Peace Watch

Pages: 456
Price: 550
Year: 2009

Review

Written by Author

It is not just tale of kings and their consorts. Kashmir history has many facets- few known and most buried under debris of the past. It has suffered agonies after agonies and most of the tales of its agony are yet to be told and perhaps would be never told. The focus of almost all the chroniclers of the past even twentieth century historians has been kings, queens, courtesans, courts, court intrigues, exploits and adventures of the royalty. There is hardly any history that could be called as the people’s history. It is difficult to piece together the life as lived by the common people. The only material enabling us to get some sketchy idea about the life of common people is some literary works and few travel accounts. Histories do talk about the kings holding courts but there are no detailed accounts about dispensation of justice to common people during the Hindu and Buddhist periods of our history. A detailed history of judicial system in Kashmir is perhaps yet to be written. In the book under review the author who has been formerly Registrar General of Jammu and Kashmir High Court has giving a brief account of judicial history of the state. He writes, “The ancient and medieval monarchs of Kashmir were under this conception that they have divine obligation to administer justice, and this they did without any fear or favor to their subjects. The King was not only first court of justice in the state, but was also final court of appeal.” In this book on the stamp law, which is the second work of authors on the judicial system the first one being on the Revenue Law and Tax system giving genesis of the concept of the court fee or what in broader terms could be fee for seeking justice the author write, “ There is no evidence to establish that during the ancient Hindu Rule, which came to an end in about 1320 AD or during the Muslim Rule in the state, any court fee or stamp duty was used to be charged from any person seeking adjudication of his claim in the kings court or before any official.” The period of Sultans is one of the important periods in the history of Kashmir it not only saw Kashmir emerging on the map of literature as an important centre of learning but also a period of institution building in the state and Sultan Zain-ul- Abidan “is credited first systematic law giver of Kashmir. There is ample scope of working on working on judicial system in Kashmir during the period of the Sultans and even during the period of Moguls- as very rightly put by the author the political isolation of Kashmir was broken by the Mogul conquest in 1586. Kashmir not only lost its independence but its politics and economy underwent a transformation. The legal system as was prevalent in other territories of the Mogul empire was established in the state also. The Mogul Subhdars worked as supreme authority in the state. How these Subhdars dispensed justice needs to be dwelt in detail by our historians working on the medieval period. Seeking justice in those of ‘abject conditions when people were subjected to every kind of exploitation was a very expensive affair and for getting his grievance redressed people had to pay large sums to the dispenser of justice. And for fear of paying fee people preferred to suffer the cruelty rather than knocking the door of judges. The author writes that the court fee was introduced in the state by Maharaja Gulab Singh the founder of Dogra rule in the state. The court fee was then named as Nazrana. Quoting Fredrick Drew the author writes, “ The Maharaja would hear and decide any case of any person who would say in his Durbar ‘Maharaj Arz Hai, holding a rupee in his hand. He would pounce like a hawk on the money and having this appropriated would patiently hear out the petitioner.” The book not only gives genesis of the court fee in the state but deals in depth the Stamp Laws of the state. The book spreading over 456 pages deals with Court Fee Act 1977, Suits Valuation Act 1977, Stamp Act 1977 with rules. It has eight chapters dealing on different facets of the stamp laws. It contains annexure and schedule besides list of cases. The book has lucid language that not only student of law can comprehend with difficulty but can be understood by a common reader also. The book has been written in a practical manner with a view to make it handy for members of the judiciary and for students of law. The authors have discussed in simple words the functions and powers of the Collectors regarding the assessment, chargeability, etc. of stamp duty on different kinds of documents executed by persons, and seek advisory opinion from the Collector about the correct assessment of stamp duty. All these facts thereby make the book of immense practical value

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