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Modern History / British Administration

Judicial Administration in British India


    The judicial system during British India got evolved over a period of time. It was Warren Hastings, who introduced judicial system in India. He introduced the Jury system in place of trial by ordeal.

    Development of Judicial System during British India

    • Warren Hastings introduced the integrated regular courts.

    • Warren Hastings also introduced hierarchy of civil courts and hierarchy of criminal courts.
      • Lowest civil court was called Mofussil (regional or local) Diwani Adalat
      • Highest civil court was called Sadr Diwani (civil or revenue) Adalat (at Calcutta)
      • Lowest criminal court was called Nizamat (criminal) Adalat
      • Highest criminal court was called Sadr (highest) Nizamat Adalat (Calcutta)

    • Lord Cornwallis introduced Mobile courts. He also introduced Court of Records (annual publication of judgements).

    • William Bentinck constituted a Law Commission for the first time in 1833. Macaulay was being appointed as the chairman of the First Law Commission.

    • Codification of law was done by the First Law Commission.
      • Civil Procedure Code, 1859
      • Indian Penal Code, 1860
      • Criminal Procedure Code, 1861

    • William Bentinck made English as court language in place of Persian.

    • Lord Canning passed High Court Act in 1861. High Courts were set up in 1865. The High Courts that were first established, were Calcutta High Court, Bombay High Court and Madras High Court replacing Sadr Diwani and Sadr Nizamat Adalats. Indian judges were not given the power to prosecute a white person.

    • Lord Ripon introduced Ilbert Bill (1883-1884) to prosecute a white man by a black judge. White community of India staged an agitation and put pressure on British Parliament. Finally, Ilbert Bill was dropped.