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Administration of Justice in Madras


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Administration of Justice in Madras

  2. 2. Third Period - From 1686 to 1726 • ADMIRALTY COURT• On August 9 1683, Charles II granted charter to the company to establish the courts which was to consist of person learned in the Civil law and two merchants appointed by the company. • Court got the power to hear and try cases related to the mercantile, maritime, trespass, injury and wrongs etc.
  3. 3. • Again on April 12, 1686 Charles II issued a new charter with same provisions. • Chief judge of the Admiralty Court was known as the Judge –Advocate. • In 1687 company sent from England Sir John Biggs a professional lawyer learned in civil law to act as the judge advocate of Admiralty Court. • After this the Governor and his Council stopped performing their Judicial Functions and the Admiralty Court bestowed justice in all cases civil, criminal as well as maritime.
  4. 4. • Sir Biggs Died in 1689 and Governor again took the charge of judicial function. • In 1692 the Company sent John Dolben as new judge advocate and in 1694 he was dismissed on the charge of taking bribes. • In 1696 company directed that members of the council should in succession serve as the judge advocate. • After William Fraser, a merchant was appointed as judge advocate later he resigned and no one was ready to become the judge advocate, so company made the court registrar the judge advocate.
  5. 5. • 1698 onwards, under the instructions of the company, the Governor and council started hearing appeals from the Admiralty court in cases involving less than 100 pagodas. • After 1704 admiralty court ceased to sit on regular basis.
  6. 6. Developments in Administration of Justice during this period. • The realisation of the need to shift from a “common” to a “civil” lawyer. • The Governor and his council relinquished their judicial functions which they had been exercising hitherto the charter of 1661 and ceased to sit as a court. This marked the separation of the Executive from the Judiciary.
  7. 7. • In 1683 the English Common Law was practically devoid of rules governing mercantile cases.
  8. 8. MAYOR’S COURT• The year 1688 saw the establishment of the Mayor’s Court in Madras as a part of the Madras Corporation, which came into existence on September 29, 1688. • The court was established under a Charter dated December 30, 1687 issued by the Company itself.
  9. 9. • The Mayor’ Court was to be a court of peace and its members (Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses) were justices of peace. • It was also a Court of Record. • Consisted of a Mayor, 12 Aldermen, 60 to 120 burgesses. • 12 Aldermen-3 Englishmen, 3 Hindus, 1 Frenchman, Portuguse-2, Jews and Armenians-3. • A reserve power was vested in the Governor and Council to remove anyMayor, Recorder, Aldermen, Burgess and appoint anyone in the vacancy so caused.
  10. 10. • In Civil cases-where the value exceeded 3 pagodas, in criminal cases where accused was given death sentence appeals from Mayor’s Court were allowed to go to Admiralty Court. • The Mayor’s Court dispensed justice according to the laws made by the Company and on the basis of justice, equity and good conscience. • Judges of the Mayor’s Court had little legal knowledge and a recorder was appointed by the Mayor and Aldermen to assist the Court.
  11. 11. • Sir Biggs appointed as the first Recorder. • This court was known as Mayors Court and was authorized to give the following punishmentsFines, amerciament*, imprisonment and corporal punishment. *punishment or penalty applied at the discretion of a court or other authority, as contrasted with a penalty predetermined by statute.
  12. 12. FATE OF CHOULTRY COURTS• After the Mayor’s Court came on the scene, the Choultry Court lost its importance and functioned as a court of petty jurisdiction trying offences and civil cases up to 2 pagodas. • On criminal cases it gave fines, imprisonment,pillory,whipping or slavery as punishment .
  13. 13. COMMON CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS• In the Initial years the Court was doubtful about his power to award the death sentence but in 1712, the Governor and the Council decided that it could award death sentence to natives only. • There was a lot of delay in trials and several prisoners were found to be confined to jail for too long.
  14. 14. • Though capital punishment was to be awarded by hanging some Indians were executed or whipped to death. • The governor and council had the power to stay a death sentence. • Piracy was a capital offence and punishable with death or banishment. • Robbery was punished with death. • Witchcraft was punished with fine and pillory.
  15. 15. • Forgery was to be punished with imprisonment and banishment. • Brahmins were not given death penalties in observance of the Hindu sentiments ;they were banished instead. • A principle called ‘benefit of clergy’ under the English Ecclesiastical Law was invoked by the Englishmen as defence in cases of manslaughter; the accused was branded on the hand and then discharged.
  16. 16. Drawbacks of Judicial System• • • • Justice not on any fixed legal rules The process of administering justice was slow Result was uncertain Presiding Authority’s notions of Justice were hardly based on any principles of law and equity • Mayor’s court was presided over by nonprofessional persons and personal prejudices and whims played important role • Lack of uniformity and consistency in the decisions
  17. 17. FUTURE OF THE JUDICIARY• The British Parliament enacted the Act of Settlement, 1781 . • The Act directed the application of personal laws for Hindus and Muslims in matters regarding inheritance, succession, caste, marriage, adoption and the like while English Law was applied to others and in all other causes. • Nandkumar’s case illustrates the anomalous character of the impact of the application of English law on the Indians and depicts the difficulties that arise .