1 DECEMBER 1838, Page 13


Fnost a file of Calcutta newspapers and private correspondence, we have become acquainted with a case tried in the Supreme Court of Cal- cutta, before Sir J. P. GRANT, which, as far as we know, has not been alluded to in the English journals, but which it is inexpedient that the public of this country should remain ignorant of. We allude to the trial of Mr. OGILVY, an English gentleman, for manslaughter. A Iliudoo of distinction, PERTAVB CHUND, claimed extensive property, and privileges attached to it, in Burdwan, a district lying on the llooghly, half-way, as it appears from the map of Bengal, between Calcutta and Moorshedubad, or about sixty miles from the latter place. Towards the end of April, by the advice of his solicitor, Mr.

Liam DALRYMPLE SHAW, he proceeded to Culna, in Burdwan, for the purpose of collecting evidence in proof of his claims ; and a few days afterwards, was followed by Mr. SHAW, on whose professional advice he acted. On the t2d of May, PERTAU11, who called himself the Rajah of Burdwan, was staying with a numerous retinue, consist- ing of male servants armed, with some women and children, at Culna ; the entire party living in their boats on the river. It does not appear that the Rajah travelled in a manner uncommon to persons of his assumed rank in India. Neither is there the slightest evidence to prove that he intended, or had the means, to disturb the public peace. On the contrary, there is the distinct declaration of Mr. SHAW, the Rajah's solicitor, of Or. CHEEK, the Civil Surgeon of the district, and indeed of every witness examined, that there was not the slightest ap- pearance of rioting or disturbance. Mr. SHAW put himself in com- munication with the Darogah and Lazir, two native functionaries of Burdwan, and explained the cause and intent of the Rajah's visit. The Rajah himself saw the Nazir and Darogah ; and as his appear- ance in the town of Colla might possibly, as they intimated, create some commotion, he left off going there, abstained from all un- necessary intercourse with the people on shore, and even offered to send away any of his followers whom they might desire. On the night of the 2d of May, he and his attendants went to sleep in their boats, fancying themselves safe from molestation; but early the next morning, before daylight, they were fired upon from the banks of the river by a detachment of armed Sepoys. Three men were killed, two of them close by the Rajah ; others were wounded, and the Rajah himself escaped (though he was afterwards captured) by diving from his boat under the water, amidst shots fired at him from the banks. The Sepoys were commanded by Captain LITTLE, who acted under the direction of Mr. OGILVY, the Magistrate of Burdwan, and its il facto Governor. Mr. OGILVY, it appeared, had received official accounts from the Nazir and Darogah that the Rajah meditated a breach of the peace and the recovery of the property be claimed, not by process of law, but forcible measures. Neither the Darogah nor the Nazir could read or write. Mr. OGILVY instituted no inquiries as to the truth of the representations made to him ; and there can be little doubt, though the evidence on thi fact is not conclusive, that he received and disregarded two letters sent to him by Mr. SHAW, which would have instructed him in the real facts of the case. But the Rajah, some time before, had been sentenced to six months' imprison- ment for raising a disturbance ; and, apprehending similar or worse cons9aences from his present movements, Mr. OGILVY felt himself justified in ordering his arrest by force, in case any resistance should be made. Ile directed Captain Lana: to take him "dead or alive." The evidence as to the occurrences on the bank of the river is con- tradictory. Several native witnesses swore that before any cull to sur- render had been made to the Rajah, Mr. OG/LVY gave the word " to fire ; " that he "pushed on the Sepoys" to fire, and seized a musket himself and discharged it at the sleeping servants of the Rajah. It was also stated that he fired two pistols; but this evidence was contradicted. Not only Mr. OGILVY himself denies having ordered the troops to fire, but Captain LITTLE declared that he received no such orders. According to the Captain's account, he commanded two Sepoys to fire in the air ; and by mistake the whole line of Sepoys then. discharged their pieces, but not in the air. The Captain im- mediately afterwards ordered the bugles to sound "cease firing." Such are the main facts ; to which Sir J. P. GRANT, in his charge, seems to have given at least as favourable a colouring for the prisoner as they would bear. He told the Jury that Mr. OGILVY'S crime, if he were guilty at all, was murder, not manslaughter, of which be was

accused ; and warned them that the all-important fact, whether Mr. OGILVY gave the word to fire or not, rested on the evidence of natives on whose minds, it was well known, " veracity" had a "slight hold," and on that of British officers, who might be entirely believed. The

Magistrate, he said, was justified in acting on the official reports he had received, even although it should turn out that those representa-

tions were false and their authors petjured. The order to apprehend

the Rajah "dead or alive," was " extremely foolish and ill-considered ; " and, "if acted upon," would have made the prisoner guilty of murder ; because " no person had a right to take the life of another when be is

pursuing him for the purpose of apprehending him on a charge of misdemeanour."

The question then as put to the jury was in fact this—will you find Mr. OGILVY guilty of murder, on the evidence of native witnesses,

contradicted by British officers ? The Jury acquitted the prisoner ; and It is difficult to see how they could have given a different verdict, under the Judge's direction. There are several reflections arising out of the proceedings de- tailed.

First, as to the Judge's charge. No doubt, Sir JOHN GRANT'S law was sound, as far as it suited him to expound it. Had it been conclusively proved that Mr. Oolt.vs- gave orders to fire, or fired him-

self, on the Rajah's party, his duty being only to arrest a person sus- pected of an intent to commit a misdemeanour, he must have been

found guilty of murder : but be was only charged with manslaughter, and though the evidence fell short of that requisite to prove a case of murder, it might have been sufficient to make out the minor offence. It does not appear that Sir JOHN GRANT directed the it ention of the Jury to this point. It was certain that Mr. OGILVY carrii d a loaded pistol, which many of the witnesses swear they saw him fire.

It was certain that he gave Captain LITTLE directions to take the

Rajah, "dead or alive ;" for that was stated by a British officer, Ensign MACLEAN. In pursuance of this unlawful command, death

ensued. So far there is no question as to the facts. Whether the homicide was caused by the individual act or the direct order of Mr. OGILVY, is doubtful, the evidence being contradictory on that point. But the Judge correctly laid down the law, that "if several are col- lected for an unlawful purpose, and that purpose is carried into effect, every man in that collection is liable for the act of each." It would be difficult to make out that the parties, whoever they were, by whose hands the sleeping Hindoos were slain, were not guilty of man- slaughter ; for they were assembled for "an unlawful purpose "—to take " dead or alive" a person charged only with a misdemeanour; and in pursuance thereof killed three men. Now Mr. OGILVY was one of the collection. It appears a quibble to pretend that his pur- pose was lawful, because it was only to apprehend the Rajah, since he set about accomplishing that purpose instil illegal manner. Whether the offence committed, would be in strict law manslaughter, we cannot undertake to pronounce. It was not justifiable homicide certainly; and there being no deadly or malicious intent, no jury would be per- suaded to call it murder. Innocent men were put to death, however, and in consequence, we must think, of Mr. OGILVY'S order; and his offence was certainly very like what was laid to his charge—man- slaughter. On this point, however, he is entitled to the benefit of his acquittal.

But mark—and this brings IN to the second point—the careless and precipitate manner in which the English magistrate, armed with such formidable powers, directed the military against the Rajah's unoffend- ing party. He never troubled himself to ascertain that there bad been a breach of the peace committed ; he paid no attention to most re- spectable evidence that none was intended ; he acted upon the contra- dicted statements of native officials, who might have been bribed by the Rajah's opponents in the lawsuit—one of whom is described as a powerful and ambitious man ; he arrested and imprisoned Mr. Suety, the Rajah's legal adviser ; and brought his soldlery, who are proved by their conduct in the affair to have been very deficient in discipline, into close collision with the Rajah and his sleeping attendants. Surely a person who could act in this reckless manner deserved at least a solemn warning and reproof from the Court : but read Judge GRANT'S speech to the prisoner after the verdict was delivered-

" You have met with a very long and very careful investigation of your case. Painful it must have been to one of your respectability, of your high and ancient family, and of your station in the service of your country, to have been brought to trial on a charge so serious, which, if true, would have subjected you to a severe and degrading punishment, and utter loss of reputa- tion. You have undergone the same trial, however, and it must be remem- bered, with no greater degree of favour, • or on the other hand of pressure against you, than would have been the lot of the meanest man brought here on a similar charge. I think it is fortunate for you, that the case has been brought forward, inasmuch as the verdict of this day will put. an end to all idle or malicious rumours of your having acted carelessly or maliciously."

We learn from private sources, as well as the Calcutta newspapers, that the charge and the speech of the Judge have given extreme dis- satisfaction to the natives. And this is not surprising. The Supreme Court has sanctioned the doctrine that an English Governor in India is not bound to inquire into the truth or falsehood of statements made by native functionaries, charged with habitual disregard of truth by the very Judge who utters the dictum,—but is justified in acting upon them, even though the death of innocent persons may ensue. This Mr. OGIL%Y, whose conduct, even on the showing of his own syn. nesses, was hasty, reckless, and presumptuous, goes back to his statton in Burdwan, with a panegyric from the Court, instead of the lecture he deserved. It is hardly creditable to the Supreme Government that be is not superseded. His unfitness for the delicate and important duties he is bound to discharge was manifested by his expedition to Calm. The exasperation of the natives against him is natural and bitter.

• Mr. Octrvv, however, was not sent to prison, but held to bail. On the trial, he was allowed a chair {II the dock, and afterwards temoved to a seat near his cow sal, on a plea of ill health; while the Rajah Pertaub Chiliad, though in custody only on a charge ofmisdemeanour, was kept in the condemned cell, not allowed to see any friend., and treated with all the greatest unhguity.