History of Adalat System In India - Warren Hastings Reforms


The East India Company acquired the provinces of Bengal and Orissa in 1765. The Adalat system was introduced in 1772. Lord Clive's decisive victory at the battle of Plessey, enabled the Company to exercise supreme authority.

Under the Mogul rule, each unit was a SUBA having two officials  -

(1) Nawab, a military head also in charge of the administration of criminal justice, and

(2) Diwan, who was to collect the revenue.

The transfer of the Diwani, to the company meant civil and revenue powers. The maintenance of the army was also taken over by the company. Indian officers were appointed for the collection of Diwani, but this was a failure. Hence the company took upon itself the Diwani Functions.

Warren Hastings gave a new shape to the entire system as he introduced the reforms through the Judicial plans 1772 and 1774.

The Regulating Act of 1772 formed the first British Code. The Plan aimed at correcting the defects without destroying the local customs. Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa were divided into Districts. To each District was appointed a Collector responsible for the collection of revenues. Further in each district, the following courts were established - i) Moffusil Diwani Adalat to decide Civil Cases: The Collector was the judge. The court dealt with inheritance, property disputes, etc., ii) Moffusil Nizamat Adalat: to decide criminal cases.

The judicial plan of 1772 had vested excessive powers in the collector. There was also a decrease in the revenue collections. Hence, the court of Directors directed the Council of Calcutta to withdraw the collectors from the districts. This needed a fresh plan. Warren Hastings prepared a plan in 1774, known as the 'System of Principal Councils'.

According to this, the entire Diwani (revenue) area was divided into six divisions. Each had a Council charged with the duty to collect revenues. Each division had a number of Districts headed by Diwan (in the place of collector). He acted as a judge also, in Mofussil Diwani Adalat. The new court had also the powers to collect revenue in the division and to decide original suits. It may be noted that the Judicial plan of 1780, separated the revenue function.

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