Warren Hastings (1772- 1786)

Under Warren Hastings the administration at the top was over hauled and the foundations for the new system based on the English pattern laid. Immediately after his taking charge as Governor in Bengal Hastings drew up a plan for the judicial reforms, the aim of which was not to do away with the existing judicial machinery but to make it more efficient and amenable to the British supervision and control.

In each district there was to be a Diwan – i- Adalat civil court that was to be presided over by a collector who would be a covenanted servant of the company. The collector was to be assisted by Indian judges and other court officials. His decree was final up to the value of Rs 500.

The judges now enjoyed regular salaries. Besides each district was to have a nizamat adalat or a court of a criminal justice that was to consist of a qazi, a mufti, two maulavis and four deputy qazis in addition to its clerks and orderlies. Appeals from the district Diwani Adalat lay in the sadar diwani adalat that was to be presided over by the governor and 2 members of his council at Calcutta. It was shifted from Murshidabad to Calcutta.

Nawab’s deputy was appointed at Calcutta to fix the Nizam’s seal and signature on his behalf to the warrants issued for the execution of the sentences of the Nizamat Adalat in order to prevent the delays caused the process of sending to Murshidabad the fatwas. The dacoits who infested the whole country were to be executed in their own village and if a dacoit could not be traced out his village was to pay a hefty fine. This was the first set of reforms in the judicial department introduced by Hastings.