Judicial administration of Manipur under King Bhagyachandra : An overview

-Dr Budha Kamei
Contd from previous issue
Stealing of things and animals
Stealing of things, animals like cows, buffaloes and horses were recognized. It was a serious offence of cow lifting and the punishment for this offence flogging on a high platform in the market also took place; sometimes as many as 500 lashes were administered.
Women were never put to death or jailed. The highest punishment awarded to women was Khungoinaba. Khungoinaba was generally inflicted such as illicit relation, abortion of child, stealing, murder of husband etc. T. C Hodson  wrote, “As in the case of women, she was made thoroughly naked, only a small bit of cloth tied round her waist, she was shaved off her hairs and her bare head of face was painted with lime, ink and turmeric colors, broom sticks were tied on her back with a drum, one man would pull her on the front by a piece of rope tied on her neck, and a large crowd could gather on her back beating the drum, at the same time her crime would be proclaimed to the public and thus she would walk through the several streets and bazaars.”
Jail: The Jail was known by the name of Keishumshang, Koidi, Awashang or Shumshang. It was known as Bondishang during the time of Bhagyachandra; and the same was located within the palace. The prisoners were housed in two big thatched buildings. The jail was surrounded by a mud wall with a platform for the sentries. During the time of Bhagyachandra, the rebel parties of Krishnachandra were put to jail. This occasion took place on the fifth of Pheirel (February), 1793. Imprisonment was frequently awarded to government servants for misrule, treason and rebellion. In the jail, there were no compartments for female prisoners, because the customs of the country did not allow putting women in prison or putting to death. Punishment varied from time to time. Charairongba and Garibaniwaz inflicted severe punishment to the offenders whereas Bhagyachandra adopted a lenient attitude towards criminals. The sanitary condition of the jail was unhygienic.
Mode of Complaint: The mode of lodging a complaint was simple. There was no police investigation. The aggrieved person orally report to the court and the police was sent to arrest the accused person. When the accused person was produced before the court, trial at once commenced.
Conclusion: After observing the above facts we may conclude that the concept of justice during the time of Bhagyachandra was based on upholding the principles of customs and usages that were in vague since time immemorial. Any deviation from it was punishable. One of the peculiar features of the criminal law was the privilege extended to Hindu Brahmins who migrated in the country. The highest offence that could be committed was treason in the country. Murder, stealing and wounding of cattle followed in magnitude. Bhagyachandra was very liberal in inflicting punishment. Simply beating was administered for even the highest offence.