Judiciary Reforms of Cornwallis

Judiciary Reforms of Cornwallis

The next important change Cornwallis did was to set up courts in the states, districts and provinces. The Supreme Court of Calcutta was the final court of appeal. The system of Civil Judiciary was as follows:

  1. Lowest Court was the Amin Court or Munsif Court. The Munsifs could decide the case where the value was less than Rs. 50.
  2. The higher court was the District court or “Diwani Adalat“. The Judge was called “Session Judge“. This session Judge was essentially an Englishman, who used to deliver justice to “only Indians” and not the Europeans. He was assisted by assessors.
  3. The higher than Diwani Adalat was the Provincial Court of Appeal. Four provincial Courts of appeal were set up at Dhaka, Calcutta, Murshidabad and Patna. These courts heard appeals from the districts except the English.
  4. After provincial court, the Highest Court of Appeal was set up which was called “Sadar Diwani Adalat”. The headquarters of Sadar Diwani Adalat was at Calcutta and it was the Highest Court of Appeal. Its judge was supported by a Head Qazi, two Muftis and Two Pandits.
  5. The appeals from the “Sadar Diwani Adalat” were submitted to the King in England. The King of England only entertained those cases whose value was more than 5000 rupees.

The above system was in the Civil Judiciary. In Criminal Judiciary, Cornwallis introduced the following structure:

  1. At Taluka / Tahsil level there was a Darogh-i-Adalat. Its Judge was “Darogha” who was “An Indian“. This was the lowest level.
  2. The appeals from a Darogha could be taken to “District Criminal Courts“. The judge of this court was a Session Judge, an English.
  3. To hear the criminal appeals from District courts, 4 Circuit Courts at Murshidabad, Dhaka, Calcutta and Patna were established.
  4. The Highest court of Criminal appeal was in “Sadar Diwani Adalat” at Calcutta which used to sit once in a week. It was supervised by Governor General in council.

Other reforms of Cornwallis

  1. Court fees were abolished by Cornwallis.
  2. Lawyers were to prescribe their fees.
  3. Ordinary people could sue the Government servants (Indians) if they committed mistakes.
  4. Inhuman punishments such as cutting limbs, cutting nose and ears were abolished.

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