The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834

By B. B. Misra | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE ADMINISTRATION OF CIVIL JUSTICE

JUDICIAL BACKGROUND TO 1772

IN the early period of the Company's civil administration in Bengal, its scope was too limited. Up to 1757, when Nawab Mir Jafar granted the 24 Parganas on his accession to the throne of Murshidabad, it had been confined to the zamindari of Calcutta. There was no further addition until 1760, when Mir Kasim assigned to the English the three districts of Burdwan, Midnapur and Chittagong, and although the grant of the diwani in 1765 considerably increased the Company's responsibility, it continued, to all intents and purposes, to be exercised by the Nawab's men. It was not until 1772 that the Government of Bengal under Warren Hastings was first called upon to grapple with the crucial problems of civil administration through the agency of the Company's own servants. As this first crucial experiment was founded on the Mughal pattern of justice, we shall do well to review the form and character of that system which, Hastings considered, expressed the genius and temperament of the people and might well serve the purpose of his Government, if only restored to its original efficiency and vigour.


The Mughal System

Though founded essentially on the Quranic law, the Mughal government made no discrimination in distributing the benefits of civil justice. Administrative needs and considerations of policy dictated the expediency of conciliating the Hindus who constituted the bulk of the country's population. It granted complete freedom for the performance of their religious rites and the determination of civil suits according to their own law of inheritance, marriage and caste. The operation of the Muhammadan civil law was restricted to the Muslims. It was the Muhammadan criminal law that applied to both communities alike.

In keeping with this arrangement, the Mughal Emperor Akbar created two types of tribunal: the first under the qazi who administered Islamic law, both civil and criminal, and the second under the mir 'adl, a secular officer of Government, whose cognizance extended to suits and actions not specifically provided for by the religious laws of the two communities.

Qazi.--The office of qazi was an institution throughout the world

-220-

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The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I- The Supreme Government 17
  • Chapter II- The Central Secretariat 64
  • Chapter III- The Administration of Revenue 108
  • Chapter IV- The Settlement and Collection of Revenue 171
  • Chapter V- The Administration of Civil Justice 220
  • Chapter VI- The Administration of Criminal Justice and Police 298
  • Chapter VII- The Civil Service 378
  • Appendix Postal Communications 415
  • Bibliography 451
  • Index 460
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