Author: Abhishek Singh, Student at Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida, UP.
The Charter of Company was introduced by King George I on 24th September of 1726. The Charter of the company is considered to be a key landmark in the history of the legal system in India as it introduced the English laws into the country due to its many vital provisions having far consequences. To this Charter act 1726, the Court of Madras had been dismissed and thereupon extended the ability of Mayor’s Court of Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay. This Charter was issued a proper and equal judicial machinery for justice in India. To this Charter act 1726, the power of the Civil and Criminal Courts confide the authority directly from the King, not from the Company. The Charter act of 1726 played an important role in issuing the English Common Law Statutory law in India. There was a different function of the Judicial system in the British time before 1726, which was increased in number by 1726. As the result, the servants of the many working at such different settlements were subject to different sets of courts. There was an absence of sameness in the British settlements for the same offense.
WHY ESTABLISH THE CHARTER?
The company was not able to handle the problems that arose due to its extended and enlarged establishment. Therefore the company requested the king to issue a Charter by which some special power could be granted to the company. Company in its request mentioned the following problems to crown that are:-
- The company specified that the three presidency towns have increased very much in respect of trade, Commerce and population. Therefore great want for competent power and authority for the administration of justice.
- .Judicial Administration and working of courts in three presidency town were unsatisfactory. There was always a conflict between the Natives and the British people. The people appointed in courts were English person they were giving more priority to their co-brothers and deals with them very nicely.
- Encouraged by the successful working of the corporation at Madras company wanted to establish similar corporation at other presidency towns.
- Lack of Jurisdiction. Testamentary cases.
- Absence of a proper authority to deal with the indiscipline and serious crimes committed by the military persons. A court was required that time in India to punish all such problems effectively.
IMPORTANT PROVISIONS OF CHARTER OF 1726
ESTABLISHMENT OF A CORPORATION
- Each of the presidency was to have a Corporation consisting of a Mayor and nine Aldermen. The Mayor and seven of the Aldermen could be of any nationality. The Mayor was to be elected annually by the Aldermen. Mayor to hold office for one year.
- Constitution of Corporation.- I) The Charter of 1726 grants for the establishment of a Corporation in the every presidency towns like Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. Each of them consisted of a Mayor and nine Aldermen, seven of whom including the Mayor were required to be natural-born British subjects and the remaining two were chosen either from subjects of any princely State or State having friendly relations with Great Britain.
- The Appointment of Mayor and their Tenure.- i) With the result of the Charter of 1726 a Mayor and Nine Aldermen nominated for each Presidency of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras. The tenure of the Mayor was one year and Aldermen were appointed for a lifetime or for the term of residence in the Presidency town. Thereafter the ex-Mayor was being a member of the Corporation as Aldermen. The fresh election of the Mayor was made for a new session on 20th December of each year. The Mayor and the Aldermen were authorized to fill up the vacant post of an Alderman from amongst the inhabitant of that particular presidency town, who fulfilled the preliminary conditions of eligibility, as mentioned in the Charter.
- Reserved Power of the Governor-in-Council.- This Charter provides the full autonomy to the Corporation for this purpose they were sworn. But The Governor-in-Council had the power to dismiss or remove the Alderman on reasonable cause. Those dismissed persons had the right to appeal in King-in-Council.
PROVISIONS CONCERNED TO JUDICIARY
1.Justice of Peace.- the Charter provided that in each presidency town, the Governor and five senior members of the Council will have criminal jurisdiction and would be justices of the peace. The Governor-in-Council was as a justice of the peace, given the status of Court of Oyer, Terminer, Gaol Delivery and was empowered to hold a quarter session, That time the Court had the power to arrest the accused, trial and pronounced judgment. The case of severe offenses and its relevant evidence was sent to Quarter Session.
2.Quarter Session.-The Governor and five senior members were working for the justice of the peace. The Quarter Session was contained with more than four Justices of the peace and four sessions were held in a particular year. The case of treason and high crimes was not within the judgment of this court. Quarter Session was also known as Kutchehary.
3.Juries.- two juries were constituted for the purposes of aiding the adjudication of criminal cases. This was as under:
i) Grand Jury.- the main liability of this jury to arrest the accused sent to Quarter Session for trial. With help of this jury, the witnesses and proof were produced before the Quarter Session. ii) Petty Jury.- this jury cooperated to Quarter Session in the examination of witnesses, argument, and finding of facts.
4. Mayor Court.- a Mayor and nine Aldermen was guided over the Mayor Court. The quorate of this Court was completed with three persons e.g. a Mayor or senior-most Alderman and the two Aldermen. This Court was running three days a week. The Mayors’ courts were declared to be the court of record.
i) Judgement of Mayor Court under Territorial Jurisdiction of Mayor Court.- The Presidency and other neighboring towns will have come in the Jurisdiction of the Mayor’s Court. The Court was made for the judgment of civil cases only. In the case of offenses, the judges of Mayor Court were enabled only in the form of Grand Jury. The trial of offenses of criminal nature was not given to this Court.
ii) Civil Jurisdiction of Mayor Court having the whole or proper judgment of the cases of civil type.
iii) Probate Judgement of the Mayor Court having the power to the judgment of the cases of will, succession, and the cases of coparcenaries division.
5.Appointment of Sheriff and his Duties- Sheriff, an officer of Court, was appointed by the Governor and his Council every year to serve the processes of the court. On the written complaint of the aggrieved party, the Court issued a summon directing to Sheriff to order the defendant to appear before the court on the fixed by the court. In the case, defendant failed to appear on a fixed day a warrant was issued by the court asking the Sheriff to arrest the defendant and present him before the court to face the charge.
6.Procedure of the Mayor Court.- i) There was the duty of the Sheriff to bring the defendant before the Mayor Court. This Court was empowered to release the defendant on such bail or on security as it considers suitable. By the time of the proceedings, the parties were necessarily having to take the oath, produce and examine witnesses and plead their cases. The judgment of the Court was come after by a warrant of execution under the seal of the court issued to the Sheriff to implement the decision. The Sheriff had the power to arrest them and imprison the defendant.
Some of the faults of the Mayor’s Court. The criminal equity was fully authentically ruled as it was on account of the Governor-in-Council. The members of the council were from the Company’s workers or other English dealers who relied on the Company’s authorization to remain in India and were helpless before the nearby government. At the last, the Governor and the councils were the makers and unmakes of the judges..Judges were non-experts. The Company’s were having plans of restricting the organization of equity to its workers and consequently, it abstained from delegating legal advisors. The Mayor’s court was made to work independently.