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was expressly declared, not to be considered as an admission of the right of the person in whose name they might be registered, to the property in the soil, or of his title to hold the land exempt from the paymemt of revenue ; but, on the contrary, such assumed right or title was declared liable to be called in question before, and be determined by, the Civil Courts. But although the Government was desirous of recovering the public dues, from lands illegally alienated, it was equally solicitous that the measures should be attended with as little distress as possible, and therefore declared that no lands hitherto held rent free, should be subjected to the payment of Revenue, until the title of the proprietor should have been adjudged to be invalid by a final judicial decree ; nay, at a later period the Government with much tenderness and consideration declared that such lands should not be assessed till six months from the date of the decree.
Now it is impossible, we think, to find fault with the principle of justice upon which the law was based, or to do otherwise than admire the considerate spirit in which it was framed. The right of the Government to a portion of the revenue of all lands illegally alienated, was clear and indisputable, and the holders of such lands had no just grounds of complaint, when the lands were wrested from their illegal grasp, and were made to contribute their fair proportion of taxes, to the necessities of the state. Murmurs would of course have been heard, had the resumption of all these illegal tenures been made immediately after the promulgation of the law, but they would have arisen only from their possessors, who would not, as they did at a later period, have enlisted on their side the sympathies of the whole community. Unfortunately few inquiries were instituted into the validity of the titles until the year 1826, when they were prosecuted with so much vigor as to render it necessary in 1828, to appoint Special Courts for the speedy hearing and determination of appeals in such cases, from the decisions of the Revenue Authorities. Subsequently, Special Deputy Collectors were appointed in every district, who simultaneously prosecuted their inquiries with increasing energy and have at length brought their labours to a close,-a very considerable sum of money being added to the Government's rent roll. The energetic measures resorted to by the Government at the eleventh hour, were adopted, not merely with the view of recovering the public dues for lands which were illegally alienated, but of securing in their possession and enjoyment of them, persons who held lands under titles declared to be valid,
though no credit for such intentions was ever attributed to it by the people. The object of Government was totally misunderstood, and a feeling of insecurity pervaded the community. The people considered their rights to be encroached on, and the good faith of the Government was regarded as violated. The holders of rent free tenures considered themselves as objects of unjust spoliation, and the sympathy of the whole community was enlisted on their side. Nor was this to be wondered at, when we consider that a period of forty years had elapsed, from the date of the invitation to register deeds, till the time that the investigation into their validity was conducted with the greatest vigour. Many, whose deeds were registered, believed their titles to be good, and others believed that their deeds, though in some points deficient, had been rendered valid by the act of registration. The supineness of the Government for so long a period had given a fictitious value to all reputed rent free tenures, and the holders of forged deeds, or of deeds invalid, found no difficulty in disposing of their lands. The transfers were never questioned by the officers of Government, and the purchasers bad no reason to suppose that their titles were informal. Many of these estates too, were sold by the officers of Government for the realization of Revenue, or in execution of decrees of Court, and were sold as rent free tenures ; but it was unknown to the purchasers, that, though denominated as rent free by the officers of Government, the validity of the titles had never been ascertained, and that an inquiry might be instituted into them at the pleasure of Government. Thus grantees and their descendants, private purchasers and purchasers at public sales, and their descendants, were supinely allowed to enjoy their estates in undisturbed security for many years,-a security which was ultimately the ruin of many, whose titles were really valid. They became careless of their deeds and documents which fell a prey to damp or insects, or were left to decay in the Government Offices, where they had taken them for registry. Regardless even of the rumours of resumption of the estates of others, which occasionally reached their ears, they troubled not themselves about their own estates, (estates which they and their ancestors, and their neighbours around them had so long regarded as indisputably rent free,) and when the day of tardy justice arrived, they were ruined ; they had no documents to substantiate their rights, and they were hurled from the pinnacle of affluence or competency, to the depths of poverty and despairthey were obliged to apply to those whom they considered their oppressors, to be allowed to eat a piece of bread in one of the Public Offices. They became dependants of the Government.
But not thus careless were those who more recently had obtained illegal grants. By bribery and corruption, they succeeded in getting their estates entered in the book of registration, and by the forgery of documents, established a chain of evidence in their favour, which in many instances was but too successful. The validity of their titles was admitted, and they were at once secured in the possession and enjoyment of their estates,—the fruit of their successful villainy.
Is it to be wondered at, that under such circumstances, a feeling of animosity was kindled against the Government, in the breasts of part of the community? They saw those whose right to hold lands rent free, they ignorantly considered to have been long, though tacitly, acknowledged, by the Government, struggling with adversity. They beheld those whom they knew to be rogues, acknowledged to be the nobles of the land. Discontent, and in some instances disaffection, was aroused against the Government, and that blind reliance upon its good faith which had so long been accorded to it, was shaken to its foundation. And yet in no single thing had the good faith of the Government been violated.
It was only culpably remiss in asserting its just rights, and never contemplated the amount of misery, its remissness would occasion. To the victims of its tardy justice, indeed, it had no palliative, consistent with the assertion of its just rights, to offer ; but it might have allayed by well timed explanations, the feelings of distrust engendered in the breasts of their neighbours. It might by proclamation have pointed out, and explained, the equitable principle upon which the resumption laws were framed; have exposed the injustice of excepting one portion only of a district from the payment of the public dues, and of allowing one man to enjoy the benefits of its protection, at the expense of another. In other words, it should have explained to the people the law, and have endeavoured to excite their admiration of the equity and justice of its principles. It should have appealed to their understanding, rather than have disregarded their apprehensions, and have reasoned with them as a parent, rather than have crushed them as a task master.
Having thus cursorily noticed one out of several laws in force, which are deemed obnoxious, for the purpose of pointing out the light in which it properly appears when its principle is studied, let us glance at what the law of India really is,
and endeavour to shew the wide range of legal study necessary to a student, desirous of becoming properly acquainted with it, and competent wisely to administer it.
We have said that the Company's laws are based upon the laws which were in force when the Company obtained the Dewani ; but what those really were, appears to have been unknown to the early English Legislators, and it has long been a subject of dispute, whether the Hindu, or the Mahommedan code was “ the law and constitution of India” referred to by the legislature, by which it was declared that the rights of the natives should be protected.
We are not going to enter into this controversy, as it is immaterial to our subject, both laws being now in some respect, the law of the country ; but we cannot help remarking, that we are of opinion, that the Mahommedan law, was the law administered, because it is a principle of the doctrines of Islam, to introduce its laws into every country conquered by its followers. Had not this principle been universally recognised, the Futwa-Alumgirí, compiled under the direction of Arungzebe, about fifty-five years before the accession of the Company to the Dewani, expressly for the Government of India, would prove that the Mahommedan law was the public law of the country ; though it is possible that the more liberal of the Mussulman princes, may have allowed their Hindu subjects the privilege of deciding their disputes according to the Hindu law, in cases where the interests of Hindus, were alone the subject of discussion. In this work, the law of inheritance among infidels is taken from the Mahommedan code. “ They shall take among themselves • by blood and by compact as Moslems take among themselves. • The progeny of a marriage which is legal by their sacred • books, though illegal by our law, shall not be debarred from • inheriting, but the parties to a marriage which is illegal by • our law shall not inherit in virtue of such marriage.” Reference is made here to the Hindoo law with the view of upholding the rights of children, a principle observable throughout the Mahommedan law, which invariably recognises the legitimacy of children in all cases, where it is within the bounds of possibility; but it was at the same time superseded by the Mahommedan law which thenceforth became the law of the land, and is consequently the basis of the laws of the East India Company. But, though the basis of Indian laws, the Mahommedan is only a component part of them-it has been modified and altered so as to suit the habits of the people. English and Hindu law have been engrafted upon it, and our legislators, avoiding the faults of both, have enacted a code which has been found upon
the whole to be well suited for the Government of the country. It may be said of it, indeed as of the Code Frederique, that “if it exhibits nothing very subtle or profound, it affords one proof more, that the right is easily discovered, and that men do not so often want ability to find, as willingness to practise it.”
But what a vast field of inquiry is here laid open to the student! The principles of Coke and Blackstone, of Manu and of the Koran, will be discovered in juxta-position or curiously blended together; and, if for exercise only of the intellect, a comparison of them must lead to the improvement of the reasoning faculties.
The Hindu law “ with its puerilities or worse than puerilities,” will claim, however, but little attention, and excite only a wonder in the mind, that any thing so barbarous, any thing so absurd and degrading, should have found any place among the laws of the East India Company. The Mahommedan code, on the contrary, will not suffer from a comparison with the English code, but will in the estimation of many be regarded as superior. Mr. Mill, in his history of India, asserts that “there is a high strain of intelligence"“a considerable refinement of thought”-in the Mahommedan law, which,“ though defective as compared with any very high • standard of any existing system, with the Roman law for • instance, or the law of England, will not be found to be so • inferior as those who are familiar with these systems (the • Roman and English) and led by the sound of vulgar applause, • are in the habit of believing," nay, he afterwards pays it the well merited compliment of being in some respects their equal, by saying, “in affording strict and accurate definitions of the rights of the individual, the three systems of law, the Roman, the English and Mahommedan are not very far from being on a level.” But, in its extraordinary exactness and nicety of definition, the Mahommedan law excels both, in the estimation of some, who fully concur in the praise awarded to it by another writer;“ That although many of its laws are defective, perhaps worse • than defective, yet as a body of jurisprudence, as a system of • law, it has no equal. I do not speak of its intrinsic merit, or ' the excellence of its political regulations, but of the singular
and systematic mode in which it has been digested, arranged, ' and subjected to the government of rules and principles, for
the purpose of guiding its application in practice; and I am persuaded that as a body of logical and analogical reasoning,