A Brief Note on Ilbert Bill – 1884

Sansar LochanModern, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

Sir C.P. Ilbert was the Law member of the executive council of the governor-general. He introduced a bill, popularly known as Ilbert Bill in 1883. Before reading further, I would like to make you read this article :- Lord Ripon.

Ilbert Bill

In fact, Ripon had desired it with a view to abolishing the distinction between the rights of the Indian and British judges which were based simply on race distinction. By that time, the Indian judges were not allowed to decide the criminal cases involving the Englishmen or the Europeans while the English judges, of equal rank, enjoyed this right. The Bill was meant to abolish this distinction and permit the Indian judges to try the cases of Europeans as well. It was also felt to be an administrative necessity.

The Bill offended the sentiments of the European community in India. They felt.it as a dishonour to their race. They could not tolerate the idea that a member of the subject race would sit as a judge to pass judgment on their actions. Besides, there was a practical reason of their opposition to the bill. They could expect sympathy from a European judge who was one of their stock but not from an Indian judge. Therefore, the Europeans in India protested the passing of the Bill. They organised a Defence Association, collected a fund of rupees one lakh fifty thousand to propagate their views and sent representations against the Bill to the government of Britain and the Queen. They hurled abuses at Ripon, urged the British government to recall him and even conspired to capture Ripon and deport him to Britain forcefully. The newspapers in Britain made direct attack on Ripon; public opinion was created against the Bill and the British Government was convinced of the arguments of those who protested against the Bill. Ripon, therefore, was forced to compromise.

An amendment was made in the bill and it was passed in January, 1884 in its new form. It was provided that a European, when brought to trial before a judge, whether European or Indian, would have the right to claim trial by a Jury of twelve members, among whom at least seven would be Europeans or Americans. The amended bill, thus, lost the spirit and also the utility which the original bill possessed.

But the controversy over the bill provided two good lessons to the Indians. One, the English regarded the Indians as of inferior race and, in no way, were prepared to give them equal status. Second, the Indians learnt the methods of organising a movement and also the effectiveness of an organised protest. Both helped them in their national struggle against the British.

In 1882, an Indian army was deputed to Egypt. Its expenses were borne by the Indian Government. Ripon had protested it. He wanted that the expenses should be incurred by the British exchequer. The British Government, ultimately refused. In protest, Ripon resigned in 1884 and returned to England. Lord Ripon was regarded as a liberal and well-meaning Viceroy by the Indians and they praised him for his generosity and liberal policies. He Certainly succeeded in liberalising Indian administration to a certain extent. Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya, a noted nationalist, said, “Ripon was the greatest and the most beloved viceroy whom India has known.”

Source used : NCERT, Tamil Nadu Board, IGNOU Modern History, NIOS textbooks. Wikipedia notes for UPSC exam.

Tags : PDF for UPSC exam short notes on Ilbert Bill.

Questions for UPSC mains :

“Ilbert Bill was an administrative necessity and not a part of the reform policy of Ripon.” Discuss.

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