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WEF: Flawed method to asses judicial independence

The Spectator Index tweeted this, on judicial independence:

I found it very interesting and amusing — what criteria did they use to measure judicial independence? and how did they arrive at such an abysmally low rank like 54 for India, which is just 2 ranks to the authoritarian China? This is very amusing to say the least — the judicial system in China exercises practically no independence, and kowtows to the demands of the Communist Party of China. In comparison, the Indian Judicial system exercises substantial autonomy and almost an alarming level of control on policy decisions and other matters. In fact, there are many who characterize India as a “Kritarchy” or a country run by Judges. (Including the author)

So I set out to find how the World Economic Forum — a very well respected organization, could evaluate our judicial system in such a manner?

The rankings that were listed out are from the Global Competitiveness Index of 2016. There is quite a complex mechanism of assessing the competitiveness of a Country, and is very well respected. The problem, however is that it primarily relies on an Executive Opinion Survey (Part 1.3, page 77 of the Index). As the name suggests, the rankings are formulated on the basis of an opinion survey of company executives in a country. This means that the survey, while accurately representing questions related to commerce and industry (for example, what is the burden of customs procedures? could easily be assessed by such a survey) it may fail in questions like these.

In the particular case of Judicial independence, this is how the executives were asked to evaluate:

While this maybe an accurate representation of the perception of Indian Executives, this is surely not an accurate metric for judging the independence of the judiciary.

While the Global Competitiveness Index is an important tool in assessing the perception of the Industry in various matters, in this particular matter, one must take this metric with more than a pinch of salt, considering that the Judiciary exercises an extraordinary control over state matters and policies. This is not to suggest that the judicial system is impervious to political or financial influence. They are, especially in the lower judiciary. But it may not be an accurate representation of the whole picture, and is ultimately flawed in its assessment.


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