19 April 2010

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Part 11 - Indian Legal History – Supreme Court Becomes Secondary at Calcutta - 1781

Part 11 - Indian Legal History – Supreme Court Becomes Secondary at Calcutta - 1781

The case of Nandkumar, a classic case

This is the case against Warren Hastings brought by majority council, then Supreme Court against majority.

Nandkumar got the support and protection from the Majority council.

Nandkumar was influential man from Bengal, brought the corruption and bribery charges against the Warren Hastings in the council.

When this charges were heard by the council Warren Hastings left the room.
After few days Mohun Pershad filed a forgery case against Nandkumar in the Supreme Court of Calcutta.
Supreme Court found Nandkumar guilty and gave him death punishment as per the law.
And the sentence was duly executed.

Supreme Court judge was the friend of Warren Hastings, but the case was tried with the help of 4 judges and 12 Englishmen.
Still many historians say that as judge was the friend of Warren, the nandkumar got death punishment.

For me I feel that Nandkumar became Bakra between the fight of Council and Warren Hastings.
In the year 1728 in England for the act of forgery, capital punishment was given to the accused person when he was found guilty.

The Patna Case –
The Patna Case Happened in the years 1777, 1778, and 1779, this is very interesting case.

Shahbaz beg khan came to Patna from the Kabul and joined the company army; he made money and settled in Patna.

As he did not have any children, he called his nephew Bahadur Beg from Kabul to stay with him and he expressed his desire to adopt him and hand him his all property.
Before this Shahbaz died in the year 1776.

After this the fight started between the widow [of Shahbaz Beg,] Nadirah begum and nephew Bahadur Beg regarding the property of Shahbaz Beg.

Bahadur Beg filed a suit against the Begum in the Patna Provincial Council which functioned as the Diwani court for the town under the warren Hastings plan of 1774

As per the law English judges were helped by the Kazis and Pundits to understand the customs and laws of community. Kazi and Pundits were not supposed to decide the cases wholly.
But English law officers were not interested in the Indian customs they were more busy in collection of revenue.

So English judges gave, allowed the local officers to hear the evidence, decide the fact and expound the law. Patna council left the entire matter in the hands of Muslim law officers.
Begum was not given any notice regarding this suit.

Muslim law officers rejected the Begums claim of gift of deed which she said her husband made.
As Muslim law does not recognize adoption they rejected the claim of the Bahadur Beg also.

They decided that the property of deceased’s property be divided as per the Hanafi school of intestate succession,
One fourth property was allotted to the widow,
Three fourth go to shahbaz beg brother, father, but as he was at Kabul and could not look after property it was entrusted to Bahadur Beg as his son and representative in India.
The provisional council considered the report in the presence of the vakeels of both the parties and confirmed the same and ordered the Muslim law officers to divide the property.

Begum did not accept the fourth share and she left the house and took shelter in the Muslim shrine for the 4 months.
To force her to return home a guard was posted at the shrine. She was even denied food.
The guard was withdrawn after a month.

Then Begum appealed the Sadar diwani adalat but that time Sadar diwani adalat was not functioning, Then Warren Hastings wrote a letter the Patna chief council for explanation and Later Patna chief informed to the Hastings about the matter. But nothing happened.

Then Begum filed a case in the Supreme Court against the Bahadur Beg , kazi and muftis for the assault, battery, false imprisonment , breaking and entering her house and taking away her property and claimed damages amounting to Rs.6 lakh.

Then Supreme Court issued the bailable arrest warrant against the Bahadur Beg, kazis and muftis.
They were arrested in the Patna and brought before the Supreme Court at Calcutta the reason they all failed to furnish the bail of 400,000 Rupees. And they were kept in jail.
After few days government gave bail for the kazi and muftis.

Later Supreme Court heard the case and found that Patna council and kazis and muftis did not function as per their duties and did not function,perform their duties as per the procedure of law.

The court found the deed of gift original and true and valid.
The court awarded damages of Rs.3 lakh to the Begum for personal injuries.
As defendants failed to pay the damages they were sent to the Jail.

This case is the excellent example which shows us to Indians the power of Courts if they are easy to approach for the common people and speedy trial.

The other famous case is Cassijurah case – In this case Supreme Court forces came against the Forces of government regarding court case. The case involves the contempt proceedings against the Governor General and council who send forces to stop the Supreme Court forces. This case is landmark case as Supreme court and Executive, government came to fight with each other.

The government servants as well as English servants did not like the powers of Supreme Court, on the other hand majority Indians like the power of Supreme Court, which gave them justice against the Corrupt Government Indian as well as white officers of the company.

In the year 1777, the company directors complained about the working of courts in Calcutta in the England and demanded that the division of powers is required so that Court will not interfere in the working of government in India.

Consequently in the year 1780 House of Commons appointed a select committee known as the Touchet Committee to hold a through inquiry into the administration of justice in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

The committees report led to the passing of new act, the act of settlement 1781, to remove the doubts of the regulating act, to support the government and to safeguard the ancient laws and customs of Hindus and Muslims.

House of commons knew that this law will empower the Executive and this is what they wanted, because We As Indians should not forget that the Company just started their business and control of India ,in this case to increase that control over India , it was necessary that Executive becomes strong and powerful .

This act clearly said that Governor General and Council is not under Supreme Court.
No person will be liable to court if he acts on the order of Governor General or council.

It was again decided that Hindu and Muslim laws should be used for the communities.

Sadar Diwani Adalat got the status of court. - Revenue Matters, cases

Supreme Court was not allowed to hear any cases against the misconduct of any government working or adalatas.
The Supreme Court was not allowed to hear the revenue cases and this way Government as well as government employees got full freedom to rob the Indians.
Government Employees were also Indians.

This way Government became more powerful than the Courts. And Judiciary became secondary.

After the act of 1781 Supreme Court worked more for the next 8 years.

But that time Supreme Court was so successful that it was established in the Bombay and Madras.

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Tags - India Legal History Patna Case

Continued. -