Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

So far back as 1836, Government has shown its desire to improve the attainments of its judicial officers by instituting elaborate inquiries amongst its most experienced officers, in order to obtain some scheme likely to impart what was manifestly wanting. In 1872 Sir James FitzJames Stephen, the law member of the Governor-General's Council, summed up the situation, and in a well-known minute expressed his own opinion on the subject. His recommendations were not accepted, and the only result was the separation of the Civil Service into two separate departments-judicial and executive-under which the prospects of official advancement were so clearly in favour of the latter that candidates for judicial service were few, and as a rule represented the least capable in the Civil Service. And in Bengal at least a long series of local rulers did not hesitate to show their contempt for judicial office, some going so far as to attempt to foist into it men who had been declared incapable as executive officers and who had no other recommendation for entering on a new profession. In Bengal, too, a Judgeship of the High Court is a cul-de-sac and a bar to higher office under Government either in India or in England, whereas in Madras and Bombay it has usually led to a seat in the Local Council, and even to the Council of the Governor-General. With such unfavourable prospects, is it surprising that the Bengal Judicial Service has deteriorated ?

All this time there has been a gradually increasing improvement in the capacity of the indigenous local Bar throughout India, attributable generally to the system of education in law in the Indian universities. As a rule the Indian pleader holding the university degree of Bachelor of Law who has never been out of India has, in the opinion of those competent to judge, higher professional attainments than his fellow-countryman who has become a barrister of one of the Inns of Court in England, and he is certainly a man of better general education and knowledge. Those amongst them who have succeeded to seats in the High Courts have earned reputations which will endure, and men of promise in the future are abundant. Such improvement in the local Bar necessarily demands a corresponding improvement in the attainments of those destined to preside over the Superior Local Courts-to fill the office of District Judge-and to form the body from which a large proportion of the Judges of the High Courts is drawn.

The importance of introducing some system by which this result can reasonably be expected has again forced itself on the attention of the Government of India, who have resumed a consideration of the subject which, as already stated, somewhat abruptly ended with Sir James FitzJames Stephen's minute of 1872. The Secretary of State has been in possession of the result of the further inquiries made, and final orders rest with him. But seven years have passed and still the oracle is dumb, and, notwithstanding that Lord Morley has confidently declared that every Indian question, however difficult, is soluble, this very important matter has not advanced towards solution during the many years that he held office. Something must be done, and if the present Secretary of State and his advisers-none of them, be it said, of any Indian judicial experience or knowledgehesitate to deal with this matter, let them have recourse to a commission which can at least evolve some practicable scheme and 80 rescue the judicial service of India from difficulties not of its own creation. Such an inquiry will assuredly disclose much that it has been impossible to describe here, and it must be committed to proper hands. India has been gradually drifting into the Vakel Raj (government by lawyers), and we must at least attempt to provide stronger counteracting influences to restore a proper equilibrium in the Courts of Justice.

H. T. PRINSEP.

[ocr errors]

INDIA REVISITED

[ocr errors]

The most sanguine of Liberal politicians must feel agreeably surprised at the astonishing change which has come over the affairs of India. The unrest of the past five years has, to all appearances, completely subsided; and, since the King-Emperor's visit, the Indian telegrams have only once had occasion to refer to the conspiracies, outrages and prosecutions with which we had grown So familiar. Our politician will feel tempted to ascribe this quieting of the storm to the reforms which opened the Indian Legislative Councils to a larger number of Indian popular representatives. But in this his sentiment would mislead him. Three years have passed since these reforms were announced, while only eight months ago the state of public feeling in Bengal was so unsatisfactory as to cause serious apprehension in regard to King George's visit, and to warrant the Government in administering so costly a sedative as the annulment of the partition of the province.

The truth is that the extremist leaders and their adherents had grown weary of their protracted struggle with the authorities—a struggle which subjected them to infinite annoyances, to ever-present risks from an irritated police, and in particular to domiciliary visits, which are to an Oriental altogether hateful. In Western and Central India, confronted by the firmness and sagacity of Sir George Clarke and Sir Reginald Craddock, the excitement of the Mahrattas had calmed down : it was not that sedition was merely driven underground, but that bitterness was lost in a feeling of respect for capable authority. The LieutenantGovernors of the two Bengals had been less successful. The position before them, although intrinsically less serious, was a good deal more complicated. The Bengalis had a grievance of sentiment in the partition of Bengal, and had gained influential sympathy in English political circles. They were, moreover, encouraged by the extraordinary obliquity with which some Judges of the Calcutta High Court viewed the efforts of the Government to repress crimes of sedition. So supported, their leaders in disorder might fear only half-hearted and vacillating measures of repression; and, indeed, they received far more delicate treatment than their friends on the other side of the peninsula : those who returned VOL. LXXII-No. 427

461

[ocr errors]

home after a term of imprisonment were actually permitted to enter their towns in triumph, with processions, flags and garlands of flowers. But, even so, the cost of their activity was extravagant. It is harassing to be watched by detectives, to be visited by the police, to feel that one's liberty is at the mercy of any enemy who chooses to lay an information. Moreover, fathers became really alarmed at the conduct of their sons : one may be proud of a youth who is acclaimed as a patriot, but it is too much that he should engage in burglaries to provide funds for his crusade. Nervous and fatigued, the Bengalis were ready to come to terms should a path be opened that would not cross their self-respect. This was afforded them by the gracious presence of the King-Emperor, and by his evident and practical kindliness; and, when he announced some administrative changes that could be taken as concessions, the agitation instantly subsided, as if under the control of a single organisation.

To Indians the most interesting of these announcements was that annulling the partition of Bengal, since Lord Morley had repeatedly and decisively affirmed that the partition was to be taken as a 'settled fact.' Its reversal involved serious discredit to the British officials of the province, who had naturally identified themselves with the policy of the Government, and had done their best to allay agitation by assuring the people that this policy would endure. It also occasioned much irritation to the Mohammedans, who considered that they had been sacrificed to appease the Hindus; and it appears that the more progressive of them are now joining hands with the Hindu Nationalist party. We may, however, no doubt reflect that they would have been drawn into the Nationalist camp before very long. It must be conceded that some rearrangement was necessary. Lord Hardinge could not be expected to tolerate the unruliness which had been allowed to gather head in Bengal : additional police were employed in large numbers, yet political crimes were disturbingly frequent. And it must also be admitted that the rearrangement that was adopted was exceedingly adroit. The Bengalis gained what they had demanded as their hearts' desire, but in such a form as to involve very serious material losses. From re-united Bengal were shorn three provinces which for many years had been under the control of Calcutta, and had provided the Bengalis with such an ample measure of official employment as to provoke considerable local jealousy. They can no longer hope for appointments in these territories, and must make shift with narrowed opportunities for the Government service that is to them the most attractive means of livelihood. Moreover, it was due to the Hindu population of these tracts that Hindus were predominant in the former province of Bengal; and when the Bengalis surveyed the districts that had been re-united as their own, they discovered that they

were outnumbered in them by Mohammedans in an excess of some two millions of people, who at present may be of little political importance, but may very possibly become so. Finally, by the transfer of the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi, they lost the influence and prestige which they gained by personal communication with the Viceroy and his councillors. These losses were very soon appreciated ; and immediately after the Durbar the people of other provinces—with whom the Bengalis are by no means popular-were amused to watch the Bengali press divided against itself : some organs, anxiously clinging to the semblance of a triumph, were ashamed to decry changes which it was their claim to have compelled, whilst others unaffectedly, and bitterly, deplored the situation, frankly admitting that what appeared to be a concession was really a catastrophe. But the Government has scored, so to speak, more by tricks than by honours; and it is uncertain whether the Bengalis have learnt that outrages are not the most effective means of attracting the indulgent attention of the authorities.

In establishing a separate capital of its own the Supreme Government was justified by precedent in the United States, in Canada and in Australia. Delhi is conveniently near Simla, where the Government of India spend seven months of each year. But it is exceedingly unhealthy, being indeed notorious for its fever, and having given a name to the disfiguring complaint known as the Delhi sore.' The available sites are either sodden with river inundation, or on the stony margin of an arid plain. It is claimed that the move is a pleasing tribute to popular sentiment. But this may reasonably be doubted. The connexion of Delhi with the palmy days of Hindu history is legendary in the extreme : for the Mohammedans, Delhi was the seat of the Moghal empire, but it was also its prison and its grave. Indeed, within the last six centuries Delhi has witnessed the extinction of many dynasties, and there was some popular surprise that the British Government should be associating itself with so ominous a locality. The most brilliant of the Moghal emperors forsook Delhi for Agra : it is Agra that is adorned with the choicest monuments of Moghal architecture. And the more intelligent Indians have their eyes on the future, not on the past, just as the Japanese would rather be complimented upon the cotton mills of Osåka than upon the most artistic of their ancient handicrafts. At Delhi the Viceroy and his Council will be remote from the influence of the non-official British community, which has its head-centre at Calcutta. It cannot be said that this community has exerted itself in politics when its own interests were not concerned. But it must be recollected that Britain's most material interests in India are commercial. At Delhi the Viceroy will be surrounded not by

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »