OOTY: As the country gears up to commemorate the National Law Day on Tuesday, here in the hills, the Nilgiris Documentation Centre (NDC) recalled the history related to discussions on drafting of Indian Penal Code(IPC) and its connections with Ooty way back in 1834.
Mr. Dharmalingam Venugopal, director of NDC, said that in 1834, the British Parliament’s new Charter for the East India Company abolished its trading functions. Instead, the Company became an agent of the British government, administering British India on behalf of the Crown.
The Governor of Calcutta, Lord William Bentinck, was appointed Governor General of India. Bentinck was at that time recuperating in Ootacamund (Ooty) and was unfit to travel.
Sir Frederick Adam, the Governor of Madras, Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, the architect of IPC, and Colonel Morrison, who had been appointed members of the Supreme Council, were accordingly summoned to join him in the hills, where the first Council under the new Act was held and the new Government constituted.
Bentinck stayed in ‘Sir William Rumbold’s large house’ which is now the Ootacamund Club. Initial discussion on Macaulay's ‘Minute upon Indian Education’ and the Indian Penal Code is believed to have begun at Ooty then, he added.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC), intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law, was drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of the first law commission of India established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833, chaired by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay.
Macaulay was in Ooty from June 1834 to August in 1834 along with the Governor General Bentinck. Evidently they would have discussed the Penal code at length here, he said. As the other commissioners were either ill or absent, Macaulay is said to be virtually the sole author of the IPC draft submitted to then Governor General, Lord Auckland in October 1837, added Venugopal.