ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN MADRAS, BOMBAY AND CALCUTTA FROM 1600-1726
The emergency of British empire in India stands out as a unique event in the history of the world. Unless many other empires, the huge edifice of this empire was created by merely a company which was organized in England for furthering British commercial interest in overseas countries. A company was formed in 1600 by the name “The Governor and company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies”, which later came to be known as the East India Company.
THE CHARTER OF 1600 (FORMATION OF EAST INDIA COMPANY)
The East India company was incorporated in England on 31st December, 1600 by a Charter of Queen Elizabeth which defined the Constitution, power and privileges of the company. The management of company was granted in the hands of a Governor and 24 Directors and it was granted an exclusive privilege of trading from Cape of Good Hope to the Strait of Magellan and no other British subjects could carry on trade within this sphere.
The company was to have a life span of fifteen years but the British Crown was empowered to revoke the Charter even earlier on a two years notice, if the company’s commercial activities were not found profitable to British. The Governor and 24 Directors of the company formed the ‘Court of Directors’ of the Company which was to be elected every year by General Court. The tenure of the officers of the members of the Court of Directors mainly lasted for one year, but they could be ousted by the General Court if they were found unfit and insufficient for the post.
LEGISLATIVE POWERS OF THE COMPANY
The company was granted limited powers of legislation mainly for two reasons which are ‘good governance of its servants and officers’ and for ‘advancement of trade and traffic’ which play a significant role in the development of the company in India. Though the legislative powers of the company were considerably limited, but they were of historical importance in the pretext of India as it was the beginning of development of Anglo-Indian Codes in India.
CHARTER OF 1609
The British King James I renewed the Charter of the Company as the trade of the British Company was flourishing well and was also profitable to England. The monopoly was perpetual there being no time limit to the tenure of the Company. However, the company’s tenure could be terminated by giving a three-year notice if case it was damaging the British interest.
THE CHARTER OF 1615 AND 1623
The Royal Grant of 1615
The Charter of 1615 was also known as ‘King Commission’ as it authorized the company to grant commission to the ‘General’ in command of the vessel for each voyage and empowered him to inflict punishment for capital offences, such as, murder or mutiny in order to maintain discipline in long voyages in the sea.
The Royal Grant of 1623
The Charter of 1623 was passed by the Crown to keep an eye or control on the growing indiscipline of the Company servant on the land.
These two Royal grants strengthened the authority of the Company to check on the discipline issue of its servants both on the land and on high seas.
BRITISH SETTLEMENT AT MADRAS (1639-1726)
- The East India Company had a factory at Masulipattam which was a subordinate factory of Surat Presidency.
- One of the servants of the Company named Francis Day secured permission from a Local Hindu ruler to construct an English factory on a strip of land.
- The fort was named as Fort. George and the Englishmen and other Europeans lived inside the factory.
- The company was allowed to mint money and govern Madraspatnam which was a small village near company’s fort.
- This village where Englishmen and Europeans were living came to be known as ‘White Town’ and simultaneously a town inhabited by local natives grew adjacent to the English settlement and came to be known as “Black Town”.In course of time entire territory comprising “White Town” and “Black Town” developed into the city of Madras.
- It was in 1665 that the Madras which was a subordinate to Surat Presidency was raised to the status of Presidency for the first time.
ADMINISTRIATATION OF JUSTICE IN MADRAS
The administration of justice in Madras before 1726 can conveniently be studied under three distinct phases-
First Phase (1639-1678)
- In the first phase the administration of justice was primitive and elementary. As already stated, Madras was merely an agency working under Surat administration who conducted all affairs through small council.
- In white town, the administration of justice was done by Agent and Council which decided both civil and criminal matters cases.
- In Black town, prior to British settlement. Choultry were functioning for administering justice to the natives residing in Madraspatnam.
- The Choultry Courts were headed by a native village headman who was known as Adigar. He dealt with petty case of civil and criminal and was also responsible for maintenance of law and order.
- However, he was not empowered to decide criminal cases of serious nature and had to refer to the native Raja for the execution of the punishment.
- The Adigar kanappa who inherited the post from his father was removed from his position by the Agent and his Council on the charges of corruption and misuse of power.
- In place of him two English servants of the Company, Captain Matin and John Light were appointed at the Choultry Courts.
- There was another officer named ‘Peddanaigne’ who was subordinate to Adigar. His function was to apprehend the offenders before adigar with the help of the constables.
CHARTER OF 1661
- Charter of 1661 was granted by British King Charles II to the English Company which introduced some radical changes in the existing judicial system.
- This Charter authorized the Company to appoint Governors and other officers in India. They were empowered by the Charter to hear the and decide the criminal as well as civil of the servants of the company and those living under its jurisdiction according to the laws of England.
- The natives residing within the territorial jurisdiction of company’s settlement also came under the authority of the Government and council whether they were employees of the company or not.
- The case of Mrs. Ascentica Dawes in 1965 proved to be turning point in the Anglo-Indian history. The facts of the case were that, Mrs. Dawes was accused of murdering her slave girl. The case, as usual was referred to Agent and Council of Madras, who being uncertain about the competence to try the case, referred it to the authorities in England. The Charter of 1661 had granted judicial power to the Governor and Council and it was doubted whether these powers extended to the Agent and Council or not.
- Therefore, after great consideration it was decided that the Agency of Madras would be upgraded as Presidency of Madras so that the Agent and Council would become President and Council and he will be empowered to try the case.
- After trying the case, Mrs. Dawes was not found guilty by President and Council for murdering his slave girl.
- This case is important case in the history of British rule in India because for the first-time absence of legal expert in the administration of justice was considered to be most disastrous by the company’s administration.
SECOND PHASE (1678-1683)
- The second phase of the evolution of judicial system in Madras commences from 1678 when Streynsham Master became the Governor of Madras.
- The Court of Governor and Council which was created after Mrs. Dawes case was not functioning properly and therefore the new governor introduced the Judicial Plan of 1678 to eliminate the delays in disposal of criminal and civil cases. The governor ordered the court to hold its sittings twice a week and in deciding criminal matters take the help of jury of twelve persons. Now this court came to be known as High Court of Judicature and was to follow English law and procedures.
- The working of Choultry courts were also reorganized by the Judicial Plan of 1678 where the officers, namely, the Adigar were replaced by the two English Servant of the Company. They were known as pay-master, the mini-master and the custom-master and all three were to sit judges in the Choultry courts twice a week.
- The Choultry courts could decide civil matters of upto fifty pagodas and criminal nature of minor nature. An appeal from this court lay to the High Court of Judicature comprising of Governor of Madras and his council.
- Judicial Plan of 1678 was the first plan or charter which created hierarchy of court for the first time in India.
THIRD PHASE (1683-1726)
The main feature of this phase of judicial administration was the establishment of Admiralty courts in 1686. The company enjoyed monopoly of trade yet many private English merchants started to trade in India which resulted in loss to the East India Company and also saw increase considerable increase in crimes in high seas which also had to be settled by an efficient Court. With the above conditions, the British Crown passed a Charter of 1683 which expanded the power of the company in the following matters.
- The company was authorized to establish more than one court at places wherever it deemed it necessary.
- Each court was to consist of one legal expert in the field of civil law and two Indian merchants to aid the judges in explaining the local usage and laws of the natives.
- The court could decide cases related to mercantile as well as maritime cases.
- The court was to impart justice based on the notions of justice, equity and good conscience and laws and customs of merchants. It was also empowered to lay down its own procedure.
- The Admiralty court was created in 1686 under the crown’s charter of that year. The need for the creation of court was felt due to increase in the number crime of piracy.
- The court consisted of three senior servants of the company one of whom acted as the Judge and other two as his assistant.
- The chief-judge was to be known as Judge-Advocate. The company appointed Sir John Biggs, a person well-versed in civil law, as the Judge-Advocate.
- The company also appointed Attorney-General and Registrar in this court in the same year.
- Besides the maritime cases, the Admiralty Court also exercised jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases and thus, it became the ‘General Court’ of Madras replacing the High Court of judicature which now cease to exercise judicial functions.
- Unfortunately, John Biggs died in 1689, thereafter in absence of any suitable person, the functions of the Admiralty Court was discharged by the Court of Judicature which consisted of the Governor as the Judge-Advocate and two members of his council to be judge. In addition, it also had two merchants one of whom was to be an Armenian while other was a Hindu native.
- This system continued till 1692 when John Dolben was appointed as Judge-Advocate. From 1692-1696 the appointment of Judge-Advocate was made by the British Government. But in 1696, the Company directed that the member of the Council should be appointed as the Judge-Advocate in succession.
- The Admiralty court functioned well till 1704 when John Dolben, returned to England. Thereafter, the company decided to keep the position of Judge-Advocate vacant and finally the Admiralty court ceased to function.
MAYOR’S COURT AT MADRAS UNDER THE CHARTER OF `1687
A corporation was set up by the company in the Madras under the Crown’s charter of 1687 with the aim of associating natives with the Englishmen. In order to achieve this objective, the Company wanted to undertake certain public welfare for which funds were needed and were charged by collecting taxes and raising funds from local inhabitants.
- The Madras Corporation consisted of an English Mayor, twelve Alderman and sixty or more Burgesses. Out of twelve Alderman, three were to be the Covenanted English servant of the company while others could be of any nationality.
- The mayor was to held office for one year and he was elected by the Aldermen from amongst themselves. The Aldermen was to held office for life or till their residence in Madras. The vacancy of an Aldermen to be filled up by election from amongst the Burgesses. The Burgesses were to be elected by the mayor and Aldermen while few ere to be nominated by the Company from the heads of various caste.
- The Mayor and the Aldermen constituted a civil Court, while the mayor and the three senior Aldermen were Justice of Peace having criminal jurisdiction. The mayor and two aldermen formed the quorum. The court held once in a fortnight and decided criminal cases with the help from jury. The court could award the sentence of imprisonment or fine.
- Appeals from the decision of the mayor’s court lay to the Admiralty court in case, the value of the civil case exceeds three pagodas, and in criminal case, where the offender was sentenced to death or loss of limb.
- The mayor’s court also constituted a court of Records since a Recorder was also attached to the court. Sir John Biggs was appointed as the Recorder of Mayor’s court in 1688. The appointment of John Biggs as the Recorder of Court created an anomaly because as Judge-Advocate of the Admiralty Court, he was also hearing appeals from the mayor’s court, with which he was associated as a judge. However, this anomaly did not long last since Sir John Biggs died in 1689 and thereafter the company did not appoint anyone as the Recorder of the mayor’s court.
With the establishment of the mayor’s court, the jurisdiction of choultry courts was considerably reduced. Now, it could decide civil cases of the value up to two pagodas and administer justice in petty offence. Two aldermen sat twice a week at the choultry court to dispose the case of minor nature. Thus after, 1704 there were three distinct courts functioning simultaneously at Madras, namely, the choultry court, the mayor’s court and the Governor and Council’s Court which has assumed admiralty jurisdiction after 1704. This system was followed up to 1727 when mayor’s court was established under the Royal Grant of 1726.
BRITISH SETTLEMENT AT BOMBAY (1668-1728)
The Island of Bombay which was under the control of Gujrat king Sultan Bahadur came under the control of Portuguese. The Portuguese king transferred it to King Charles II as dowry on the marriage of his sister Princess Catheline with Charles II. However, the king Charles II found it difficult to control its administration from England therefore he transferred it to British Company for a petty annual fee of ten euro by the Charter of 1668.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN BOMBAY
The judicial system in Bombay before 1726 can be divided into three distinct phases which are discussed below:
First Phase (1668-1683)
In the initial stage, the Island of Bombay was under the control of President and Council of Surat factory and Governor of Surat was ex-officio Governor of Bombay. Sir George Oxenden, the President of Surat visited Bombay in January, 1669, by the order of the Company. He established exclusive Government under Deputy Governor and Council subject to the control of the Governor and Council of Surat.
THE BEGINNING OF JUDICIAL SYSTEM IN BOMBAY (1670)
- The regular system of courts was brought to Bombay by Gerald Aungir the Deputy Governor of Surat factory in 1670.
- He divided the Island of Bombay into two territorial divisions-one divisons comprised Bombay, Mazagaon, and Girgaon while the other comprised of Mahim, Parel, and Sion.
- One court of judicature was setup for each of these divisions. Each of these courts have five judges who were to decide five cases. There was a custom officer for each division who was the president of the respective court. Three judges formed the quorum.
- Some of the judges were Portuguese and Indians to keep the temper of the natives and at the same time to apprise the English Judge about the customs and usages of the native inhabitants.
- Gerald Aungir who initiated this judicial system was not happy with the working of courts mainly because of two reasons. The first reason was that the judges of lower courts and higher courts were lay person without any knowledge in the field of law and second was that the judicial system identified itself too much with the executive government.
- With a view to removing these defects, Aungir requested the Company to send someone who was well-versed in law but his request was turned down and the Company suggested to choose someone suitable person from amongst the servants of the company working in the settlement itself. Consequently, George Wilcox was appointed as the Judge by Aungir and a new Judicial scheme was introduced in Bombay in 1672.
BOMBAY JUDICIAL PLAN OF 1672
- A Government proclamation was issued whereby Portuguese was abolished from Bombay and English Law was introduced in place of it.
- A court of Judicature was established with George Wilcox as its Judge. This court was to have jurisdiction in all cases, namely civil, criminal, probate and testamentary.
- Civil cases were tried with the help of jury once a week.
- The administration of criminal justice was also reorganized by the Judicial plan of 1672.
- Now, the Island of Bombay was divided into four divisions, namely Bombay, Mahim, Mazagaon and Sion.
- In each, of these divisions, a Justice of Peace was appointed who was to be Englishmen. He had power to apprehend the offender and hold inquiry and conduct preliminary investigation. He also examined witnesses.
- After preliminary investigation the Justice of Peace was to send the record to the court of Judicature where the case was tried with the help of jury. Thus, these justices of peace acted merely as committing Magistrates and were not punitive courts.
- An appeal from the court of judicature were taken to the court of Deputy Governor and Council of Bombay.
COURT OF CONSCIENCE
- A court of conscience was also established with functioned under the court of judicature.
- It decided petty civil cases of a value less than 20 xerophins without the help of jury so that the speedy justice could be available to poor litigants.
- The court held sitting twice a week.
- Panchayats was reorganized in 1672 and were authorized to decide cases among the persons of their own caste, who mutually agreed to submit their dispute through arbitration, otherwise the disputes were brought to the court of judicature.
- The panchayats were also to report the offenders to the justice of peace of the region, so that the offenders would be punished for the crimes they have committed.
SECOND PHASE (1684-1690)
- The British king Charles II, by the charter of 1683 had empowered the company to establish admiralty court in Bombay.
- The functioning of the court was same as the admiralty court of Madras and it decided civil and criminal cases besides the usual admiralty and maritime disputes in accordance with the rules of equity and good conscience.
- St. John was appointed as the Judge and President of the Admiralty court of Bombay. He was specially sent by the Company from England as he was well-versed in civil law. He also got the opportunity to act as the Chief Justice of the court of judicature of Bombay and took to himself the administration of civil and criminal justice as well.
- St. John came in direct conflict with the John Child, the president of the Surat factory. The reasons were obvious Dr. St. John wanted independence of judiciary whereas John Child tried to establish superiority and considered judiciary subservient to them. As a result of conflict Dr. St. John was dismissed as the Chief justice of judicature of Bombay except that pertaining to the admiralty courts to the admiralty court. Dr. St. John was finally dismissed in 1687. The Admiralty court, however, continued to function within the framework of Charter of 1683.
THIRD PHASE (1718-1726)
Court of Judicature, Bombay (1718)
After a gap of thirty years, the English judicial system in Bombay revived again with the establishment of court of judicature in 1718 under Lawrence Parker on March 25, 1718.
- This court consisted of an English chief justice and nine other judges including four Indians representing Hindus, Mohammedans, Portuguese, Christians, and Parsis.
- The Indian judges did not enjoy the same status as English judges and they were called ‘Black Judges’ and their presence was not counted for the quorum.
- Three English judges formed the quorum and these English judges were to be members of the Court of the Governor and council.
- This court has the power to decide civil and criminal cases according to law, equity and good conscience and the rules made by the company.
- The jury system was not revived and court charged Rs. 5 for making an appeal.
- The Indian judges functioned as assessors and enlightened the English judges on customs, usages and traditions of the natives.
- The revived judicial system adopted in 1718 suffered from serious defect of overlapping jurisdiction. The judges could participate in cases in which their own interest was involved. That apart, some of the members of the council acted as judges in the court of judicature also heard appeals from these very decisions in the capacity of the members of the court to the Governor and Council. The revival court of judicature established in 1718, continued till February 10, 1728 when it was replaced by the mayor’s court.
- The defects of the judicial system were reflected in the case of Rama kamati, which was decided by Lawrence Parker. Rama Kamati was a wealthy Hindu of Bombay who was arrested on the charge of communicating with Dacoity Angira through letters. The only evidence which was available in the case, was the hear say evidence of a dancer who told the court that Angira himself had told that Rama Kamati had written to him. Rama Kamati was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment and his property was confiscated. It is said it was done at the behest of Governor Boone who had conspired and framed fictitious charge against the accused.
BRITISH SETLLEMENT AT CALCUTTA (1690-1726)
Some, Englishmen landed at Sutanati on the bank of river Hooghly in 1690 and constructed a fortified factory named a Fort William. The foundation of Fort William at present (Kolkata) was laid down by Job Charnock on august 24, 1690.In 1698, the East India Company obtained zamindari rights of three adjacent villages of Calcutta, Sutanati and Govindpur from the grandson of Aurangzeb, Prince Azimushshan who was the subedar of Bengal at that time. By obtaining the zamindari rights of these villages the company acquired a legal and constitutional status to exercise administrative jurisdiction over the natives residing in that particular area. In 1699, Calcutta was declared a Presidency and a President and Council was appointed to administer the settlement and the factory came to be known as the factory of Fort William.
ADMINISTARTION OF JUSTICE IN FORT WILLIAM (CALCUTTA)
- After acquiring zamindari rights, the company assumed the functions of zamindars.
- Under the Mughal ruler the zamindars were responsible for collecting land revenue and maintaining law and order in their zamindari.
- The administration of civil and criminal justice was managed by separate courts but with the disintegration of Mughal empire, these courts ceased to function and taking advantage of this situation the zamindars took administration of justice in their own hands
- Each zamindar held a court called ‘Cutcherry’ to decide civil case. Appeals from this court lay to the court of Nawabs Court at Murshidabad. Capital punishment was to be awarded by the zamindar’s court but it was subject to confirmation by the Nawab’s court at Murshidabad.
- The East India Company appointed an English member of the Governor’s Council as ‘Collector’ in 1700 who was responsible for collecting taxes and decide civil and criminal matters of the native inhabitants.
- The English Collector maintained a Fouzdari court for the administration of criminal justice. The trials were held in a summary manner without the help of jury. The common modes of punishment which could be awarded were whipping, imprisonment, fine, banishment, work on roads etc. The execution of death sentence, however required the confirmation of President and Council and due process of death sentence was to be followed, that is death sentence can be awarded by whipping and not by hanging. Regarding the offences committed by Englishmen, the Collector could only take cognizance of only petty crimes and misdemeanours committed by them and the serious offences could be tried by President and Council.
- The Collector decided civil cases in his court called ‘Cutcherry’. The case decided in a summary manner according to the customs and usages of the native individuals, and in their absence, according to the principles of equity and good conscience. An appeal from this court could lay down to the President and Council.
- It is to be noted that the appeal from the English Collector’s court was not to be taken to Nawab’s court but was to taken to the President and Council in both civil and criminal matters which shows that the company as zamindar exercised much more power in comparison to local native zamindar. However, this system continued only till 1727 when a mayor’s court under the Royal Grant of 1726 was established at Fort William.
NEED FOR CHARTER OF 1726
- The judicial administration in the three Presidency town were unsatisfactory and poor.
- With an increase in company business activities in India, the population of ‘British Settlements’ were also increased and a greater number of cases were coming to courts on daily basis.
- The Company believed the powers of court should be derived from a complete authority so that the judgement delivered could have binding force and uniformity in judicial administration.
- After seeing a successful working of mayor’s court in Madras the company wanted to adopt the similar corporations at Bombay and Calcutta.
- Many Englishmen died living movable and immovable property in India. This created a problem for the company regarding the distribution and disposal of their assets. No doubt, the mayor’s court of Madras established in 1687 was authorized to deal in matters of testamentary cases but its decisions were not recognized in England as it was the court of company and not of British Crown. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary litigation in England regarding the disposal and distribution of property who died back in India the Crown wanted to establish a mayor’s court in each Presidency town.
MAIN PROVISIONS OF CHARTER OF 1727
- Establishment of a Corporation at Bombay and Calcutta
- The mayor’s court consist of a mayor and nine aldermen.
- The mayor and seven aldermen were to be natural born British subject and ither two can be of any nationality.
- The first mayor and aldermen were to be appointed by Charter itself. Thereafter, the mayor was to be elected annually by the aldermen. The aldermen were to hold office for lifetime or till residence in the presidency town.
- They could be removed from their office by Governor and Council on a reasonable cause.
- An appeal against such removal could be made to the King and Council.
- The mayor and aldermen had to take oath of allegiance to the office before Governor and Council.
2-Mayor’s Court in Presidency Towns
- The mayor and nine aldermen to each corporation formed a court of record which was called ‘Mayor’s Court. It was empowered to decide all civil case within the Presidency town. The mayor with other two aldermen formed the quorum.
- The court also exercised testamentary jurisdiction and could grant probates of will and letter of administration in case of intestacy.
- The court was to held sitting three times a week and an appeal from mayor’s court could lie to Governor and Council. But in case involving the value of subject matter above 1,000 pagodas, a further appeal lay to the King in Council.
3-Crime and Punishment
- The mayor’s court has no criminal jurisdiction. It was only a court of civil and testamentary jurisdiction.
- The Governor and five senior members of the Council were appointed as Justice of Peace in each Presidency for the administration of criminal justice. They also constituted court of Oyer, Terminer and Goal delivery and were also required to hold quarter Sessions for, trial of all offences excepting high treason for at least four times a year.
4-Jury trial in Criminal Cases
- The Charter of 1726 provided that criminal cases in Presidencies be decided with the help of Grand Jury and Petty Jury.
- The Grand Jury which consisted of 23 persons, who entrusted with the task of presenting persons suspected of having committed a crime. Therefore, it was also called “Jury of Presentment”.
- It is significant to note that along with Charter of 1726, the Company sent to each Presidency, a list of statutes, law-books and instructions etc., which contained a list of procedure to be followed in civil, criminal cases and testamentary. This was intended to maintain uniformity in the functioning of the law courts in all presidencies and follow the English Law.
5-Legislative powers under the Charter
- Before passing of Charter of 1726 the law-making power was vested in the hands of court of director of the company in England. But this was not convenient because the directors hardly had any knowledge about the local conditions in India and, therefore, the laws framed by them were ineffective.
- After Charter of 1726 this power was vested in the hands of Governor and Council of each Presidency-town to make bye-laws, rules and ordinances for the regulation of the Corporations and inhabitants of the Presidencies and they would also prescribe punishment for the breach of such laws and rules.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHARTER OF 1726 AND 1687
- The mayor’s courts established in Madras under the charter of 1687 was a company’s court whereas the new mayor’s court under the charter of 1726 were crown’s court.
- The charter of 1687 has a wider scope has it had jurisdiction to both civil and criminal matters whereas the charter of 1726 has only civil jurisdiction.
- Under the charter of 1687, appeals from mayor’s court lay to the admiralty court whereas in charter of 1726 an appeal from mayor’ court could lay down to Governor and Council and second appeal would go to King and Council.
- The mayor’s court established in 1687 has no testamentary jurisdiction whereas the courts established under the charter of 1726 had testamentary jurisdiction.
- The recorder in the mayor’s court under the charter of 1687 were professional’s lawyers to advise the court in legal matters whereas the recorder appointed under the charter of 1726 does not belong to legal background.
- The mayor’s court established in Madras under the charter of 1687 consisted of twelve aldermen out of which at least three were to be Englishmen. But the new corporations set up under the charter of 1726 consisted of nine aldermen, out of which seven were to be Englishmen. Thus, the new mayor’s courts were far more English dominated than the earlier one.
- The mayor’s court established in Madras under the charter of 1687 were not bound to follow specific procedure and technical rule of law in the administration of justice but the courts established under the charter of 1726 were bound to follow the laws and procedure of English courts.
- Under the charter of 1687, the executive has no interference with the administration of justice but the charter of 1726 invested powers in the hand of Governor and Council to decide criminal cases.
To sum up, it may be stated that the administration of justice in the settlements of the East India company before 1726 had no demarcations between executive and judiciary which resulted in overlapping of functions and sometimes in resulted in conflict between executive and judiciary showing superiority on one another. Other characteristics feature of the judicial administration before 1726 was lack of professional’s judges in the court. Though some efforts were made when a person well-versed in law was appointed as Judge-Advocate in Madras and Bombay but the experiment was not encouraging and the company was reluctant to appoint lawyers as judges in its courts. Yet another aspect of the administration of justice was the judgements delivered by the Company’s court was not recognized by the courts in England as the judges of the company court were laymen and had no knowledge of law and legal procedure and hence their judgements were mostly erratic and controversial. That apart, the judicial system in the company court lacked uniformity and certainty as each settlement had its own judicial arrangement quite distinct from others. These problems were only solved when charter of 1726 was passed by the Crown which set up mayor’s court in each presidency town.
Author: Animesh Nagvanshi,
ICFAI, Dehradun and 3rd Year