01 March 2010

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Administration of Bombay – Legal system of Bombay 1668 – 1726 – Part 4

Administration of Bombay – Legal system of Bombay 1668 – 1726 – Part 4
Indian Legal History – Part Four
Reality Views by sm -

1. In the year 1534 Portugal first time got the Island of Bombay by cession from the King of Gujarat, Sultan Bahadur. Bombay was controlled by them for more than a century.
2. When King Charles II of England began his reign, the Emperor Aurungzebe was at the height of his power in India.
3. in Surat Company occupied merely the position of one of the big trading houses of the city which was controlled by Aurungzebe.

4. In the year 1661 Portuguese King Alfonsus VI transferred the Island of Bombay to Charles II as a gift on the marriage of his sister Princess Catherine with the British King. That time Bombay was a poor place and population of Bombay was just 10 000, Bombay was a just small fishing, neglected Island town.
5. Later Charles II transferred Island of Bombay to the East India Company in year 1668 for annual rent of Ten pounds.
6. Charles II gave charter to the company to administer the Island of Bombay with full powers and jurisdiction.
7. The company was authorized to make the laws on the basis of Laws of England.
8. Thus with the charter of 1668 , the status of East India company started to change with this charter the trading company started its journey towards becoming a territorial sovereign .
9. Thus Bombay came under the Surat Presidency; The Governor of Surat factory was the ex-officio Governor of Bombay.
10. Gerald Aungier the Governor of Surat factory led the plans of judicial system in Bombay, he was the founder of Bombay. With his effort in the year 1670 in Bombay first judicial system was established.
11. Bombay was divided into two divisions. First Division – comprised Bombay, Mazagaon and Girgaon and 2nd division Mahim, Parel , Sion and Worli and in each division a court consisting of five judges was started with English person as the head of each Court and Indians were also appointed as the judges .
12. Ten Thousand Population - 10 Judges
13. 1 Thousand Population – One Judge
14. Today what is situation in India ?
15. This courts quarterly submitted copies to the Deputy Governors office which were to constitute a superior court.
16. From 1670 – 1672 legal system was very elementary. No one was lawyer .
17. In the year 1672 legal system was reformed and George Wilcox became judge . The court was to have jurisdiction in all cases ,civil ,criminal .
18. The court sit once a week and tried all civil cases with the help of Jury.
19. Provisions were made for the speedy trials and quick decisions by the court .
20. A fee of 5 percent was charged on each case which court tried.
21. For administration of criminal justice .Bombay was divided into 4 divisions ,section
• Bombay
• Mahim
• Mazagaon
• Sion
22. In each section ,An English person was appointed as a justice of peace . He held preliminary examination of the witnesses against an accused and made a record which he sent to the Court which sat once a month to try criminal cases with the help of Jury.
23. The judge was given salary of 2000 Rupees a year . But company did not pay salary to the judge Wilcox and further company started to reduce the salary of judges, so judges will never go against the company top officials. Executives.
24. Reduced Salary – Reduces status
25. This time civil case was decided in 10 to 12 days
26. Justice was very cheap .
27. Debtors were kept in jail until they paid their debt.
28. The law was so strict that even dead body of debtor was kept in jail until relatives paid the debt, this is the reported case of company employee.
29. Jury would be consisted of 12 Englishmen
30. In one criminal case a person accused of witchcraft was sentenced to death
31. In the year 1683 the company judicial system came to an end because of Keigwins rebellion on the Bombay Island and in the year 1684 the Keigwins rebels surrendered the Island to the company .
32. Today it is not important for Indians to know the details of this rebels and their story.

Continued -

Suggested Reading -
Part 5 - Indian Legal History – Administration of Bombay 1684 to 1726


chitra March 02, 2010  

Very informative post. I think even before the Portuguese landed in Bombay they had landed in Kochi in 1498.

sm,  March 02, 2010  

thanks,as this series of articles is mainly about development of Indian legal system , i am just writing about this area.