Muslim judges in India and Pakistan who are fasting during Ramadan are more likely to give lenient decisions, according to a study from Russia’s New Economic School.
The researchers analysed criminal sentencing data, including roughly half a million cases and 10,000 judges decisions, covering a 50-year period in India and Pakistan, two of the top three countries with the largest Muslim populations.
“Ritual intensity increases Muslim judges’ acquittal rates, lowers their appeal and reversal rates, and does not come at the cost of increased recidivism or heightened outgroup bias. Overall, our results indicate that the Ramadan fasting ritual followed by a billion Muslims worldwide induces more lenient decisions,” read the report.
The researchers claimed that they also tried to quantify whether the more lenient decisions were better or worse than those made outside of Ramadan.
The study found that the defendants on the receiving end of the lenient decisions were no more likely to commit another crime.
Avner Seror, a study co-author and economist at France’s Aix-Marseille University, suggested that the change in the judges’ decision-making could be connected to “the idea of clemency inherent in the Muslim ritual, a little like the spirit of Christmas among Christians”.
They were 10 per cent more likely to acquit with each additional hour of fasting, the study found.