Civil Court Chaibasa

The name ‘Singhbhum’ i.e. the Land of Singhs, is most probably derived from the Patronymic of the Rajas of Porahat who were also known as Rajas of Singhbhum. But, on the otherhand the HO people deny it and claim that the name ‘Singhbhum’ has been derived from the word ‘Singbonga’, the supreme diety of the tribal people of this region.

The history of Singhbhum dates back to the palaeolithic age. The findings of some stone-age articles from the base of the Roro River at Chaibasa and Sanjai River at Chakradharpur and also of some Ancient Coins, Statues, Ruined Temples at Benisagar, etc testifies the fact that there must had a flourished civilization in ancient times in the area within this District.

The political life started in the region from 7th Century A.D. when the Singh Dynasty of Porahat first came and contacted with this area. Thereafter, the second batch of the dynasty was founded by Late Drupnarayan Singh in the year 1205 A.D. The Ruling Family claims that they were Rajputs of Rathor clan from Rajasthan. The Rulers of Seraikella and Kharswan were the nucleus of the parent family of Porahat. The whole areas of Singhbhum was administrated by the Rulers of these dynasties.

After obtaining the Diwani Right of Bengal Province from the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam-II in the year 1765, the East India company got the power of Revenue Collection in the area of present Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. Singhbhum as well Chhotanagpur were near to Bengal and the East India Company entered into these areas for the purpose of revenue collection. Due to Kol Movement in the area, British Commandant of Ramgarh Battalion named T. Wilkinson thought that since these areas are already disturbed on account of Tribal Movements, it should be governed directly by the East India Company. Hence, by way of the Resolution XIII of 1833 “South West Frontier Agency” comprising of the area of Chhotanagpur was created and Captain Wilkinson was appointed as Principal Agent to the Governor General. Almost during the same time the HO People dominated several villages of Porahat, Seraikela and Kharsawan area also revolted against their Local Rulers, which paved the way for British expeditition in this region. The local Rulers sought help from the Britishers by entering into some treaties. Armed Forces of East India Company invaded these areas and lastly the Manki and Mundas of all Ho Villages had to surrender and make a treaty with Wilkinson in the year 1837 and then in the year 1837,’Kolhan Separate Estate’ was formed assimilating the HO dominated villages of the area of Mayurbhanj, Porahat, Seraikella and Kharswan and the same was included in the South West Frontier Agency. A new Officer with designation of “Assistant Political Agent” was appointed under T.Wilkinson, the Agent of South West Frontier Agency. Chaibasa became the Headquarter of the Kolhan Estate. The Mankis, the head of pirs (a group of villages) and Mundas (village heads) were made responsible for the administration of their respective areas. The Civil Rules framed by Wilkinson in the year 1834, for adnministration of south West Frontier Agency, which is known as “Wilkinson Rule’, was also introduced in Kolhan in the year 1837.

Later on, again this area was rearranged by the Act XX of 1854. The South West Frontier Agency was renamed as ‘Commissionary’ and the political Agent was designated as Commissioner and the Assistant political Agent as Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner was vested with all the Executive and Judicial Powers.

The post of Kolhan Superintendent was also created after the muitny of 1857. The Kolhan Superintendent was appointed to assist the Deputy Commissioner in the administration of Kolhan in respect of Civil, Revenue and Criminal matters. The Deputy Commissioner exercised control over the States of Seraikella and Kharsawan also subject to the supervision of the Commissioner of Chhotanagpur. He worked also as Assistant Sessions Judge for those States and used to hear the appeals against the order of the Chiefs’.

The area of Singhbhum remained under the territorial Jurisdiction of the Sessions Judge of Bankura till the 8th March, 1910. The Principal Judicial Officer was the Sessions Judge of Bankura, who in 1904 was appointed as Additional Sessions Judge for Chotanagpur and vested with the power to try all Sessions Cases and Criminal appeals arising within this District and Manbhum. Sessions cases were tried by him at Purulia and Criminal Appeals either at Purulia or Bankura whichever was most convenient for their speedy disposal. The local Criminal Courts were consists of Deputy Magistrate and four Honorary Magistrates. Out of them three Magistrate used to hold their courts at Chaibasa and one Magistrate used to hold his court at Chakardharpur. A Subordinate Judge was appointed, who was also a Subordinate Judge of Manbhum. Similarly, there was a Munsif, who was also the Munsif of Purulia. The Deputy Commissioner was also a Subordinate Judge.

In the year 1910, a separate Civil District and Sessions Division consisting of the district of Sambhalpur, Singhbhum and Manbhum was created. It was named as ‘Manbhum-Sambhalpur Judgeship’. Court Judge of Manbhum-Sambhalpur used to hold its sitting at Purulia for the disposal of cases arising in the district of Singhbhum and Manbhum and at Sambhalpur for the disposal of cases arising in the district of Sambhalpur.

After the creation of Province of Orrisa in the year 1936, the district of Sambhalpur was attached to the State of Orrisa and District of Manbhum remained in Bihar and thereby a separate Judgeship styled as ‘Manbhum-Singhbhum Judgeship’ was constituted. In the year 1948 Seraikella and Kharswan States merged into the district of Singhbhum and then the territorial jurisdiction of Manbhum and Singhbhum Judgeship was extended to this area also. In the year 1949 the territorial jurisdiction of the Court of Subordinate Judge of Singhbhum was extended to the areas of Seraikella and Kharswan, with Headquarters at Chaibasa. The Subordinate Judge of Singhbhum used to sit at Jamshedpur also.

After reorganization of States in 1956, Purulia merged into Bengal and Singhbhum remained part of the then State of Bihar and the District and Sessions Judge of Dhanbad was assigned charge of Singhbhum area also. Though, the Courts of two Sub-Judges and three Munsif were then functioning for hearing and disposal of cases arising within the territory of Singhbhum and the District & Sessions Judge of Dhanbad occasionally used to hold circuit courts at Chaibasa, Jamshedpur and Seraikella. The other Judicial Officers also used to hold Circuit Courts.

Finally, on the 04th Day of February, 1960, the Judgeship of Singhbhum came into existance and Shri Mahendra Prasad Verma was posted here as Ist District and Sessions Judge, Singhbhum (presently styled as Judgeship of West Singhbhum, Chaibasa) having its headquarter at Chaibasa. Till date 32 (thirty two) District and Sessions Judges have been posted in this Judgeship. Now the post of District and Sessions Judge has been designated as Principal District and Sessions Judge. Shri Manoranjan Kavi is presently posted here as the Principal District and Sessions Judge of the Judgeship of West Singhbhum at Chaibasa.