Sadr Diwani Adalat

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The Ṣadr Dīwānī ʿAdālat (Urdu: صدر دیوانی عدالت ‎) (English: Sudder Dewanny Adawlut) was the Supreme Court of Revenue in British India established at Calcutta by Warren Hastings in 1772.[1] It was reformed in 1780 and again in 1793 by the British Parliament.[2] The court's judges were the Governor General and Council Members of the East India Company, assisted by native judges and officers of revenue.[3]


The term is in the Urdu language:

  • Sudder signifies literally "the breast"; the fore-court of a house; the chief seat of government, contradistinguished from Mofussil, or interior of the country; the presidency.[4]
  • Dewan is an ancient Persian word which was adopted throughout the Islamic world, meaning a powerful government official, minister or ruler.[5]
  • Adawlut, signifying "justice", "equity", a court of justice. The term Dewanny Adawlut signifies a civil court of justice. Foujdarry Adawlut signifies a criminal court of justice.[6][7]


The court was established to allow Hindu Indians to be governed by Hindu law in matters of property, and not as before by Muslim law, although they were still subject to Muslim criminal law.[8]

In each of the districts of British India, subordinate courts of revenue with definitive jurisdiction of up to 500 rupees, were established in which the judges were the relevant District Collector and his deputy and register, assisted by native officers. For cases exceeding 500 rupees, appeals were allowed to the Sudder Dewanny Adawlut.[9]

The court was abolished after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Comprehensive History of India, Volume 3
  2. ^ Campbell, Lawrence Dundas (ed), Asiatic Annual Register for 1802, or A View of the History of Hindustan and of the Politics, Commerce and Literature of Asia, London, J. Debrett, 1803, footnote pp.97-100, Miscellaneous Tracts [1]
  3. ^ Campbell
  4. ^ Mill, adding further: "Sudder Dewanny Adawlut. The chief civil court of justice under the [xxxv] Company's government, held at the presidency"
  5. ^ Mill, Glossary: "Dewan, Duan: Place of assembly. Native minister of the revenue department; and chief justice, in civil causes, within his jurisdiction; receiver-generad of a province. The term is also used, to designate the principal revenue servant under an European collector, and even of a Zemindar. By this title, the East India Company are receivers-general of the revenues of Bengal, under a grant from the Great Mogul"
  6. ^ Mill, James, The History of British India, Vol. 1 (of 6), 3rd Edition, London, 1826, Glossary [2]
  7. ^ Mill (1826), Glossary: "Foujdar, Fojedar, Phousdar, Fogedar: Under the Mogul government, a magistrate of the police over a large district, who took cognizance of all criminal matters within his jurisdiction, and sometimes was employed as receiver-general of the revenues...Foujdarry, Fojedaree: Office of a Foujdar...Foujdarry Court. A court for administering the criminal law"; Mofussil Dewanny Adawlut: Provincial court of civil justice.
  8. ^ Campbell
  9. ^ Campbell
  10. ^ Students' Britannica India by Dale Hoiberg, Indu Ramchandani

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