Based on a recent study, during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslim judges are more inclined to issue lenient rulings. This contradicts a 2011 research that found judges who had not eaten made harsher decisions. Dubbed ‘the hungry judge effect’, the previous research discovered that judges in Israel were much more likely to refuse bail before lunch than after.
The principal author of the new study, Sultan Mehmood of Russia’s New Economic School, was curious to see if the same phenomenon occurred during Ramadan for Muslims.
Mehmood and two other economic scholars examined 500,000 criminal sentencing judgments and 10,000 judges over a 50-year span in India and Pakistan, two of the top three states with the largest Muslim populations.
Surprisingly, the reverse of the hungry judge phenomenon was discovered. During Ramadan, there was a dramatic and ‘statistically significant’ increase in acquittals by Muslim judges, but not from non-Muslim judges.
During Ramadan, Muslim judges in both countries acquitted almost 40 percent more people than the rest of the year. Also, the longer judges stayed without food and drink, the more lenient they became. The study discovered that for every extra hour of fasting, judges were 10 percent more inclined to acquit.
The researchers also wanted to see if the kinder judgments were better or more detrimental than those taken outside of Ramadan. They discovered that offenders who obtained favorable rulings were not more likely to conduct a subsequent offense.
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