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The Cornwallis System And The Colonial Executive

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Chapter Summary

The craving for colonial hygiene is traceable throughout the Cornwallis Code. In 1793 Cornwallis transferred the Companys sovereignty to a constitution that assigned an unassailable position to the civil courts it had established. This chapter draws attention to a persistent contradiction in the Cornwallis system: the idea that it was possible for the administration to stand back and govern almost entirely through the civil courts, yet retain a firm grip on the country and its revenue. Though its emphasis on procedure may look mechanical or technocratic to us, until the mid-1820s the civil servants of Bengal remained enthusiastic about it, identified with it, and defended it as conforming to the most enlightened norms of justice and civilisation. The idea of providing access to justice as the principle and most noble task of any administration, is present in all the stories told in the chapters of this book.

Keywords: Bengal civil servants; civil courts; civilisation; Cornwallis Code; justice

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