the tens of millions.
Many of these cases have been pending for decades.
The researchers will conduct a pilot study of district courts in
Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh in order to arrive at a
preliminary understanding of what is happening in these forums.
The study will also include an analysis of alternative dispute
resolution (ADR) forums in India.
“So little is known empirically about the district courts. Lots of
people have anecdotes, and there have been a handful of smaller
studies, but data on the lawyers and litigants who are laboring in
these forums are sparse — and these are forums that affect the vast
majority of everyday Indian claimants,” said Krishnan.
As India continues to serve as a pivotal country on the world stage
today, a more efficient, functional legal system upon which Indians
— particularly the marginalized and disadvantaged — can access is
According to Krishnan, who has been writing on the Indian courts and
legal profession for more than a decade, the grant to NCAS will
allow research to be produced that can then provide academics,
policymakers, the bench, and the bar with empirically grounded
Krishnan and his colleagues expect to complete the research within
36 months. (ANI)