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least, on every branch of Hindú law. The other, which the Arabs call the "Indian Decision,' is known here by the title of' Fetawaii Aâlumjari,' compiled by order of Aurungzebe, in five large volumes” (a).

It would not be expected, in an address necessarily so circumscribed as the present, that the various alterations which the original plan, and the constitution of the several courts have undergone, should be dwelt upon.

A short summary of the actual constitution of the Company's courts within each Presidency must suffice, premising that all their courts and their several jurisdictions were governed and regulated by what, previous to 1833, were called “Regulations,” enacted by the governments of the several Presidencies, of which there are excellent collections; and since that time by what are known as “ Acts of the Legislative Council of India.”

In each of the presidencies of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, there are supreme courts presided over by English judges usually appointed in England. These courts have jurisdiction in all civil, criminal, equity, ecclesiastical, and admiralty cases, in which British subjects in India, or the inhabitants of Calcutta, Madras, or Bombay, whether Europeans or natives, are concerned. This jurisdiction is regulated by the common law of England, the statute law as it existed in 1726, and not controlled in certain particulars by the acts of the legislative council of India. By Hindú law, as regards actions in relation to inheritance and succession to lands, and all manner of contract and account between party and party, in which a Hindoo is defendant. By the Mahomadan law, in all similar cases in which a Musselman is defendant. An appeal lies from the discussions of these courts in civil suits to the Queen in council when the subject-matter in dispute exceeds 10,000 rupees.

At this time, except where the present troubles have temporarily suspended their operation, there are throughout India the following number and description of these courts. In the

(a)“Futawa Alemgiri, a Collection of Opinions and Precepts of Mohamadan Law; compiled by Sheik Nizam and other learned Men, by command of the Emperor Aurungzebe Alemgir,” 6 vols. 4to, Calcutta, 1828.

whole circuit of the Bengal Presidency, 523--consisting of 48 presided over by Englishmen, civil servants of the company; 55 by Principal Sudr aumeens, 30 by Sudr aumeens, and 390 by Mounsiffs—these three last classes of judges, almost wholly natives. These Courts have a gradation of jurisdiction.

In the Madras Presidency, 160 Courts—29 presided over by English judges, or subordinate judges; 11 by Principal Sudr aumeens, 20 by Sudr aumeens, and about 100 by Mounsiffs.

In the Bombay Presideney about 95 Courts—8 presided over by English judges, 8 by Principal Sudr aumeens, 9 by Sudr aumeens, and about 70 by Mounsiffs—making a gross

, total of 780 Courts for the administration of civil justice amongst the natives.

The Courts presided over by Mounsiffs have jurisdiction to the extent of 300 rupees, or £30 sterling; the Sudr aumeens to the extent of 1000 rupees, or £100 sterling. Appeals lie from these to the Zilla and City Courts, whose decisions are final.

The Principal Sudr Aumeen Courts have cognizance of suits whether they originate in their own courts or are referred to them by the Zilla and City Courts, with an appeal to the Sudr Court, where the matter in dispute amounts to 5000 rupees, or £500 sterling. The Zilla and City Courts exercise a jurisdiction to an unlimited amount from 5000 rupees upwards, with an appeal to the Sudr Court at the several Presidencies. The courts presided over by Englishmen are assisted by native Pundits or Moulavies, as legal officers; and, judging from the average number of appeals from the decisions of the principal courts to the Queen in Council, it cannot be asserted that justice has not been most impartially and ably dispensed to the native litigants in India under our rule and the jurisdictions of the several Courts.

In conclusion—It may now be asked, in what the practical application of all this rudis indigestaque moles consists ? What is the moral of the tale ?

By one of the Institutes of Menu, it is enjoined :—“Let Him, the King or conqueror, establish the laws of the con

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quered nation, as declared in their books,” (a)-a maxim which the original administrators of India rigidly observed, a practice from which we never should have departed, and from which flowed the most beneficial results to ourselves. Of the propositions which have been recently put forth by our would-be Legislators for India, has been one by which our own civil jurisprudence is to be made the fundamental law for Hindústān. But the most partial admirer of our system must admit that, in many parts, it is woefully defectivethe annual sessional attempts at amendment sufficiently prove this. Surely it were much better to extract from the native codes that which is excellent, and adapted to the usages and customs of the natives, and apply it accordingly, than to attempt to abolish the land-law of India by the introduction of the real-property system of England, founded as it is on purely feudal principles. There is no such thing in India as perpetual property in land; whilst the law of England is based on the notion of a derivative title from the suzerein lord of the soil. The mischief to be apprehended from such a course would be of fearful magnitude. The intelligence of the native mind of India is as subtle as is to be found in any other part of the globe. It as readily appreciates that which in itself is good, and eschews that which is in itself evil; above all, it is swayed and moulded by the all-powerful force of example. Those to whom the life of Swartz is familiar, will understand exactly what this means. The most exalted precepts, without example, fall as good seed among stones.

So much in our system of jurisprudence as is really good and superior to theirs, gradually introduced into their courts, will not fail to make its way; and it has appeared to me that it is our bounden duty as a nation, whilst engaged in the work of civilisation amongst them (I allude to higher aims than the mere further introduction of our laws), not only to pay due regard to their prejudices, but to make apparent to them that we have a due appreciation of that which is excellent and there is much that is so—in their own laws and institutions. The four rules laid down by the learned translator of the

(a) Menu, ch, vii., v. 203.

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Korân, might be usefully considered for our guidance in this respect. He says in his preface (a), the first is “ to avoid compulsion; the second, to avoid teaching doctrines against common sense ; the third, to avoid weak arguments; and the fourth, not to quit any article of the Christian faith to gain a Mahomedan.”


[Read 30th March, 1857,]

EVERY one who has had occasion to look into that branch of English Law which relates to contracts with Corporations, must have been struck by the extent to which that law facilitates the perpetration of fraud.

The doctrine, that a Corporation can only be bound by a contract sealed with the Corporate Seal, is too well established in this country to admit of dispute in point of authority; but, as may be said of some other doctrines equally sanctioned by time and the decisions of great men, its propriety in point of principle is still open to discussion.

The alleged reason for the doctrine in question is, that a Corporation can only express its will by some instrument under its common seal. In order to examine the validity of this reason it is necessary, in the first instance, to ascertain as precisely as may be, what is really meant by the will of a body corporate.

In the first place, then, what is a corporation ? A corporation is usually said to be an ideal person composed of a number of individuals, the collective whole being; juridically speaking, distinct from its component parts. It is, however, plain that the word “person” is here used in a technical, and not in its ordinary, signification. Physically and morally

(a) Sale's preface to his Preliminary Discourse, iv.

speaking, there is no resemblance between a corporation and a person ; for, in point of fact, a corporation is not capable of acting or forbearing to act, of assenting or dissenting, of willing either good or evil, of doing either right or wrong.

In what respects then does a corporation resemble a person ? The answer to this question will be found to contain the true theory of corporate responsibility. In the earlier stages of civilization, it may be supposed that rights and duties were attributed only to actual individuals, or to persons in the ordinary sense of the word; but as civilization advanced and the transactions of men became more and more comples, it would be found advantageous, for the purpose of attaining ends liable to be thwarted by the death of individuals, to invent a being in which rights and duties might permanently reside. A corporation is just such a being, and when it is said to be a person, what is meant is this-it is a body created for certain purposes, endowed by law with certain privileges, and with the faculty of acquiring rights and incurring obligations. Its capacity, unlike that of natural persons (which is unlimited, where not expressly limited), is restricted at its creation by the purposes for the attainment of which it is invented—for it is only with reference to such purposes that personality can be predicated of it. The person thus created, the object thus personified, is subject to law, and is protected by law, and is therefore capable of suing and being sued, in order that its rights and duties may be effectually enforced.

But further, the power of exercising privileges (whether they be favourable or onerous) and of acquiring rights and incurring obligations, presupposes a power of willing and of acting; and a capacity to will and to act is, therefore, a necessary attribute of every corporate body. But the power of willing and of acting, of transacting business between man and man, must of necessity be exercised by living people, and a body corporate can only be said to act or not to act, to assent or dissent, when the conduct of some actual human being is by law imputed to it, and treated as if it were the conduct of the fictitious person. The will and the acts of a body corporate are nothing more nor less than the real un

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