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Mysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) online

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fanams per maund of 40 seers. The bazaar people retailed the article
at a small profit of one fanam per maund.

The monopoly of /v/t7-/c(j/ was not general, being found only in 15
districts. l\\ Bangalore the custom was to employ a renter ; he bought
at 20 bundles for one fanam, and sold to the public servants at 16
bundles the fanam, to the bazaar men at 8, and at 10 to the public

' In the old reports this name, which means tlio Five Items, appears iwuler the
ludicrous form oi Punch Bob.

.S S 2


servants in the Cantonment. The bazaar men sold in retail at i\
bundles the fanam, the remaining f of one bundle of the 8 received
from the renter being the profit of the bazaar men.

The monopoly o{ ga?ija existed only in a very few taluqs. It was
confined in Bangalore to the town. The renter purchased his supplies
at the rate of from 12 to 24 1 fanams the maund, and sold it to the
bazaar people at from 3 to 7 pagodas. The affairs of this rent were
carried on by the people of the tobacco depots.

The rent of arrack was taken by an individual in each taluq. The
renter either sublet portions of his rent to others or managed it in
amani. If he sublet it, the under farmers engaged to pay their rent
either for every shop or for each village. If kept in amani, the renter
established manufactories, where the arrack was prepared for distri-
bution, employed his own servants and caused the arrack to be sold by
retail at the usual rates. There was no uniform rule as to the extent of
the farms, as one man might be the renter of one taluq or twenty ;
while there were some taluqs rented to several. There were two
classes of persons, the one called Bedar and the other Kalala, who had
been accustomed from ancient times to manage the arrack trade and
to rent the sales from the Sarkar ; but in latter times the business seems
to have been open to all classes. There was a tax on adultery by
women of the Bedar and Kalala castes, and also on their marriages,
which was farmed with the arrack.

The rent of toddy, which was not general in all the taluqs, consisted
chiefly of what was obtained from the lands occupied by the wild date-
tree, and was levied annually. These were sometimes called se'ndi
trees. In some cases every sendi shop was taxed, but the tax was most
generally levied on the beast of burden which conveyed the sendi to the
shops ; or on the leathern bags which contained the liquor. The renter
realized the tax monthly. In some taluqs there were no trees from
which toddy could be extracted, but shops were still maintained by a
caste called Idigar, who acted under a renter and supplied themselves
from other taluqs. In several taluqs the person who rented this article
employed his own people both to extract toddy from the trees and to
sell it in retail, paying them hire for their labour. There were certain
taxes payable by these people on their marriages, on the fornication
and adultery of their women, and on other occurrences, all of which
made part of the rent. When the toddy or sendi was not rented, the
taxes were collected in amani, according to the usual rates, by the
shekdar, or by such an establishment as might be kept up for manage-
ment of the Bajebab taxes. The accounts of this revenue were not
kept distinct, but mixed up with that of arrack.


Civil Justice. — Of the system of judicature, civil and criminal, as it
existed during the Raja's government, a report of 1838, by the late Sir
Mark Cubbon, contains a full and lacid account, from which the
succeeding paragraphs are compiled.

When the Raja assumed the reins of government, considerable
alterations were, with the concurrence of the Resident, made in the
judicial department. A new Sadar Court was established at Mysore,
with two Bakshis at its head, and under it were three inferior courts,
each under two presidents called Hakims. Amongst these courts the
business was divided as follows : — The Sadar Court heard and decided
all civil causes above 500 rupees ; it received reports of the decisions
of the three inferior branches of the court, confirmed or revised them,
and inspected and sealed their decrees, without which no decision was
considered valid. The second court had jurisdiction in civil causes,
from 100 to 500 rupees. The third court had jurisdiction in suits not
exceeding 100 rupees. The fourth court undertook the magisterial
department, which will be more particularly adverted to hereafter.

Although these four courts sat in one place, and were all under the
control of the chief judges, yet each had its separate establishment of
public servants. The forms of their proceedings were adopted from
the judicial regulations in force in the Madras Presidency. They
examined witnesses upon oath. Two statements were taken from the
plaintiff — the plaifit and the answer, — and two counter-statements —
the reply and the rejoinder — from the defendant ; and institution fees
were levied upon suits. Two-thirds of the amount of these fees were,
when realized, credited to the Sarkar, and the remaining third was
paid to the authorized vakils employed in the cause. There was no
express provision for an appeal to the Raja from the decision of the
Sadar Court ; nevertheless, when parties complained to the Raja, he
used often to call on the judges for explanation.

The two first Bakshis who sat in the Sadar Court, thus newly
constituted, were Bakar Sahib, and Gulam Mohi-ud-din Mekri. For
the first year and a half after their appointment it would seem that
justice was equally and duly administered, and though the judges were
subject to the solicitations of the Rdja's courtiers, yet no real hindrance
was offered to the course of justice so long as they steadily resisted all
attempts made to influence their decisions. After this interval, the
orders of the court issued upon its ordinary business to the various
cutcherries began to be neglected by the public officers of the State ;
the minions of the Darbar increased their interference, and the chief
judge, Bakar Sahib, a man reputed for integrity and independence of
character, finding that they were encouraged rather than checked,


refused to exercise his judicial functions any longer, and retired to his
own house. After a lapse of four or five months, the Resident, by
earnest representations to His Highness the Raja, and persuasions to
Bakar Sdhib, prevailed on the latter to resume his duties. He accord-
ingly acted as chief judge for a year longer, during which period the
business of the court, so long as His Highness happened to be pleased
with the Resident, went on uninterruptedly ; but whenever this
harmony was disturbed, every sort of secret and indirect influence
was exercised to render the court contemptible, and its orders nugatory.
At last Bakar Sahib, unable to support the dignity of the court, and
wearied by the constant repetition of these insults, quitted office in
disgust, and never returned.

The second judge, Gulam Mohi-ud-din Mekri, then took the seals,
and being supported by Sidraj Aras (a relative of the Raja, who was
entrusted with much of the authority of the government, and enjoyed
likewise the confidence of the Resident) he was enabled in some
degree to maintain the character, and to enforce the authority of the
court. At the end of seven years, nine charges of corruption and
partiality were presented against this judge, but after two months'
investigation before the Resident nothing was proved against him.
He then besought the Raja to punish his accusers ; but failing in this,
he resigned his office.

The Khazi of the court, Sayad Ali, succeeded, but though acting as
Bakshi he did not keep the seals, the decrees being submitted for con-
firmation to Bale Aras, a maternal uncle of the Raja. One Srinivas
Rao was then associated with the Khazi for about ten months, when
the latter died, and Srinivas Rao conducted the affairs of the court
alone. He too was dismissed by the intrigues of the Raja's courtiers
after some months, and Chota Raja Khan was appointed in his place.
During the time of the latter judge, who remained in office about three
years, the court was in very bad repute. The suitors sought for and
obtained their ends by indirect means. The Raja often sent for this
judge, abused and called him names in open Darbar, dismissed him
from his presence, and summoned a mutsaddi of the court to give him
what information he wanted. It is currently believed that every
person about the Darbar at that time, however low, used to inter-
meddle in the suits, and attempt to influence the decisions of the
Adalat. At length one Krishna having obtained an unjust decree for
a large sum of money, through the influence, as it was supposed, of the
sheristadar of the Resident's cutcherry, the Raja, at the suggestion of
Dasappaji, a relative of his own, assembled a panchayat, inquired into
the charge, and dismissed the judge.


After which, at the instance of the Raja, Gulam Mohi-ud-din Mekri,
who had formerly resigned, again consented to act as Bakshi of the
Adalat, and remained at the head of the court until the assumption of
the country, when the functions of the Adalat were suspended. And
on the establishment of the newly-constituted Adalat, or Commis-
sioner's Court, in 1S34, he was ai)pointed one of the judges.

Thus, from its first institution by Purnaiya, until the appointment of
the Commission, the semblance of an Adalat Court was maintained ;
but it was no uncommon thing, after its decrees were j)assed, for the
Raja to issue a niri'ip dispensing with their observance. It has likewise
happened that, in the same suit, as many as four or five contradictory
decrees, in addition to the original decree of the court, were succes-
sively passed by the Raja himself, just as the influence of the one party
or the other predominated at the Darbar ; and other circumstances
might be adduced in proof of the fact that, at the time of the assump-
tion of the country, nothing remained which was fit to be called the
administration of justice.

Besides these irregularities connected with the Court of Adalat,
suits to the highest amount were sometimes decided in the Sar Amin's
choultry, and even by Raja Khan and Dasappaji when Bakshis of the
Barr or Infantry. Questions of property were also decided by the
Raja in person, without any record of the investigation, or any written

Criminal Justice. — Under the ancient Hindu rulers of Mysore, the
following classification of crimes and forms of procedure are said to
have prevailed : — theft; robbery; highway robbery ; murder.

Cattlestealcrs, and robbers of cloths, household furniture and
grain, &c., were tried by the shekdars, shanbhogs and gaudas of
villages, who were empowered to inflict, on conviction, corjjoral
punishment and imprisonment in the stocks. There was no limitation
either to the extent or duration of these punishments, and persons
confined on suspicion were seldom released, whether shown to be
implicated or not, until the stolen property was recovered. A report
of the circumstance was, however, made by the village authorities to
the Amil.

Primary investigations of highway and gang robberies, and murders,
were also made by the village officers, after which the prisoners and
witnesses were sent to the Amil, who, assisted by thekilledar, examined
them, and reported the result of the inquiry, with their opinion, to the
Huzur, by whose orders the prisoners were variously punished, by
death, imprisonment for life in hill forts, and by mutilation. But
records of these trials were never kept, nor does it clearly appear that


panchayats were ever employed in criminal cases previous to the
government of Purnaiya.

Under the Muhammadan government, no particular alterations were
made in the customs which had previously prevailed in the districts.
There was a Sadar Court at the Huzur ; and Muhammadan law was
administered to those of that faith according to the Koran.

The forms of criminal procedure and the punishment of crimes
which obtained under the administration of Purnaiya have been
described in the last section, when an attempt was made to reduce into
practice some of the mild principles of jurisprudence advocated by
Beccaria. The experiment, however, failed.

Under the Raja, the fourth court at Mysore undertook the magis-
terial department, each hakim alternately presiding in it and receiving
petitions ; that is to say, each hakim was employed for fifteen days
successively in receiving complaints and preparing them for hearing,
and fifteen days in presiding at trials. This Court inquired into all
assaults, robberies and minor offences, and having presented its finding
to the Bakshi of the Sadar Court, sentence was passed by the latter.

The penalty awarded for theft of all descriptions, and serious
assaults, was for the most part corporal punishment, and but rarely
fines ; the former being always inflicted on low-caste prisoners, the
latter on those of the higher caste. The instrument used for corporal
punishment was the korda, a most formidable whip, forty strokes of
which, when severely administered, were sufficient to exhaust the frame
of the stoutest criminal ; nevertheless, instances were very common of
prisoners suspected of theft being flogged until they fell, being
remanded to prison, and again subjected to the same discipline until
they confessed the crime, or named a spot where the property was
hidden ; the former being necessarily the only resource of such as
were really innocent. To carry on these severities there were two
regular Jalebdars or floggers borne on the strength of the establishment
of the Sadar Court, at a monthly pay of six rupees each. Afterwards,
■when one was reduced, it being found that one individual was inade-
quate to fulfil the duty required of him, it frequently happened that
the floggers attached to the Anche, Shagird pesha and other cut-
cherries (all of which were similarly provided), were called in to assist
in the magistrate's department. It has been confidently stated by one
of the most respectable men employed in the judicial department under
the Raja's administration, that no day passed from the time His High-
ness ascended the throne in 181 2 until the appointment of the Com-
mission, on which, when magisterial inquiries into theft and serious
assaults took place, the sound of the korda was not heard in the Court


of Adalat.' In heinous cases the Bakshis were accustomed to report
to His Highness the Raja, and receive his orders on the subject. In
awarding the amount of punishment, the Mufti was consulted by the
Court, and he gave his futwah. But this mode of proceeding did not,
as will be afterwards explained, extend to the greater part of offences
committed in the taluqs ; and even with regard to those committed in
the town of Mysore, it must be considered rather as the rule than the

The preceding statements refer to the mode of procedure. \\'ith
regard to the punishment of criminals, there was, under all the rulers
of Mysore, from Haidar AH to the Raja, an utter absence of system, so
that it was impossible to say what kind of punishment would be inflicted
on any particular class of offenders.

For felony — death by hanging, throwing over precipices, and tread-
ing under foot by elephants, confinement for life in hill forts, amputa-
tion of hands, feet, noses and ears, flogging, imprisonment in the common
jails, confiscation of property, and fines, were indiscriminately resorted
to. In one respect, however, the preliminary proceedings were invari-
ably the same ; that is, persons suspected of murder or robbery were
beaten daily until they confessed the offence, or pointed out where the
stolen goods were deposited. Indeed, the recovery of the stolen pro-
perty was considered (and it is believed the current of native opinion
still runs in the same channel) of more importance than the punish-
ment of the offender, and when this was effected the culprit was as
commonly released as punished. The usual punishments for petty
thieves, revenue defaulters, and fraudulent debtors, were — flogging,
imprisonment, fines, exposure on the highway with a stone on the head,
thumb-screws, and pincers on the ears ; but these inflictions were
equally uncertain and variable with the preceding. Petty assaults and
abusive language were commonly punished with small fines of from
3 to 12 gold fanams.

To refer more especially to the time of Purnaiya, Major W'ilks
observes that sentence of death was never pronounced excepting in
cases of murder or [)luiKlcr on the frontier ; that theft and robbery were
punished with imprisonment and hard labour; that fines were dis-
couraged, as a dangerous instrument in the hands of subordinate
authorities ; and that corporal punishment was prohibited. 'I'his

' It was a favourilc inslrumciil with Ilaidar (,scc p. 396). Il was a common Irick
of his chief chohdar (says Wilks), when his master appeared displeased at some sup-
posed relaxation, — or as he chose to interpret, was in ill-temper, — to bring him into
good humour hy the sound of the corla at the gale, and the cries of an innocent
sufferer, seized casually in the street for the purpose.


statement is true only of a particular period. Previous to that time,
punishment by mutilation of hands, feet, noses and ears was occa-
sionally inflicted by order of Purnaiya, and in the latter years of his
government it is well known that he had recourse to all the severities
of former times. At the period of his administration last spoken of,
corporal punishment was not only permitted, but enjoined ; suspected
thieves were flogged by the village officers till they confessed, and if
obstinate (or innocent) they were sent to the taluq cutcherry, where
they were flogged again. Even the power of inflicting capital punish-
ment was not, as at the time described by Major Wilks, confined to
the Divan assisted by the Resident, but was exercised sometimes by
the Faujdars, by whom also the crime of murder, when committed by
persons of high caste, was either overlooked or not infrequently com-
muted for short imprisonment or a firie.

Murder, gang and torch robbery attended with violence, when com-
mitted by persons of low caste, were usually punished w'ith death.
Gang and highway robbery unattended with violence, were punished
sometimes with mutilation, but more commonly with imprisonment in
hill forts, or hard labour in chains. For thefts or other minor offences,
from lo to loo lashes, at the discretion of the Amil, were permitted to
be inflicted ; likewise thumb-screwing, fining, and imprisonment.
Revenue defaulters were subjected to these last, and various other
tortures, such as being made to stand on hot earth from which the fire
had just been removed.

During the Raja's administration, the punishment of offences was
much the same as in Purnaiya's time, perhaps rather increasing in
irregularity, until the state of disorder into which the country was at
length thrown led to its assumption.

Persons accused of serious offences, especially at the capital, were,
as has been already said, tried, according to rule, at the Huzur Adalat ;
but in practice, the Barr and other cutcherries were likewise not infre-
quently used as criminal courts. By all these tribunals, and also by
the Sar Amin, mutilation of the hands and feet, noses and ears, was
inflicted, even for ordinary theft ; while corporal punishment, thumb-
screws, and ear-pincers were commonly resorted to for minor offences ;
Avomen convicted of incontinency were sold as slaves, and, in an order
now before me (writes Sir Mark), a woman is sentenced to lose her
nose for that offence. Stripes were inflicted by the local officers without
limitation as to number, and were habitually resorted to in order to
recover balances of revenue.

The condition and treatment of females was most deplorable during
all former administrations, especially under Hindu rulers ; and if to


live in constant dread of degradation and exposure to the greatest
indignities, at the accusation of the meanest and most disreputable
informers, be considered a state of slavery — actual sale in the market,
which frequently followed, was but the climax of a long course of
previous suffering and servitude. It will hardly be credited that in the
large towns there were regular farmers of an item of Government
revenue called Samayachar, part of the profits of which arose either
from the sale of females accused of incontinency, or fines imposed on
them for the same reason. Thus the Government was placed in the
position of deriving direct support from the crimes of its subjects, or,
what is still worse, of sharing with common informers the fruits of their
nefarious extortion.

The rules of this system varied according to the caste of the accused.
Among Brahmans and Komtis females were not sold, but expelled
from their caste, and branded on the arm as prostitutes ; they then paid
to the ijardar an annual sum as long as they lived, and when they died
all their property became his. Females of other Hindu castes were
sold without any compunction by the ijardar, unless some relative
stepped forward to satisfy his demand. The wives and families of
thieves were also commonly taken up and imprisoned with their
husljands, notwithstanding that there was no pretence for including
them in the charge. These sales were not, as might be supposed, con-
ducted by stealth, nor confined to places remote from general observa-
tion, for in the large town of Bangalore itself, under the very eyes of
the European inhabitants, a large building was appropriated to the
accommodation and sale of these unfortunate women ; and so late as
the month of July 1833, a distinct proclamation of the Commissioners
was necessary to enforce the abolition of this detestable traffic.

The Amils were sometimes confined in irons for corruption or
neglect of duty ; or summoned to the Huzur and exposed before the
palace with their faces covered with mud, and with pincers on their
ears ; they were also occasionally flogged, to the extent of one hundred
lashes, or until they gave security for the balances against them ; yet
such men were not by any means looked upon as disgraced, but were
frequently reappointed to office, and some of the taluq servants now in
employ are said to have formerly suffered such inflictions. The natural
consequence of this was the extinction of all self-respect and honourable
feeling amongst the public servants.

Although no sentence of death could be carried into execution at
the town of Mysore without the sanction of the Raja, yet, at a distance
from the seat of government, reputed offenders were sometimes executed
even without the form of a trial. So late as the year 1825, a native


officer of infantry was sent out for the apprehension of some Kormars
(a class of people notorious for their predatory habits) accused of
robbing a treasure party, and putting to death two men who had been
employed to obtain intelligence of their movements. The orders he
received were to hang the guilty, and bring in the women and children.
Sixty-five men were accordingly hanged on the spot, and 200 prisoners
brought to Mysore. The same officer was again employed in 1827,
and brought in 100 prisoners, of whom three were hanged. Of the
whole 300 prisoners captured on the two occasions, about 200 were
sold in the public bazaar of Mysore as slaves, and the rest, without any
form of trial, were kept in jail. The native officer was rewarded for
his activity with a palankeen and an increase of salary.

Towards the end of the Raja's administration, almost all the powers
of government had passed into the hands of his principal ofificers or his
favourites, by whom they were often exercised for purposes of extortion
or revenge. It was well know^n that notorious criminals were constantly
liberated for a bribe, while the innocent were imprisoned ; and on the
appointment of the Commission, the jails were found to be crowded
with supposed offenders of every description, many of whom, it was
found on inquiry, had been confined on mere suspicion, or for no
assigned reason ; while others had been imprisoned for ten years and
upwards without ever having been brought to trial. ^

In short, both property and personal liberty, and sometimes life
itself, w^ere dependent on the mere v.'ill and caprice of a class of public

Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 75 of 98)