How do courts at the grassroots level in India approach and address economic and other civil litigation cases brought by litigants? During 2010, 2011, and 2012, a team of researchers from academia and civil society organizations conducted extensive ethnographies of litigants, judges, lawyers, and courtroom personnel within multiple districts in three states: Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra. The research below provides an in-depth account of the everyday struggles these actors face in the pursuit of their respective objectives. As the findings suggest, there exists a complex matrix of variables that affect: whether lawsuits are filed in the first place; how they are handled once in a legal forum; what legal strategies lawyers employ when litigation occurs; and how cases are adjudicated by judges. The results of this study offer competing, yet also complimentary, narratives. On the one hand, there is immense despair, frustration, and anger among the various sets of respondents on the current state of legal life at the grassroots. At the same time, however, there is a surprising level of hope and optimism towards what the law and the lower courts can potentially – and at times do – offer. This sentiment, as we show, is held by those working within this environment, and more significantly, by litigants desperately seeking to gain relief from long-endured grievances.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Krishnan et al. on Access to Justice in India
Jayanth K. Krishnan, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, et al., have posted Grappling at the Grassroots: Litigant-Efforts to Access Economic and Social Rights in India, which is forthcoming in volume 27 of the Harvard Human Rights Journal (2014). Here is the abstract: