Judicial Administration of British India Uptill 1790

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INTRODUCTION:- History comprises of the growth, evolution and development of the legal system in the country and sets forth the historical process whereby a legal system has come to be what it is over time. The legal system of a country at a given time is not the creation of one man or of one day but is the cumulative fruit of the endeavor, experience, thoughtful planning and patient labour of a large number of people through generations. With the coming of the British to India, the legal system of India changed from what it was in the Mughal period where mainly the Islamic law was followed. The legal system currently in India bears a very close resemblance to what the British left us with. As per the needs of the changing times changes and amendments were made, but the procedure which is followed not has its roots in the era of British-India. Little did the traders of the English East India Company while establishing their trade in India know that they would end up establishing their rule for about 200 years here. Medieval Period

1600-1726
The charter of 1600 established the English East India Company in India. as per the charter of 1661 the English and the Indians residing under the Company came under its jurisdiction. From the period ranging from 1661 till 1726, laws of equity and justice in conformity with the laws in England were followed. There was no codified law.In Calcutta, the judicial system was based on the Company’s authority as a zamindar. This continued till the charter of 1726 was passed.Before Madras attained the position of a Presidency in 1665 it had two courts namely, the Choultry Court and the Court of the Agent and Council.By the charter of 1668 the Company was conferred powers to make laws for the island of Bombay.From this period till the passing of the Charter of 1726, there were civil and criminal courts in these presidencies. In madras, there was the choultry court, the mayor’s court and the admiralty court as well. On the other hand, in Bombay till 1726 judicial systems were not stable and kept changing. Earlier there were courts like the Court of Judicature (1672) which dealt with civil and criminal cases and matters of probates and testaments, and a Court of Conscience to decide petty cases. There was a system of appeals as well. In madras the appeals from the Mayor’s Court were filed to the Governor and Council. On the other hand, Bombay had Deputy-Governor and Council as its appellate Court. In Bombay this system elapsed due to lack of independence of the judiciary. In the following judicial system of Bombay an admiralty court was established with a Judge-Advocate as its head. This court apart from its existing powers enjoyed civil and criminal jurisdiction. Later a court of Judicature was established under this system after which the Admiralty Court lost its ground. The Admiralty court in Madras also became irregular by this time. Another system came about in 1718 in Bombay and this gave representation to the Indians as well by appointing 4 Indian Judges, known as Black Justices, in the Court. A parallel system of judiciary was running in the mofussil areas. The Company attained the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa in 1765. As per the plan of 1772 under Warren Hastings, the Courts of Original Jurisdiction were Mofussil Faujdari Adalat, the court of criminal jurisdiction; Mofussil Diwani Adalat, the court of civil jurisdiction and Small Cause Adalat. Under the Appellate Courts we had Sadar Nizami Adalat, the criminal court of appeals; Sadar Diwani Adalat, civil court of appeals. The Collectors started monopolizing the trade in the districts putting the end to this system and giving rise to a new plan of 1774 The Company’s financial break-down was the immediate cause for the enforcement of the Regulating Act of 1773. Section 13 of the Act provided for the establishment of a Supreme Court at Calcutta. The court, also a court of record with the power to punish for its contempt, had...
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