Researching Criminal Court Cases: A Mixed-Methods Approach


Timely and speedy disposal of criminal cases by following reasonable, fair and just processes is an important policy issue in many countries, and several reforms are contemplated to uphold justice for the victims and accused, and society in general. In 1986, as an Indian Council of Social Science Research Doctoral Fellow, in the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, I embarked on a PhD study to examine delay in the disposal of criminal cases in the magisterial courts of Mumbai. Very little research had been done on such an issue. I looked at the organisation and working of magisterial courts, nature and causes of delay in the disposal of cases, influence of socio-economic background of the accused on the processing of their cases in courts, psycho-socio-economic effect on the accused, and views of the accused, prosecutor and advocate on judicial functioning. By presenting the context of the research project, the case study discusses the research design developed and employed for the study, data collection issues, data analysis, major findings and lessons learned from the research. It raises some fundamental questions about research. Any reader interested in criminal justice and socio-legal research may benefit by reading this case study.

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