(Last Updated on : 17/02/2009)
The most abiding impacts of the British rule in India is manifested in the fields of administration. The British Rulers introduced Rule of Law in their territories. Even the meanest subject enjoyed personal liberty according to the Rule of Law. The principle of habeas corpus provided that no person could be arrested or kept in prison without a written order from the local executive or the judicial authority, even if the viceroy when desired. Even the Government servant, if the acts done in their official capacity could be sued in the court of Law. The natural upshot of the Rule of Law was the Equality before the Law, which subsequently followed the Rule of Law. The Equality before the Law appeared as a novel feature in the caste-ridden society.
The British rulers further established a codification of law. The Code of Civil Procedure, the code of Criminal Procedure laid down in clear, precise and in exact terms, the law applicable to all citizens, high and low breed and irrespective of caste, creed and religion. The British rulers also set up a gradation of courts, civil and criminal for the trial of the petty and heinous crimes with the right to appeal at the high Courts ands even an appeal to a Committees of Privy Council in civil suits.
The legal system introduced by the British Government in India had several shortcomings. It was very expensive and the rich had the opportunity to wear out the poor and uneducated. The British legal system stimulated the growth of the falsehood, chicanery, and deceit. The inordinate delay in the decision of the case was one of the significant negative feature of the Legal system of the British. The lawyer class in the British legal system was interested in delaying and prolonging cases and pleading for clients who could afford to pay them. Even the Governments of independent India, later was not be able to remove all the shortcomings of the British legal system. The worst aspects of the legal system in the British time were the special procedures for the trial of the European in the criminal cases. The Ilbert Bill highlighted the injustice involved in the racial discrimination in judicial matters but no remedial measures were provided.
The organization of an Indian Civil Service, which worked according to the codified rules and with efficiency and impartiality, was a striking features of the administration. The administrative system established by the British was completely different from the personal rules and regulations of a dictator monarch. The ICS officers, under the British administrative system worked as collectors, Magistrates, Judges and maintained a high standard of impartiality and integrity.
However highly applauded system of Indians civil Services, had several drawbacks. In spite of the repeated resolutions of the British Parliament and announcements by the British crown about the recruitments to the ICS on the basis of Competitive Examination irrespective of racial discriminations. The British system of Indian civil Service was completely aimed to constitute as a close preserve of the Europeans. In this way the British Government wanted to strengthen their own position in the politics and administrative field of India. Various measures like holding of examination in London, reducing the average age limit of the examination etc.were adopted to keep the Indians out of the Civil services or to participate in the administrative system directly. Therefore the British impact on the law and administration was immense and was directed to fortify the British administration in India.