Reforms in Civil and Judicial Administration
Cornwallis organized company administration securing the services of William Jones, a judge and an Orientalist. He set up a machinery for the detection and punishment of crime, thereby ending the dual system of government established by Clive. The collection of revenue was separated from administration and justice. He deprived the collectors of their judicial function and confined them to revenue collection. Civil and criminal courts were thoroughly reorganized. At the top of the judicial system were the Sadar Diwani Adalat and the Sadar Nizamat Adalat. These two highest civil and criminal courts of appeal at Calcutta were presided over by the Governor General and his Council. Under them were four provincial courts of appeal at Calcutta, Deccan, Murshidabad and Patna. Each was to function under three European judges, aided by Indian advisers. Next came the District and City courts, each presided over by a European judge assisted by Indians. Every district and important city was provided with a court. At the bottom of the judicial system were courts under Indian judges, called munsifs. In civil cases, Muslim law was imposed and followed. In criminal cases, Hindu and Muslim laws were applied according to the religion of the litigants.
The biggest contribution of Cornwallis was the reform of the civil services. Cornwallis provided scope for employing capable and honest public servants. He put an end to the old tradition of the civil service wherein the Company’s servants were given a small salary but were permitted to trade. Cornwallis appointed people solely on merit but considered that efficiency required the exclusion of Indians from the Company’s service.
Every district was divided into thanas (police circles). Each thana was under a daroga, an Indian officer. Cornwallis’ police system was further improved under Warren Hastings. The rigid separation of judicial and revenue powers was given up. The Collector began to function as Magistrate as well.
Cornwallis, who toned up the civil and criminal administration, however, did not pay adequate attention to the education of Company servants. It was Wellesley who emphasized the need for educating and training them. Wellesley thought the civilians should have a knowledge of the languages, laws, customs and manners and history of India, in addition to their liberal education in England. With this object, the College of Fort William was founded at Calcutta in 1800. A three year course of study was provided for the Company’s civil servants. The college was staffed by European professors and eighty Indian pundits. This became the Oriental School for Bengal civilians. In 1806 the East India College was established in England. In Madras, the College of Fort St George was set up by F.W. Ellis in 1812 on the lines of College of Fort William. It was here that the theory that the South Indian languages belonged to a separate family of languages independant of Sanskrit was formulated.