Indian Legal And Constitutional History

The Governor Generalship of Lord Cornwallis which extended from 1786 to creative constitutes a really singular and a extremely originative period in Indian Legal History.

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He introduced for the first clip the rule of disposal harmonizing to jurisprudence. The Adalat System left behind by him won congratulations and eulogy from all quarters. The system introduced envisaged a division of gross and judicial maps and their vesting in distinguishable officials. Cornwallis introduced alterations in the judicial system thrice: foremost, in 1787 ; so in 1790 and, eventually, in 1793. By the clip he left India, he had exhaustively reorganized the judicial system, both civil and condemnable, in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and placed it on an wholly new footing. He introduced for the first clip the rule of disposal harmonizing to jurisprudence. The Adalat system left behind by him won congratulations and eulogy. It enjoyed such a high topographic point in the regard of the people every bit good as the decision makers that it was adopted as the theoretical account for the judicial systems introduced subsequently in the States of Madras and Bombay.

Cornwallis received critical aid from others in his attempt to present legal reforms. William Jones, an expert on linguistic communications, translated bing Hindu and Muslim penal codifications into English so that they could be evaluated and applied by English-speaking Judgess. Cornwallis began in 1787 by giving limited condemnable judicial powers to the company ‘s gross aggregators, who already besides served as civil magistrates. He besides required them to describe on a regular basis on detainment times and sentences given. In 1790 the company took over the disposal of justness from the Nawab, and Cornwallis introduced a system of circuit tribunals with a superior Judges were drawn from the company ‘s European employees. These reforms besides included alterations to the penal codifications to get down harmonising the different codifications so in usage. By the clip of his going in 1793 his work on the penal codification, known in India as the Cornwallis Code, was well complete. One effect of the Cornwallis Code was that it, in consequence, institutionalised racism in the legal system. Cornwallis, in a mode non uncommon at the clip, believed that well-mannered gentlemen of European extraction were superior to others, including those that were the merchandise of assorted relationships in India. Of the latter, he wrote “ as on history of their coloring material & A ; extraction they are considered in this state as inferior to Europeans, I am of sentiment that those of them who possess the best abilities could non command that authorization and regard which is necessary in the due discharge of the responsibility of an officer. ” In 1791 he issued an order that “ No individual, the boy of a Native Indian, shall henceforth be appointed by this Court to Employment in the Civil, Military, or Marine Service of the Company. ” Cornwallis ‘s biographers, the Wick wires, besides observe that this institutionalization of the British as an elect category merely added another bed on top of the complex position hierarchy of caste and faith that existed in India at the clip. Cornwallis could non hold formalized these policies without the ( tacit or explicit ) understanding of the company ‘s managers and employees. Cornwallis ‘s attitude toward the lower categories did, nevertheless, include a benevolent and slightly paternalistic desire to better their status. He introduced statute law to protect native weavers who were sometimes forced into working at famishment rewards by unscrupulous company employees, outlawed child bondage, and established in 1791 a Sanskrit college for Hindus that is now the Government Sanskrit College in Benares. He besides established a batch in Calcutta that, in add-on to profiting the hapless by supplying a dependable criterion currency, was a precursor India ‘s modern currency.


The judicial strategy of 1781, introduced during Warren Hastings ‘s Governor-Generalship, envisaged a division of gross and judicial maps and their vesting in distinguishable officials. The tribunal of managers on 12th April 1786 directed the Cornwallis to enthrone in one individual the gross, judicial, and magisterial maps. Cornwallis followed the ordered and introduced program of 1787. In this program Cornwallis increased the wages of aggregators.

2nd He reduced the figure of Diwani territories from 36 to 23 and this made it possible to increase the wages of aggregators. The strategy was introduced through 2 Regulations.

First Regulation dealt with Revenue Administration and it was introduced on 8th June 1787. Second Regulation dealt with disposal of justness and it was enacted on 27 June 1787. In each territory a company ‘s English covenanted retainer was appointed as aggregator who will roll up gross every bit good as will make up one’s mind the all instances associating to gross. Collector besides worked as Judge in the territory Mofussil Diwani Adalat to make up one’s mind civil instances, sequence instances and land related instances like boundaries etc.

Gross Court was known as mal Adalat.Appeals from mal Adalat went to the Board of Revenue at Calcutta. And it eventually went to the Governor General.

Entreaties in the instances where affairs more than Rs. 1000/- went to the Sadar Diwani Adalat, where Governor General and council handled the instances.

Entreaty from Sadar Diwani Adalat went to the King in Council.

In each Adalat registrar was appointed as a low-level officer to assist aggregators.

Registrar was given power to manage decide instances up to rupees 200 and orders passed by him became valid when it were signed by the justice of Mofussil Adalat.

As a magistrate aggregator was authorized to seek and collar felons in junior-grade offenses. Court that met in Calcutta and had the power of reappraisal over circuit tribunal determinations.


The magistrate got power to hear the instances against the Englishmans who committed offenses against Indians, in this instance magistrate made enquiry and he felt that there is land for test, he would direct the Englishman accused to the Calcutta for test and if Indian plaintiff was hapless, the authorities paid all the disbursals of going to Calcutta. As magistrate, the aggregator was to collar felons and attempt and punish petit larceny offenses by bodily penalty non transcending 15 shots, or imprisonment non transcending 15 yearss.

All the Europeans, who were non British topic, were placed on the same terms as the Indians and were made conformable to the local fozdari adalats. The strategy of 1787 was a ex post facto measure, a singing dorsum of the pendulum, as respects the disposal of civil justness. In 1781, a progressive measure had been taken by manner of set uping separation between judicial and executive maps, but this singular accomplishment was annulled in 1787 when justness was made subservient to the demands of gross aggregation.


It was besides called as the Scheme of Criminal Judicature. This strategy had three limbs. At the lowest round of the ladder were the magistrates. Above them were the Circuits and the ultimate condemnable tribunal was the Sadar Nizamat Adalat. Everything was controlled by Nawab Reza Khan and who was non answerable to anyone. The wages of the condemnable tribunal Judgess were really low which encouraged them to acquire involved in the corruptness.

Low salaried unbroken honest and educated people off from this occupation and every corrupt adult male wanted to go the condemnable tribunal justice. Fozdari adalats did non give fast justness, it delayed the justness. Delayed justness encourages felons to make more offenses. As there existed no fright from the jurisprudence.

Cornwallis wanted to reform all this and introduced the new strategy on 3rd December 1790.

Main Features of the strategy of 1790:

1. Criminal justness system – transferred to English retainers from Muslim jurisprudence officers.

2. Muslim jurisprudence officers became advisers to the tribunal. Thus condemnable instances could be distinct rapidly.

3. Districts got the magistrates, above them were Courts of Circuit and above them was Sadar Nizamat Adalat.

4. Sadar Nizamat Adalat was shifted to Calcutta from Murshidabad and Nawab was divested of his control over the adalat.

5. In Sadar Adalat Governor General and council members sat as Judgess and Muslim jurisprudence officers helped them to understand the Muslim jurisprudence.

6. Mofussil Fozdari adalats were abolished and on their topographic point four tribunal of circuits were established.

7. All territories in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were arranged into four divisions of Patna, Calcutta, Murshidabad and Dacca.

8. Court of circuit was a moving tribunal and it travelled from territory to territory in the given division.

9. Court of Circuit consisted of 2 companies covenanted retainers and Muslim jurisprudence officers help them.

The new condemnable judicial system was inaugurated on January 1, 1791 and office of recollection was abolished which was created in the clip of Warren Hastings.

The wages of the condemnable tribunal Judgess were increased and first clip Governor General took the complete control of condemnable justness system Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

In 1792, company authorities sanctioned little amount as a payment to the prosecuting officers and informants who spent the yearss in tribunal of circuit for their journey to go to the tests.

The felons who completed the penalty, when came out of gaol they were paid money to keep themselves for a month.


In due class of clip, Cornwallis came to gain that there was no category of work forces who the authorities should watch with greater attention and watchfulness, and on whom the Regulations should hold stricter control than the aggregators. With clip the work load tribunal of circuits addition.

There was no proviso as such to oversee the aggregators, who got limitless powers. Even the prosecution informant had to come twice, one time when the magistrate held an enquiry at the clip of apprehension of the accused and one time once more when the test was held by the Circuit Courts. This therefore caused a batch of incommodiousness on the hapless people, and besides increased burden for the Circuit Courts.

Cornwallis understood the defects of the above strategies and He introduced the program of 1793.


The Scheme of 1793 was based on the undermentioned posits:

The supreme power should deprive itself of all intervention in the domain of disposal of justness except in the last resort as a tribunal of entreaty. The aggregator was to be divested of judicial power non merely in civil but even in gross instances.

In May 1793, the Cornwallis codification emerged as a legal codification, stand foring a digest of garrison eight ordinances. Drafter by Sir George Barlow ( 1762- 1864 ) , it included steps covering both civil and condemnable jurisprudence. In Bengal, the codification provided for the Governor-in Council to organize both the Sadar Diwani Adalat ( civil ) and Sadar Nizamat Adalat ( Criminal ) . In 1801, these appellant responsibilities were transferred from the executive to the Supreme Court of Calcutta. The Cornwallis codification further established four Provincial Courts of Appeal located in Calcutta, Murshidabad, Dacca and Patna. Provincial tribunals were farther developed in 1795 at Benares and in 1803 at Bareilly. These tribunals handled instances on entreaty from the District Courts of Bengal to forestall overloading the Sadar Diwani Adalat in Calcutta. Each Provincial tribunal accepted entreaties from six to nine District tribunals. They consisted of three English Judgess which were subsequently raised to 4. They provided original justness in the instance of condemnable tests. Within the territory, the Zilla tribunal system provided primary civil justness and the Nizamat Adalat for condemnable instances of the first case. With these systematic developments, the aggregator gave up his judicial responsibilities.

Cornwallis codification of 1793 farther removed the judicial responsibilities once held by the aggregator and passed them to the Diwani Adalat established in each territory it included guidelines for the appropriate for Hindu or Mohammedan Torahs.

In order to cut down the instance loads at the territory degree, committees dwelling of Indian functionaries were developed to hear instances non transcending 50 rupees in value.

The ordinance farther enacted that Judgess could transpose the sentences of mutilation and amputation awarded by the Jutwa of Mohammedan jurisprudence to hard labor for 7 old ages.

The Cornwallis codification provided for the assignment of Vakils or Indian advocates to function in the tribunals of civil court in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Sadar Diwani Adalat licensed the Hindu and Mohammedan advocates. When required, ‘Public Pleaders ‘ could be employed to stand for the authorities when it was a party. This step empowered the Governor General to name covenanted retainers of the company as justness of peace.

In 1793 the place of the jurisprudence officer developed within the judicial system, in Bengal and so subsequently in the other presidential terms. The jurisprudence officer advised Judgess of Zilla, metropolis tribunals, and Sadar tribunals of issues sing the personal jurisprudence of Hindu and Muslims.

In 1795, Lord Cornwallis revived a system of fees or stamp responsibilities on instances to deter the debut of frivolous instances in Bengal. The fee construction was farther enhanced in 1797.


Cornwallis ‘ reforms of 1793 were based on two basic posits of the British Constitutional Law, viz. , separation of the bench from the executive and the subjugation of the executive to judicial control. Cornwallis believed that no system could of all time effectual so long as its due executing depended entirely on the personal makings of the persons appointed to work it. The security of individual and belongings must be established by a system upheld by its ain built-in rules. Cornwallis devised a strategy of 1793 which, from all criterions and trials, constituted an keen system to afford protection to individual and belongings.

The subsequent alterations made in the adalat system introduced by Cornwallis were dictated largely by the practical demand to get by with the burden coming before the adalats. These alterations followed six chief lines of development.

First, the policy of upseting justness free of cost was negative within a short clip therefore strike harding out an of import dogma on which the system of 1793 was based.

Second, there was gradual development of the subsidiary bench below the territory adalat.

Third, the Indians bit by bit secured an progressively larger portion in the map of disposal to justness.

Fourthly, using the rule of separation of powers between the executive and the bench, the Sadar Adalats were separated from the executive and placed under separate Judgess.

Fifthly, the rule of separation was bit by bit negated at the lower degree in so far as the determination of gross affairs was handed over to the aggregators in class of clip.

Sixthly, bit by bit, the right of entreaty from the lower to the higher tribunals was curtailed.


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