Изображения страниц

though it acknowledged itself the offspring of the Serampore Darpan.

The Banga Dut commenced on Sunday, the 10th of May, 1829: but, in the next number, the day of publication was altered to Saturday. It is singular how with respect to newspapers, and schools, so much deference is paid to the Sabbath, by natives who are hostile to Christianity. It was seen, even in the early days of the French revolution, that a day of rest is required on physical and mental grounds. This newspaper started under the management of Mr. R. Martin, Dwarkanath Tagore, Prasanna Kumar Tágore, and Rammohan Roy. It was written in two languages, Bengali and Persian; as the latter would be understood by the mahajans of the Bara Bazar.

The length, to which this cursory notice of the early Bengali Press has run, forbids us from entering on an account of the newspapers published since 1830.

We have now before us a list of the Bengali Newspapers, published in Calcutta at the present time, which comprizes sixteen, viz. three dailies, the Prabhakar, Chandraday, and Mohajan Darpan; one tri-weekly, the Bháskar; two bi-weekly, the Chandriká, and Rasaráj; seven weekly, the Gyándarpan, Banga Dut, Sadhúranjan, Gyán Sanchárini, Rasaságur, Rangpur Bartábahu, and Rasha Mudgar; two bi-monthly, the Nitya Dharmánaranjiká and Durjan Daman Mahá Nabam; and last, though not least, the monthly publication, Tatwa Bodhini, which, both for the excellency of its language, and the literary talent displayed, is highly to the credit of its conductors, who have employed the powerful agency of the Bengali language to convey European ideas.

All these publications have a decided Anti-Christian tone, and must produce a considerable sapping effect on the minds of their 20,000 readers, who shew the value they attach to them by paying for them. Though the Serampore Darpan was the first Bengali Newspaper, and was started under Missionary auspices-yet, strange to say, Missionaries have at present no organ in Bengali to exercise an influence over the native mind, and reply to the various misrepresentations that are given on Christian subjects. We hope that ere long we may see a Bengali Newspaper started under Christian influence. The Native Christians are feeling the Athenian curiosity for the "ri kaivov;" and (in several cases we know) receive injury from the perusal of these papers. Missionary Schools are well; but the present Bengali Newspapers in many cases destroy much of the prospective fruit from them.

ART. VI.-1. A Penal Code, prepared by the Indian Law Commissioners, and published by Command of the Governor-General in Council Calcutta, 1837.

2. Report on the Indian Penal Code. Calcutta, 1846.

3. Report on a Scheme of Pleading and Procedure, with Forms of Indictment adapted to the Provisions of the Penal Code. Cal cutta, 1848.

4. The Code of Regulations for the Government of the Presidency of Bombay, with notes, shewing the alterations made by subsequent enactments, a Key, Index, Interpretations, and Epitome of the Acts of the Legislative Council of India. Edited by William Henry Harrison, Esq., Bombay Civil Service, and late Register of the Suddur Adawlut at Bombay. London. Pelham Richardson. Cornhill, 1849.

5. Evidence, forming a title of the Code of legal Proceedings, according to the plan proposed by Crofton Uniacke, Esq. By S. B. Harrison, Esq., of the Middle Temple. London. Henry Butterworth. 1825.

THE Presidency towns have of late been ringing with indignant declamation, through every local organ, for the expression of opinion, at certain Acts,* now before the Legislative Council, for bringing British-born subjects under the jurisdiction of the East India Company's Courts, and the laws administered by them; and we feel ourselves called upon, as members of the free Press of India, briefly to express on this opportunity our first impressions, reserving (if need be) for a future occasion a more full and deliberate discussion. We must then state that we concur, to a certain extent, in the opposition to the measures alluded to, but only partially on the popular grounds: while at the same time-what may seem paradoxical-we concur with the Government in the objects desired to be attained through these Acts; and, under proper conditions, after fit preparation by means of various reforms of the law and courts, we should generally and cordially approve them. On reference to the local annals of past time we find, that a party, including some of the popular leaders, has ever op

*Draft of an Act for abolishing exemption from the jurisdiction of the East India Company's Criminal Courts.

Draft of an Act, declaring the Law as to the privileges of Her Majesty's European Subjects.

Draft of an Act for the protection of Judicial Officers.

Draft of an Act for trial by Jury in the Company's Courts.

[ocr errors]

posed the various reforms, which the Indian Law Commissioners have proposed in order to improve the law and administration of justice, and fit the Courts of the East India Company for their important functions, and, amongst these, for the extended jurisdiction now proposed to be given to them. As respects this party, essentially an anti-reform party, we see in these measures their nemesis: they have hitherto succeeded in giving pretences for rejecting the best half of the measures devised by Macaulay, Amos, Cameron, and their colleagues of the Indian Law Commission; and now, the East India Company contents itself with insisting on the other half, which those enlightened men never contemplated passing alone; and this it is, which makes our difference, if we may be permitted the expression, with the Government. It is carrying out, only one-half of the views of the Law Commission, and setting at nought one-half of the manifest intentions of Parliament. This, we think, admits of an easy demonstration, from that Section of the Charter Act, (S. 53) which warranted, or commanded, the appointment of the India Law Commission. The Enactment alluded to, (we give it below*,) begins with a recital-not a very usual thing in a Clause-and therein legislatively declares the objects to be attained and attended to by the Commission. It directs the formation of a general system of judicial establishments, within whose jurisdiction should be comprized all persons whatever, as

The enactment is as follows; see Charter Act, Sec. 53.

"And whereas it is expedient, that, subject to such special arrangements as local circumstances may require, a general system of judicial establishments and police, to which all persons whatsoever, as well Europeans as Natives, may be subject, should be established in the said territories at an early period, and that such laws, as may be applicable in common to all classes of the inhabitants of the said territories, due regard being had to the rights, feelings, and peculiar usages of the people, should be enacted; and that all laws and customs having the force of law within the same territories that should be ascertained and consolidated, and, as occaslon may require, amended: Be it therefore enacted, that the said Governor-General of India in Council shall, as soon as conveniently may be after the passing of this Act issue a commission, and from time to time, commissions, to such persons as the said Court of Directors, with the approbation of the said Board of Commissioners, shall recommend for that purpose and to such other persons, if necessary, as the said Governor-General in Council shall think fit-all such person not exceeding in the whole at any one time five in number,—and to be styled the Indian Law Commissioners," with all such powers as shall be necessary for the purposes hereinafter mentioned; and the said commissioners shall fully inquire into the jurisdictions, powers, and rules of the existing Courts of Justice and Police establishments in the said territories, and all existing forms of judicial procedure, and into the nature and operation of all laws, whether civil or criminal, written or customary, prevailing and in force in any part of the said territories and whereto any inhabitants of the said territories, whether Europeans or others, are now subject; and the said Commissioners shall, from time to time, make reports in which they shall fully set forth the result of their said inquiries, and shall from time to time suggest such alterations, as may in their opinion be beneficially made in the said Courts of justice and police establishments, and forms of judicial procedure and laws, due regard being had to the distinction of castes, difference of religion, and the manners and opinions prevailing among different races, and in different parts of the said territories."


well Europeans, as natives, subject nevertheless to such special arrangements, as local circumstances might require. It further directs such laws, as might be applicable in common to all classes of the inhabitants, to be enacted. Evidently new laws here are contemplated; and the following wise, and just, and necessary condition is added; that, in making these laws, due regard should be had to the rights, feelings, and peculiar usages of the people. Moreover, the existing laws and customs having the force of law, are directed to be ascertained and consolidated, and, as occasion might require, amended. The enacting part of the clause reinforces the recital. Such were the noble objects which Parliament contemplated in establishing the Indian Law Commission. And the first Governor-General under the Charter Act, and successive Law Commissioners down to the departure from India of Mr. Charles Hay Cameron and Mr. Daniel Eliott, appear to have had a just conception of their duties. They laboured assiduously for all those objects, but carried scarcely any of them.

Our charge against the proposed Acts is, that though in the main in principle just and unobjectionable, yet, brought in alone, they violate every one of the conditions which Parliament, as above shewn, has indicated to be its intentions. No general system of Courts, in the sense of the Act of Parliament, has been established: nor has the model Court, proposed by the Indian Law Commissioners, been experimentally adopted. The Courts exist as they did; and British-born subjects are now to be pitchforked into them. Instead of laws made applicable to all classes of the people-laws, reported by the Indian Law Commission in its most palmary state to be unfit for many classes within their range, are, by these Acts, extended to one class more-and that a class, for whom they must be less suited than for any other class of persons. Then, again, as to respect for rights, feelings and peculiar usages; one of the Acts, the Jury Act, is a mere burlesque of that justly venerated institution, and made conspicuously so, by a very striking departure from the scheme of a Jury, recommended by Messrs. C. H. Cameron and D. Eliott of the former Indian Law Commission. In their scheme, British subjects were entitled to claim on the Jury a majority of their fellow countrymen; and the Jury List was carefully confined to persons of a certain social standing, and having a certain property qualification. These provisions partially redeem the scheine of Messrs. Cameron and Eliott; but none corresponding are to be found in the new Draft Jury Act, which is framed on the supposition of pretty nearly the whole nation's being fit for jurymen.

[ocr errors]

But, leaving these peculiar grounds of opposition, surely it is a very great evil that British inhabitants, except for trifling assaults, and except also a liability to be put under recognizances, and to suffer the forfeiture of them, should, as is the state of the Law at present, only be triable in the Supreme Courts, which never leave the Presidency towns. At the same time we admit, that the British inhabitants cannot too highly value this privilege, as respects the justice secured to them. But what are some of its consequences? An offender of British race and origin has to be brought perhaps fifteen hundred miles or more, and any intermediate distances, throughout the length and breadth of the land, to be tried, in all, except the above mentioned cases: and this is but a part of the evil; for, at the same time, and from the same distance, the witnesses usually, and all other necessary evidence, have to come ;-to bring the culprit alone would be of no avail. It is mere trifling, unworthy of men of sense, to deny that this necessity gives an immunity from punishment, and operates as a license to do wrong. In this important point of view, therefore, the measures in question are desirable; they abolish an inconvenient privilege, and place the British-born class, at most consisting of a few thousands of people, in the same relations to the authorities and to the local laws, as the natives consisting of a hundred millions. On the other hand, the British inhabitants may very justly entertain a strong antipathy to the change; and they dwell much on the following considerations. First, the state of the Courts secondly, the corruption of a class, which, for the sake of brevity, we will call the hangers-on, or non-official retinue, of these Courts: thirdly, the laws and procedure established in them; and lastly, the intentions of Parliament. In this enumeration of their objections, we pass over all that has been said about the inherent and constitutional rights of the British people; the power of Parliament to abrogate those rights; and the want of authority in the Legislative Council. The first serious objection is, that the Judges in these Courts have no proper professional qualifications, want that independence, which to British minds is indispensable, and (what is worse) are often treated in such a manner, as tends to make them, when occasion calls, sycophantic, and whenever government is interested, servile. All this cannot but be obnoxious to a civilized people like the British, especially familiarized, as they are, with institutions free from these faults, and in extreme contrast with them.

*The Mochalka Act, Act 5 of 1848; respecting which see Calcutta Review, vol. XI., p. 64.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »