Recorder’s Court

On Feb. 1, 1798 King George III issued charters for the purpose of creating Recorder’s Court. The Recorder’s Court consisted of the Mayor, three Aldermen and a Recorder who was to be a barrister of not less than five years’ standing. The Recorder was to be appointed by the Crown and was to be the President of the Court. The Court had all civil, criminal, ecclesiastical and admiralty jurisdiction. Its jurisdiction, powers and authority were similar to those of the Supreme Court at Calcutta. It was a court of oyer and terminer and gaol delivery for the Town concerned. Its jurisdiction extended to British subjects, or, His Majesty’s subjects residing within the territories of the respective Town as well as in the territory of native princes in alliance with the Government; and to persons who were employed by, or were directly or indirectly in the service of the Company or say of His Majesty’s subjects. All restrictions imposed on the Calcutta Supreme Court by the Act of 1781 were extended to the Recorder’s Court as well.  Accordingly, the Court did not have jurisdiction in any matter concerning revenue; no person was subject to its jurisdiction by reason of his being a land-owner, landholder, or farmer of land revenue,

The Governor and Council were immune from arrest and no action against them, individually or collectively, could be entertained by the Court for anything done by them in their public capacity. In all suits or actions, the inhabitants of Bombay or Madras were subject to the jurisdiction of the respective Recorder’s Court. In matters of succession and inheritance, and matters of contract between party and party, this Court, like the Calcutta Supreme Court, administered Hindu law to the Hindus, Mohammedan law to the Muslims, and the law of the defendant, if parties belonged to different religious persuasions. No action for wrong or injury lay against a person exercising a judicial office in a country court, and in this respect, the Recorder’s Court was on the same footing as the Calcutta Supreme Court.

Appeals from the Recorder’s Court lay to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, on the same basis as the appeals from the Supreme Court at Calcutta. The Recorder’s Court absorbed into itself the Mayor’s Court and the court of oyer and terminer and gaol delivery existing in each of the settlements the Charter of 1753. The first Recorder Madras was Sir Thomas Strange and at Bombay, Sir William Syer.


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