INDIAN LAW ADMINIS TR A TioN. ' 15t5 October 1850.
Sra—In a letter signed "A Civilian of the North-west Provinces," 'pub- lished in your paper of the 6th current, there is such an evident intention of distracting the mind of the English public from the consideration of the abuses which are too well known by all residents in India to exist in the Company's Courts, that I am induced to send you a few lines in reply.
Your Indian correspondent seems to assert that India is not a British co- lony, and that they hold it in trust for the numerous races located therein. This idea is by no means new; it has been sedulously inculcated by some of the admirers of the East India Company, and assented to by some senti- mental politicians: but I deny that this trust has ever existed. Did Clive obtain the Dewanny of Bengal in trust for the native inhabitants, or for the benefit of the East India Company., and consequently of England? Were the North-west Provinces conquered for the native race, or to preserve the prefiminency of the British in India? The assertion is too puerile to waste words upon it. If, however, as is contended, the Ilindoos, from their being the most numerous, are entitled to the first place in the consideration of the governors, how does it happen that the law, as administered by this very Civilian and his fellows, is not founded on the basis of the Hindoo laws, but on that of the Mahotnetan f—for it must be always recollected that the Com- pany's Courts have no other guide but the dicta of the Mahometan law, ex- cept where the regulations of the Governor-General in Council define the• crime and punishment. With regard to the knowledge of the various languages spoken throughout India, I believe there can be no doubt but that fhe great majority of the Company's Judges are perfectly competent to decide cases which may have been alined in Hindostani or Urdfi, as it is now generally called ; but the at utility of that language is to be found in the North-west Provinces. In gal, there are many smtors who could not explain themselves in 1.1rdil ; and in Behar' where Hindee is spoken, many undoes would be as much puz- slea to speak that language as they would be to tell their tale in English. Amongst the Mussulmaun population-111dd is much more general, although it is rarely spoken purely by a native of LowerBene.al. If, however, the Company's servants have such a competent knowledge of the various languages spoken in their respective districts, how does it happen that the editor of the Friend of India; who never misses an opportunity of singing the praises of the Go- vernment of India, is constantly- appealing to that Government to take more stringent measures to insure that their servants should be able to converse with the natives in their own dialects?
Your correspondent asserts that the outcry against the "Black Acts" ema- nated from the lawyers of the Supreme (Queen's) Court of Calcutta : if he had been at the Presidency during last January, I think he would have scarcely ventured to make such an assertion. No doubt, Mr. Dickens published the first address against those acts; but he was urged to do so by many of the indigo-planters then at Calcutta ; and I can assure you that the feeling against these acts was most strong amongst all classes of Europeans,- and the public meeting held in the Town-hall, coupled with the memorial to Government, are sufficient witnesses to the truth of my assertion'. Those who know the apathy felt by all Europeans in India for all public matters, were astonished that so much feeling should have been exhibited. Were the indigo-planters of Tirhoot and Bengal, were the inhabitants of Moulmein and Bombay, so completely tinder the domination of a few lawyers in Calcutta as to take the steps they did to memorialize the Government against the obnoxious acts? One of the main objections to the jurisdiction of the Company's officers over Englishmen, is, however, yet to be stated. It is this. At present all the Com- pany's officers are removeable at the will and pleasure of the Government; and it is natural to suppose, where there islittle of what we call public opinion, that there would be but few checks over an arbitrary exercise of power, particularly if it happened to be agreeable to the Government. If we in England, where every action of a judge can be scanned with microscopic eye, think it neces- sary for our own personal liberty that judges should not be removed except for high crimes and misdemeanours proved against them, how much more necessary is it in India—where there are no newspapers reporting daily all that takes place in courts of justice, and where there is no efficient bar to check the judges in their career—that those who have to administer the laws should feel morally certain that their places and future prosperity do not de- pend upon their giving any particular decision. There is also a great want of a really effective Superior Court, which would act as a cheek upon the courts scattered through the country, as at present constituted. The Sudder Adawluts are too much swayed by cases of individual hardship, too ignorant of the necessity of laying down principles in deciding the cases before them, to constitute an efficient tribunal. It can scarcely be credited by English readers, that there is nothing to prevent a Governor-General from appointing the Secretary of the Government of India in its foreign department, or his private secretary, a judge of any of the Company's Courts; and there are many instances of men who have passed their lives in one department being selected to fill offices of a totally different nature in another department. Of the present members of the Sudder Adawluts, there are two who can scarcely be said to have any, even Indian, judicial training. I am aware that all Indian matters are as "caviare to the multitude" ; but I most sincerely trust that during the next three years the public of England may become enlightened as to the wants and necessities of India. With regard to the observations in your leading article, I wish to correct an error you have fallen into about the Magistrates of Calcutta. Major Birch, one of them, was deprived of his office by Lord Dalhousie; because it was proved in the Insolvent Court, to which he had resorted to free himself from his encumbrances, that he had borrowed money largely from some wealthy baboos of Calcutta who were within his jurisdiction. Mr. Hume, another of them, who is a barrister-at-law, is no-rt still acting, and has been promoted to the vacancy caused by Major Birch. Mr. Patton, a civilian, who although I have named him last was the chief, was removed by Lord Dalhousie, after a commission, in which to all outsiders it was proved that he had been guilty of great negligence in his office; but was forthwith ap- pointed to the office of judge in the Company's Courts in Burdwfin, where it WRS evident that his actions would not be so closely watched.
The subject is much too wide to include all in one letter, and therefore I