Behari Lal Gupta

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Behari Lal Gupta
Born 1849
Died 1916
Occupation Civilian, politician

Behari Lal Gupta was a member of the Indian Civil Service and a politician.

Early life and education[edit]

Gupta was born in Calcutta into a Vaidya-Brahmin family. His parents were Chandrasekhar Gupta and Rajeshwari, who was the elder sister of Narendranath Sen, editor of the Indian Mirror, the weekly journal of the Brahmo Samaj.

His early education was at Hare School and Presidency College, Calcutta. He then proceeded with his childhood friends R.C. Dutt and Surendranath Banerjee to England for higher studies. In England he joined University College, London and eventually passed the Open Competitive Service Examinations to become the third Indian to join the Indian Civil Service in 1869 coming out to India in 1871. He belonged to the famous batch of 1869 which produced four Indians in the Indian Civil Service, including R.C. Dutt, himself, Surendranath Banerjee and Sripad Babaji Thakur.[1] He held Degrees of Honour in Sanskrit and Persian.[citation needed] He was also called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of Middle Temple on 6 June 1871.[2]

He was a member of the Brahmo Sammilan Samaj [3] in Bhowanipore, Calcutta.


His career in the civil service was distinguished: he became the first Indian Chief Presidency Magistrate and Coroner of Calcutta in 1872, an appointment that sparked off a serious debate on the legitimacy of an Indian civilian being appointed to such a senior position in the British Indian administration, leading to the Ilbert Bill controversy of 1883.[4]

He was also a District and Sessions Judge, Remembrancer and Superintendent of Legal Affairs, Bengal, Member, Bengal Legislative Council, and finally a Judge (offtg.) of the High Court of Calcutta from where he retired in 1907.[citation needed]

Post retirement[edit]

After retirement he was appointed as Law and Justice Member in Baroda in 1909 and then Dewan in 1912. In 1914 he travelled with His Highness, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda to Europe.[citation needed]


  • Durbar Medals (1903), (1912)


  1. ^ J. N. Gupta, Life and Works of Romesh Chunder Dutt, (1911); The first Indian to enter the Indian Civil Service was Satyendranath Tagore, the second eldest son of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, who joined the service in 1863, coming out to India in 1864. The batch of 1869 set new standards of excellence for other Indian students to perform well in the ICS, but Tagore's entry into the service six years earlier acted as an inspiration for future generations of Indian students who aspired to be members of the covenanted civil service.
  2. ^ South Asians at the Inns: Middle Temple, 1863-1944
  3. ^ Brahmo Sammilan Samaj
  4. ^ Gupta, Life and Works of Romesh Chunder Dutt; This matter was later taken up by Sir Courtney Ilbert, the Law Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council, who in his famous Ilbert Bill report passed in 1883 recommended that Indian judges of a certain rank should be given considerable powers to try British subjects of the Crown settled or based in India. A hostile Anglo-Indian press and opinion challenged the recommendations leading to a fierce debate on the right of Indians to be appointed to such high judicial and administrative posts, leading eventually to the scaling down of the recommended powers of the Indian judges in 1884.