Trial of Raja Nand Kumar (1775) (The Judicial Murder)

Trial of Raja Nand Kumar (1775) (The Judicial Murder)

Maharaja Nand Kumar (1705-1775) was a Hindu Brahmin Zamindar who had considerable power along with having his influence in the whole region of Bengal. He was a very big loyalist of The East India Company since the time of Lord Robert Clive and was popularly known as The Black Colonel.

Raja Nand Kumar v/s Lord Warren Hastings

The Case involves The Maharaja Nand Kumar and Lord Warren Hastings. The background of the story is that The Council was divided into two distinct rival groups one which was against Lord Warren Hastings and one which was with the Lord. The major group which consisted of Francis, Clavering and Monson were Council Members already. had conspired with Nand Kumar. They instigated Nand Kumar and in the March of 1775, a court case was instituted against Warren Hastings. Nand Kumar gave a letter to Francis which stated that in 1772, Warren Hastings had accepted a bribe of One Lakh Rupees to appoint Gurudas, Nand Kumar’s son to appoint Gurudas as The Diwan.

The letter also stated that Warren Hastings also took a bribe from Munni to appoint her as the lawful guardian of the minor Nawab Mubarak-ud-Daulah. Francis placed the letter before The Council Members and Monsoon supported him by moving a motion that Nand Kumar be summoned to be present before The Council. Lord Warren Hastings who was presiding over the Council in his capacity as The Governor-General. The proposal was opposed by Lord Warren Hastings because he shall not hear any accusations against himself nor would he acknowledge any member to be the Judge.

A Fourth Council Member, Barwell who had supported Warren Hastings, proposed that since this case involves a sitting Governor-General, Nand Kumar should file a case the case in The Supreme Court and not The Council. Warren Hastings opposed the proposal but since Barwell’s Proposal was supported by the majority, and as a counter-reaction, the case was dissolved by Lord Hastings.  A major number of people had objected to this dissolution of the case initiated by Warren Hastings and thus elected Clavering to preside over the meeting in absence of Hastings.

Raja Nand Kumar was thus called before the council to prove his charges against Hasting. After the examination of Nand Kumar, it was proven that Hastings was guilty and therefore was liable to pay the East India Companies Treasury an amount of Rupees Three Lacks, which he had received as a bribe from Raja Nandkumar and Munni Begum. Warren Hastings view was that the council did not have the power and authority into the charges levelled against him by Nandkumar.

Lord Warren Hastings v/s Raja Nand Kumar

To show Nand Kumar his power, Barwell along with Hastings had Nandkumar with Fawkes and Radha Charan were arrested for conspiracy. Further to humiliate Nandkumar, Mohan Prasad, at the demand of Hastings, in the case of Forgery. The Supreme Court in July 1776, fined Fawkes but was silent regarding the case against Nand Kumar. The Council examined the charges levelled against Nand Kumar. He was tried by a jury of twelve English Men under The Forgery Act 1728 and was found guilty thus sentenced to death by hanging. Much effort was taken to save Nand Kumar life along with an application granting leave to appeal to appeal to the Kind – in – Council in the Supreme Court but was not approved. Thus, Hastings took revenge by eliminating Nand Kumar.

Questions Raised

Was The Raja Nand Kumar Case under The Jurisdiction of Supreme Court? Raja Nand Kumar was not a resident of Calcutta when the offence was committed?

Is a person who is accused of just forgery be punished with a harsh sentence like a death punishment?

How can British Law extend to Calcutta?

This case is also known as Judicial Murder.

Author: Samar Jain,

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