04 July 2010

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Part 22 – Indian Legal History – British Citizens and Company Courts in India

Part 22 – Indian Legal History – British Citizens and Company Courts in India -
Reality Views by sm –
Sunday, July 04, 2010

In beginning when Company established the judicial system in their Presidencies British citizens were exempt from the jurisdiction of the company courts.

As per Regulating act British citizens were only subject to the Supreme Court of Judicature at Calcutta.

But in 1793 Cornwallis started to reform this situation in Bengal.
Cornwallis was also a British Person.
Cornwallis Prohibited British citizens from residing beyond ten miles of Calcutta unless they executed a bond placing themselves under the jurisdiction of the mofussil diwani adalats in cases up to Rs.500.
Cases where amount was more than 500 Rs. were tried in the Supreme Court of Calcutta.
Madras and Bengal adopted this same law in 1802 through Regulation XVIII and Regulation III of 1799.

The section 107th of charter act of 1813 stated that British Citizens staying, trading and holding immoveable property at a distance of more than ten miles from the presidency town were subject to the company courts brought against them by the native people.
But British citizens got special right regarding appeal to the Majestys courts.
But that court also followed the same company rules.

Again in 1814 Lord Hastings reformed the civil law.
Munsiffs and sadar ameens were not allowed to take cognizance of cases in which a British or European or American citizen were involved.
Only district court got the authority to take cognizance, try cases against the British, European or American citizens.

Again law was changed.

Regulation IV of 1827 gave power to the Sadar Ameens to take cognizance of cases in which Europeans were party. This was the law up to 1831.

In 1831, Lord William Bentinck changed the law and munsiffs and sadar ameens were forbidden to try cases involving British or European or American citizens.

The charter act of 1833 gave British Citizens right to stay in India and purchase property in India.

Section 85 of the charter act of 1833 said that it is the duty, obligation on the government to protect Indians from insult and outrage in their persons, properties, religion and opinions.

Macaulay the first law member of the government of India [1833] was of the opinion that the judicial system should be uniform as far as possible and that no distinction ought to be made between one class of people and another.

In 1836 Legislative council of India passed the passed which took away the right of British people to file appeal in the Majestys court which they enjoyed as per the charter act of 1813.

In 1839 again law was passed act III declared that no person by reason of place of birth or descent be exempt from the jurisdiction of the revenue courts or munsiffs courts.

In 1843 English people were also brought under the munsiffs courts.
Munsiffs courts Indians were judges and in sadar ameens also Indians were judges.

Regarding criminal justice also same type of reforms kept happening but very slowly.

Suggested Reading –

Part 23 – Indian Legal History – Small Causes Court and City Civil Court –


Swatantra July 04, 2010  

I like your sense of writing in depth about politics. And always leave with an enlightenment from your blog.

sm,  July 05, 2010  


Neha July 06, 2010  

nice one once again sm..hope this goes on and on :)

sm,  July 06, 2010