Kamaluddin Ali Khan Case

Kamaluddin Ali Khan Case represents the first open difference of opinion between the Court and the Government over the question of Court’s control of Diwani functions.

Facts of the Case-

1. In 1775, Kamaluddin, a farmer of Hidglee, was committed without bail by the Calcutta Revenue Council on the ground of arrears of revenue due from him which claim he disputed.

2. It was customary to take bail in such cases but no bail was taken in his case.

3. He approached the Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus.The Court held that in cases of disputed accounts, the defendant should be held to bail till the inquiry as to his obligation to pay was completed.

4. It, therefore, directed the chief of the council to accept bail for Kammaluddin’s appearance in the diwani court and not to take him into custody again untill his under-renter had been called upon to pay the rents and been proved insolvent.

5. The Government regarded the Court’s order as an encroachment on the Company’s diwani rights which, it contended, the Court had no right  to interfere with as there was no specific provision in the Regulating Act to empower the Court to do so. The diwani rights, the Council contended, were vested in the Governor-General and Council solely and exclusively by Parliament and the Court’s proceedings in releasing Kamaluddin exceeded its jurisdiction and were against law.

6. Three members of the Council suggested that the Court’s order should not be recognised and obeyed. This suggestion could not be translated into practice because Governor General Warren Hastings did not support defiance of the Court’s order. It appears that sometimes later Kammaluddin was arrested again and he again obtained writ of habeas Corpus from the Court and he was finally discharged by the Court.

7. Chief Justice Impey in a letter to the Court of Directors justified Court’s action on two grounds – (i) in a case of this nature, it had been the usual practice for the Revenue Council to take bail and so the Court made the direction for taking bail; (ii) it had been the established practice to demand rent from the undertenant before demanding, much less imprisoning, the farmer and the Court’s order was consistent with this practice.

8. Impey refuted the suggestion that the Court had assumed jurisdiction over revenue cases as such. He maintained that the Court had intervened to prevent the Company’s officers “under colour of legal proceedings” “being guilty of most aggravated injustice.” He asserted that every person was entitled to the “protection of the English law from the oppressions of the collectors or any other officers of the government, and in the instant case the court had simply compelled the revenue officers to act in conformity with the established customs and usages of revenue collection.”

Explaining the basis of the Supreme Court’s stand in this case, Impey stated that the judges had taken “great pains to acquire the most authentic information concerning the customs and laws of the collection as a guide to our conduct, in cases of complaint against the officers concerned. … it was not from any principle peculiarly applicable to the English law that the judges had acted. …the Court allowing the customs and usages of the collection to be the law of the country, have only compelled the officers of the Government to act conformable to those usages, and not to make use of the colour and forms of law to the oppression of the people.” The Court did not desire to interfere with the “ordering and management” of the revenues, but the collection of revenue was a different matter. Impey asserted that the Court would be guilty of a breach of trust, if it refused to take cognisance of violence and oppressions used in the collection of revenue. The case created a difference of opinion between the Court and the Council, which was to manifest itself later in a more violent form.

Conclusion – On the basis of the decisions of the cases of Patna and Kamaluddin we can say that these cases have depicted the controversies between the Supreme Court and Supreme Council before the public at large. The decisions of these cases also show that name of the litigants was satisfied with the nature of the working of the courts.The courts neither had the legal experts nor the time to dispose of the cases on merits. Thus, we can say that these cases identified the deſects in the administration of justice of that time.



Kamaluddin and Patna cases brought to fore controversies between the Supreme Council and the Supreme Court. Illustrate.


“Patna Case identified the defects in the administration of justice of that time.” How ?


Write short notes on Kamaluddin and Patna Cases.


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