Evolution of the system of Courts in India: Post 1600

 In reference to the development of the courts system in India during British times, their origin is in the ancient English Statues and Charters granted by the sovereign of England to the East India Company, which was established by the Charter of Queen Elizabeth I in 1600. The Company was established for purposes of trading only. But by that Charter, it was also empowered to make laws for the good governance of the Company, its employees, officers, etc. and for the better advancement and continuance of trading and to impose punishments and fines in enforcement of those laws3.

The Company, however, gradually established factories and acquired territories in India and for the protection of its territories and for further acquisition, it was empowered to raise an army, make war and peace and exercise governmental functions. It subsequently obtained the grant of Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa from the Emperor Shah Alam in 1765. The British Crown, however, did not all at once and directly assume the sovereign powers, but as between the Crown and the Company, it was distinctly agreed by an Act of 1813 that the possession and Government of British territories was being continued by the Company without prejudice to the undoubted sovereignty of the Crown. It is this sovereignty, which was reiterated by the Government of India Act, 1833 and that is why the Company remained in possession of territories “in trust for His Majesty”.

 It is with the growth of the East India Company that it became necessary to establish Courts of Justice within the territories under the control of the Company. The Letters Patent of 1726 granted by King George I recited that the Company by strict and equal distribution of justice, very much encouraged not only the British subjects but subjects of princes and natives to resort to and settle the disputes both in civil causes and criminal matters. These Letters Patent established and constituted three several Courts of record known as ‘Mayor’s Court’ (consisting of a Mayor and nine (9) Aldermen) in Fort William in Bengal, in Madras and in Bombay. The right of appeal was to the Governor General in Council. These Letters Patent of 1726 were surrendered by the East India Company to King George II and the Company obtained fresh Letters Patent in 1753 by which the Mayor’s Courts were limited in their civil jurisdiction to suits between persons not natives and suits between natives were directed not to be entertained by them unless by consent of the parties.

On the recommendation of the Committee of Secrecy of the House of Commons, 1773, an Act was passed by Parliament for establishing regulations for the better management of the  affairs of the East India Company, popularly known as the Regulating Act of 1773. This Regulating Act, that is, 13 Geo.Ill C.63, while referring to the charter responsible for the foundation of the Mayor’s Court observed that the court in question as constituted failed to satisfy the needs of the Company’s Presidency of the Fort William in Bengal.

Rise of Chartered & Non-Chartered High Courts:

On the East India Company securing the Dewani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa in 1765, it set up courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction for the Mofussil. The Moffusil Dewani Adalat was established for administration of civil justice, with a right of appeal to the Sadar Dewani Adalat, Calcutta. These Courts were not the King’s Courts but were the Company’s Courts established by the Company on the authority derived from the Mogul Emperor. This had nothing to do with the Mayor’s Court or its successors.

In 1773 came the Regulating Act, the object of which was to impose control over the Company and its servants both in England and in India. It provided for the appointment of the Governor General and Council in Bengal and empowered the Crown by Charter to erect and establish a Supreme Court at Fort William with full power and authority to exercise and perform all civil, criminal, admiralty and ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the Presidency towns. Pursuant to this Act, King George III issued a Charter establishing a Court of Record called the “Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal” dated 26th March, 1774. The clauses of the Charter show that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court extended throughout the Presidency towns. The Supreme Court was, thus, a Crown’s Court. Subsequently, the Supreme Courts at Madras and Bombay were established by King George II on 26th December 1800 and 8th December 1823 respectively.

The result of the aforesaid was that while the then Supreme Courts exercised jurisdiction in the Presidency towns, the then Sadar Courts exercised jurisdiction in the Moffusils.

 It is after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 that the British Crown took over the territories and the Government of British India from the Company by the Government of India Act, 1858 and, thus, India came to be governed directly by and in the name of the Crown. In 1861, the Indian High Courts Act was passed by the British Parliament which authorized Her Majesty Queen Victoria by Letters Patent to erect and establish High Courts in the three presidencies which were to “have and exercise all jurisdiction and every power and authority whatsoever in any manner vested in any of the Courts in the same presidency abolished under this Act at the time of abolition of such last mentioned Courts.” Thus, the Supreme Courts and the Courts of Sadar Dewani Adalat and Sadar Nizamat (Faujdari) Adalat were abolished. It is in exercise of powers under the Indian High Courts Act, 1861 that the Letters Patent of 1862 was issued establishing the High Courts in the three Presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. In 1865, the Indian High Courts Act was amended so as to authorize the Governor General in Council to alter the local limits of jurisdiction of High Courts and to exercise jurisdiction beyond the limits of the Presidency. This is so far as the Presidency towns are concerned.

 Now coming to the provinces of Punjab and Delhi, it is by an Act by the Governor General of India in Council (Act No. Xxiii of 1865) that the then Chief Court of Punjab was established and the Provinces of Punjab and Delhi were subject to its jurisdiction. This position continued till the Letters Patent constituting the High Court of Judicature at Lahore dated 21st March 1919 was issued by which the High Court at Lahore was established for the provinces of Punjab and Delhi. The Punjab High Court after 1947, continued to be governed by this Letters Patent and the Union Territory of Delhi continued to be within the jurisdiction of the Punjab High Court. Clause 9 of the Letters Patent conferred extraordinary original civil jurisdiction on the High Court.

What is the distinction between the Original Civil Jurisdiction conferred in the Presidency towns and the Lahore High Court? The significant difference is that on the establishment of the Chartered High Court in the Presidency towns there were two kinds of original jurisdiction which were transferred to it – (i) as was being exercised by the Supreme Court in the Presidency towns; (ii) as was being exercised by the Sadar Courts. On the other hand when the Non-Chartered High Courts were established by different Letters Patent including the Lahore High Court it was the second one only which was transferred. The Supreme Courts established in the Presidency towns prior to the establishment of the Chartered High Courts were exercising the ordinary civil jurisdiction in the territories of the Presidency towns while in the Mofussil, the principal Courts of original jurisdiction were the District Courts. It may be added here that on the other hand establishment of City Civil Courts in the Presidency towns, the lower pecuniary jurisdiction from the ordinary civil jurisdiction of the Chartered High Courts came to be vested in those city civil courts.

 The aforesaid is the reason why there is a difference in the wording of the Letters Patent qua the three Presidency towns, which are almost identical, while on the other hand there are the Letters Patent of the Courts like the Lahore High Court.

History of Jews and Israel

 

1800 BEC

Abraham migrates to Canaan according to Jewish tradition.
1300? BCE Migration and conquest of Canaan by the Philistines and Israelite tribes. Map of Canaan.
1000? BCE Jewish conquest of Jerusalem; reign of David (maps); After the death of David’s son, Solomon, the kingdom split into two: Israel in the north, Judea in Jerusalem and the south (maps).   Brief History of Early Palestine in maps.
721 BCE Fall of Israel (Northern Kingdom) to Assyria
586 BCE Fall of Judea (Southern Kingdom) to Babylon and destruction of the first temple
About 539 BCE Fall of Babylon. Jews allowed to return to Judea. Tradition has it that Ezra and Nehemia led this return, and later rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, but the walls were apparently not built until 100 years later.
About 519 BCE Rebuilding of the Second Temple under Persian rule.
331 BCE Alexander the Great conquers Persia. The land was subject to Egyptian rule after his death, followed by Seleucid Syrian rule.
166 BCE Revolt of Judah Maccabee against Syrian Hellenic dynasty; Simon. 164 – Liberation of Jerusalem. Judah is named Friend of the Roman Senate and People; Rule of the Maccabees: 166 – Judah 160 -Jonathan 143 
 

66-73 AD

First Jewish revolt. Fall of the Jewish Second Temple to Romans in 70 AD.
133-135 Second Jewish revolt under Bar Kochba  crushed. Judea renamed Palestina. Jews are banned from Jerusalem by Hadrianus Caesar.
614 Persians conquer Judea and Jerusalem..
628 Emperor Heraclius defeats Sassanid Persians, reconquers Jerusalem..
 

About 638

Arab conquest of Jerusalem (slightly earlier or later according to different sources). CaliphOmar provides the Christians of Jerusalem with a Covenant guaranteeing their protection. Land  divided into the Jund of filastin, in the south (capital in Al-Lod and later in Ramlah), and the Jund of Urdunn in the north, with capital in Tiberias (Tabariyeh).
1099 Crusaders conquer Jerusalem, slaughter most Jewish and Moslem inhabitants, expel Jews.
1187 Saladin (Salah-al-din) reconquers Jerusalem
1291 Crusaders defeated at Acre and evicted from Palestine.
1517 Ottoman Turkish conquest of Palestine.

1740

Ottoman Sultan invites Rabbi Haim Abulafia (1660-1744),  Kabbalist and Rabbi of Izmir, to come to rebuild the city of Tiberias; thousands of Jews immigrate to the land in a wave of Messianic fervor, including  Rabbi Moses Haim Luzzatto (1707-1746).  
1799 Napoleon conquers Jaffa but retreats before Acco (Acre); 1799 – Napoleon’s Proclamation of a Jewish State was stillborn, and his declaration of equal rights for Jews was repealed in part in 1806.
1831 Egyptian Conquest of Palestine area by Mehmed Ali of Egypt, who rebelled against the Ottomans. He was forced to withdraw in 1840 under pressure by European allies.
1843 First Zionist writings of Rabbi Alcalay and of Rabbi Kalischer, Emuna Yeshara.
1844 First census in Jerusalem shows 7120 Jews, 5760 Muslims, 3390 Christians.
1856 Ottoman reforms (Tanzimat) – including requirement to register ownership of land in Palestine and pay taxes on it.
1860 First Jewish settlement (Mishkenot Sha’ananim) outside Jerusalem walls.
1878 First Zionist Settlement – Petah Tikwa.
1870s Formation of Hovevei Tzion in Russia
1881-1885 Wave of Russian pogroms catalyzes First Aliya (wave of immigration to Israel)..
1882 Russian May Laws; Leon Pinsker writes Auto-Emancipation in 1882; formation of BILU; beginning of the First Aliya (wave of immigration).
1897 First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland.
1903 Kishinev Pogrom and Russian Pogroms of 1905 catalyze Second Aliya
Nov 2, 1917 British issued the Balfour Declaration,  promising a “National Home” for the Jews in Palestine.
August, 1929 Arab Riots and Massacres in HebronJerusalem, Safed, Haifa, Motza and elsewhere. The Jews had set up a dividing screen at the Wailing Wall in Yom Kippur of 1928 to separate men and women worshippers, prompting rumors that the Jews wanted to build a synagogue at wall, which were spread deliberately by Hajj Amin El Husseini.
1936-1939 Arab Revolt led by Haj Amin Al-Husseini. Over 5,000 Arabs were killed according to some sources, mostly by British. Several hundred Jews were killed by Arabs. Husseini fled to Iraq and then to Nazi Germany. British White Paper (1939) severely restricts Jewish immigration.
May 9, 1942 Biltmore Program – Zionist leaders, headed by Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion, convene at the Biltmore Hotel in New York and declare their postwar program (known as the Biltmore Program).  The program recommended an end to the British Mandate and demand Jewish control over immigration to Palestine with the aim of founding a Jewish “Commonwealth.” wish history, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Timeline, Zionist movement, Israel history, Middle East history
May 15, 1948 Israel War of Independence  (1948 War). Declaration of Israel as the Jewish State; British leave Palestine; Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia declared war on Israel. Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian invasion began.
April 3, 1949 Armistice – Israel and Arab states agree to armistice. Israel gained about 50% more territory than was originally allotted to it by the UN Partition Plan.
Oct. 29, 1956 Suez Campaign. In retaliation for a series of escalating border raids as well as the closure of the straits of Tiran and Suez canal to Israeli shipping, and to prevent Egyptian use of newly acquired Soviet arms in a war, Israel invades the Sinai peninsula and occupies it for several months, with French and British collaboration.
May, 1964 PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) founded with the aim of destroying Israel. The Palestinian National Charter (1968) officially called for liquidation of Israel.
May, 1967 Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser closes the straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and dismisses UN peacekeeping force. Negotiations with US to reopen the Straits of Tiran fail.
June 5-10,1967 Six day war – Israel destroys the Egyptian air force on the ground, conquers and occupies Sinai and Gaza, then conquers the West Bank from Jordan, and Golan Heights from Syria. UN resolution 242 called for  Israeli withdrawal, establishment of peace.
June 19, 1967 Israeli Cabinet decides on secret offer, to be delivered to Syrians and Egyptians though American diplomats, calling for return of territories conquered in the Six day war  in return for peace.
Oct. 6, 1973 Yom Kippur War (October War). In a surprise attack on the Jewish day of atonement, Egypt retook the Suez canal and a narrow zone on the other side. Syria reconquered the Golan Heights. Following massive US and Soviet resupplying of the sides, Israel succeeded in pushing back the Syrians and threatening Damascus. Ariel Sharon was instrumental in the successful crossing of the Suez Canal, which cut off the Egyptian Third Army. Israeli casualties were unacceptably high however, and both Syria and Egypt celebrate the anniversary of the war as a victory.
March 26, 1979 Peace treaty signed between Egypt and Israel.
June 7, 1981 Israel destroys Iraqi nuclear reactor in daring raid.
Oct. 6, 1981 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is assassinated while on the reviewing stand of a victory parade.
June 6, 1982 Massive Israeli invasion of Lebanon to fight PLO.
Sept. 13, 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles – Israel and PLO agree to mutual recognition.
Sept 28, 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement signed. Palestinian Authority to be established.
Nov. 4, 1995 Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin assassinated by right-wing Israeli fanatic Yigal Amir. Rabin is replaced by Shimon Peres
June, 1996 Right-Wing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu elected Prime Minister in Israel, replacingShimon Peres.
Sept, 1996 Al-Aqsa tunnel riots – Arab sources spread the false rumor that a gate opened in an underground tunnel tourist attraction by the Israeli government, endangered the foundations of the Al-Aqsa mosque. This caused several days of rioting and numerous casualties.
Jan 18, 1997 Israel and Palestinians reach agreement on Israeli redeployment in the West-Bank city of Hebron
Oct. 1998 Wye River Plantation talks result in an agreement for Israeli redeployment and release of political prisoners and renewed Palestinian commitment to correct its violations of the Oslo accords including excess police force, illegal arms and incitement in public media and education.
May 17, 1999 Israel elects Labor party leader and Former General Ehud Barak as Prime Minister in a landslide. Barak promises rapid progress toward peace.
March, 2000 Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations fail when Hafez Assad rejects an Israeli offer relayed by US President Clinton in Geneva.
Sept. 28, 2000 Palestinians initiated riots after Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon  visited the Temple Mount, which is also the location of the Haram as Sharif holy to Muslims.
Feb 6, 2001 Right-wing Likud leader Ariel Sharon elected Prime Minister in Israel replacing Ehud Barak and promising “peace and security.”
Mar.-Apr. 2002 Israel conducts operation Defensive Wall in the West Bank, following a large number of Palestinian suicide attacks on civilian targets. Saudi peace initiative adopted at Beirut summit.
Jan 28, 2003 Elections in Israel give wide margin (40 seats) to right wing Likud party, returning PM Ariel Sharon for another term.
July 9, 2004 International court of Justice (ICJ) rules that the Israeli security barrier violates international law and must be torn down.
Nov 11, 2004 Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat dies.
Jan 9, 2005 Mahmoud Abbas elected President of the Palestinian National Authority.
Jan 2006 On January 4, Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke, leaving the leadership of Israel and the new Kadima party in the hands of Ehud Olmert  
Jan 26, 2006 On January 26, the radical Islamist Hamas movement won an upset victory in Palestinian Legislative Council elections, threatening to end about 40 years of Fateh-PLO leadership of the Palestinians and to completely ruin hopes for peace with Israel. Hamas spokesmen sent mixed signals, but vowed never to recognize Israel and never to give up their claim to all of Palestine.
March 28 Ehud Olmert elected PM of Israel, heading Kadima party coalition
July 12 Second Lebanon War – Hezbollah terrorists cross the blue line border with Lebanon, attack an Israeli patrol, killing 3 and capturing 2 soldiers. Additional soldier dies the following day and several are killed when a tank hits a mine, pursuing the captors. At the same time, Hezbollah began a series of rocket attacks on northern Israel. In subsequent days, Israel carried out massive but selective bombing and artillery shelling of Lebanon, hitting rocket stores, Hezbollah headquarters in Dahya quarter of Beirut (see Beirut Map and al-Manara television in Beirut, and killing over two hundred persons, many civilians. Hezbollah responds with several hundred rocket attacks on Haifa, Tiberias, Safed and other towns deep in northern Israel, killing 13 civilians to July 18 (See Map of Hezbollah Rocket Attacks, and a Hezbollah Iranian supplied C-802 missile hits an Israeli missile cruiser off the cost of Beirut, killing 4. Hezbollah rocket also sinks at least one foreign neutral ship and damages an Egyptian one. G-8 meeting calls for cessation of violence, return of Israeli soldier and disarmament of Hezbolla in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and UN Security Council Resolution 1680
Aug 14, 2006 Cease fire, based on UN Security Council Resolution 1701
Feb. 2007 Israeli renovations near the Mughrabi gate of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem spark widespread unrest in the Arab world, over false charges that Israel is destroying the mosque.
Feb. 8, 2007 Palestinian Unity Agreement in Mecca. Hamas and Fatah agree to share power, based on vaguely worded agreement. Hamas officials reiterate that they will never recognize Israel. US and Israel insist that the new government must recognize right of Israel to exist, disarm terrorist groups and agree to end violence.
Feb. 19, 2007 Trilateral Israeli-Palestinian-American summit with Secretary of State Rice, PM Ehud Olmert and President Abbas ended with no visible result.
March 17, 2007 Palestinian unity government sworn in.
June 2007 Hamas ousts Fatah from Gaza in bloody coup.
Nov. 26-28 US convenes peace summit at Annapolis, Md. with participation of Arab nations, Quartet, EU members, GCC and others including South Africa. Israelis and Palestinians are forced to agree on a joint statement that vows to implement the quartet roadmap in parallel, with US monitoring performance and the sides negotiating continuously with the aim of concluding an agreement by the end of 2008. See: Joint Israeli-Palestinian Declaration, and its meaning  
Jan. 2008 President Bush visit to Middle East; Hamas “breakout” into Egypt at Rafah Crossing.
Feb. 12, 2008 Hezbollah “militant” Imad Moughniyeh killed by car bomb in Damascus. Moughniyeh was a “militancy” mastermind, responsible for attacks on U.S. embassy and US marines in Lebanon in the 80s, for kidnapping of American nationals, for explosions in Israel Embassy and Jewish Center in Argentina and apparently for planning the kidnappings that triggered the second Lebanon War. FBI had a $5 million dollar reward out for Moughniyeh. Israel denies any involvement in the killing of Moughniyeh.
Dec 27, 2008-Jan 18, 2009 Operation Cast Lead – Israeli operation in Gaza to stop Hamas rocket attacks. Over 1,000 Palestinian casualties.
April 1, 2009 Following elections,  Likud party head Benjamin Netanyahu becomes Prme Minister.
June 4, 2009 Address by President Obama in Cairo, June 4, 2009 – Historic speech of rapprochement with the Arab and Muslim world also has direct implications for Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since the President calls for an end to Israeli construction of settlements in the occupied territories, as well as Arab recognition of Israel and a two state solution.