04 April 2010

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Part 9 – Indian Legal History – Judicial Plan of Warren Hastings 1772 and 1774

Part 9 – Indian Legal History – Judicial Plan of Warren Hastings 1772 and 1774

Reality Views by sm -

Warren Hastings Administrative plan divided territory of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa into number of Districts.

In each District an English servant of the company was appointed as collector who was to be responsible for the collection of land revenue.


Establishment of Mofussil Diwani Adalat


As per Warren Hastings plan a Mofussil Diwani Adalat was established in every district with collector as the Judge. The court was authorized to decide all civil cases like disputes regarding properties, inheritance, marriage, caste, debts, disputed accounts, contracts, partnerships and demands of rent.


Where ever possible religious laws of Muslim as well as Hindus were followed and applied .E.g. Caste, marriage, inheritance etc.


As English servant who was appointed as Collector did not understand the religious laws , Kazis and Pundits were appointed to help him


The decisions of the Mofussil Diwani Adalat in cases up to Rs.500 were final.

8.Establishment of Small Cause Adalat –


As name says, this Adalat decided petty cases up to Rs. 10 .The Head farmer of the Pergunnah became the judge. This system was designed to save the traveling expenses of poor farmers, as they did not need to travel to the district place for justice.

10.Establishment of Mofussil Fozdari Adalat –


In every district a mofussil nizamat or fozdari adalat was established to try all criminal cases.


The adalat consisted of the Muslim kazi, mufti and moulvies.


The moulvies interpreted the Muslim law of crimes.


The Kazi and Mufti gave fatwa and render judgment.


In this adalat collector exercise general supervision over the Adalat, and saw that no corruption was made in the case. The judgment was given impartially.


This Fozdari adalat was not allowed to handle cases where punishment was death sentence or forfeiture of property of the accused. Such cases went to Sadar Nizamat Adalat for final orders.

17.Establishment of Sadar Adalats


 Firstly two courts were established namely Mofussil Diwani Adalat and Mofussil Fozdari Adalat over them 2 superior courts were established namely Sadar Diwani Adalat and Sadar Nizamat Adalat.


The sadar diwani adalat was consisted of Governor and members of the council and was to hear appeals from the mofussil diwani adalat in the cases over 500 Rs.


The first sitting of the Sadar Diwani adalat was held on the 17th March, 1773.


On each appeal fee of 5 percent was charged.


The appeals were to be filed in the Adalat within 2 months from the date of the judgment, decree given by the Mofussil Adalat.

23.Establishment of Sadar Nizamat Adalat –


Sadar Nizamat Adalat consisted of an Indian judge known as Daroga-i-adalat who was to be assisted by the chief Kazi, chief mufti and 3 moulvies. Nawab appointed all these persons as per the advice of Governor.


In case of death sentence, punishment death warrant was made by the Adalat and signed by the Nawab as the Head of Nizamat.


The governor and council supervised this adalat to control and reduce the corruption.


All cases were heard in the open court.


All courts were ordered to maintain registers and records.


Any case older than 12 years was not accepted.


District courts forwarded their records to the Sadar adalat


In civil cases when Plaintiff filed a case, defendant accused person was given only limited time to give answer and then examine the witness and give the decree, pass the final orders.


The plan tried to reduce the expenses of people.


With this plan law officers like kazis, muftis were given salaries.


Before this plan Judge charged the commission but this new plan abolished this law and introduced the Court fee system where fees went to Government.


After this plan and establishment of Courts for common Indians it became easy to approach the Judiciary.


Warren Hastings was very intelligent person; he purposefully did not take the full charge of Criminal justice system and kept the puppet Nizam alive.


He did not change the forms and when possible tried to show case that company respected the Nizam. Like Nizam got the power to sign the death sentence.


The other clever intelligent system Warren Hastings kept alive was that following Hindu laws for Hindus and Muslim laws for the Muslims.


In this plan collector got the many powers, collector was the administrator, tax collector, civil judge and supervisor over the criminal courts.


With this collectors got the unlimited powers and Warren Hastings knew this that collectors will become corrupt and he already told the company directors about this defect of this plan. The directors of the company understood the fear and reality of this plan.


In the year 1773, Company directed the Calcutta council to withdraw the collectors as they became very corrupt.


After this Calcutta Government introduced new plan for the collection of revenue and administration of Justice on November 23, 1773 and put it into force in the year 1774.

43.Plan of 1774 –


With this plan collectors were recalled from every district.


In place of Collector an Indian officer was appointed called as Diwan or amil.


Diwan got the power to collect the revenue as well as act as a judge in the Mofussil diwani adalat.


The territory of Bengal , Bihar and Orissa was divided into six divisions with their head quarters at Calcutta, Burdwan, Murshidabad , Dinajpore, Dacca and Patna


In each division many districts were created.


The complete Bihar came under the Patna Division


A provincial Council consisting of four or five English servants of the company were appointed in each division to supervise the collection of revenue and to hear appeals from the cases decided by the amil , the Indian diwan.


The appeals from this Provincial council were allowed if the case amount was more than Rs. 1000. The appeal went to Sadar Diwani Adalat.


This time also Warren Hastings new that the Provisional council will do the more harm and more corruption than the Collectors. Warren Hastings thought this plan as a temporary plan but Regulating act was passed in this time and Warren Hasting could not change the plan until year 1780

Continued - Read Next Part


Pooja,  April 13, 2010  

good post

DIMBESWAR BURMAN July 10, 2013  

We still owe to the judicial system brought by Warren Hastings.