Francis Carnac Brown.

Letters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company online

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Online LibraryFrancis Carnac BrownLetters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company → online text (page 3 of 19)
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the 2d Judge to obtain, the matter is, of course, taken out of the hands of
the 2d Judge; but the Court of Fonjdaree Udalut deem it necessary to
submit the correspondence for the consideration and orders of the
Governor in Council, as the Judges feel persuaded, that, unless such
repeated instances of insubordination on the part of the Magistrate be
speedily checked, serious interruption to important business will be the

Ordered, that extracts from these proceedings, together with the
original correspondence referred to above, be forwarded to the Chief
Secretary to Government, for the purpose of being laid before the
Governor in Council.

(A true Extract.)

(Signed) Register.

To the Chief Secretary to Government, Judicial Department.

[Not to encumber the page, the sequel of this official correspondence
will be found at the end of this letter. See Note A.]


the Governor in Council, thus situated, and before vvliom
by an act of his own Council, the ink of which was hardly
dry, a Native in the Provinces was virtually and actually
prohibited (as shall presently be shown) from appearing in
complaint, even if despair for the life of an innocent, im-
prisoned father, brother, or son, — nay, if the innocent lives
of all three such victims united, had hurried off to Madras
a Native of Canara, bravino; the danoers and fatigues of a
five-and-twenty days' foot-journey, in the hope of staying
the sword of the executioner, kept ready-drawn over lives
so dear to him ; the Governor in Council, thus situated,
without the presence of a Native in his Council, without,
it must be thought, one Native near, whose mute presence
should remind him of the existence of such beings as Na-
tives, and that it was the lives, then at stake, of hundreds of
them, crowding and dying in a jail, — some proved to be
innocent even of a suspicion of crime ; others, without
friends or means to bring the hardshij) of their cases to light,
other than the interference of the Circuit Judge who, after
a lapse of many weeks, sought no more than a bare discrimi-
nation of the mass of innocent from the guilty — of those
without crime or accusers, from those criminated in, or even
suspected of, mob-rioting : the Governor in Council, in order,
as the Fonjdaree Udalut observes, that the matter "might,
of course, be taken out of the hands of the Circuit Judge,
called upon the Magistrate to furnish (direct to Government)
the information, in respect to the number of prisoners in con-
finement, charged with crimes against the State, and the
nature of the evidence against them, which it was the object
of the Precepts issued by the Judge to obtain."

17. Without stopping to ask your Honourable Court to
lay your hands on your hearts, and now declare, as upright
men, whether, in the case which was previously delineated
and set before you, there is, or there can be, one feature of
exaggeration ; without stopping or asking you to dwell upon
this one fact, that there is here official proof, dated 3d


July, 1837, under the sign and seal of the Court of Fonj-
daree Udalut, — the highest Court of criminal, civil, and
magisterial justice, the Court uniting and exercising the
powers of the Court of Queen's Bench and the Court of
Chancery combined, over all the Courts, and throughout
all the territories of Madras ; — that the Governor in Council,
after having proclaimed Martial law for weeks and months
before in Canara, after having assembled a Court Martial
then sitting at Mangalore, and trying prisoners for treason
and rebellion, and having devolved into other hands the
power of confirming and carrying into immediate execution,
the sentences of death and of forfeiture of all property,
passed on the Natives convicted ; after having dispatched to
Mangalore another Special Court, and after having been
apprised, since April, of the great and unresisting slaughter
which had been made of the rioters, wherever the troops
had encountered them ; without stopping, I say, to rivet
your attention to this one proof derived from the highest
Court, that it was in the very end of June, after all these
severe and sanguinary measures had been enforced, when
the Governor in Council, for the first time, called upon the
Magistrate under whose authority all the prisoners were
confined, for information relative to their number, their
crimes, and the evidence against them ; without stopping to
remark that this call, when made, so far from being spon-
taneous, or originating with the Government, was forced
from it by the firmness and decision of the Circuit Judge;
without stopping to put one of the multitudinous questions,
■which crowd for answer, even upon this one solitary point
of conduct on the part of the Executive; I proceed to relate
the next step taken by the Governor in Council.

18. On the 24th Jul}-, the urgency of the case remaining
unabated, the Governor in Council proceeded to review the
correspondence between the Circuit Judge and the Magis-
trate, submitted to him, together with the accompanying
remarks of the Fonjdaree Udalut. The Governor in


Council begins his Minute by declaring, that " an attentive
perusal of the papers has impressed him with a very un-
favourable opinion of the conduct of both" the public
functionaries concerned, who " are observed to have given
way to their private feelings and idle notions of dignity, and
to have acted in a manner which is highly discreditable to
them as officers of the Government, and calculated to prove
injurious to the public interests ;" that " the interference of
the Judge with the Magistrate's functions was vexatious,"
and they are warned " that a repetition of such proceedings
will be visited by a more decided mark of displeasure."

19. This is the language, these are the words, yes, the
ipsissima verba, — these the deliberate opinions and judg-
ment placed on record on this occasion by the Governor in
Council of Madras, to be transmitted at the fitting season
for the confirmation and approval of your Honourable
Court, as a just exposition and impartial summing up of the
real merits of this case, and a fit sentence to be passed upon
the actors, according to the joint and equal measure of their
errors and delinquency. But although these are the very
words of the Minute, although every character of this
" Consultation," such is its name, is as plainly and palpably
before my eyes, as every word of it is faithfully transcribed
below, for the perusal and astonishment of those who may
chance to read these pages;* although I have read and

* Extract from the Minutes of Consultation, 24th July, 1837.
From the Magistrate of Canara.

Submitting for order an extract from Read the following Papers : —
the proceedings of the 2d Judge on Circuit
in the Western Division, calling upon him
to state how many prisoners he has in his
custody, on account of crimes against the

State, and for an estimate of the number (Here enter 23d June, 1837.)
likely to be brought before the Special
Commission, together with his observa-
tions, showing the unreasonableness of


re-read this paper, and cannot therefore doubt its existence,
cannot doubt, that such a Minute did emanate on the day
of its date from the Governor in Council of Madras ; yet

the demand in the present state of affairs
in Canara.

From the some.
Submitting a further Precept from the
2d Judge on Circuit in the Western
Division, in reference to his communica-
tion of yesterday's date, and also another

from the same officer respecting the arrest (Here enter 24th June, 1837.)
of Pudna Shetty, one of the prisoners
connected with the late insurrection, and
requesting the early orders of Government
on the subject.

Extract from the Proceedings of the


Submitting for the consideration and
orders of the Governor in Council the
originals of a correspondence between the
2d Judge on Circuit in the Western Divi-
sion, and the Magistrate of Canara, and (Here enter 3d July, 1837,
communicatingthe opinion of the Court of No. 193.)

Fonjdaree Udalut, that unless the spirit of
insubordination, evinced by the latter
officer, be not speedily checked, serious
interruption of important business will be
the consequences.

1. An attentive perusal of the papers, recorded above, has impressed
the Governor in Council with a very unfavourable opinion of the con-
duct of both the second Judge and the Magistrate. At a time, and on
an occasion, when the public interest imperiously demanded, tliat the
most entire cordiality and co-operation should subsist between public
functionaries, working together for the attainment of a great and im-
portant object, these gentlemen are observed to have given way to their
private feelings and idle notions of dignity, and to have acted in a man-
ner, which is highly discreditable to them as Officers of the Government,
and calculated to prove injurious to the public interest. Tlieir proceed-


tlie will, however pursued and overwhelmed by this weight
of evidence, shrinks away wholly powerless at moments, in
the effort of compelling a helief in the reality; while reason
would willingly cheat itself into thinking, that the whole
must be " some idle coinage of the brain ;" that the
" imagination has bodied forth the form of things un-
known," and unheard of before, among the acts and deci-
sions which harsh, despotic, and irresponsible power, past
or present, has brought itself to record.

20. For, what spirit, what meaning, is there not breath-
ing and embodied in every line and every letter of this
sentence? It declares to the Natives of Canara, more
expressively than the plainest words can declare, that the
Circuit Judge, he who had been selected, and who had
sworn to administer justice to them " ivilhoutjear or favour,
and according to the Regulations ;" who, in obedience to

ings are the less excusable, as neither tlie second Judge nor the Magis-
trate can plead inexperience, or ignorance, of what was expected of

2. The Governor in Council cannot omit particularly to notice the
objectionable language, in which the magistrate's communications are
couched, which is observable likewise, in the letter addressed by him to
Government, under date the 23d ultimo ; nor the vexatious interference
of the second Judge with that gentleman's functions at a time, when he
was already overwhelmed by harassing and arduous duties ; and, as
this is not the first time both these gentlemen have rendered themselves
obnoxious to the censure of Government, for precisely similar miscon-
duct, the Governor in Council resolves to warn them, that a repetition
of such proceedings will be visited by a more decided mark of the dis-
pleasure of Government.

(A true Extract)


Chief Secretary.

To the Judges of the Fonjdaree Udalut for their information, and for
communication to the Second Judge, and the Magistrate respectively.
(True CopiesJ




this oath and to clear and express Regulation, had, after a
delay of some weeks, visited the jail, where hundreds of
prisoners were confined, and could not there shut his ears
to the complaints they made to him of unjust arrest; who,
after a silence, and at the lapse, of several more weeks,
again visited the jail, and was met and overwhelmed by the
same complaints, wholly unredressed ; who, in the execution
of his duty, became aware that, independently of these
prisoners, the Magistrate had a large body of men under a
Military guard, who had no friends, or other means than the
Judge's interference, of bringing the hardship of their cases
to the knowledge and notice of the Governor in Council ;
the Judge, who heard and knew of most distressing cases
of despondency occurring among the persons confined,
caused by the sight of frequent executions; who stated,
uncontrovertedly, the case of a boy, a prisoner's son, only
ten or eleven years of age, having been in confinement with
his father nearly four months ; who stated the case of four
Madras Coolies, laden with Government Stationery, confined
without the slightest ground for suspicion ; who stated the
case of one prisoner, a youth, having been sent up for trial
capitally, without its being possible to find any person, who
ever did or would accuse him ; the Judge, who proved the
correctness of his surmise, that innocent persons were suffer-
ing arrest and imprisonment, by tlie further case of a Native
of Mysoor, whom the Magistrate informed the Government
he had no intention of releasing, but whom he did release,
after the Judge's interference, and after the man's brother
had, weeks before, presented tivo Jruitless petitions ; who
further proved the correctness of his surmise by the uncon-
tradicted fact, that the Magistrate daily released numbers
of prisoners, after he made his appeal to the Government
against the Judge's interference, but not before that inter-
ference; the Judge who, if this call, 'the desiring to know
the number of persons confined, and their crimes, was
" inopportune," was declared by the Fonjdaree Uduhit to


have made it ^^ from humane and public motives alone i'^
the Judge who, of every person, of every part, of every
portion, of the Madras Government, is proved to have been
the very first person, at the lapse of several months, who
did consider it any part of his duty to call for any infor-
mation whatever on the subject (this, in a country where a
Habeas Corpus is no more known, than mercy is heard in
the region of doomed spirits, and where the substitute pro-
vided for it is the production inserted below!*); the

* Let those take the consequences, whose proceedings and productions
have now made it a crime of deep die to withhold the following revela-
tions. Up to the 16th May, 1837, the Natives of the Madras Presidency
had always had one sacred asylum left to them in their complaints: the
doors of the Government House had always been thrown and kept wide
open to their petitions, whence they received kind and conciliatory
answers in all cases, in some cases, redress. Hence the Natives invariably
separated the Governor from his Council. The Council, as they knew,
and intensely felt, brought up apart from the dawn of manhood, were
named and sent there to represent their own order, and their own
separate caste interests. But the Governor was an Englishman, usually
taken from the body at large of English gentlemen of rank. Respectable
Natives admitted to his presence found, instead of pride and arrogance,
manners, kind, open, mild, and encouraging. He would give them a
chair; he thought it no degradation that a Native should be seated before
him. To him, therefore, the Natives instinctively clung and looked up
as their representative; as the person in the Government who, above
caste leanings and prejudices, was really best disposed to listen and do
justice to their representations ; and among themselves, they would
wind up their complaints by exclaiming, " If we do not get redress, we
will petition the Governor Saheb."

Accordingly, many petitions used to be addressed direct to the
Government House, for the Governor in Council; petitions often con-
veying information of the very last importance for the Governor to
receive. In support of this (and if the averment be unfounded, there is
the late manly, upright Governor of Madras to contradict me), I refer
to the proofs and indications, not of faults nor mere offences, but of
serious, heinous public crimes, which have been transmitted to Govern,
ment by Natives, who were afraid to put their names to what tiiey wrote.
It is their crime, doubtless, that they are in a condition that an honest


sentence declared to the Natives, that the Circuit Judge,
for this act of almost negative interference in behalf of the
unfortunate prisoners, after knowing and seeing with his

man among them dare not come forward, and denounce corruption and
guilt; dare not say to the offender to his face, "you are the criminal, and
here are the proofs!" without feeling certain that he and his family will
sooner or later be sacrificed.

The consideration which justified the keeping open of this sole channel
of direct communication of the Governor with the Natives, the leaving to
them this one safety-valve to their complaints, in a system which, by
every other means, keeps the Governor blindfold, was the lamentable, the
melancholy necessity of the case, the res dura et regni pi'avitas. Hardly,
however, had the late Governor turned his back (4th March), and before
the new Governor could be aware of the purpose for which his name was
being used, when the opportunity was seized efl'ectually to bar up this,
the last remaining, refuge to the people, by issuing and prescribing to
them strict obedience to the following " Rules :" —

Fort St. George Gazette, May 16, 1837.
The following Rules respecting Petitions are published for general
information :

1. Whereas the practice of making applications and appeals direct to
the Government, who are unable to pass any orders thereon without pre-
vious reference to the Department concerned, is productive of incon-
venience io public offices, and of delay and disappointment to individuals :
the Right Honourable the Governor in Council is pleased to promulgate
the following Rules for general information.

2. Persons having cause of complaint against an officer of Govern-
ment, civil or military, or his agents at the Presidency, or in the Pro-
vinces, shall, in the first instance, seek redress /row the officer in whom
the local autliority is vested ; and that officer will, in every instance in
which he is unable to comply with the requisition, give the petitioner a
written endorsement, or where endorsements are not authorised, a copy
of the order, setting forth the grounds upon which it is refused. If the
petitioner is dissatisfied with this decision, he is at liberty to address the
Board or Court, or superior civil or military authority by which the
subordinate officer is controlled ; and the Government, in cases in which
there is no intermediate authority.

3. The Government will not receive (italics in the original) a petition
ON ANY MATTER, unlcss it shall appear that the Petitioner lias already
applied successively to the subordinate officer, and to the Board, or Court,


own eyes all that was going forward, had impressed the
Governor in Council with a very unfavourable impression of
his conduct, — that he had given way to private feelings,

or superior military Officer; and the answers, or orders, of those autho-
rities respectively, if any have been passed, or copies of them, must be
annexed to the petition addressed to Government.

4. The Government, having passed one order on any appeal made to
it, will not notice a second petition on the same subject, unless new and
important matter be introduced; and anonymous petitions will be totally

5. As the Right Honourable the Governor in Council never interferes
with the distribution of subordinate appointments, applications in the
gift of Heads of Departments will also remain unnoticed.

Revenue Department.

6. The proper course for persons having petitions or complaints to
make regarding matters belonging to the Revenue Department, is to
address, in the first instance, the Collector, or subordinate covenanted
officer, to whose charge the matter appertains: in the latter case, if the
answer or order of the subordinate officer does not satisfy the com-
plainant, he ma2/ address the Collector ; from the order of the Collector,
on a petition or complaint addressed to him in the first instance, or on
an appeal from the order of a subordinate officer, an appeal may be
preferred to the Board of Revenue, and eventually to Government, but it
is to be understood tliat it is only iri extraoi-dinurij cases that Government
will interfere in matters which have been considered and disposed of in
due course by the local and controlling authorities.

7. Upon complaints of persons dismissed from office by Collectors
and Sub-collectors, the decision of the Board of Revenue is final with
respect to offices below that of Head-S/tcristadar. (italics in the original.)

8. Persons dismissed from the office of Head-Sheristadar, whose dis-
missal has been confirmed by the Board of Revenue, are at liberty to
appeal through the Board to Government. Petitions direct to Govern-
ment will not be received, (italics in the original.)

Judicial Department.

9. Petitions will not he received by Government, (italics in the original)
regarding any matters which form the subject of judicial proceedings in
the Courts, or which properly fall within the jurisdiction of tlie Courts, or
containing complaints relating to the administration of civil or criminal


acted in a manner highly discreditable to him as a Judge,
and Injurious to the public interests ; and that if he per-
sisted in discharging his duty as he had done, fearlessly

justice, in cases on which another mode of obtaining redress, is open to
the complainant, under the Regulations, and in which by the Regula-
tions, a subordinate authority is competent to pass a final decision.

10. In other cases petitions wilt not be received by Government con-
corning the administration of civil or ci-iminul justice, or the proceedings
of the O^cersemployed therein, unless it shall happen that the Petitioner
has already brought the subject before the proper controlling authority
and has not received satisfaction, in which case the petition to that
authority and the order passed upon it, if any has been passed,
must be produced.

11. Government icill not receive petitions from persons dismissed from
Ministerial offices in the Courts : such persons having cause of com-
plaint, may offer petitions to the proper controlling authorities, by whose
decision they must abide.

Military Department.

[Two similar paragraphs here follow.]
Published by order of the Right Honourable the Governor in Council.

It has been proved by the official testimony of the Circuit Judge and
of the Fonjdaree Udalut, that in a month after the publication of these
" Rules," two successive petitions were presented, in accordance with
them, to the Magistrate of Canara, by the brother of a prisoner, an inno-
cent man and a foreigner, then confined for high treason ; that both
petitions proved ^'■fruitless," that is to say, received neither notice
nor endorsement : it has been proved that the Circuit Judge in-
terfered to obtain an answer to them, and that his interference
was " fruitless ;" it lias been proved that the Governor in Council,
the framer of the " Rules," publicly stigmatized the Judge's " inter-
ference" as "vexatious." So much for cases immediately occurring
and brought to light, in which the lives of the Natives were at stake.
As to " the Revenue Department," that is to say, their petitions of Reve-
nue grievance, I have by me two of these petitions ; cases, every parti-
cular of which I so well knew, and thought so cruel, that I myself drew
up both petitions, ill the hope that I could make them more easily intel-
ligible, and obtain redress for the sufl'ercrs. Both petitions were pre-
sented und refused to be received by " tlie local authority." It will be
said, the petitioners had an appeal. Suppose then, that they made the



and honestly, by breaking tlie peremptory silence now
imposed on his lips, whatever the injustice, whatever the
cruelty, whatever the oppression, he might see or hear of,

appeal as usual, by post, to a distauce. The easy answer to a reference
on the subject would have been, that " search had been made, and no
such petitions had been received, as all the Native public Officers were
ready to attest;" and the consequence to the Petitioners would have
been, the Revenue and Police authorities being always united in the same
persons, and thei/ being " the local authority" appealed against, that
the Petitioners would have been liable to immediate fine and imprison-
ment for making afulse complaint.

It is hence plain that the operation of these " Rules," under a Govern-
ment so framed, so constituted, and so conducted, was, in point of fact,
to place the Natives, in cases of liberty and property, out of the pale of
humanity as effectually, as if "Rules" had been passed in the late Slave
Colonies, enacting that no slave should complain to a Magistrate of ill
treatment by his Master, or by hin Jliasto'sorf/ers, unless he first presented
a petition to his Master, setting forth this ill treatment, and produced his
Master's "written endorsement" upon the Petition.

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Online LibraryFrancis Carnac BrownLetters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company → online text (page 3 of 19)