THE COSSIJURAH CASE
INTRDODUCTION: The Cossijurah Case illustrates another aspect of the administration of the Company in India. This case is known for the fact that it brought out the defects in the Charter which created the Supreme Court at Calcutta. The Charter did not demarcate either the jurisdiction of the Court or the position of the Governor-General-in-Council. As a result of this confusion, there were occasions, when the Supreme Court issued writ of capias against the directions of the Council. In the Cossijurah case the confrontation between Supreme Court and the Council became evident to the highest degree.
FACTS: One Zamindar, the Rajah of Cossijurah was heavily indebted to Cossinaut Baboo. When Cossinaut requested for the return of his money, the Zamindar showed reluctance by making one excuse or the other. The Baboo then approached the Revenue Board, where his efforts brought no result. Finally, he sued the Rajah in the Supreme Court at Calcutta. In his affidavit, he stated that the Rajah was in the service of the Company having been employed in the collection of the revenues. The affidavit also stated that the Rajah was subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Rajah directing him to appear before the Court. In the meantime, the matter was referred to the Council at Calcutta which referred the matter to the Advocate-General for his advice on the point whether the Zamindar was amenable to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Advocate-General advised that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction over the Zamindar. Thereupon the Governor-General-in-Council issued instructions to all the farmers and landholders that they were not subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and that they could ignore the process of the Court.
The Rajah of Cossijurah had gone into hiding to avoid the process of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court issued another notice to the Rajah who did I not pay any attention to the notice in view of the instructions from the Governor-General-in-Council. In fact, the men of the Zamindar drove away the Sheriff and other officers who had come to arrest the Zamindar on a writ of capias. Thereupon the Supreme Court issued another writ for the confiscation of the property of the Rajah. The Court sent the Sheriff along with some armed constables.
The Council also came into motion, it decided to protect the Zamindar. It despatched a much larger armed force to prevent the arrest of the Zamindar. In the meantime, the Sheriff and officers caught hold of the Zamindar physically, assaulted him, insulted the ladies, and did many acts of sacrilege in respect of the idols of the gods placed in a room. By that time the Commander of the army which had been despatched already reached the spot under the orders of the Governor-General-in-Council. He arrested the Sheriff and his men and took them to Calcutta, where they were released. Thereafter the Supreme Court issued a writ for the arrest of the Commander. This writ was also prevented by a similar show of armed force.
When all efforts to recover his money failed, Cossijurah decided to file a suit against the members of the Council. Accordingly, he brought an action against the Governor-General and the other members of the Council in the Supreme Court. The Governor- General and his Councillors appeared in the Court in the first ‘instance. Soon they discovered that the plaintiff had brought an action against them in their official capacity. Then they decided not to appear before the Court.
The Council issued instructions to all the Zamindars, landholders and the persons residing outside Calcutta not to pay any attention to the process of the Court and that in the case the Supreme Court persisted in issuing writs against them, the Council would protect…