21 February 2010

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Indian Legal History Part 3 - 1688 - Madras Mayors Court –

Indian Legal History Part 3 - 1688 - Madras Mayors Court –
Reality Views by sm -
At that time in England there they got London Corporation and they got London mayors court, as per the British Law that time Municipal corporations enjoyed the judicial powers also. Company issued the charter and started Madras Corporation utilizing the powers given by British Crown.
In the year 1687 company established Madras Corporation and Mayors Court was the part of this corporation.

In the year 1686 Madras government levied a house tax on the Madras city population to repair the city wall, but people of Madras, local people did not pay the tax and company faced problems and difficulties to collect the tax.
After this company decided that to make the tax collection easy, a body should be formed consisting of English men as well as local Indian population so it will become easy for the Company officials to collect the tax.
The corporation came into existence on September, 29, 1968 which consisted of a Mayor, 12 Aldermen and from 60 to 120 Burgesses.
It was decided that every year new Mayor will be elected from Aldermen by aldermen and burgesses and retiring Mayor can be reelected by them.
The aldermen and Burgesses got the power to remove the Mayor if he is unable to perform his duties.
Only Englishman can become the Mayor .
The Aldermen hold the office as long as they stayed in Madras city. Indirectly they hold the office for lifelong.
Mayor and Burgesses hold the power to remove the Aldermen from office also if he did not perform well.
Among the Aldermen minimum 3 were required to be British servants of the company and other 9 can belong to any nationality or religion.
The first 12 Aldermen were as follows –
Englishmen – 3
Hindus – 3
Frenchman – 1
Portuguese – 2
Jews and Armenians – 3
The charter appointed 29 Burgesses and then remaining Burgesses were appointed by the Mayor and Aldermen.
Among the first 60 Burgesses, the caste heads were selected as the Burgesses.
This was the nature of First Corporation.
The Mayor and the 3 senior Aldermen were to be the Justices of the peace.
The Mayor and Aldermen were to form a Court of record which was authorized to try civil as well as criminal cases.
This court was known as Mayors Court.
The Mayors court was authorized to give following punishments.
Fine, amercement, imprisonment and corporal punishment.
The convicted persons got right to file appeal at the Admiralty court.
As Mayor and Aldermen did not have legal knowledge the provision was made for the appointment of the Recorder of the court.
He helped the Mayor regarding the cases and he also got the power to vote just like Aldermen.
The recorder of the court was required to be skillful in the law as well as the servant of the company.
The charter appointed the Judge Advocate Sir Biggs as the first Recorder.
Only in the year 1712 the court got power to give death sentence to native people.
The Mayor Court did not follow uniform punishment for the same crime it depend on the judges discretion for this the reason was that the Mayor and his team did not have any legal knowledge.
Sir Biggs got the experience of working as a recorder in the London but here in Madras the problem was that Sir Biggs sat in the Admiralty Court as Judge Advocate where appeals from the Mayors Court were went.
But company ignored this fact.
After the death of Sir Biggs no Recorder was appointed.
Like this in the period of 1686 to 1726 in Madras city 3 Courts functioned.
Mayors Court, Choultry Court and Admiralty Court.
After 1704, Governor and Council heard the appeals from the Mayors court as Admiralty court stop to function.

In this period also the criminals were so long kept in jails that even people forgot the crimes.
Justice system was very slow and no one bothered.
The capital punishment was given by Hanging.
Robbery was punished with Death.
Witchcraft was punished with fine and pillory.

Meaning of the words
Alderman –
1. A member of the municipal legislative body in a town or city in many jurisdictions.
2. A member of the higher branch of the municipal or borough council in England and Ireland before 1974.
3. one of the senior members of a local council, elected by other councilors

Burgesses –
A magistrate of a borough; generally, the chief officer of the corporation, who performs, within the borough, the same kind of duties which a mayor does in a city. In England, the word is sometimes applied to all the inhabitants of a borough, who are called burgesses sometimes it signifies the representatives of a borough in parliament.

Suggested Reading - Part 4 - Administration of Bombay – Legal system of Bombay 1668 – 1726


jamos jhalla February 21, 2010  

Good.I think historic system of this taxing or administration needs surgery.

sm,  February 24, 2010  

jamos jhalla,

Anonymous,  March 18, 2010  



sm,  March 18, 2010