Speech on the Government of India

“Sir Francis Macnaghten tells us that it is a delusion to fancy that there is any known and fixed law under which the Hindoo people live; that texts may be produced on any side of any question; that expositors equal in authority perpetually contradict each other; that the obsolete law is perpetually confounded with the law actually in force; and that the first lesson to be impressed on a functionary who has to administer law is that it is in vain to think of extracting certainty from the books of the jurist. The consequence is that in practice the decisions of the tribunal are altogether arbitrary. What is administered is not law, but a kind of rude and capricious equity. I asked an able and excellent judge lately returned from India how one of our Zillah Courts would decide several legal questions of great importance, questions not involving considerations of religion or of caste, mere questions of Commercial law . He told me that it was a mere lottery. He knew how he should himself decide them. But he knew nothing more. I asked a most distinguished civil servant of the Company, with reference to the clause of this Bill on the subject of slavery, whether, at present, if a dancing-girl ran away from her master the judge would force her to go back. “Some judges,” he said, “send a girl back. Others set her at liberty. The whole is a mere matter of chance. Everything depends on the temper of the individual judge.”

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay : Speech on the Government of India, July 10, 1833.

“Government of India”is a speech delivered in the House of Commons in that date, by Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859). He expresses his view of the achievements and goals of the British Empire in the East. Between 1834 and 1838 he lived in Calcutta and served on the British “Supreme Council for India”. His “Minute on Education ” touches on the relation of Western and Indian civilizations.

On Wednesday, the tenth of July 1833, Mr Charles Grant, President of the Board of Control, moved that the Bill for effecting an arrangement with the India Company, and for the better government of His Majesty’s Indian territories, should be read a second time. The motion was carried without a division, but not without a long debate, in the course of which the following Speech was made.



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Commercial law, Education, Hallam's Constitutional History, Law quotes, The principal end of punishment, Thomas Babington Macaulay.



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