The Trial of Raja Nand Kumar by Anshi Shree

TRIAL OF RAJA NAND KUMAR
INTRDODUCTION: The case of Nand Kumar stands in a class by itself. It brings out the conflicts between Warren Hastings and the majority in the council, on one hand, and between the courts and the majority, on the other, Nand Kumar was the protege of the majority in the council and his trial before the supreme court thus become in a way a trial of strength between the court and the majority. The case illustrates forcefully the anomalous charter of the first impact of the English law on the Indians and depicts what kind of difficulties arise. When a foreign system of law is transplanted suddenly in a society and is enforced with all its rigours.
FACTS: Raja Nand Kumar, an influential man in Bengal, encouraged by the council majority brought some charges of corruption and bribery against Warren Hastings before the council Warren Hastings was very much annoyed at this, he even left the council meeting when these charges were being heard. A few days later, Mohan Pershad filed certain charges of forgery against Nand Kumar was tried by court with the help of a jury was found guilty of having forget certain documents and was sentenced to death. Nand Kumar trial has also been looked upon with suspicion. Nand Kumar was a victim of Hastings. Impey was a good friend of Warren Hastings. Warren hasting conspired with Impey to put Nand Kumar out of Hasting’s way. Nand Kumar out of Hastings way, Nand Kumar trial formed one of the charges in Impey’s impeachment. The charge of the conspiracy against Impey is based only in circumstances and the sequence of events. It has been said in favour of Impey that he was not alone in convicting Nand Kumar. He was tried by the whole court consisting of four judges with the help of a jury of 12 Englishmen. The court did not perhaps be a stronger case deserving excising of the court’s power. The act of 1728 under which Nand Kumar was convicted had never been formally promulgated in Calcutta and the people could not be expected to know anything about it. The Hindu or Muslim law never regarded forgery as a capital offence.
JUDGEMENT: The court held that the statue of 1728 was applicable to the Presidency town. Now whether and English state was applicable or not to a place depended on two factors: Whether or not suitable to the conditions prevailing there; and The date when the English law was introduced there.
The defence in Nand Kumar’s case never challenged this view. The court held that the statue of 1728 was operative and according sentenced Nand Kumar to death for forgery. The charter of 1753 and even the supreme court charter of in 1774 had re-introduced English law into Calcutta. Quite a good amount of this law was unacceptable to the customs and morals of the Indian people, whether to Hindus or Muslims. In this trial, two very important questions emerged. The first, whether the Supreme Court had jurisdiction in this matter? Second, whether the English Act of 1729, which made forgery a capital offense, was extended to India? The prime objection regarding the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction was that before the establishment of Supreme Court in Calcutta, the Indians in Bengal were tried by local Faujdari Adalat. In this case, the offense was committed before the establishment of the Supreme Court, and therefore it had no jurisdiction to decide the case. On the second issue of applicability of the Act of 1729 to India, there was a divided opinion even amongst the judges, but ultimately the majority views including that of the Chief Justice Impey prevailed.
Thus the decision of the Supreme Court, in this case, created a huge controversy and depicted the arbitrary state of the administration of justice in India. This decision was widely criticized and popularly referred to as judicial murder of Raja Nand Kumar.

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