English and French approaches to personal laws in South India, 1700-1850
The dissertation compares the attitudes taken by English and French lawyers towards the administration of personal law systems in early colonial Madras and Pondicherry respectively. The account focusses on civil, rather than criminal, institutions. A. English Law Chapter I. During the eighteenth century, the East India Company encouraged Indians to settle their own disputes. Paradoxically, the English Mayor's Court in Madras town found itself overwhelmed by Indian litigation, which it was ill-qualified to resolve. Outside of Madras, the Company relied on its revenue collectors to settle disputes among Indians, despite pressure from the Directors in London to establish a more formal judicial system. Chapter II. The tenure of Sir Thomas Strange, first Chief Justice of Madras, is examined. The chapter concludes with an assessment of English approaches to the Hindu law of adoption shortly before and after 1800, by way of an illustration of a new confident style of developing personal law systems. B. French Law Chapter III. The development of the French judicial establishment of Pondicherry is traced from 1701 to 1842. During the early stages of French rule, a wide variety of Indian disputes were deemed to be questions of police and not considered within the competence of the civil courts. Gradually, the jurisdiction of the Bureau de Police diminished, as the French became more settled. Chapter IV. The early sources of Franco-Hindu law are enumerated. The opinions of the Comite Consultatif de Jurisprudence Indienne, the jurisprudence of the civil courts, and the doctrinal writings of Pondicherry lawyers are evaluated. C. Studies in English and French Hindu Law Chapter V. Testaments were believed by nineteenth century English and French lawyers to be unknown to Hindus prior to the advent of Europeans. The chapter compares the development of the law of wills in Madras and Pondicherry. Chapter VI. Given the synthetic nature of Anglo- and Franco-Hindu laws, to what extent can Europeans be said to have shaped the law of debt to their advantage? The chapter looks at doctrine and case law in answering this question. The dissertation concludes with a brief summary of the extent to which legal tradition conditioned the development of personal laws in South India.