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Judges of the Supreme Court of India1950 - 1989$
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George H. Gadbois, Jr

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198070610

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198070610.001.0001

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(p.344) II Caste
Judges of the Supreme Court of India

George H. Gadbois, Jr

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines caste, the most important differentiator in Indian social life. It is a better indicator of social origin and class than parental occupation. The figures used here are census ones from the 1980s. Seventy-seven of the ninety-three judges were Hindus. The most striking thing is that brahmins, one-nineteenth of the nation’s population, held thirty-three of the judgeships. Brahmins, many very emphatically, said that their caste was not only irrelevant in their own appointment but that caste had nothing to do with the selection of any other judge. The usual explanation for the overrepresentation of brahmins is that they were the privileged group before the British arrived, that they were the first to learn English and take advantage of modern education. Still, the discussion notes that the judges of the highest rank in all or nearly all nations are not representative of the social make-up of their country.

Keywords:   Indian social life, caste system, Hindus, social origin, brahmins, British, English

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