Thursday, April 11, 2013

The name "Lord Rippon" enshrined in the hearts of Indian Nationalists - Ilbert Bill

    After 1858, to generate faith among the people in British Crown Indian Judicial System was reformed. Indian High Courts Act 1861 was passed and the act merged the Sadr Diwani Adalat and Sadr Nizamat Adalat and established High Courts in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras. And the Privy Council continued to be the highest court of appeal for India. The Civil Procedure Code and Criminal Procedure Code were also enacted in 1860 and 1861 respectively. These codes continue to be the basis for Indian legal system till date. 

    Despite the above reforms there were many defects in the Indian judicial system.
  1. The revenue officer continue to act as a judge in Ryotwari provinces.
  2. There was no clear separation between judiciary and executive.
  3. The English and Europeans continued to enjoy special previleges.
Because of the defects, the Indian judges whatsoever their capabilities and qualifications could not trial European accused. To rectify this in 1883, Lord Rippon has proposed Ilbert bill which sought to abolish the judicial disqualifications based on racial distinction. After being passed by provincial governments, it was introduced in Imperial Legislative Council. Meanwhile oppositions to this bill grew. The English newspaper "Spectator" published - "Would you like to live in country where at any moment your wife would be liable to be sentenced on false charge of slapping an 'ayah' to three days imprisonment, the magistrate being copper coloured pagan who probably worships the Linga and certainly exalts an opportunity of showing that he can insult white persons with impunity". And obviously the provisions of the bill was watered down. And the modified version of the bill authorized the Sessions Judges and District Magistrates to try European offenders with the right to demand trial by a jury of 12 members of which half of them should be European or American. So, this controversy confirmed that Indians cannot be treated on par with Europeans.

    Unhappy with modifications in the bill, Lord Rippon tendered his resignation in 1884 and has ever since enshrined his name in the hearts of the nationalist party in India as great champion of their cause of the viceregal throne. And after two years in 1885 the Indian National Congress was founded and the nationalist movement began to take shape.

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