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tence was carried out. Where corporal punishment formed a part of the sentence, it was carried out on the spot :-pleasant to men, who might after all be acquitted! There is however much in this system to admire. In cases finally disposed of by the Magistrate, a system of ready appeal might advantageously have been introduced; but even here, if the inadequacy of his punishments to the crime was constant or glaring, his monthly returns would shew it, and the error be checked for the future. With regard to the record of the proceedings in Persian, in cases requiring from three to six months, it might as well have been omitted. But we think that the method, pursued in more heinous cases, was, in itself, admirably arranged, and tending to the administration, in the great majority of cases, of strict and substantial justice. We have first the opinion of the Magistrate on the spot, who observes the manner of the several witnesses, is aware of local customs and habits, and, by recording the case in his own language and with his own hand, has all its merits before him. We have next the opinion of the Collector, or Captain of Police, supposed (though it is a non-sequitur) to be more experienced than his Deputy or Lieutenant, and who, at all events, views the case apart from all the circumstances, which might have acted, prejudicially or favourably, on the mind of the first Magistrate: then the opinion of the Judge Advocate General, a man, whose whole time and attention is given to the investigation of such cases, and who is best able to detect erroneous conclusions or omissions-and lastly, the judgment of the Governor himself. The decision, in cases so closely scrutinized, is likely to be as correct and just, as one given from the Bench or closet of the ablest Judges.
But whilst we admire this system " in se," we cannot overlook the circumstances, which are against it. We must reflect on the great loss of time occurring, when the duty of the Magistrate is thrown on the shoulders of men, whose time would be more than occupied in a proper performance of their other duties. Had the Collectors of Scinde been better acquainted with those duties, and consequently better able to perform them, they could not have had time to try and record such cases without assistance. It will be supposed that a large English office must have been attached to each Deputy Collector. Not so!-the establishment given him for all his duties, revenual and judicial, consisted of one English writer, two múnshís, and two peons. Another thing must be considered-the character of the Governor. Sir Charles's energy and admirable habits of business enabled him to undertake a task, which most men would have shrunk from, with far fewer duties of other descriptions to occupy them, and
which few men, military or civil, would, under_similar circumstances, have had the ability to go through. Even Sir Charles himself was, after a time, compelled to delegate the confirming power to the Judge Advocate General, in cases, regarding which he agreed with either of the former officers, or when he disagreed with both. But where the trying Magistrate still retained his opinion, he had permission to have the case referred. In such cases, too, the Judge Advocate had not the power of increasing the punishment originally awarded by the Magistrate, though he could remit a portion of it.
And now for the heinous cases above mentioned. In these, the Magistrate confined himself to an investigation of the charge, which was also recorded in English, as in a Court of Enquiry-the Magistrate confining himself to the expression of his opinion, as to there being sufficient grounds or otherwise for further proceedings; and this record, like those of regular trials, was transmitted to the Governor through the Collector and Judge Advocate. Here we must notice the formation of this department. The Judge Advocate General resided at Kurrachí, and was the medium of communication between the Courts and the Governor. He had three assistants, at Kurrachí, Hyderabad, and Shikarpúr. These were generally officers of Her Majesty's service, and conducted the proceedings of Military Commissions. Were the case deemed fit for further trial, the proceedings of examination were forwarded to the Deputy Judge Advocate of the division, for trial by Military Commission. These Courts were held under a letter from the GovernorGeneral (Lord Ellenborough) in Council, authorizing Sir Charles, till further orders, to assemble such Courts for the trial of heinous offences-the letter, however, recommending that regular Criminal Courts should be constituted as early as practicable. The Court was composed of a Field Officer as President, and two Members (who were not to be under the rank of Captain, where practicable, and in no case to be officers of less than seven years' standing), an Interpreter, and the Deputy Judge Advocate. On the receipt of the original proceedings, the latter officer summoned the witnesses, and, when prepared, requested the officer commanding the station to assemble the Commission. The Court proceeded as at a Court Martial, and, though no rule beyond that of conscience was given for their guidance, yet the principles of English law, as laid down by the judicial officer, were attended to at the discretion of the Court. The proceedings were then submitted to His Excellency, who had power either to remit a portion, or the whole, of the sentence, to commute it, or even to enhance it. He might
also quash the proceedings, and direct the prisoner to be tried "de novo." Some officers were loth to pass a sentence of death under such a warrant; but there is no doubt that, as long as Sir Charles Napier remained as Governor, the warrant was good in law; though we doubt his power of enhancing the sentences. The recommendation for an early institution of regular Courts was not attended to; and the Military Commissions continued judicial Courts, even after Sir Charles had left Scinde, though their sentences required the confirmation of the Bombay Government. For the first few years after the annexation (though there does not appear any sufficient reason why such Courts should have existed for more than a year or so) it was as cheap and summary a mode of administering justice, as any which could have been devised. But, after all, they had no real power. So long as they continued to sit, they were merely the advisers of the Governor, who could attend, or not, to their opinions. Had the decision of the Court been final, or, at all events, not subject to enhancement, we should have approved, at that early stage, of the system adopted; for, as in the minor cases, so here, there existed a strict investigation by different parties, entirely unprejudiced; and we see no reason for supposing that impartial and speedy justice could not be administered equally well in this mode, as in modes of greater technicality.
But no impartial person can acquiesce in either the justice, or prudence of rendering revenue officials amenable to these Courts, for frauds committed on the revenue, even had the revenual administration of the country been perfect, and had the European officers been well instructed in its details. But what must have been the case, where the revenue, in all its branches, was in a state of indescribable confusion-where there was no regular system of accounts-and where all details were kept only in the Persian language and character, or, with respect to private transactions, in the Scindí? To investigate, with any show of justice, cases connected with fraud on the revenue, required at least some knowledge of its details, of the terms employed, and of the system of accounts. Yet men were tried on such charges before a Court, composed of officers, previously engaged only in military duties, who knew no difference between buttaí and kasagí, between a jumabundí and a jumakhurch, who knew nothing of the duties, or responsibilities of a Kardar, or the commonest terms employed in the revenue or mercantile transactions. It is to be observed that no Kardar was ever brought to trial upon the bonâ fide detection of fraud by the Collectors. Their real prosecutors and persecutors were the above-mentioned
knavish race of informers, who made the calumniating of others their trade, and a thriving one too in Scinde. Now no Kardar would openly commit fraud; such actions might be brought to light, either from a most careful perusal and comparison of papers, or the chance-finding of some private document. The real proof rested in most cases upon documents, the vague and extraordinary nature of which seldom led to any clear results, and often led to the seizure, and unjust and injurious retention, of all the books and accounts of respectable members of the mercantile community. It may well be conceived what mischief was caused by these Courts, and with what general odium they were looked upon. We have not heard of one man brought before them, as a revenue embezzler, who was acquitted. The members of the Commission could not be blamed. They admitted the incompetency of their Courts to adjudicate on such matters: and we doubt not for a moment, that they acted to the best of their judgment. But there was a feeling, prevalent amongst all military men, adverse to Kardars, and men employed in revenue matters. In fact one seldom heard their names mentioned, unaccompanied by some epithet of abuse. Bad as the men might be, justice required that they should be tried by a competent tribunal, or jury. The sentences were exorbitant. They were adjudged to very heavy fines, amounting often to ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand rupees, in addition to imprisonment, with labour in irons, for periods of seven and ten years, and sometimes more. Now, when we consider the lowness of their pay, the ready hearing given to informers, the difficulties thrown in their way in exculpating themselves (none would come forward against Government for fear of being apprehended as accomplices), and the utter ignorance, on the part of the Court appointed to try them, of all matters connected with the subject under investigation, the almost certain punishment, and the final disgrace and impoverishment of themselves and families, we may well ask what man of common respectability and honesty of purpose would accept of service in such a state of affairs? If cheapness were the object, surely a more efficient Court could have been established; and those, who were at all events the best acquainted with revenue details, might have been selected to compose it. Why should not the Collector have been President, and two of his deputies, or those of the neighbouring Collectorate, the members of the Court-the committing Collector or Deputy acting as prosecutor? This would have been something in the right direction, though still open to much abuse and error.
The administration of civil justice was also in the hands of
the Collectors and Deputy Collectors. The departmental Magistrates, however, had power to take up and decide civil suits, not connected with land-as also the Captain and Lieutenants of Police. These all were independent: save that monthly returns of all suits were sent in to the Judge Advocate General, who, together with his Deputies, was likewise authorized to decide civil cases. The instructions stated that Magistrates were to decide all civil suits brought before them to any amount, merely remarking that none but Collectors and their Deputies were to take up suits connected with land. It was also ordered that in cases, where the amount in litigation was more than three hundred rupees, the proceedings were to be recorded in Persian; but this remained a dead letter, for no form was given, and all suits were in fact summarily settled. No suits were to be heard, where the cause of action dated before the battle of Meani; but in cases, where good reason was assigned, the period was extended to three years prior to that event. The great majority of suits terminated, where they were instituted; though they were frequently brought up again at a subsequent period, either before the same or another Magistrate.
When a suit was carried through, there was no regular mode laid down for the execution of the decree: that was effected at the discretion of the Court. Where large sums were in dispute, and decrees given, there were very few cases, in which the holder of the decree obtained the value of the award. Perhaps there was no department in Scinde, where more weakness was displayed, than in the execution of decrees. They were generally so much waste paper. No stamps were employed; and the petitions daily presented were innumerable. For one case, where a just decree was fully carried out, there were ten not enforced, and more than forty times the number instituted only to annoy parties at a distance, by causing their being summoned to the Court. The imprisonments, seizure of papers, placing property under the seal of the Court, and other arbitrary measures, taken with a view to carry out decrees, exceeded all belief. Vakils were allowed to plead in Court; and at all the larger towns these existed in numbers, nor were the Courts ever free of them. There was no appeal established by law: in some cases the Collector assumed the right, but very seldom. Sir Charles heard all cases brought before him: but this could only be done, when he was marching through his district, and that was only once. Even cases, which found their way to him, usually led to nothing more than a call for explanation from the Collector, and a confirmation of his decision. The execution of decrees, the summoning of parties and witnesses,