Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
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Die Jovis, 25 Martii 1830.
The Lord President in the Chair.
The Honourable Mount Stuart Elphinstone is called in, and examined as follows:
You have been Governor of Bombay?
What other Situations have you held in India?
I was first Four Years Assistant to the Judge at Benares, and in the College in Bengal; I then went as Assistant Secretary to the Resident at Poonah; I then went as a sort of Political Assistant or Secretary with The Duke of Wellington; from that I was made Resident at Nagpoor, afterwards Acting Resident in Scindia's Camp, and then Envoy to Caubal; I was then Resident at Poonah, where I continued 'till the breaking out of the War with the Peishwa. I was Commissioner of the conquered Territory; and for the last Eight Years Governor of Bombay.
What are the several Modes of Revenue Settlement under the Presidency at Bombay?
In some few Parts Settlements are made with Proprietors of Tracts of Country; more commonly with the Heads of Villages, or with the Village Communities, or with the individual Cultivators. In some Instances Tracts of uncultivated Country are given in Farm to any People who will undertake to lay out their Capital in improving them.
So that there is no general System; but the Mode of collecting the Revenue is adapted to the Circumstances of the Country?
By whom is the Land Revenue collected?
There is a Collector and European Assistants in every District; under them there are Native Collectors, who have small Portions of the District; they have inferior Revenue Officers under them, who collect the Revenue from the Villages.
By whom is the Revenue directly paid to the Collectors?
Either by the Zemindars, when Tracts of Country are in the Hands of such Persons, or by the Villages, or by the individual Ryots, according to the Modes of Settlement, whether Zemindarry, or Mouzawary, or Ryotwary.
Does the Ryot in any Instance pay directly to the Collector, without paying through the Head of the Village?
Frequently, to the Collector or his Native Officer.
Do you give a Preference to either of those Modes of collecting the Revenue?
I do not think there is any material Difference. If the Rights of Individuals are well fixed, and there are Limits put to the Government Revenue, they are all equally good. But until a Survey has been made, when there is a good Collector, the Settlement with the individual Cultivators is best, because there is nothing between the Collector and the People - he sees into every thing; when there is a bad Collector, the Settlement with Villages or by Zemindars is best, because the Collector has least to do. When all is settled, I would give a Preference to the Settlement with the Heads of Villages, or small Zemindars, as tending to keep up the upper Class in the Country, which it is generally the Effect of our Institutions to break down.
In what Manner is the Land assessed?
It is assessed with reference to the Payments of former Years, and to the actual State of the Cultivation and of the Season. If the Cultivation has been increased, the Revenue is increased; if Land has been thrown up, it is diminished; and if it is a bad Season, Allowances are made for it.
In what Manner are the Payments in former Years ascertained?
They are recorded in the Collector's Books, and also in the Accounts of the Village.
Are those Accounts to be depended upon?
Those made after the Introduction of our Government, I think, are.
Has any Survey been made of the Country?
A Survey was in progress in Guzzerat, that had been commenced some Time before I went to the Government, and was nearly finished before I went away; and a more complete one was just commenced in the Deccan, with a view to a new and lighter Assessment, and to defining Tenures and fixing Boundaries.
Under this new Survey, is the Revenue assessed according to the real productive Power and Range of the Land?
That is done by Persons competent to form an Opinion upon that Subject?
A European Officer, carefully selected, is appointed to the Head of the Survey; he has under him different Classes of Natives of Experience; they consult with the Heads of Villages and with intelligent Ryots; and each Owner of a Field states his Arguments for a lighter Assessment, or represents any Peculiarity in the Circumstances of his Land.
The Assessment is fixed on each individual Field?
That is intended.
With regard to Land now uncultivated, in what Manner will that be assessed hereafter?
It was proposed that no Addition should be made on account of it; that when the Survey was completed an Agreement should be made with the Heads of Villages, that they might pay a fixed Amount for the Period of their Lease, which was to be a very long one. Nothing was to be levied upon new Land brought into Cultivation.
What was the proposed Length of that Lease?
First an experimental Lease for Five Years, then One for Thirty; and at the End of that Time no Alteration was to be made, unless some new and unexpected Ground was raised for it.
Is there at present any perpetual Settlement of the Revenue in any Part of the Territory under Bombay?
In no Part.
Is any Land held Rent-free?
Yes; there are several Descriptions of Land. Some is held for Military or other Service Rent-free. That is called Jaghire. Some is held on paying a Quit Rent, so light that it almost partakes of that Nature; and some is entirely exempt from all Payment of Revenue. That, in the Deccan, is called Enaum.
Has that Land which pays a small Quit Rent been given as a Reward for Services?
Probably it has.
And that called Enaum?
For Service, or a Mark of Favour, or for Religious or Charitable Purposes.
Has any Land been granted at a small Quit Rent by the British Government?
I do not know that any has been granted at a Quit Rent, but some has been granted Rent-free.
Is the Land under those Three Descriptions of any considerable Extent?
Yes, it is.
On Failure of Heirs the Jaghires revert to the Government, do they not?
Yes, they do; they are resumable even on the Death of the Proprietor.
Does that Land which pays a small Quit Rent revert to the Government?
On Failure of Heirs only. It is like private Property in England.
So that the Proprietor has not the Power either of selling it or of leaving it by Will?
The Proprietor cannot sell it without the Permission of the Government, under the Native Governments; under ours, I do not think the Disposal of it is interfered with.
On what Tenure is that Land held which does pay Revenue?
There are different Opinions as to the Tenure. Some suppose that the whole of the Land is private Property; others, that it is held on a Right of Occupancy, and that while the Rent or Tax is paid to the Government the Holder must not be dispossessed. But it is a Property of very little Importance, as the Government has the Power of taking what Share it pleases of the Proceeds; and for these Reasons the Words "Rent" and "Tax" are indiscriminately used. There is a Description of Land on which the Tax ought not to be raised, or only under particular Circumstances; but this Privilege has been rendered almost nugatory by some Practices of the Native Governments.
They have been used synonymously in your late Answers, in which you spoke of Land Rent-free?
What other Sources of Revenue are there besides the Land Tax?
The Sea Customs; the Transit Duties; the Town Duties; the Stamps; the Tax on Spirituous Liquors; and some others of less Importance.
Do the Transit Duties materially interfere with the Internal Commerce of the Country?
In some Parts of the Country they do. In our latest Acquisitions they have been kept on the Native System, where the Duty is levied almost at every Stage, and that must of course very much impede the Communication.
What is the System on which they are levied in the more ancient Territories?
Under Bombay I think they are almost all on the same System, except in Ahmedabad, a District of Guzzerat, where they are levied on passing the Frontier and on entering the City only.
Are the Transit Duties collected or farmed?
They are sometimes collected and sometimes farmed. The farming is considered as a preferable Mode, because there is a Competition among the Farmers to give little Vexation, to levy light Duties, so as to draw People on to their Roads.
Do those who are called upon to pay Transit Duties in any Case contract with the Farmer?
They do. It is a Trade in some Parts of the Country. These People contract with the Farmer, and give Passports to Merchants to carry their Goods without being stopped at all.
Under which System have you collected most Revenue; under the farming or under the collecting System of Transit Duties?
I am not able to say; probably the farming.
Has the farming System been extended of late?
I rather think it has.
Is there any Duty which you can suggest as a Substitute for those Transit Duties?
There was a Plan, just before I left Bombay, for lessening the Transit Duties; and the Loss was to be made up by an Increase of the Sea Customs, and I think by an increased Tax on Salt, but I am not quite positive.
State the Circumstances under which the Salt Tax is collected in Bombay?
Until this Proposal, I am not certain that there was a Salt Tax at Bombay. Some of the Salt Pans belong to Government, and were granted to People who paid a Rent for them. There was no general System like that in Bengal.
Would it be practicable to increase the Duty on Salt?
I think it might. The Land Assessment is so heavy at present that it is not desirable to increase any Tax that bears on that Class; but the Consumption of Salt reaches many whom the Land Revenue does not, and it is partly drawn from Foreign Countries where our Salt is consumed.
Salt is exported from Bombay to the Malabar Coast, is it not?
More to the Interior, I believe.
State what appeared to you the particular Imperfections of the Revenue System, and any Means which have occurred to you of obviating them?
The principal Imperfections are, that the Assessment is too high, that it is fluctuating and uncertain, and that it bears almost entirely on the Agricultural Class.
This Fluctuation affects the Revenue more than the Individual, does it not?
A Farmer is never certain, at the Beginning of the Year, what he will have to pay, as it is settled every Year.
Not under the Lease you have referred to?
No. It was proposed that a Settlement in some degree permanent should be made, so that there should be no Fluctuation, and as the Country improved, the Assessment, which is now heavy, would become light, and as Consumption increased there would be other Objects for Taxation besides the Land.
The Population under Bombay is at present principally Agricultural, is it not?
By far the greater Proportion is Agricultural.
Is there any Class untaxed, from which, in your Opinion, any considerable Revenue could be obtained?
Some of the Inhabitants within Towns are untaxed, and the Owners of Rent-free Land are almost entirely untaxed; but it is extremely difficult to devise any Means by which they could be taxed, without the Tax falling on the Classes who are already sufficiently heavily burthened.
How were the Mahratta Countries governed before their Conquest?
The Country was divided into Districts, which were farmed to the highest Bidder; he sub-let them in small Portions to Underrenters; and the whole of the Government, Civil, Military and Judicial, was in the Hands of these Farmers.
Are you acquainted with the Mode of Management of the Native Governments in any other Part of India?
Those I have seen most of, the Nizam's, Scindia's and the Rajah of Berar's, were governed on nearly the same Plan with the Peishwa's. There are some small States who do not farm the Land, but make a Settlement of the Revenue on equitable Principles, and they are very flourishing.
What States are those?
Some of the smaller States in Malwa, Kotah and Bopaul, probably, and even some of the Jaghires that are held under us.
Under what Officers is the Police of the Bombay Presidency?
It is under the Collector, and the same Chain of Revenue Officers, down to the Police, that the Revenue is.
Who is at the Head of the Police of the Village?
The Head of the Village is the Head of the Police, and under him there is a Village Watchman, who has a Grant of Land, or rather his Family have a Grant of Land, for which they are bound to supply a Member, and they generally take it in rotation.
Is there any Police Establishment except that hereditary Head of Police of the Villages?
There is a very considerable Establishment of hired Peons.
How is that Establishment regulated and officered?
It is different in different Districts. It is something like a Military Arrangement; they all wear an Uniform, and have Officers of different Ranks, and some nearly approach to the System pursued in regular Corps.
Is it an efficient Police?
Considering the Nature of the Country, which is very full of Hills and Woods, and Places where Robbers can find Refuge, it is good; but there is a great Want of Public Spirit in the People, and they are afraid of accusing Robbers lest they should be acquitted, and they might be in danger from their Violence afterwards.
Would this Efficiency be increased by giving a higher Pay and a greater Number of Officers to the Police?
No doubt it would.
Would it not with the same Number be more efficient if it was constituted in a better Manner?
I should think it would, no doubt.
In what Manner is Civil Justice administered in the Provinces under Bombay?
There is a Judge in each District, and under him there are a certain Number of Native Judges in Divisions of the District. An Appeal lies from the Native Judges to the European Judge, and from him to the Court called the Sudder Adawlut, from which an Appeal lies to The King in Council.
To what Extent can Native Judges try Causes?
Every Native Judge can try as far as 500 Rupees, £50; and the Amount may be increased, at the Recommendation of the European Judge, as far as 5.000 Rupees, or £500.
Has that Increase been permitted in many Cases?
I should think it had, in very many.
How have the Native Judges, upon the whole, been found to decide those Causes?
What are their Emoluments?
They vary according to the Extent of their Powers, from perhaps 200 to 500 Rupees a Month, which is from £200 to £500 a Year.
Are they paid by Fees in any Cases?
They are partly paid by a Salary and partly by Fees. No Fee was levied on any Cause under One hundred Rupees; but the Fee for those small Causes was paid by the Government, so as to make it the Interest of the Native Judge to try many Causes.
From what Class are the Native Judges taken?
From the middle Class of the People, who have been employed under former Native Governments. None of the higher Ranks are Native Judges.
Do any Means exist for the Education of Persons for such Employments?
There is a small College at Poonah where they may get some Instruction; but there is a very great Deficiency of Means for educating them. The Sudder Adawlut has frequently represented to the Government of Bombay, that the Knowledge of the Hindoo and Mohamedan Law is becoming extinct among the Natives, and that it is difficult to find Law Officers in consequence.
Have any Measures been adopted by the Government in consequence of those Representations?
Some Measures have been adopted, and others have been recommended to the Court of Directors. I rather think they have been acquiesced in since I left India.
Are Punchayets used in the Decision of Causes by the Native Judges?
They are used both by the Native Judges and by the Heads of Villages, who are empowered to call Punchayets for the Settlement of Disputes within their own Districts.
Are they used to a great Extent?
Not very great. They are used to a great Extent in the Southern Mahratta Country, but not in any other Part of the Presidency.
Are they used in Criminal as well as in Civil Cases?
What is the Nature of the Code of Regulations?
Except in the Criminal Branch, it is little more than a Collection of Rules for Procedure. The Law is still to be drawn from the Hindoo and Mohamedan Law Books or Traditions and Customs.
Have they materially altered the Mohamedan Law?
No; in Bombay they have not interfered with it at all.
The Mohamedan Law was not very prevalent in the Country under the Bombay Government, was it?
No, not to any Extent. The Prevalency of it has been diminished since the Conquest by the Mahrattas.
In what respect do the Regulations at Bombay differ from those in Bengal?
They are more lately made, and consequently there are fewer Regulations rescinded and altered, and the Code is much shorter. I believe the Process is more simple. Natives are more employed; the Native Prejudices, I think, are more attended to; and in the Criminal Branch an Attempt has been made to define Crimes and specify Punishments.
At what Period was that Code last published?
In 1827, just before my Departure. There are some minor Differences between it and the Bengal Code. An Admonition is made use of instead of an Oath, in examining Witnesses; there is no Limit to the Interest of Money; and there is no Imprisonment for Debt after a Person gives up his Property; and some other Things of less Consequence, which I believe do not exist in the Bengal Code. In some respects it is less advanced than the Bengal Code.
In what respects is it less advanced than the Bengal Code?
From the Country being a later Conquest, a great many Natives are exempted from the Jurisdiction of the Courts. Some of those Exemptions are carried further than it would be desirable to maintain permanently. Many Revenue Causes are excluded from the Jurisdiction of the Court, until some more accurate Knowledge shall be obtained about the Rights of the Government, and of Individuals in those Branches.
Have any Arrangements been made to form a Digest of Hindoo Laws and Customs under the Presidency of Bombay?
Yes; some Progress had been made in forming a Digest when I left India; but it will require great length of Time and Perseverance to complete it.
Was much practical Difficulty experienced in forming that Digest?
No practical Difficulty whatever, except in one Instance. Part of the Plan was, to inquire into the Customs of Castes, and that in the City of Surat excited great Alarm; the People shut up their Shops, and the Judge who was making the Inquiries was obliged to desist. The Natives conceived that it was intended to interfere with the Customs of their Castes, and not merely to inquire into them.
Are there any considerable Arrears of Civil Business in the Courts?
No, there are not.
Do the Natives appear to be generally satisfied with the Administration of Civil Justice?
They are perfectly satisfied with the Purity and Impartiality of it; but they are disgusted with the Forms and Delays. I think they have a Prejudice against our Administration of Justice, though it is certainly an unfounded one.
Is that Prejudice created by those Forms?
It is created by the Forms, which the Natives cannot see to be necessary for the Conduct of Judicial Business.
In point of fact, is the Administration of Civil Justice overloaded at present with Forms which you conceive to be unnecessary?
I do not think it is. The last Code of Regulations was formed with Attention to removing as much as possible all unnecessary Forms.
Do any particular Improvements occur to you as capable of being made in the Administration of Civil Justice in the Provinces?
The greatest Improvement would be, the Formation of a Code such as that already mentioned. At present the Regulations provide merely Rules for Procedure. The Judge is to administer the Hindoo Law. That is partly to be found in Books, and partly in local Customs, and Customs of Castes. When the Judge has a Point to ascertain, if it is a Point of Law, he is obliged to refer to a Law Officer, and the Decision must depend upon his Learning and Integrity. If it is a Point of Custom, he must examine Witnesses, and the Witnesses are subject to being influenced by Favour or Corruption. A Judge must also have to exercise his own Discretion in the Decision he gives; and as he judges on Principles different from those of the Natives, his Decisions, even when they are most correct, must often be unexpected to the Suitors. This must produce considerable Uncertainty and increased Litigation. The Remedy appears to be, the Formation of a Code; but a Code, if it is inapplicable to the State of Society, or inconsistent with established Usages, will produce much greater Confusion than it is intended to remedy. It is necessary, therefore, that it should be made very cautiously, and with Attention to the Usages that at present exist. The Steps taken at Bombay towards forming a Code were to appoint a Gentleman to inquire into the Customs of Castes; which was done in the Deccan in the course of Two or Three Years, and his Collection was published. Another Gentleman was employed to make a Selection from the Decisions of the Courts of Justice on Points that seemed most to contribute to the Formation of a Code. The same Gentleman made a Translation of One of the Hindoo Law Books, which had not already been translated. If those Collections were continued, at the End of a certain Time they would furnish a Body of Materials from which some Rules might be selected and formed into a Code, which would supply the Place of the Hindoo Law, and give as much Satisfaction as the present Mode of administering it, while it would be much clearer both to the People and the Judges.
Is Care taken, in the Selection of Europeans for the Situation of Judges, to select such Persons as possess a Knowledge of the Hindoo Laws and Customs?
Some Care is certainly taken; but it is inferred, that if they have risen in the Line they must have acquired a competent Knowledge of the Hindoo Law, or rather of the Customs.
They commence their Service in the Revenue Line usually, do they not?
It is thought the most expedient.
Having once entered the Judicial Line, are they usually retained in it?
Before the Measures you have spoken of were adopted, had the European Judges any Means of acquiring a Knowledge of the Hindoo Laws or Customs?
A considerable Number of Hindoo Law Books had been translated in Bengal by Mr. Colebrook and Sir William Jones and others, but I do not think the European Judges were much in the habit of studying them; they got the Hindoo Law from their Law Officers, and they were a good deal guided by their own Opinion. The Hindoo Law is so vague on many Points, that they are often obliged to exercise their own Discretion.
What Judicial Functions are executed by the Collectors of Revenue?
The Collector decides, in the first Instance, all Disputes connected with Land between Parties. An Appeal lies from him to the Judge. He is supposed to possess more Information about Land, and more Means of procuring Evidence, than the Judge could have.
Are the Appeals from the Collector to the Judge frequent?
I am not able to answer that Question.
How is Criminal Justice administered?
The Collector, as Magistrate, punishes Misdemeanors. The greater Offences are tried by the European Judge of the District, who can punish as far as Seven Years Imprisonment. Higher Offences are tried by a Judge of the Sudder Adawlut, who goes the Circuit. The Capital Offences require the Confirmation of the whole Court of Sudder Adawlut.
What Law is used in the Decision of Criminal Cases?
There has been an Attempt in the new Bombay Code to make Rules which shall apply to all Criminal Cases. Formerly the Hindoo Law was nominally resorted to, but it almost always left the Punishment to the Decision of the Judge; it was nearly arbitrary.
Are the Natives apparently satisfied with the Administration of Criminal Justice?
I think they are satisfied with it, as far as protecting Innocence; but they complain very much of its Inadequacy to punish Guilt. I am not certain that their Complaints are well founded, for their Notions of Justice are very summary, and they are not able to comprehend the Difficulties we find in Criminal Procedure.
Could Native Juries be used with Advantage in Civil or Criminal Justice?
I think they would tend very much to the Improvement of the People, by drawing their Attention to public Business, but I doubt whether they would promote the immediate Objects of obtaining either a speedy or an improved Administration of Justice.
Would they afford increased Facilities for the Discovery of Fraud, by the Examination of Witnesses on the Part of a Jury?
It would depend very much on the Class from which the Jury was selected. I do not think the Form of an English Jury the most desirable in which the Assistance of Natives could be afforded to European Judges.
In what Form do you think a Jury could be introduced?
I should doubt whether it would not be better to have a few Native Assessors rather than a Jury; that the Judge should have the Power of selecting a few well-informed Natives to sit with him as Assessors, he being responsible for the Decision. By the last Bombay Regulations, every Judge has a Power in all Cases of either assembling a Jury or calling in Assessors when he thinks it desirable.
Are you aware that that has been done in many Cases?
It had been so lately introduced when I left India, that I had not heard of it being done.
Would it be safe to oblige the Judge to abide by the Decision of the Jury or the Assessors as to the Facts they find?
I do not think it would. If I am to understand a Jury chosen and constituted as a Jury is here, it would be influenced by many Prejudices, and it would administer Justice much less satisfactorily than the same Class of People do in England.
Should you recommend that the Assessors of whom you have spoken should be selected for the Occasion, or that they should be permanently fixed in those Situations, and receive a Salary?
I think it would be better that they should be selected, because it has the Effect of employing and improving the Natives more; and as it was not known who was to be Assessor in each Cause, when he was appointed there would be less Room for Corruption.
What is the State of Native Education in Bombay?
The State of Native Education is very fully shewn in a Series of Reports, which were called for from the different Officers under the Government, in the Beginning of the Year 1824. My general Impression from them is, that as far as reading and writing go, though far from being so extensive as might be desired, it is creditable to the Natives, being carried on entirely by themselves; but in all the higher Branches of Education it is totally defective.
Could you suggest any Measure that will enable the Government to give a higher sort of Education to the Natives?
I laid a Plan before the Government of Bombay in December 1823, in which all the Means that seemed to me practicable for Education were suggested. What I proposed for the higher Branches was, the Institution of a College, the Employment of Two or more European Professors, the granting of Prizes to those who shewed most Proficiency on Examinations, and, above all, the giving certain Rewards to any European or Native who would produce a Translation of an English Book on Science, or an original Work on Science, in a Native Language.
Supposing such a System of Education to be established, will not Natives, in your Opinion, be elected to fill many higher Situations than they now fill under the Government, and fill them advantageously?
I think they would.
To what Extent do you apprehend, after the Completion of such a System, it would be possible to employ Natives?
The Progress would be very gradual; but the ultimate Result I apprehend might be, the making over all Civil Business to the Natives, retaining the Political and Military in the Hands of Europeans.
The Effect of the Perfection of this System to which you have alluded would be, the Establishment of a much cheaper Government, accompanied by a great Moral Improvement of the People?
So I conceive.
What are the highest Situations now held by Natives under that Government?
I do not recollect any higher than the principal Judicial and Revenue Officers, who get a Salary of 500 Rupees a Month. There were in the Deccan Dewans or Chief Officers under the Collector, who at one Time got as much as a Thousand Rupees a Month; but I rather think they have been reduced.
Do any particular Measures occur to you, for securing the Fitness and preserving the Integrity of Natives in Official Situations?
In their present State, a very strict Superintendence by Europeans; good Salaries, Rewards by Pensions or Jaghires after long and distinguished Employment; and, above all, good Education.
Do you conceive the Native Character to have been improved under our Government?
I cannot say that I have seen much Change in the Native Character. There certainly is, in some few of the educated Classes, greater Liberality, and greater Desire for Information, than there was formerly.
Upon the whole, do you conceive the Effect of our Government has been beneficial to the People?
I conceive it has certainly been beneficial. The Mogul Empire was broken up before the Introduction of our Power into India, and the whole Country was in the Hands of feeble Nabobs, or rapacious Mahrattas, in an extreme State of Misgovernment. We have put a stop to all external Invasion, and to all open Violence within our own Territories; and we have introduced a regular Administration of Justice, and a Government on fixed and rational Principles; all of which are great Benefits conferred on the Natives; but no doubt the Introduction of our Government has been attended also with very great Evils, as the Introduction of a Foreign Government always must be. It tends very much to level all Ranks; it withdraws a good deal of the Encouragement there was to Learning, and to Excellence of all sorts; and also, by the Destruction of the higher Class of Natives, it has diminished the Demand for many Indian Manufactures; the Europeans, who supply their Place, making use chiefly of Articles of their own Country, while the Importation from England of the Cloths and other Manufactures worn by the Natives themselves has supplanted the Manufactures of India.
Are there many Europeans resident in the Provinces under the Bombay Government?
Do you think that the general Prosperity of the Country, or the Moral Improvement of the People, would be advanced by the more general Residence of Europeans amongst them?
A more general Residence of Europeans would be certainly attended with great Advantages, if they carried Capital or Skill with them to India; but I think that any unrestricted Residence of Europeans in India would be productive of more Harm than Good.
Would not a greater Resort of Europeans to the Country tend to keep down the Native Population, and to prevent the Natives rising to the Possession of those Offices in which you think it would be desirable to place them?
I think it certainly would. If Europeans were allowed to go without Restraint to India, I think many would go at first, some without Capital, and others on Speculations which would soon reduce them to Poverty; that from the Compassion of their Countrymen in India, and their greater Fitness for Office, they would be introduced into Employments to which we have been of late endeavouring to introduce the Natives; and that if they formed Friendships with the Europeans in Power, which they have greater Means of doing than the Natives, they would get Advantages in other Ways.
So that the Elevation of the Native Character appears to be inconsistent with the more general Resort of Europeans to the Country?
Inconsistent with the unrestricted Resort; but I conceive that the Resort of Europeans might probably be extended without introducing any other than beneficial Results.
The greater the Number of Europeans in the Country, would not the Difficulties thrown in the Way of the Advancement of Natives be greater?
If none went to India but such as had Capital to employ in Commerce or Agriculture, no bad Effects would follow from their Residence. There would be some Competition, no doubt, between them and the Natives; but I think the Balance of Advantage would be greater than that of Disadvantage.
In your Opinion, would it be necessary to subject the Europeans residing in India to Restrictions, as well as to impose Restrictions on their Resort thither?
I do not know that any of the present Restrictions could be dispensed with. It would be sufficient if the Government had the Power of sending them out of the Country, and of sending them from one District to another, in case of their being guilty of any Oppression, or creating any great Disturbance in any particular District, as has happened sometimes. I am always supposing they are not so numerous as to form a very considerable Community in India. Such a Community would be very unruly, and very difficult to manage on the Part of a Government which must be always arbitrary in its Character. If there were a great Body of discontented Colonists, such as at the Cape for instance, I think their Clamours would probably weaken the Government very much with the Natives. Their Disagreements with the Natives would also be dangerous; and I think there would be a great Increase of the Feeling which there is now only among the lower Orders of Europeans in India, of Contempt and Dislike for Blacks. There would be a more marked Distinction between Blacks and Whites, as there is in all regular Colonies.
Where Differences arise between the Europeans residing in India and Natives, by what Court would they be tried in the Provinces?
At present, if the Differences are of small Consequence, they would be tried by the local Court; but if of great Consequence, the Cause would go to the Supreme Court at the Presidency.
Would a poor Native have the Power of prosecuting a European in the Supreme Courts?
No, a poor Native would not. The only Chance would be, the Government taking up the Prosecution, if it were a serious Matter.
If it were a Civil Case, in what Manner could the Native obtain his Rights?
I hardly think he could obtain his Rights at all, unless they could be afforded by the local Courts.
What is the present Condition of the Southern Mahratta Country?
Part of it is in the Hands of Government, like the other Districts; and the greater Part in the Hands of Jaghiredars, Chiefs of the Peishwa, to whom their Lands have been continued by the British Government.
Is that Part of the Southern Mahratta Country which is in the Hands of the Government governed like the rest of the Country subject to the Presidency of Bombay?
The Native Practice is continued more than it is in other Districts under the Presidency, and the Regulations have been less introduced.
Are the Revenue and Judicial Functions separate in the Southern Mahratta Country under our Government?
They are in some degree, but much less than in the other Provinces. There is no Judge stationed in the Southern Mahratta Country; the Judicial Proceedings are subject to the Revision of the Sudder Adawlut.
In what Relation do the Jaghiredars stand to the Government?
They are Subjects of the Government; but the Demands which the Government retain on them are fixed by Agreements which cannot now be altered. They consist of their furnishing a Body of Horse when called for, and perhaps some other Duties of less Consequence. They have a complete Jurisdiction within their own Territories, and the Power of Life and Death.
In what Condition are the Lands in those Jaghires?
They differ according to the Character of the individual Chief. There is one great Family, that of the Putwurdens, all the Members of which have kept their Jaghires in the highest State of Prosperity. Some again, such as Appa Dessye, have carried on the greatest Exactions and Oppressions in their Jaghires.
How are those Territories managed where the Administration is well conducted?
The Chief appoints Collectors of the Revenue, who have the Judicial Power, as usual under the Natives, but they are not Farmers; they have generally a light Assessment; and the Jaghire being small, the Chief is able to pay Attention to every Part of it, and to see that there are no great Abuses.
Are many of them in a State of great Prosperity?
Those of the Putwurdens are all in a State of great Prosperity.
Are they in a better State than our own Provinces?
Perhaps even in a better State than our own Provinces.
Is not the Assessment lower?
I should think it is lower.
Is it not usually under the Native Governments, when compared, very much lower than it is under the British Government?
That is not very easy to answer; for under the Native Governments the Rent or Tax fixed by the Government may be small, but there are a vast Number of Exactions in different Shapes which do not appear, and a great deal is embezzled by the Heads of Villages or other Agents of the Government. When our Government is introduced a stop is put to Exactions; but the Money formerly retained, though fraudulently, by the Heads of Villages and others, is all drawn to the Government, and the Assessment in consequence becomes really heavier on them.
Were not the Native Governments with which you were acquainted capable of preventing such Exactions?
What is the Condition of the small Tributary States connected with the Government of Bombay?
Those are chiefly in Guzzerat. In some of them the Tribute is due to the British Government only, in others, the British Government and the Guicowar, and in others, to the Guicowar alone, but collected through the Agency of the British Government. Owing to the local Calamities, to the Oppressions of the Guicowar before we took the Management of his Share into our own Hands, and to the Division of the Property among the junior Members of Families, I think they are generally in a bad State; a State of Decay and Decline.
Do any Means occur to you by which the State of those Countries could be improved by any more extensive or direct Intervention on our Part?
I think it is probable that a more direct Intervention would improve their Condition; but we are in a great measure tied up from exercising it, partly by our Agreements with the Chiefs themselves, and partly by the Relation they bear to the Guicowar.
Are all those Chiefs connected with the Guicowar; those of Kattiwar for instance?
About Half, perhaps; but they are so intermixed with those that are connected with the Guicowar that it is difficult to alter the System with them so long as the Guicowar's Tributaries remain in their present State.
By what Rule are Persons appointed to Office under the several Presidencies?
By Seniority in their Line, with Attention to Fitness, where there is any thing peculiar in the Appointment. There is of course very little Room for Selection.
When the Number of Persons from whom the Selection is to be made is considered, and the Rule by which they are ordinarily promoted to Office, does the Discretion left to the Government enable it on all Occasions to place in Situations of the first Power and Responsibility Persons in whom it can place Confidence?
Certainly not always such Persons as it would desire.
Will you state any Advantages which in your Opinion appear to attach to that System of Appointment made by Seniority?
I do not know that there is so much any Advantage that arises from that, as that it would be impossible to conduct a regular Service without it. It would be impossible to get well-educated Persons to go to India on the Chance of getting Appointments according to their Merits, without a Rise that is in some measure certain.
Is there any other Restriction, excepting the Act of Parliament, on the Choice by Government of the Servants to be employed?
The Act of Parliament restrains the Government from giving an Appointment of a certain Value to an Individual who has not been a certain Number of Years in the Service; but it does not impose on the Government the Obligation of giving the Appointment to a Person who has been so many Years?
No, the Act of Parliament does not; but it is of course expected by every one to whom there is no Objection, that he shall get an Appointment proportioned to his Standing.
The Effect of the Restriction in the Act of Parliament is greatly to limit the Number of Persons from whom the Individuals can be chosen to occupy high Situations?
It does not limit it so much in Practice; for when a Man is near the Time when he would be entitled to hold an Office he gets an Appointment, but without the full Salary.
To what Extent have Military Officers been employed in Civil Situations?
During the Provisional Government in the Deccan they were very generally employed in Civil Situations, and they have in One or Two Instances been employed in the Revenue Department under Bombay.
With reference to the Employment of Military Officers, there is no Limitation in point of the Number of Years Service, is there?
No. The Employment of Military Servants in Civil Appointments is in some measure irregular, and no Notice is taken of it in any Rules for Promotion.
Would it in your Opinion be advantageous to employ them more extensively, thus enlarging the Number of Persons from whom a Selection for those Situations may be made?
I think in the Political Line they may be employed indiscriminately with Civil Servants. In the Civil Department I think it would not be desirable to employ them without special Reasons, for it would render the Civil Service so insecure that properly educated Persons would not be disposed to enter it. Provided there was a sufficient Number of Appointments left for all the Civil Servants, there would be no Objection.
When a Military Officer has been employed for any Time in a Civil Situation, is he replaced in his Regiment?
No, he is not; he is still borne on the Strength of his Regiment.
Therefore the Number of Officers present with their Regiments is diminished in proportion to the Number of Officers employed in the Civil Service?
Yes; but the Number of Military Officers employed in the Civil Service has not been so great, I believe, as to affect the Efficiency of the Army.
How are the Civil Servants at Bombay educated?
They receive an Education at the College at Hayleybury. In Calcutta and Madras there are Colleges where they receive a further Education in India. At Bombay there is no College; but they are subject to an Examination in the Native Languages before they are permitted to enter on any Appointment, and to a second Examination before they are promoted to the next Step in their Line. A great deal of their Education is acquired in the Course of their Duty, as they rise in the Service.
When they first arrive, are they retained at the Presidency, or sent at once into the Interior?
At Bombay they are sent into the Interior after they pass their first Examination, which is generally in Three or Four Months.
Might they not acquire in the Provinces the Knowledge necessary to enable them to pass even the first Examination?
I think they might.
Would it be advantageous to send them at once into the Provinces?
Yes, I think it would. There are not so many in Bombay as to occasion much Inconvenience from their being kept at One Place, and they are not in a College; but whenever there is a great Body of them together, I think it is always very injurious.
Has it been found practically, that the Civil Servants under the Presidency of Bombay, educated without a College, have been less efficient in the Performance of their Duties than the Civil Servants of the other Presidencies, educated at the Colleges?
I have had no Opportunity of comparing them; but I should say certainly not.
Do any Measures occur to you for the Improvement of the Education, either in England or in India, of the Civil Servants?
I think it would be better if in England their Attention was directed more to the Knowledge which could be acquired only here, than to Native Languages, that can be better learnt in India; particularly to Political Economy and the general Principles of Jurisprudence (not English Law, but general Jurisprudence.) Perhaps it would be better, if, instead of being confined to any one College, they were taken from any College where they could get a good Education, and subjected to a very strict Examination before they were sent out.
Do you think there is any Advantage in obliging Persons who are afterwards to take Civil Situations in India to acquire the Knowledge that would be requisite in India in a separate College?
I think not; this Mode I think may be subject to Disadvantages.
Will you state the Disadvantages that occur to you?
A great Body of young Men are brought together, without an Institution which has been long enough established to impress them with Respect, or to maintain Order amongst them. I think the Effect of that will be to make them more extravagant, and less subordinate than they would be if they were otherwise educated.
As many of the young Men sent out to India in the Civil Service are connected with Persons who have passed their Lives there, is not there a Disadvantage in keeping up a sort of Indian Caste, by educating them in the same College?
As far as that goes, it would be a Disadvantage; but I think the young Men from Hayleybury have generally a Prejudice against India and every Thing connected with it.
Under the Bombay Presidency, who is at the Head of the Judicial Department?
The Sudder Adawlut.
Is there not a Judicial Secretary?
There is a Judicial Secretary, but he is merely the Channel of Communication between the Government and the Judicial Authorities.
What are the Judicial Functions exercised by the Sudder Adawlut at the Head of the Judicial Department, beyond those of a Court of Appeal?
Returns of all Proceedings are sent to them, and they superintend all the Proceedings, and see that they are correct, and that the Regulations are conformed to.
Do they report on the Conduct of Judicial Officers?
I believe they do; I am not certain whether they do in their Civil Capacity; but the Judge of Circuit reports on the State of every District, and the Conduct of the Officers.
Do they make regular Reports to the Government on the general Subject of the Administration of Justice and the Management of Police?
I do not think they make any Report to the Government on the Civil Department, except sending in Returns of the Number of Causes filed and decided. The Judge of Circuit reports on the Police; and the Government consults the Sudder Adawlut on all Points connected with Judicial Business, whenever it thinks it necessary.
Does the Sudder Adawlut observe on the Administration of Justice by Individuals?
Who is at the Head of the Revenue Department?
There is nobody between the Government and the Collectors.
Has any practical Inconvenience been found to arise from the Absence of a Revenue Board?
No, I do not think that there has.
What are the Duties of the Accountant General?
He receives the Estimates from the Collectors of the probable Receipts for every Year, and also those of the Charges from the Departments of Expenditure, and frames a general Estimate for the Government, and suggests the Ways and Means for the Deficit. At the End of the Year he takes all the Accounts, and submits them to the Government. He corresponds with the Accountant General in Bengal on all Measures of Finance. In Bombay he is also at the Head of the Audit Department, but not at the other Presidencies.
Is it the Duty of the Accountant General, or any other Person, to report on the Propriety, on the Part of the Governor, of acceding to any proposed Increase of Charge or Diminution of Charge in any Department?
Cases are often referred to him, but it is by no means a general Rule; it is not prescribed as his particular Duty.
Is it the Duty of any Person on the Behalf of Government?
No. When any body is consulted it is the Accountant General.
Is the Increase of Charge which takes place in the different Departments of Government brought before the Government in a general Way, at stated Periods?
It is, at stated Periods. The Expences of the past Year and the immediately preceding Year are contrasted at the End of every Year of Account.
That is only done after the Increase of Charge has been already sanctioned?
After the Increase of Charge has been sanctioned, and has been for some Time in progress. The whole of the Expences of the Two Years are contrasted. There is no particular Review of new Expences, or the Effect of new Establishments.
What are the Duties of the Members of Council?
All Business that comes before the Government is submitted to them, and they give their Opinions upon it. They have no separate Duties.
No particular Part of the Duty of Government is delegated to them individually?
Has it been at any former Period?
It sometimes happens that one Member will be particularly acquainted with a Branch of Business that the others are not; the Commercial Department in particular; and in that Case the other Members generally defer to his Opinion. But it has never been, as in Bengal, where at one Time a particular Member of the Government was supposed to be at the Head of the Revenue Department, and another of the Judicial.
Have any Improvements occurred to you in the general Constitution of the Local Government?
Yes; some of the Powers of the Governor in relation to the Council require to be defined, and some of them increased.
Have the goodness to state in what respect?
When the Governor quits the Seat of Government it is at present by no means certain what the Intention of the Act of Parliament is as to the Powers he shall retain, and the Particulars on which he shall consult Members of Council, or act independently. That Point would require to be fixed. At present, he in Effect acts altogether independently. It would be better to leave him that Power, and also the Power of consulting the Council when he thinks it necessary.
When the Governor is at the Seat of Government, has he the Power of acting independently of his Council, and in what Cases?
He has the Power of acting in Cases of Importance. I forget the exact Expression of the Act of Parliament, but it seems meant that it shall be on rare Occasions, where the Safety of the Government would be endangered by an erroneous Decision. I think it would be advantageous if the Governor were allowed the same Latitude on all Occasions, as he always must be the responsible Person.
Has any practical Inconvenience been experienced from the Doubt which has been entertained with regard to the Exercise of that Power?
No serious Inconvenience. The Governor's Powers have been discussed; but there never was any Opposition that brought the Discussion to any serious Issue.
The Members of Council being usually Persons of high Character and long Standing in the Service, would it not be advantageous to delegate to them particular Functions in the Government, so that the Public might avail themselves of their Services to the fullest Extent?
If they were put at the Head of Departments, the Government remaining on its present Footing, each would be responsible for his own Department, and the Governor would be in a measure superseded; the Opinion of these Heads of the Departments in Council would then have much greater Weight than it has at present, and the Governor's Attention would be withdrawn from the Department committed to each Individual.
If that Power were distinctly given to the Governor of which you have spoken, of acting on all Occasions independent of his Council, might not in that Case the Services of the Members of Council, being personally responsible for the good Management of the Departments over which they presided, be usefully available for the Public Service?
I think the Head of a Department would be more effectually responsible if he were not a Member of Council.
If the Persons at the Head of the different Departments, the Judicial and the Financial, were not Members of Council, might not still the Advantages, whatever they may be, which are derived from the Members of Council, be still derived from those Individuals; might not their Opinion be required by the Governor on all Occasions of Importance, and recorded?
That might certainly be done, but it would not entirely supply the Place of the Council as it is at present constituted. As every Measure of Government must be submitted to the Council, and discussed, that would be no longer necessary under such a System as that referred to, if I have understood it properly.
The Difference would be this; that under the present System every Measure is submitted for Discussion, and under the System which has been spoken of only those Measures would be submitted for Discussion which were considered by the Governor to be of sufficient Importance to require it.
There is certainly very great Inconvenience and Loss of Time in the long Discussions there are on all Subjects at present; but I think, in so distant a Government, probably the Advantage is greater than the Evil.
Do you allude to the Advantage of knowing the Opinion of more than One Individual as to every Measure adopted by the Government?
That is perhaps the principal Advantage; but the Governor, knowing that every Measure he has to propose is to be immediately discussed, is obliged to mature it, and consider it more before he proposes it than he otherwise might do.
At present the Governor and the Members of the Council are all held to be equally responsible for every Act of the Government, however unimportant, are they not?
By Law, I believe they are, except in Cases where the Governor is empowered to interpose, under the Provisions I have before alluded to; but practically I imagine the Responsibility rests entirely with the Governor.
The Responsibility resting with the Governor, ought he not to have the Power of having his own Opinion adopted on all Occasions?
I conceive he ought.
Practically, every Measure of the Government comes before the Council?
Yes. No Proceeding can be undertaken without coming before the Council, unless in the Absence of the Governor, and then every Document is laid before the Council on his Return.
All Details are brought before the Council?
Is it possible for the Members of the Council to read all the Details that are brought before them?
In Bombay it is.
They are very voluminous, are they not?
In a Government of greater Extent, is it possible for the Members of the Council to read through the Documents which are brought before them?
I conceive quite impossible.
Does any Mode appear to you eligible by which the Government would be relieved from that minute Attention to Details?
I am not aware of any Manner in which it could, except by the Appointment of Boards, or of single Heads of Departments.
Does it occur to you that any Alterations could advantageously be made in the Relation at present existing between the supreme Government and the subordinate Presidencies?
I know no practical Inconvenience from the present Relation between the supreme Government and the other Governments; but I think it would be desirable that the supreme Government should not possess, what I believe it very seldom exercises, the Power of interfering in the internal Affairs of the other Presidencies, except in Cases that were likely to affect the general Interests. It is very necessary that the Relation of the Government and the Supreme Court should be defined in some Particulars.
Have the goodness to state in what Particulars?
At present no Servant of the Government acting under an Order is responsible to the Supreme Court for his Conduct. I should think it an Advantage, if the Government were allowed by an ex post facto Approbation to invest their Officers with the same Immunity.
If an Officer of the Government now acts by direct Order from the Government, he is, for that Act, exempted from the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?
Yes; but if he does it without a written Order he is not exempt; and I think the Court ought to have the Power of taking the Responsibility upon itself whenever it thinks proper. The Governor and Members of the Council are at present subject to the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in a great many Particulars, most of which I would not interfere with; but there are some on which I think a Limitation might be placed. The Supreme Court ought not to have the Power of summoning the Governor, or perhaps the Members of Council, as Witnesses, or to serve on Juries, which they have at present by Law; and some Provision ought perhaps to be made to protect the Governor against being subjected to the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and even liable to Imprisonment, upon totally groundless Charges of Felony and Treason. No Inconvenience has ever arisen from that Power possessed by the Supreme Court, but such a Case might occur; as a Native Power, or any Individual whose Object it was to degrade a Governor, might by a false Charge subject him to Confinement, with which I apprehend the Supreme Court would have no Discretion to dispense. There has been a great deal of Confusion arisen from the Supreme Court conceiving that it represents The King, and that the Governor does not. That might possibly be removed, if the Governor had a Commission from The King as well as from the Company, as the Commander in Chief has at present.
Can you state any Instances in which Europeans, or Servants of the Company, have been summoned before the Supreme Court for Oppression to Natives in the Provinces?
I remember at least One Prosecution by the Government of One of its own Servants, for Oppression to the Natives. I do not know that I recollect any other.
Has the Law on any Occasion been put in motion otherwise than by the Government?
I do not think it has. I have known an Instance of a Native resisting a Demand of a Collector, and contesting it in the Supreme Court, but not on the Ground of Oppression.
Was that permitted by the Supreme Court?
It was. The Case was not decided when I left Bombay. It was a Case in Salcette.
What Power of Legislation does the Government possess, if any, within the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?
It has Power to make Regulations for the internal Government of the Presidency, or the Seat of the Government, which shall not have Force until they have been registered by the Supreme Court.
If the Supreme Court should refuse to register on any Ground, has the Government any Remedy?
I do not know what Remedy it has, unless it be by Appeal to England: it has none in India.
Has it any by Appeal to England?
I should think not.
Practically, therefore, the Supreme Court has the Power of preventing any Legislation whatever within the Limits of its Jurisdiction?
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned 'till To-morrow, One o'Clock.