« PreviousContinue »
unknown. If excess of rain be injurious, knowledged
would it not be more so on the plains, so to say of the tropics, than in a temperate climate 1 Yet this coast alluded to is ac.
by all to be exceedingly headthy. For our own part we look on rain as a bugbear, even if it should cause confinement for one day in every three.—Hurk. Nov. 18.
IMPROVEMENT OF THE INDIAN POLICE.
To the Editor of the Bengal Hurkaru. SiR. — Allow me to offer, through the medium of your paper, a sew suggestions for the consideration of the police committee.
A plan for the improvement of the police of India should, I conceive, be grounded on the most extensive basis, and unless it should embrace the following points, I fear it will be found in a great measure ineffectual :
1st. The general absence of a correct moral feeling in the people. 2d. The disliculty of procuring trust-worthy evidence. 3d. The want of common honesty in the inferior officers of police. 4th. The irresponsibility of their situations, owing chiefly to the great distance at which they are placed from the magistrates.
5th. The want of leisure, of sufficient local experience, and not unfrequently under the present system, the want of discretion and judgment in the magistrate.
1st. The general absence of a correct moral feeling in the people.
Men are chiefly kept on or near the path of strict morality by three disserent motives: the belief in a future state of retribution ; the wish of standing well in the opinions of their follow men, and the fear of the laws. But before these motives, and especially the two first, can act effectually to regulate the moral conduct of individuals in the way most conducive to the welfare of society, it is me. cessary that the people should be susliciently enlightened to have a tolerably right and correct notion of good and evil, and not bestow extravagant praise upon, or fancy eternal bliss will be awarded for, acts hurtful or at least indisserent to the happiness of mankind. In a country where the religion of the people seems to have in practice no other essect but to fasten the most absurd and degrading superstition without supplying any efficient check on the evil passions o human nature, where no public opinion restrains the evil disposed beyond the point where the power of the law ceases, the Government, or rather the law of the land, must extend the circle of its influence in proportion to the inesliciency of the usual checks founded on religious belief or notions of honour.
The laws of this country, since it fell under British rule, appear to have been in some measure framed under a mistaken notion of similarity of circumstances betwccn England and India, where in reality no such similarity exisits. Where public opinion extends its influence among all classes, and is with
much reason considered a sufficient check
for minor offences which here it would be highly advisable, I believe, to enter into our criminal code. Here public opinion can scarcely be said to exist at all, or its influence among the natives is very generally misdirected. What has a man enriched by public or private speculation, a darogah, a sarishtadar, to fear from public opinion ? If a native oslicer can only succeed in feathering his nest before he is dismissed from office for bribery and corruption, he enjoys his otium cum dignitate, on 1 he product of his malpractices with as much of the public respect as is his wealth was only the well deserved reward of his services to the state.
Under the Government regulations emblezzlement of private property, and trickery in with holding the payment of a just claim, almost any falsehood short of down right pubjury” in the making up of a frivolous or vexatious complaint or replying to a just one, escape in many cases with complete in punity, if they do not even terminate, not withstanding the failure of the main object, in leaving an actual bonus, pour encourager les autres, to the party who resorts to such a course. Offences of this nature are either unknown in England owing to a difference of circumstances, or may well be expected to be sufficiently punished there by public contempt and attorney’s bills, (a punishment which unfortunately falls equally heavy on the ignorant or deluded man and 1 he rogue ;) but he: e. where the former check does not exist, and the latter is generally evaded by the cornporative low rate of legal interest, will it not be found advisable to subject, under well desited rules, the tricking and swindling rogue to some punishment, in the shape of a fine, increased rate of interest, or even imprisonment. which a judge, sudder auneen or noonsiff might award at once on the tribal of a civil suit, after a further inquiry at the expense of the state where this night be required, or without a separate investigation wherever this would be inerely a repetition of the first one 2
I am not aware of any rational objection to
* Under the law as it stands any falsehood sworn to does not amount to periury, unless it refers to some material point of the evidence, but the theory upon which this nice distinction is founded, cannot be understood by the very men most likely to perjure themselves. Perjury appears to them to go in great measure unpunished, so they see it at least in most cases, and the few instances which fall under their observation of a false witness meeting with due punishment, look rather like the result of a caprice in the judge than the natural and unavoidable consequence of a clause in the law. Why not have a graduated scale of punishments for perjury, to be inflicted in proportion to the importance of the circumstances falsely sworn to ?
this comrse, and I believe a more efficient mode of checking frivolons and vexations litigation, could scarcely be devised. The inclination of a man firmly to stand for his rights is a check to the wish which his powerful neighbour may have to tramp upon them, and perhaps we may hope to see the day when the honest man will meet with every encouragement in our courts, will resort to them with every prospect of being ultimately compensated for any loss or expense which a dishonest suitor may have unjustly entailed upon him, while the latter will be made to feel that, however artful and cautious he may be, he has no chance of escaping with impunity. that there is a provision in the law,
and a disposition in the judge, which under
no circumstances will allow a man to profit
The sooner we get rid of that solemn farce, yclept on our oath, the better. When it is well known that the most respectable members of the Hindoo community object on religious grounds to give evidence on oath, which they consider in some respect as an act of degradation, can it be a matter of astonishment that most of the witnesses brought to our courts are of that description of people who will readily give evidence in favour of either party who chooses to pay then We have in point of fact, encouraged and fostered the prejudice which makes it to be looked upon as derogatory to appear as a witness in a court of justice, and after that we should not wonder that the use of perjured evidence is carried to the most frightful extent in our courts, especially as the instances are so few, where conviction and punishment can check a crime so difficult to prove, although its frequency is an insuperable bar to an effectual improvement in the administration of justice.
I submit, that the substitution of a solemn declaration for an oath, local investigations, the appointment of attestators in each village, comprizing all the most respectable inhabitants, a greater activity in prosecuting for perjury whenever there was chance of procuring conviction, would in a great measure do away with this deplorable crime. I grant, that some natives would hesitate to perjure themselves, who might not feel the same scruples in solemnly asserting a falsehood, but I believe the number of these are few, very few indeed, and against these as a set off may be brought those whose evidence is not procura. ble in the present terms, and who would he found ready to give it under a more rational system.
To require on oath from a man who has a religious objection to take it, involves a strange inconsistency. The whole presumed efficiency of an oath is founded on religious faith, but if the mere fact of taking it be considered as a sin by the man who has the weakness to obey the judge's directions to that
IN 1) I A N Po I. I. C. E. 21 effect, upon what real ground does your supposition rest, that his saith once. violated will still possess sufficient influence over him to ensure his stopping short of perjury, which, in his opinion, is but a second step in the sinful path into which you have forced him. You, in fact, first greatly weaken, if not absolately | destroy, the check upon which you afterwards rely , to compel him to tell the truth against the inclination he may have to do otherwise. But, besides,... the , principle is radically wrong and implies blasphemy discreditable to any legislation. No ...}. man would contend that an oath (a sort of permission (1) granted to the Supreme Being to punish the infraction of one of his most important laws) increases the sacred obligation to speak truth in a court of justice, and a soletun admonishment of the judge would no doubt suffice to impress that obligation on the mind of the witness without the mock ceremony of putting into his hand some drops of holy water, or the book soi-disant imported from Heaven There is something degrading to the Majesty of a judicial court in that impions mummery, that unholy sort of a connexion between “Church and State,” and one would sain believe, that justice does not need to call to her aid the debasing insluence of an absurd superstition for which both the judge and legislator evince on other occasions the greatest contempt.
3d. “The want of common honesty in the inferior officers of police.”
I would sain hope, that the adoption of the above suggestions would in some measure diminish the evil, by making the usual malpractices of the officers of police a less advantgrous and more dangerous speculation than they are at present; but nothing could obviate the injurious tendency of appointing in one district darogahs or other oslicers who have been dismissed in another for oppression and bribery, and a careful enquiry should be made into the previous conduct of a man who receives charge of an important appointment. Perhaps, it would be advisable, if his previous life be not well ascertained, to call upon him to make a solemn declaration that he was never dismissed from office, such a declaration rendering him liable to the penalties of perjury, should it afterwards be found to have been untrue.
It is now in the contemplation of the Government to open a road to promotion for the darogahs, and to increase their salaries, and this may no doubt have in time the most beneficial results; but of course it must not be supposed that a mere increase of pay, will turn a rogue into an honest man. The liberal intentions of Government will probably have no effect whatever on the present incumbents, and it would be wiser perhaps, to leave it to the magistrates to do so by degrees, as they satisfied themselves that each darogah under their superintendence deserved the intended boon.
The promotion from a darogahship to moonsifship ought never to be considered as a matter of course; and seniority is but a poor plea
where efficiency (which includes honesty and talent) is the object; nor should the inferior appointment be made a necessary step to the one, which would be keeping out of the service men of education and respectability, whose condition in society would not permit their taking charge of the inferior duties of police. A mistake of this description has, I fear, been in some respect committed, with regard to the principal sudder aumeenships, but without pledging all the higher appointments to the holders of the lower ones, as has been done in the latter case, a certain proportion, say one-third or half, might be so pledged and thus regularize and ensure the prospect of promotion.
4th. “The irresponsibility of their situations owing chiefly to the great distance at which those officers must be placed from their immediate superiors, the magistrates.”
Might not this be greatly obviated by putting the darogahs in some respects under the jurisdition of moonsifs 2 The latter are in general a superior class of men, their courts are seldom at any great distance from the Mofussil thannahs, and if the extent of jurisdiction was somewhat diminished they might, under the same powers possessed by a junior covenanted assistant just come out of college, check the oppressive proceedings of the darogahs, and try all petty cases of police on the spot without subjecting an injured party to the necessity of putting up with petty grievances, which may become almost intolerable when repeated over and over again, or to travel fifty or sixty miles to get an expensive and tardy redress in the magistrate's court. If at the same time the pay of the darogahs be increased, a road to promotion opened to them, any act of oppression or corruption more carefully inquired into and severely punished, the evils which must under any circumstances result from the exercise of an irresponsible power by an unprincipled man, may be expected to diminish in a sensible degree, but they will not disappear entirely until the natives show more energy in resisting oppression and more honesty in prosecuting their just claims.
5th. “ The want of leisure, of sufficient local experience, and not unfrequently under the present system, the want of discretion of judgment in the magistrate.
It seems preposterous to suppose that a collecter with his important revenue duties can find sufficient leisure to superintend the police of a large district which requires at least all the energies, the undivided attention of one man whatever may be his talent's and his zeal. But after all, I doubt whether the system which is gradually introduced of separating the duties of collector and magistrate will be any improvement if the charge of a magistracy must be entrusted to young officers without experience, and sometimes without energy or talent, to the imminent risk of the personal security, liberty and property of the natives of the soil. Much must of necessity be left to the discretion of
the magistrate in the fulfilment of his duties in which his conduct can never be so strictly confined by rules as that of a civil or criminal judge, and it is the more necessary to have none but chosen men in such situations which should besides be more permanent than they are. Under the present system, a magistrate is usually called upon by his turn of promotion to vacate his appointment at the very moment when he could have done justice to it, and so long as this continues to be the case, I fear there can be but little hope of a material improvement of the police in point of practical efficiency. Could not magistracies be made equal in emolument to collectorships, either by increasing the salaries attached to the former, or bringing down on the removal of the present incumbents the large allowances of the more moderate stipends of magistrates, which might be raised in the same proportion ? But after all, if this be not possible, if the convenanted service cannot supply, at a rate which the state can afford to pay, men of the description wanted, might it not be tried, whether, in the uncovenanted service of Government or in the unengaged portion of the India community, men could not be found willing and able, at a moderate cost to the country, to do justice to the duties of the head police officer of a district 2 Principal Sudder ameens might be made eligible to a magistracy, but at all events it is highly desirable that the system which has so long obtained of considering nothing else but the personal claims of individuals, founded on seniority, accidental circumstances, &c. to important appointments, should be altered for the more rational one of having also some consideration for the claims of the community whose welfare may be very materially affected by the choice of the officer appo nted to preside over it as magistrate or collector.
1st Nov. 1837. AMICU'S INDICE.
P.S. The natives of the country are in general so notoriously deficient in moral principles and energy as to make it highly desirable that European agency should be resorted to as much as possible. It matters little of what colour or religion the Government officers may be, provided they are men of honesty and ability. These commodities, in connexion with one another, are so much wanted here, that they may well be procured from any quarter where they are to be found, and at any price which the country can afford for them. Nothing is more inimical to any improvement in the moral principles of the natives of India than the example too frequently set by their countrymen in office, although the good conduct of the latter properly rewarded is no doubt a powerful incentive to immitate them, and none but natives of well-tried character should be entrusted with duties of high responibility.—Hurkaru, Nov. 23.
SELECTIONS FROM THE PORTFOLIO OF A JUDICIAL OFFICER.
Observations on the Judicial Letter of the Hon. the Court of Directors, written in the beginning of 1836. III.-ChokEEDARs, PASBANs, Dos Ads.
No. 3. On the Police.
“It sometimes hannens that he who would not hurt a fly, will hurt a nation."—Taylor's Statesman. It is my present intention to communicate some information respecting the past state of 1. I come lastly to consider the condition the village police in the province of Behar. of this class of men, together with the means It is observed by Colonel Briggs, with whom by which they may be rendered more extenColonel Wilks and other eminent writers on sively useful as subordinate "agents of police. the state of society in the Dukhan for the It is useless to attempt to retrace the origin most part concur, that each village (mouza) of remote and decayed institutions, further
in India contains within itself the seeds of an entire republic or state ; wars, deluges, pestilence or famine may break it up for a time,
than may be necessary to obtain information sufficient to render them as useful as may be compatible with the existing order of things. The village watchmen, neither much counte
but it has a tendency to reunite which no- thing can prevent. It consists of an agri- |nanced nor altogether proscribed, seem to
cultural corporation possessing all the land, have been left to shift for themselves for some at the head of which is a chief elected by the time after the conclusion of the perpetual corporation. It has, also, at least one indivi- settlement. In many districts they changed dual of all the crafts necessary to agriculture their character and had recourse to husbandry,
and essential to the comforts of rural life. 2. The elements of this primeval Hindoo association, which has, in all probability,
tended very materially to preserve the na
tional character and institutions, and to prevent the extinction of the Hindoos as a nation, as has happened to the Egyptians and to many other ancient nations, has continued to the present time in a considerable degree of purity in the dukhan ; but has, of course, been more or less broken up and defaced in those parts of the country where the Mussulmans or other foreigners have, for any length of time, exercised an uncontrolled ascendency.
3. But few vestiges of the ancient Hindoo mouza remain in the province of Bengal; while in Behar and some of the other provinces under this presidency many of the rudiments of the village association continue to exist.
4. The chokeedar, gory tor pasban appears to be one of the most useful and active mem. bers in all the Hindoo village associations, and his office is, consequently, one of those which has remained the least aflected by the successive revolutions and changes, which have passed over the country during the period of twenty centuries. In this office we possess the original and fundamental element of an efficient police, rooted in the ancient usages of the Hindoos, yet still susceptible of any judicious modifications which more recent experience may suggest. In fact, the whole superstructure of the police would be inefficient and nugatory, but for the ready information and assistance afforded by the village chokeedars.
5. It therefore appears to be a matter of the highest importance, that inquiry should be instituted without delay into the numbers and condition of this very useful, but much misused and neglected class of men, and I trust that my present communication may, in some degree, tend to facilitate and encourage this inquiry.
| labour or dukoitee for a livelihood ; while in others they were retained as a useful class of servants by the zumeendars. 2. Their situation and employments in this district are at present, as follows:—The zumeendars of every village of any note maintain one or more pasbans, who are sometimes paid by a jaegeer in land of from one to three beegas; or by a money stipend averaging |from one to five rupees per annum. Some receive both land and money. It is also usual for them to receive certain small gratuities from the ryots and principal inhabitants at the harvest or other stated periods. All the abovementioned particulars are registered at the thannah, and an annual report, noticing charges and other matters, is transmitted to the magistrate. 3. Their duties are to watch at night, to apprehend robbers and other offenders, to procure provisions for troops or Europeans travelling, to carry thannah reports, to escort offenders, and to give intelligence on those and a variety of other subjects connected with the police to the thannah and through the thannadar to the magistrate. I have forbidden their being employed in conveying the treasure of the zumeendars, or performing other duties connected with the collection of the revenue. The zumeendars keep private servants of the same caste (Dosad) to perform these services. I do not conceive that any lands formerly allowed for their subsistence were resumed by the Government in this dis. trict, and, at all events, as the zumeendars can well afford to maintain them and consider it their duty to do so, I do not see anything to be gained by instituting further inquiry into the matter. Further particulars respecting the mode in which I have employed them, towards meliorating the police of this district, will be found stated in appendix No. 1. I have, also, to add, that I should consider the giving the zumcendars any greater powers
over them than what they naturally possess,
as being the persons who appoint and pay them, would be attended with prejudicial consequences to the police. 4. But the measure which strikes me as the best calculated to produce beneficial effects to the general police of the country, is the extention of the provisions of regulation XIII. of 1813, to all the principal towns, hauts and gunges. For my opinion more at large on the advantages of this system, which, I am convinced may be carried into execution with the greatest facility and effect, I beg to refer to appendixes Nos. 2 and 3. The institution of village watchmen (Pasbans) does not, I believe, exist in such perfection in some districts, as I have described it to do in this. In such districts the establishment of the chokeedaree system seems to be peremptorily called for. In the event of the chokeedaree system being introduced into districts where the institution of village watchmen (pasbans) exists, it will be expedient, in my opinion, still to maintain the latter establishment with some slight modification of its duties; as for in
stance, the pasbans, instead of watching by
night in the village, may be usefully employed in patrolling the out-skirts and more remote tolahs (hamlets) in escorting travellcrs, and other duties of a more miscellancous nature. 5. To conclude, I beg to express my decided opinion, that the continuance of the present thanadaree system of police, modified and rendered more efficient, by giving to the magistrates full powers of appointing, fining, and removing those officers, together with a judicious extension of the chokeeda ree system to all the principal villages, hauts and gunges, will, with such moderate alterations as expe. rience may from time to time suggest, tend more effectually to promote the peace and happiness of our native subjects, and with less hazard of inconvenience than is to be expected from any general dislocation of the present system, and transferenee of the police to the collectors and zumeendars.
Report on the Village Police in the Province of Behar, written in 1822.
1. Having been for some time past of opinion, that a general investigation into the state of that very valuable class of police officers, commonly known by the name of dosad and pasban in this province, with relation to their number, maintenance and mode of employment, comprising a review of the whole village or internal police, was strongly called for and would lead to very beneficial results, I addressed a circular letter, at the commencement of the late circuit, to the several magistrates requesting information on the subject; copies of which letter and the replies received are subjoined in appendix G.
In reviewing this subject, I shall, in the first place, consider the state of the village police in each zillah separately, and the proceed to the discussion of such points as are common to the institution throughout the country.
2. The village watch in zillah Ramgurh appears to be very imperfect, only 3281 villages, out of the 10,000 which the district is stated to comprise, maintaining 3196 chokeedars. The observations, however, of the magistrate respecting the zumeendaree system of police, the smallness of the villages, and the poverty of the inhabitants, are entitled to great weight.
3. It would appear from the accompanying statement received from the magistrate of Behar, that 7823 watchmen are maintained in that jurisdiction by 5708 villages, and that 97 villages are without this protection. However, these villages are stated to be, for the most part, uninhabited, so that the village police may be considered as very complete in this jurisdiction.
4. It appears from the reply of the magistrate of Tirhoot, that the preferred adopting information contained in a statement drawn up by Mr. Fleming in the year 1817, to what he was able to obtain from his own inquiries. From this he states, that it would appear that 7656 villages maintained 5712 chokeedars, and that about 1939 were without any. He afterwards supposes that 3000 villages were without chokeedars. However, he seems to consider this as only an approximation towards the truth, and it is evident that great changes must have taken place in the interval. Again, it is mentioned at the foot of the statement, that the goryts amount to upwars of 4000, and are considered distinct trom the chokeedars, who are now supposed to exceed 6500. In short, I am sorry to say, that our data as to the number of villages, and o: chokeedars in this zillah, are very imperect.
5. It appears that in zillah Sarun 6651 villages maintained 7294 chokeedars; but the magistrate has omitted to state the number of villages which do not support any. The statement received differs in many respects from one drawn out by my direction, some years ago, when magistrate of that zillah.
6. From the letter of the magistrate of zillah Shahabad, it would appear that 4747 watchmen are supported by 3326 villages; that 1896 villages do not maintain any, and that, of these latter, 1001 are waste, 716 are small or imperfectly cultivated, and that the zumeendars of 179 villages have neglected to appoint them, in opposition to the orders of his court.
7. It would appear, from the statement received from the magistrate of Patna, that 893 villages entertain 2219 watchmen, including goryts under that denomination. The magistrate is not aware that there are any villages unprovided with chokeedars in his jurisdiction.
8. I shall now proceed to consider the quantity of land allowed to this class of public servants, the means of obtaining it when not already passed, with other points connected with their support. The quantity of land allotted for this purpose in the several zillahs,
with the proportion it bears to their allowance