§ SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether the Secretary of State for India is aware that dissatisfaction has been created in Bengal by the appointment of Mr. E. W. Ormond, a junior English barrister unconnected with the public service, to act as Second Judge of the Small Cause Court at Calcutta, over the heads of the experienced Indian public servants who are now acting as Third, Fourth, and Fifth Judges of that Court, and who are of higher standing at the Bar; whether he is aware that, it has hitherto 1819 been the usual practice, when a vacancy in this Court has occurred up to the Second Judgeship, to promote each Judge one step, and to bring in the outsider at the bottom of the list; whether Mr. Ormond has any special claims or qualifications, and whether he is acquainted with the language and customs of the people; whether the Secretary of State is aware that a great public meeting has been held in Calcutta to protest against this appointment; and, in view of the facts that the Judgeships of the Small Cause Court are among the few prizes to which Indians of merit and experience can look as the reward of good public service, and that the post of Second Judge has on former occasions been held by Indians with marked success, whether the Secretary of State will advise the Viceroy to endeavour to provide for Mr. Ormond in some post reserved for Europeans, and allow the Indian Judges in the Small Cause Court to receive promotion?
§ MR. C. F. EGERTON ALLEN) (Pembroke, &c.
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask (1) whether the question of race can fairly be imported in deciding on legal qualifications? (2) whether the person chiefly injured in promotion is not a Scotchman, and whether he, and not a native of India, would have the appointment if Mr. Ormond was not given it? (3) whether the language of the Court Is not English, proper interpreters being employed; also whether suitors are not as often English, or Armenian or Marwari, or other Hindustani-speaking folk as Bengalis, and whether, under such circumstances, an Englishman would not be as competent as a Bengali; and whether a practising barrister of nearly six years' standing is not as likely to make a good Judge as a man who, though a barrister, has never practised his profession?
MR. GEORGE RUSSELL
I believe the facts are as stated in the elucidatory question of the hon. Member for Pembroke. The Secretary of State is not aware that a public meeting has been hold to protest against the appointment of Mr. Ormond; but we learn from the Indian newspapers that his appointment has caused dissatisfaction. The responsibility for the selection lies with the lieutenant Governor, and we understand that seniority, though frequently, is by 1820 no means invariably, recognised as ground for promotion. The Secretary of State has no information respecting Mr. Ormond's qualifications; but I must point out that, having officiated as Assistant Secretary to the Bengal Government in the Legislative Department, Mr. Ormond is not "unconnected with the public service." The Secretary of State, as at present advised, sees no sufficient reason for interfering in the matter.