HC Deb 20 March 1826 vol 15 cc1-2

Mr. Wynn moved the second reading of the Juries in India Bill.

Mr. Hume

expressed his satisfaction at the introduction of the bill. He hoped, however, that the discretionary power of the judges, in directing who were to be summoned on juries, would extend to the nomination upon juries of persons of half-caste, and of natives. In Ceylon, this practice had been introduced by sir Alexander Johnston, three years ago, and had been followed up since by the judges with the happiest effect. The natives who were summoned upon those juries were found to be as good as any other jurors. Besides, it served to raise them in their own opinion, by thus making them share in the rights and privileges of other British subjects. If a similar provision was introduced into the present bill, it would give the greatest satisfaction to the people of India.

Mr. Wynn

said, that the permission to serve upon juries was granted by the bill to all persons who were not disqualified by some legal offence from serving upon them. Ceylon did not fall within the superintendence of his office. He had understood, however, that the natives there had been permitted to serve on juries, and that the practice had been attended with the best effects. In some instances, where the natives in India had been called upon to attend on coroners' inquests, they had evinced great intelligence and sharpness; and it had, he understood, had the effect adverted to by the hon. member, of raising them in their own estimation.

Mr. Hume

hoped that the operation of the bill would extend, not merely to the three presidencies, which would make it a benefit to three or four hundred thousand persons; but to the whole of British India, which would render it a blessing to sixty or seventy millions.

The bill was read a second time.