Ilbert Bill 1884
- Ilbert Bill is named after Courtenay Peregrine Ilbert, who was appointed as legal adviser to the Council of India.
The bill was introduced in 1883 by Viceroy Ripon, who actually desired to abolish the racial prejudice from the Indian Penal Code. Ripon had proposed an amendment for existing laws in the country and to allow Indian judges and magistrates the jurisdiction to try British offenders in criminal cases at the District level.
It was never allowed before.
So naturally, the Europeans living in India looked it as a Humiliation and the introduction of the bill led to intense opposition in Britain as well as India (by the British residents). So it was withdrawn but was reintroduced and enacted in 1884 in a severely compromised state.
- The amended bill had the provisions that the Europeans would be conferred on European and Indian District Magistrates and Sessions Judges alike. However, a defendant would in all cases have the right to claim trial by a jury of which at least half the members must be European.
Thus, this enactment held that Europeans criminals would be heard only by the Indian Judges “helped by the European Judges”.
- The passage of this bill opened the eyes of the Indians and deepened antagonism between the British and Indians.
- The result was wider nationalism and establishment of Indian National Congress in the next year.
- The amended Ilbert Bill was passed on 25 January 1884, as the Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Act 1884.
- It came into force on May 1, 1884.