Establishment of Mayor’s Court – 1726
The Mayor’s Court was established in India in by The Charter of 1726 at Madras, Calcutta and Bombay which were East India Company’s Highest Courts in British India. The East India Company till 1726 had no power to manage Capital Offences and Capital Punishments, to all the Presidencies with only Civil Jurisdiction being applicable. The Charter was issued by King George on Twenty Fourth September (1726) to the Company. Mayors Court was specially empowered to hear cases against The Company.
The requirement of Establishing Mayor’s Court:
- The need for establishing a Mayor’s Court was felt as before 1726 different judicial systems were working in British India.
- Since there were different Judicial Systems the servants of The East India Company at different settlements were governed by a different set of rules.
- Thus, there was a lack of uniformity in The Justice System and the same offence would carry a different punishment at different settlements.
- There was an absence of a Competent Court in India which could Supersede all the other courts.
Features of The Charter:
- It established a local Court in each of The Presidency Towns at Madras, Calcutta and Bombay.
- The Governor-in-Council of each Presidency Town was given the power to make by-laws, rules and regulations for better settlement of the disputes arising in the Presidency.
- Each Presidency had a Corporation which consisted of Nine Aldermen and a Mayor
- The Person appointed as The Mayor could maximum be a mayor for one year and after that had to continue as an Alderman.
- The Vacancy against The Mayor’s position was to be filled amongst the Aldermen who was in turn recommended by the outgoing Mayor and The Aldermen.
Changes in the Judicial System:
The Charter of 1726 changed the Judicial System in the following ways
- It Established a separate Civil and Criminal Court at each of The Presidency Towns at Madras, Chennai and Bombay.
- It Constituted a Mayor’s Court for each of The Presidency Towns.
- The Court’s were as powerful as The Royal Courts whose source of Authority came directly from The Crown which was regarded as a Fountain of Justice.
- The Charter initiated a System of Appeals from the courts in India to The King-in-Council/Privy Council in England.
Mayor’s Court under Charter of 1687:
- The Charter Of 1687 gave The East India Company power and Authority to establish a Municipality along with A Mayor’s Court at Madras.
- To Try Civil and Criminal Cases, the permission to establish The Court of Record was also given.
- The power to cede territories and creation of Probate and Testamentary Jurisdiction was also given to The Company.
- Till 1765 through a number of Charters, The Company’s power’s increased and it established Municipalities and Court of Requests were established at Bombay and Calcutta.
Mayor’s Court under Charter of 1687 v/s Charter Of 1726:
- The Mayor’s Court under The Charter of 1687 drew the powers from The East India Company while The Mayor’s Court under The Charter of 1726 drew its power from The Crown.
- The Mayor’s Court under The Charter of 1687 was a Company Court while The Mayor’s Court under The Charter of 1726 was a Crown Court.
- The Charter of 1687 established a Mayor’s Court only at Madras while under The Charter of 1726 established Mayor’s Court at all The Presidency Towns at Madras, Chennai and Bombay.
- The Mayor’s Court under The Charter of 1687 was a Court of Equity while The Mayor’s Court under The Charter of 1726 was a Court of English Law.
- The Mayor’s Court built up under The Charter of 1687 arranged the portrayal
- of the locals on the court. The Crown’s Mayors Courts did not have any such portrayal, however, there was no arrangement for the same under The Charter of 1726
- There was yet another imperative qualification between the two Mayor’s Courts. The
- Mayor’s Court under The Charter of 1627 developed its method and apportioned equity as per the standards of the presence of mind, value and great inner voice. The Charter of 1726 which brought the British laws into India brought all the legitimate details of the British Courts of law, which complicated the Justice process as every rule had to be followed.
- The Charter of 1627 which established The Mayor’s Court at Madras had a wider Jurisdiction (Civil and Criminal) while The Mayor’s Court under The Charter of 1726 had Jurisdiction only In Civil Cases.
- Under The Charter Act of 1627, The Mayor’s Court had a legal counsellor called Recorder but under The Charter Act of 1726, The Mayor’s Court had no legal counsellor.
- Under The Charter Act of 1627 judgements against The Mayor’s Court went to The Court of Admiralty while under The Charter Act of 1726 judgements against The Mayor’s Court went to The King in Council.
- The governance of The Mayor’s Court established under the Charter of 1687, had in total Twelve Aldermen in which minimum Three Aldermen were to be Englishmen but the governance of The Mayor’s Court established under the Charter of 1726 had Nine Aldermen out of which seven had to be Englishmen. Thus, the new Mayor’s Court was more of English in nature in terms of Command and Control.
Court of Requests:
- A court established to deal with cases involving up to Fifteen Rupees.
- It also involves cases relating to poor people with small claims who cannot afford to pay the expenses of litigation of Mayor’s Court.
- The purpose was to resolve cases quickly and speedily.
Shortcomings of The Charter Act 1726:
- The Mayor’s Court lost its Autonomy and Independence.
- The Mayor’s Court was debarred from entertaining a case and action between the natives until both parties approached The Court. The Criminal Courts were completely official Ruled as the official was The Governor-in-Council.
- The Mayor’s Court council members were either Company’s Workers or other English Dealers, who were dependent on The Company’s Policies to stay in India and thus were helpless.
- The Mayor’s Court was designed to work with Freedom and independence but due to constant pressure from The Company, the freedom and autonomy was impugned.
- There was no legal expert/professional in the council as The Judges who were themselves not experts were appointed by The Governor and Council.
- The Company had a policy of giving the offices/powers of equity to its people and workers and this policy made sure no legal expert could be hired.
Author: Samar Jain,
SYMBIOSIS LAW SCHOOL 1ST YEAR