Die Veneris, 19 Martii 1830.
The Lord President in the Chair.
Sir Alexander Johnston is called in, and makes the following
I was asked, on the former Day, whether I originated the
Measure of the Emancipation of the Slaves. Certainly I was
strongly in favour of it, but I cannot presume to say that it
originated with me; it originated with the People themselves; that
is to say, with the Jurymen who were Proprietors of Slaves. The
only Influence I had was from their knowing that they would stand
higher in my Opinion if they did it, and that I thought it would
be a popular Measure.
Have the goodness to state what were the prevailing Tenures of
Land in the Island of Ceylon?
The Tenures of Land in the Island of Ceylon are variously
modified; but I should think that one may distinctly classify them
under Three general Heads, without using any technical Names.
I will describe the Nature of them. The first are Lands that
belong completely to the Sovereign of the Country, and remain
under the Management of the Sovereign. The Second are Lands
which were originally granted by the Sovereign of the Country to
Individuals, upon the Condition that they were permanently to pay
a certain Portion of the Produce to whoever might be Sovereign.
As long as the Proprietors pay that Portion of the Produce they
may alienate those Lands in any way they please, either by Sale
during Life, or by Will after Death; or if no Will is made, the
Lands descend by Inheritance, whoever the Proprietor may be,
always paying that Proportion of the Produce which was the
original Condition on which the Lands were granted. The Third
are Lands which are granted by the Sovereign for the Time being,
for the Performance of specific Services, to Headmen of different
Districts, Chiefs of Districts, and others, for Services to be performed for the Sovereign of the Country. When the Person
holding Lands under such a Tenure dies, they immediately revert
to the Sovereign of the Country. They are attached to the Office;
they can neither be mortgaged nor alienated. Besides what have
been mentioned, the Government of Ceylon have large Tracts of
Country that are wholly uncultivated. They must have been
originally highly cultivated, but, in consequence of Change of
Circumstances, have been left desert and uncultivated.
There is no Description of Landholder that can be considered as
independent of the Government?
In no other Way than what I have described.
Can you state in what Proportion those Three different general
Heads of Tenure prevail in the Island of Ceylon?
No, I cannot, because I have not got the Statements that were
made out for me in the Year 1808, and again in the Year 1817.
I can procure others, if it is wished.
Can you state in what Mode the First Description of the Lands
you have mentioned, namely those that remain in the Possession
of the Sovereign, are administered for the Benefit of the
The Sovereign has them cultivated upon the most advantageous
Terms that he can procure; sometimes receiving an Half or a
Third, or less, of the Produce, according to the Condition he may
make; but that is quite uncertain, and depends on the Circumstances of the Country.
Granting Leases of them, or retaining them without Lease?
There is no regular Lease, technically speaking. Land is
generally held by the Natives under ancient Custom. Under the
Portuguese and the Dutch Government there were regular Registries
Are there Land Stewards employed for the Purpose of collecting
No; there are Native Officers employed under the Collectors,
who have different Denominations.
With respect to the Second Description of Lands, what is the
Form had recourse to by the Government for the Purpose of
securing that Portion of the Produce which is reserved?
They generally collect it through Renters. The Right of collecting the Government Share is sold to the highest Bidder. The
Government Share of a whole District is put up for Sale to any
Man who will purchase it, for One Year or Two Years, or whatever
the Term may be.
With respect to the Third Description of Tenure you have
described, is the Land resumable at Will from the Persons to whom
it has been granted by the Government?
As long as a Man holds the Office, so long he is entitled to the
Lands which are a Remuneration for the Duties of his Office; if
a Man misconducts himself, and is turned out of the Office, he loses
his Right to the Lands.
Have you had Occasion to observe under which of those Tenures
Land is most beneficially improved in the Island?
I should say under the Second.
The Rent in that Case cannot be increased?
It ought not to be increased; it has been sometimes increased,
but not usually, and it is looked upon as a Hardship if it is.
It is a Portion of the Produce; not a Proportion?
It is a Tenth or a Half of the Produce.
What is the Proportion?
That is difficult to say, for in some Places the Proprietors
commute with Government for a Money Payment; Government
receives its Share in Money. An Agreement may be made by
Government with the Proprietors, for a Year, that they will pay,
instead of a Tenth of the Produce, so much Money; that is
Is the Tenth understood to be the Proportion?
Not always; there are different Proportions. The exact Statement of these Proportions is in print, and the Proportions may be
seen by it.
Can you state on what that Difference depends?
No; it depends on the local Circumstances of each Province.
Those Circumstances are reported to Government by the Collector
of the District.
What is the Law of Succession with regard to Landed
In one Part of the Island it descends in equal Shares to Male
and Female, according to the Dutch Roman Law; in another Part
of the Island according to the Hindoo Law. In the Northern
Portion of the Island, containing Four or Five hundred thousand
Inhabitants, and in the Eastern Portion of the Island, near Trincomalee, the Hindoo Law prevails. Among the Cingalese of the
British Possessions, their Law has been so completely modified by
the Portuguese and Dutch Conquests, that it is the Dutch Roman
Law which prevails.
Have the Portuguese Inhabitants Possessions of their own?
There are Descendants from the original Portuguese. There is
scarcely any European Portuguese, but a great many Descendants
What is the Character of that Portuguese Population, as distinguished from the European and the Native?
Upon the whole their Character is very good, depending a great
deal upon the Efficiency and the Activity of their Priests, because
most of them are Catholics.
Has any Inconvenience arisen, that you are aware of, from the
Existence of that mixed Race in the Island, in the Relations in
which they stand, either towards the Government or the Native
I think not; quite the contrary; because I think they have,
from their Habits, much more Feeling in favour of the European
Government than they have in favour of the Natives of the
Country, and that they therefore are in that respect a Security to
the European Government.
Are they much employed in Offices?
Yes; a great many of the Writers in all the Public Offices are
descended from the Portuguese and the Dutch.
Are they numerous?
Where are those Lands in Ceylon which you have described as
being now uncultivated, but in former Years in a State of Cultivation?
The greatest Portion of them is in the Northern Part of the
Island, within the District called the Wanny.
If it were proposed to bring any Portion of that Land into
Cultivation, what is the Course the Government would pursue?
The Measure the Government would pursue is that which I took
the Liberty of recommending to the Government in 1809, and which
was carried into Effect by Lord Londonderry when I came to England in that Year; it is that of granting Lands in Perpetuity to
any Persons who would take and cultivate them.
Either to Natives or Europeans?
Yes, to both. The Government could have granted Lands in
Perpetuity to Natives, but not to Europeans, before the Year 1809;
for before that Period the very same Restriction that applied to
Europeans holding Lands in Perpetuity in the Company's Possessions
in India applied to them in those which had originally been the
Company's Possession, but which had afterwards become the
King's Possession, in Ceylon. That Restriction was taken off in
It is granted as a Freehold Estate, and not upon the Principle
of the Government retaining the Proprietorship of the Land?
As a Freehold Estate.
Nothing in the Shape of a Quit Rent?
Not, according to my original Plan. Whether it has since been
carried into Effect or not I cannot tell; but the Object which I had
in view was to induce Europeans by every possible Encouragement to introduce their Capital and Skill into the Country, which
I knew to be absolutely necessary for the Improvement of the
Country and the People.
Have they done so?
In One or Two Instances, I understand, the Government of
Ceylon have done so.
What Taxes were they to pay?
It will appear by the printed Proclamation, that that depended
on the Agreement between Government and the Parties to the
Grant; they were to be exempted from Taxes for a certain Period,
and then to pay, I think, the Tenth of the Produce.
Was the Land intended to be granted fertile?
The Land is very fertile; but in consequence of its having been
allowed to lie desert for a considerable Time, and in consequence of
what is called Jungle or Bush Wood having grown upon it, and a
Quantity of Water having settled in particular Parts of the Land,
it is at present unhealthy.
How many Years is it since it was cultivated?
It is at present hardly possible to say. I have lately instituted
an Inquiry into the Subject in the Asiatic Society of Literature. It
is a very interesting Subject in a literary Point of View.
How do they clear the Jungle?
They most commonly burn it; sometimes they cut it down.
They burn it because the Ashes make the best possible Manure.
Does it get up again soon?
Are the Manners of the Hindoo Population of Ceylon the same
as those of the Hindoo Population of India generally?
The Manners, Habits, Religion and Customs of the Hindoo
Inhabitants of the Northern Parts of the Island are very similar to
the Habits, Manners, Customs and Religion of the Inhabitants of
the Southern Peninsula of India.
Have you observed in them any Disposition to adopt the Customs
No, I have not, of late Years, in that Part of the Island.
They are more free from Prejudice than the Hindoos of the
Peninsula, are they not?
I should doubt very much whether they are.
Had any of them any Property?
Some of them were formerly People of considerable Property.
Had they any Inclination or Means of consuming British
Produce or Manufactures?
I should say that if their Property increased they would certainly
have such an Inclination.
They have a Taste for them, as far as they are within their
Yes, they have certainly a Taste for them. There is a Remark
which I must make, which is, that the Dutch and Portuguese
took much more Pains to spread their Tastes among many of
the People of Ceylon than the English have thought it necessary
to take to spread theirs amongst the People in the rest of
By what Measures?
By making the European Dress, the European Language, the
European Titles, Marks of Distinction amongst the Natives, and
associating in their Minds an Idea of Respect with that of European
Is Justice administered to the Europeans in Ceylon in a different
Way from that in which it is administered to the Natives?
No; since the Introduction of Trial by Jury, one uniform
System has prevailed.
An European would be subject to the Courts the same as a
Yes. The Chief and Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court are
Judges of the High Court of Appeal in Ceylon. This answers to
the Sudder Adawluts in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay, and is a
Court of Appeal from all the Provincial Courts in Ceylon. The
same System is administered in this Appellate Jurisdiction, called
the High Court of Appeal, to Natives, it being administered by the
same Men, as is administered in the Supreme Court to Europeans.
The Judges are bound to administer the same System in both
Do you consider the Half-caste as Europeans or Natives?
We always considered them as Natives; we were bound to do so
Was the Regulation which you alluded to on the former Day,
of Sir Thomas Munro, with respect to the Trial by Jury, founded
on that which was the actual Practice in Ceylon?
I do not know. I met Sir Thomas Munro in 1817. He seemed
to approve of the Jury System in Ceylon. On referring to a Letter
(which is now published in his Life) from him, dated at Madras, to
Lord Hastings, he distinctly states that he thinks the Natives are
the fittest Persons to be Jurors in Criminal Cases, and that they
ought to be so.
As you have read that Minute, and know the Practice in Ceylon,
how far does it conform to the Practice?
I have no Hesitation in believing that the Regulation, though
modified by local Circumstances, is founded on the Institutions of
Juries in Ceylon.
Was the Verdict of the Jury in the Cases in which they were
Yes, completely so; it was never interfered with.
An Appeal lay with respect to the Law?
No Appeal lay in Criminal Cases. If the Jury found a Prisoner
guilty, the Judge passed Sentence; but if it was a Case of Death,
there was a Reference to the Governor before the Sentence was
carried into Effect; and in a Case of Recommendation for Pardon,
it was sent Home to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to be
laid before His Majesty.
Are you at all acquainted with the Character of the Population
The Way in which I first became acquainted locally with the
Character of the Population of the Southern Peninsula of India,
was, that in the Year 1808 I proceeded by Land from Cape
Comorin, through the Provinces of Tinnivelly, Ramnad, Madura,
Trichinopoly, Tanjore and Arcot, to Madras, and back again, for
the express Purpose of having an Opportunity of observing the
Character of the People, and the Nature of the Judicial Establishments instituted by The East India Company in those Provinces;
and in order that I might, when I came to England, under a Commission from The Governor of Ceylon, in 1809, be able to state to
the late Lord Londonderry what Conclusions I drew from the Comparison of the Two Establishments, that of the Madras and that of
the Ceylon Government.
Was the Effect of that Examination to lead you to believe that
the Population of India were less fit to be trusted with the Functions
of Jurymen than those of Ceylon?
I thought they were just as fit, perhaps more fit, to be trusted
with the Rights of Jurymen than the Population of Ceylon, because,
generally speaking, they were better educated.
Did you present any Report to the Colonial Office upon that
As I came Home myself, I presented no formal Report. I
forget whether I wrote any private Letter to the Office. I had
constant personal Communication with it, and it was in consequence
of that Communication that the new Charter was made out. There
were many Points upon which Lord Londonderry wished me to
consult the present Lord President of Scotland, particularly on the
Subject of the Majority and Number of the Jury, which is different
in Ceylon from this Country. What passed was mostly in verbal
With respect to the Part of India to which your Observation
applied, was the Population chiefly Hindoo, or was there a considerable Proportion of it Mohamedan?
The greatest Portion were Hindoos.
In giving the Character which you have of the Population, do
you make any Distinction between the Hindoos and the Mussulman
Population, as to their Fitness for being Jurymen?
No. In Ceylon they appeared much the same as to their
Efficiency as Jurymen.
Did they appear the same as to Integrity?
Much the same, I think; I am not aware of any particular
Distinction. There is one thing I can say with reference both to
the Mohamedan and Hindoo Population, that I have invariably
found amongst the higher Classes of the Military Portion of the
Mohamedan Population a higher Sense of Honour than I have
found among the lower Classes of the Population of the Hindoos;
but I have also found precisely the same Thing among the higher
Classes of the Military Population of the Hindoos, such as the
Rajepoots; I have found amongst them Men that I would have
trusted with any thing. So I have among the higher Classes of
Did you feel any Difficulty in the working of that System of
Juries in Ceylon?
Were the Decisions of the Jurors ever applied to Civil Cases?
No, they were not, in Ceylon. My Reason for not applying them
to Civil Cases at first was, because before I did so I wanted to see
how the System worked in Criminal Cases; and because also, I
wanted, in the first Instance, to avoid making the Duties of Jurymen burthensome on the People of the Country, 'till I had made
them feel that it was an Honour to belong to the Class of Jurors;
but, on coming Home in 1818, it was my Intention to recommend
the Institution of Civil Juries and Grand Juries in Ceylon.
Have you any Institution in Ceylon similar to that of the
Punchayet in India?
I should think that Three or Four hundred Years ago the
System of Punchayet must have prevailed in Ceylon, as it did in
other Parts of India.
Was there any thing of the kind practically applied in the
Decision of Cases between the Natives, at the Time you introduced
the Trial by Jury?
They had a System of Arbitrations; they did not use the Word
Punchayet; they called it Arbitration, and made use of that
Word for it in Tamul which, if translated into English, means
In the Regulations of Sir Thomas Munro, he appears to
make the Verdict of a Majority binding; was that the Case in
It was. I am quite sure that if I had required Unanimity, and
had shut the Jurors up 'till they had come to an unanimous Determination, they would have had a perfect Dislike to the Institution;
they would have supposed that the Court had some View,
and wished to make them give an Opinion contrary to their own
The Manner was that of the Scotch?
It is. I went down to Scotland, and communicated with the
present Lord President, then Lord Justice Clerk, for Three Weeks
or a Month, on this Point. My Opinion upon the Subject was
confirmed by that Communication. When I came back to England,
it was recommended that the Ceylon Jury should decide by a
Majority, and that the Number of the Jury should depend upon
local Circnmstances; that it should be either Five or Seven or
Nine, or whatever Number might be thought advisable by the
Judges of the Court. Upon this the then Attorney or Solicitor
General, I am not sure which, objected to the Introduction of any
Modification of our Form of Jury, thinking that as our Jury was a
System that had been found to be the very best for Ages, it ought
to be introduced as it was. I thought that it would have put an
End to the Popularity of the whole Thing, if I introduced the
System as it was in England. Lord Londonderry, therefore, in a
Conversation with me as to what was to be done upon the Subject,
said, that as in Scotland it was by Majority the Jury decide, that
would be a very good Authority to make it the same in Ceylon;
and Lord Londonderry accordingly agreed to that and to the
Number of Thirteen, although not in accordance with the Opinion
of The Attorney General.
What Number of Jurymen are charged with the Prisoner?
Thirteen. The Court may summon, at Times, as many as from
Five to Six hundred, to prevent the Possibility either of their
being bribed or of their being overawed.
Had you ever had any Reason to suspect Corruption in the
Were you generally satisfied with their Verdicts?
Generally; I may say almost always.
How was the Trial conducted before the Jury?
In Ceylon the Public Prosecutor stands in the same Situation in
which the Public Prosecutor, The Lord Advocate, stands in Scotland.
The Prosecution is carried on on behalf of the Public. There is
no Grand Jury. The Prosecutor, who is The Advocate Fiscal,
states to the Court and the Jury the Circumstances of the Charge;
he states it in English, it being translated into the Language of
the Jury and the Prisoner. Of course he is bound to speak
deliberately, and to state the Fact clearly. Having stated his Case,
he calls his Witnesses to prove that Case; he examines those
Witnesses in the first Instance, or what is called in Chief, by an
Interpreter; the Interpretation being such, if the Jury does not
understand the Language of the Witness, as to convey what he
says to the Jury.
Did the Jury ever take a Part in the Examination of Witnesses?
Constantly: they asked Questions and made Notes, and were
very particular. When the Prosecutor had closed his Case, the
Prisoner stated his Defence. It was translated to the Judge into
English; and of course, if it was not delivered in the Language
which the Jury understood, it was translated to the Jury. When
the Prisoner had made his Defence, he called his Witnesses, who
were examined by him, if he pleased; or, if he preferred it, by a
Person, who, on my Recommendation, was appointed by Government to act as the Advocate for all Prisoners and Paupers. If
the Prisoner thought his Case was safer in the Hands of this
Public Officer, he made him examine his Witnesses. This Officer
was intended more for a Protection for Prisoners than for any
The Witnesses for the Prisoner were examined in the same
Way by the Jury?
Yes; and cross-examined by the Prosecutor. The whole Trial
was carried on in such Languages as were understood by the Jury,
by the Prisoner and by the Judge; the Judge taking Notes of the
Case, and the Jury also taking short Notes. When the Prosecutor
had finished examining his Witnesses, and the Prisoner had finished
examining his, then the Judge read over his Notes to the Jury,
the Jury correcting those Notes, if they thought the Judge had put
down any thing that had been misinterpreted to him. By correcting, I of course do not mean to say that they had any Right
actually to correct the Judge's Notes, but merely that if the Jury
thought there had been any Misinterpretation to the Judge, they
had a Right to tell the Judge so; and it was the Judge's Duty to
ascertain whether his Notes were or were not correct. It was a
great and salutary Check upon the Interpreters. I always wished
the Jury particularly to see that the whole Interpretation was
correct. When this was done, the Jury, if they had no Doubt
upon the Subject, at once delivered their Verdict, by saying, that
the Majority of them were of Opinion that the Prisoner was either
guilty or not guilty. If they had any Doubt, they retired to an
adjoining Room, and came back and gave their Opinion in Court.
Was Sentence passed immediately?
The Judge summed up?
Yes. All that he did was merely to read over his Notes, and
remark upon the Evidence, but not endeavour to enforce any
Opinion of his own upon their Minds. If there was any Question
of Law he wished to point out, he did so.
Did this summing up pass to the Jury through an Interpreter?
Always, if they were not English Europeans.
Did it appear to you that the Natives could be satisfactorily
examined through an Interpreter?
With the Jury to correct any Misinterpretation, I thought there
could be no Danger whatever.
Did not that depend upon your Belief that the Jury would
examine them accurately, though the Counsel might not?
I thought that the Danger of a false or mistaken Interpretation
was of course removed by Thirteen Natives sitting with me in
Court, who were most likely to be able to tell me if the Notes of
Evidence I read over to them were correct as to the Evidence
given by the Native Witnesses.
Did they appear very anxious to do their Duty?
Do you think that this Species of Trial would be applicable in
Civil Cases to most Places where they have been accustomed to
decide their Differences by means of Punchayet?
I should think so, for it is only an improved Description of
What is the Number of which a Punchayet consists?
Of Five; it comes from the Word Paunch, or Five.
As you have had a good deal of Practice in the Native Courts,
how far do you concur in the Opinion distinctly given to Lord
Hastings by Sir Thomas Munro, in the last Letter he wrote to
him, that no European was competent to examine the Native
That is expressing a more general Opinion upon this Subject
than I should venture to do. I should certainly say, that, generally
speaking, a Native was more competent than an European (if you
can get the fair unbiassed Opinion of the Native) to give his
Opinion upon a Point of Native Evidence. The great Difficulty
is to get at the unbiassed Opinion of a Native. Of course an
European who has been living with Natives many Years, generally
speaking, must be competent to examine them and weigh their
How is the Court of Appeal you spoke of composed?
It is composed of The Governor, the Chief and Puisne Justice,
who are the Two Judges of the Supreme Court, the Chief Secretary
of Government, and the Head of the Revenue Department. The
Chief Secretary of Government and the Head of the Revenue
Department are Two of the Civil Servants of His Majesty in
How is Justice administered in the Interior?
I do not know. At this Moment I believe it is under Discussion.
That has nothing to do with the Supreme Court. The Part of
the Interior called Kandy is kept entirely distinct. What the
System there at present is I am not aware.
You cannot speak to any Jurisdiction beyond the Supreme
I can speak to the whole of the Jurisdiction in the Maritime
Part of the Island, and in the whole of the Territory which the
British Government possessed before the Conquest of the Candian
Territories. The Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in Criminal
Matters extends over every Part of the British Dominions that
were British before the Conquest of the Candian Country. The
Supreme Court administers that Jurisdiction partly at Sessions held
at Colombo, and partly at Sessions held on Circuits made throughout
the ancient British Territories on the Island.
The Dutch were considerable Proprietors of Slaves, were they
Of Domestic Slaves.
Did they not agree, that after a certain Period all Slaves born
of their Slaves should be free?
Was that agreed to by the Dutch Gentlemen who formed the
It was, by the Dutch and other Proprietors who were Jurors in
every Part of the British Possessions.
That Example was imitated by all the others?
It was, by all the Proprietors of Domestic Slaves in Ceylon.
You are understood to have stated, that the Hindoos of Ceylon
were not disposed to adopt European Habits and Fashions?
I do not think they are indisposed, but they have not the
Do you think they were less disposed than the other Asiatic
Inhabitants of India?
I think they are more disposed than the Generality of the People
Do not you think that the Peculiarity of their Religious Creed,
and the Institution of Caste, has a very strong Tendency to indispose them to change?
I believe that Caste makes it more difficult to alter them than
would otherwise be the Case. The Idea of Caste has been
associated, for a long Time, in their Minds, with that of their
Religion. I do not think that it was originally so. I believe,
from what I have seen in the Books of the Buddists, that Caste in
India was, at first, merely a Political Division, much the same as
the Political Divisions of Society in Europe were in ancient Times;
but that some artful Politician united the Idea of Caste with
Religion, to make the Distinctions of Caste more permanent; and
that the early Distinctions of Society in India, from being united
with Religion, have been longer preserved than they were in
Do you think that the Hindoo Creed has a stronger Tendency
to keep those who were subject to it in a State of Ignorance than
the Mohamedan Creed?
No; I am not aware of any Reason for believing that; I think
Do you think that the Hindoos are generally in an uncivilized
and degraded State, as compared with the Mohamedans of
I think not.
Do you think there is more of Flexibility of Character in the
Hindoo than in the Mohamedan?
No, I do not think that there is. The most genuine Hindoo
Manners and Hindoo Feelings are to be found in the Southern
Part of the Peninsula of India.
You do not conceive that either the Peculiarities of the Hindoo
Religious Creed, or of the natural Character of the Individuals,
produce any peculiar Obstacle to Change of Habit?
No, I think not. There is a Work lately published, which
decidedly shews that this is not the Case; it is the Work of
Mr. Rickards, a Man not speaking from Theory, but speaking
from great personal Observation and Experience in India.
Were Challenges allowed to Jurymen?
Yes; Five peremptorily, and others for Cause.
Were the Juries in the Island of Ceylon composed partly of
Europeans and partly of Natives?
No; of all Natives to try Natives. It depends upon the Case.
If the Prisoner is a Brahmin, the Jurors are all Brahmins, unless
he wishes to have a Jury of other Classes.
Sir Alexander Johnston then delivers in a Copy of a Memorandum,
which, at the Request of the late Marquess of Londonderry, he
had drawn up for his Lordship a short Time before his Death, in
consequence of a Conversation which had passed between his
Lordship and Sir Alexander, with respect to the Improvements
which might be introduced into the System for administering Justice
in India, and in consequence of his having asked Sir Alexander to
put down upon Paper for him the Result of the different Observations which he had made upon that Subject during his Residence
in Ceylon from 1802 to 1818, and during the Two Journeys which
he had taken, the one in 1808, the other in 1816 and 1817,
through the Southern Provinces of the Peninsula of India, for the
Purpose of becoming locally acquainted with the People and the
Country, and comparing the System of administering Justice in
those Provinces with that which prevailed throughout the British
Possessions on the Island of Ceylon.
The Supreme Court at Madras to consist of Six Judges, to have
a Criminal Jurisdiction over all the Territories and Persons, Natives
as well as Europeans, under the Madras Government.
The Judges to make frequent Criminal Circuits throughout
those Territories, having Native Grand and Petty Juries for the
Trial of Native Offenders, at each Place where they hold their
The Sudder Adawlut at Madras to consist of the Judges of the
Supreme Court, and a certain Number, as at present, of the
Company's senior Civil Servants. (fn. *)
A Person either from the Scotch, the English or the Irish Bar
to be attached as Legal Adviser to each of the Four Provincial
Courts under the Madras Government.
An Act to be passed specifying what Part of the English Law
shall apply to the British and other Europeans in India.
That a Hindoo Code, for the Use of all the Hindoos under the
Madras Government, be forthwith drawn up, in communication
with the best informed Hindoos in each of the Provinces under the
Madras Government. (fn. †)
That a Mohamedan Code, for the Use of all the Mohamedans
under the Madras Government, be drawn up, in communication
with the best informed Mohamedans in each of the Provinces under
That a Regulation be framed specifying the Nature of the
different Acts which are to be deemed Criminal Offences, and the
Nature of the Punishment which is to be attached to each of those
Acts. (fn. ‡)
That the Hindoo and Mohamedan Code, and this last-mentioned
Regulation, be translated into all the different Languages which
prevail throughout all the British Territories under the Madras
Government, and that they be published throughout those
That all the respectable Natives of the Country be admitted to
act as frequently as possible, as Grand and Petty Jurymen, as
Judges and as Magistrates, under the Superintendence and Controul of the Supreme and Company's Courts.
That the Proceedings in the Company's Courts be carried on in
the most usual Language of the People of the Country in which
they are established; that Writing be dispensed with as much as
possible in those Proceedings; and that all Suits be decided as
near as possible to the Homes of the Parties and Witnesses who
are concerned in them.
That a Code be made of all the different Maritime Customs and
Laws, of all the different Classes of Natives of India who trade with
any Part of the Coasts of the Company's Territories in India, and
that it be translated into all the different Languages which are in
general Use amongst those People, and that it be made as public
as possible amongst them. (fn. §)
That Native as well as European Judges be appointed at the
most convenient Ports, to decide with the least possible Delay and
Expence all such Maritime Cases as may be brought before them.
That a Right of Appeal be allowed from all the superior Courts
in India to the Court in England for hearing India Appeals, in
all Cases of a certain Amount and a certain Description.
That the Court in England for hearing India Appeals be composed of the Judges who retire upon Pensions from the Supreme
Courts in India, Ceylon, the Isle of France and the Cape of Good
Hope, and of some of the Company's retired Civil Servants who have
been Judges of the Courts of Sudder Adawluts in India; and that
it be perfectly understood that the Judges are to receive no other
Remuneration but their Pensions for belonging to this Court. (fn. ‖)
That the President and One other of the Members of His
Majesty's Privy Council, being a Lawyer of Professional Eminence
and high Rank, be appointed by His Majesty to preside in this
That a certain Number of the Judges of this Court be in regular
Attendance, for the Purpose of trying all such Cases of Appeal as
may come before them.
That they deliver into both Houses of Parliament, at the Commencement of each Session, a Statement of the Number of Cases
which have come before them; the Number which they have
decided; and the Number, if any, that are in arrear.
That they also deliver into both Houses of Parliament, once
every Year, a Report of the State of the System for administering
Justice in India; specifying what Defects they have observed in
that System, and what Improvements they propose.
That the Judges of all the different Supreme Courts in India be
appointed as the Judges in England are appointed, not during
Pleasure, but during good Conduct; and that they be removable
from their Offices only by Addresses from both Houses of Parliament to The King.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Tuesday next,