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
• 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.
• 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
• 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.
• 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
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.
• In 1683 the English Common Law was
practically devoid of rules governing
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
• 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
• 12 Aldermen-3 Englishmen, 3
Hindus, 1 Frenchman, Portuguse-2, Jews and
• A reserve power was vested in the Governor and
Council to remove anyMayor, Recorder, Aldermen, Burgess and appoint
anyone in the vacancy so caused.
• 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.
• 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 or penalty applied at the discretion of a court or
other authority, as contrasted with a penalty predetermined
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
• On criminal cases it gave
fines, imprisonment,pillory,whipping or
slavery as punishment .
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
• There was a lot of delay in trials and several
prisoners were found to be confined to jail for
• Though capital punishment was to be awarded by
hanging some Indians were executed or whipped to
• The governor and council had the power to stay a
• Piracy was a capital offence and punishable with
death or banishment.
• Robbery was punished with death.
• Witchcraft was punished with fine and pillory.
• Forgery was to be punished with imprisonment
• Brahmins were not given death penalties in
observance of the Hindu sentiments ;they were
• 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
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
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