Thursday, 11 August 2016

Maharaja Nandakumar 1775 first to be hanged - British India

Maharajah Nanda Kumar and Warren Hastings. mpstudy.com
Mr. Nandakumar,  (1705? - died 5 August 1775), was a collector of taxes, in addition to being a Diwan for various areas  in  what is now called  West Bengal. His birth place is  Bhadrapur in Birbhum district, W,B. It was Shah Alam, the Mogul ruler  who conferred the title "Maharaja"  on him in 1764 in recognition of his talents and his loyalty the ruler.
The place where  Nanda Kumar was hanged. Aug.1775, Kolkata. ouble-dolphin.blogspot.in/
In place of  Warren Hastings, Nanda Kumar took the  responsibility as the  Collector of Burdwan, Nadia, and Hugli on orders from the East India Company in 1764. In 1773, Warren Hastings was re-instated as governor-general of Bengal and his past records of financial irregularities were relegated to the background. Hastings' mishandling of money and power was a subject of  hot discussion and at that point of time, Maharaja Nanda kumar accused Hastings of bribing him with more than one-third of a million rupees. He further stated that he had enough proof in support of Hastings' misdeeds.
His fair lady. crazyhyena.com

Nanda Kumar's  bold accusations of peculation against Hastings drew the attention of the members of the Supreme  Council of Bengal, in particular  Sir Philip Francis. Many EIC officials did not like Hastings' over-bearing attitude and  arrogant behaviour. Holding a powerful job, vested with special powers by the Crown, Warren Hastings could overrule the Council's charges. In order to escape from the charges against him, in 1775 Warren Hastings  made counter charges of fraud  and mishandling of a rich Indian widow's estate against  Maharaja Nanda Kumar.

Nanda Kumar stood trial in the Court of   Elijah Impey at Ft. Williams, Calcatta. He was  India's first Chief Justice, and a close  school buddy of Warren Hastings. It was something like Kangaroo court trial. Impey, relying on unsubstantiated, poor pieces of evidence, found Nanda Kumar guilty, and gave him death sentence by hanging till death in Kolkata (near present-day Vidyasagar Setu),on 5 August 1775.  In those days the punishment for forgery by any native was hanging.

Thus poor Nanda Kumar, an honest and sincere man, on trivial   grounds was  put to death. He became the first man to be hanged to death through the Judicial court verdict under the East India Company rule. It was nothing but travesty of justice.
www.cartoonstock.com

Judge Eliah, on purpose, put the noose around Nanda Kumar's neck in the cloak of dispensing  justice gave a wrong verdict, to save the neck of his childhood pal Hastings. The people were furious over the death of a gentle man on account of mistrial and the media did not carry any reports favorable to Lord Hastings and Judge Impey.


Lord Burke and later Macaulay were furious and   accused them  of committing judicial murder. However, Sir James Stephen, who examined the trial in detail, states that the indictment for forgery arose in the ordinary course, was not brought forward by Hastings, and that Impey conducted the trial with fairness and impartiality. This means hanging a wrong man by the learned judge was right without making any provision for appeal or retrial!! Any way, Hastings, along with Sir Elijah Impey, the chief justice, were impeached by the British  Parliament. This swift action - impeachment was first ever in the British Empire.

 Nanda Kumar was hanged by a judge  sent by the British who was supposed to protect him and the natives in the court of justice.

Nanda Kumar was hanged for a pretended crime, the crime that never happened.

The learned English judge was more interested in sending the accused to the gallows than making room for the poor man for retrial or appeal

It was a one man bench, did not have additional justices to go into the case foisted on Nanda Kumar by Warren Hastings.

This is how  Burke accused Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of India, and concluded before the House of Lords, “I impeach him in the name of the English nation, whose ancient honour  he has sullied.  I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose rights he had trodden under foot, and whose country he has turned into a desert.  Lastly, in the name of human nature itself, in the name of both sexes, in the name of every age, in the name of every rank.  I impeach the common enemy and oppressor of all!”

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maharaja_Nandakumar