HC Deb 11 May 1893 vol 12 cc639-41

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India whether the attention of the Secretary of State for India has been drawn to the Memorial of the Indian Association against Mr. E. W. Ormond's appointment to act as Second Judge of the Small Cause Court at Calcutta (an office carrying a salary of Rs.1,400 a month), and to an article giving in detail the facts of the case, both appearing in the May number of India; will he state what wore Mr. Ormond's judicial experience and qualifications which induced the Indian Government to appoint him Second Judge of the Small Cause Court, in which position he will have power to review the decisions of Mr. K. M. Chatter see, the present acting Third Judge, in all cases not exceeding Rs.500; and whether, in view of the fact that the number of Indian litigants is in excess of European litigants, and that one of the first two Judges is a European, he will consider the desirability, in the interests of Indian suitors, of appointing an Indian as the other Judge?


The Secretary of State has not seen the article mentioned in the question; he has, however, seen a Memorial, which is, no doubt, the one referred to, presented by the Indian Association to the Governor General in Council, who saw no reason to interfere with the discretion exercised by the Lieutenant Governor in appointing Mr. Ormond. The salary of Mr. Ormond as officiating Second Judge is Rs.700 a month. Before appointing Mr. Ormond, the Lieutenant Governor considered the claims of several barristers who were eligible for the post, and eventually selected that gentleman, who is a barrister of six years' standing and was believed to be in all respects well fitted for the duties of the office. As regards the rest of the question, there is nothing to add to the replies already given (on the 10th and 14th of April) to my hon. Friend, except that it is not the case that the Second Judge of the Court, sitting alone, can review the decisions of the Third Judge. The practice is that applications for a new trial or to set aside a decree are heard before at least two Judges, one of them being the Judge who tried the case, and the other, ordinarily, the Chief Judge. At the present time out of six Judges (including the Registrar of the Court, who disposes of many small cases under Rs.10), four are natives of India; and, in the circumstances, the Secretary of State does not intend to interfere with the discretion which the law gives to the Lieutenant Governor in this matter.


Arising out of the question, may I ask whether it is not the duty of the Secretary of State to make inquiries into any complaints that may be made as to race partiality on the part of a Government in India making appointments to judicial offices, and, if necessary, to redress grievances if they should be proved to exist?

MR. W. A. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

Is it not the case that the act of superseding Mr. Chatterjee is viewed very unfavourably by all interested in India who are capable of judging Mr. Chatterjee's merits?


I have only to say that the conduct of the Lieutenant Governor in this case cannot reasonably be now taken into consideration. It is not for me, in dealing with this particular case, to pass any judgment upon him. As I have already said, in the present instance no case has been made out for the interference of the Secretary of State.


I beg to give Notice that I shall, on the Indian Budget, call attention to the failure of the Secretary of State to give effect to the Queen's Proclamation, which enjoins strict impartiality as regards race, caste, and creed.