PROCESS OF INQUIRY -ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE IN ANCIENT SRI LANKA

INCOMPLETE NEEDS EDITING

The Procedure in the Administration of Justice

Introduction

There is only the barest hint of this topic because there was no necessity to refer to procedure which would have been the common practice of the time. There are only a few stray hints and most of these, in the terminology that is used in referring to Law and to the Administration of Justice. It needs hardly be said that if there was a regular mode or procedure in the conduct of criminal cases and in holding inquiries and settling disputes, it would have been like everything else governed by custom of some of the specialised terms used sometimes, give the impression that there was such a system in the administration of justice,though it could not have been stereotyped or extensive. Most of the administration, especially at the lowest level was summary and brief, for the system as we have sketched it above does not seem to have been reared on any rigid foundation, and further there does not seem to have been any specialisation of function except among the local royal officials. This
is therefore only to be expected. In the absence of direct information the study of the terms used and the few extra details is all that is possible. Most of these pertain to the second level of juriscliction though the same terms appear in referring to the other two stages too. It is not profitable to make any distinction between the three levels on this topic.

Process of Inquiry

The registered phrase for the administration of justice is Hinda Vicara kot[EZ.I,pp 241-251 (No21), Insp 11); EZIIIp 75 (No4. Insp B line 3-4); EZV 1955-66 No 16) pp 177-195]; It has been translated as “to sit in session and hold enquiry” This to some extent carried the technical meaning for which the phrase to have been used. Though taken as two words or two actions, they probably signify the whole act of holding an enquiry.The word Hinda[ Having Sat, To Sit, Having assembled] however is used alone for the acts of sitting in session for the purpose of holding enquiry, settling disputes or examining accounts [EZ.I,pp 230-34I(No.20,Insp 40);lbid,,ln 50;EZ1,p 48 (No.4,1nsp 30); EZ.I,pp75-113 (No 7A,1nsp 22);EZ III p 75 (No.4,lnspA43,B9 ,D37); [EZ.V, 1955-66 (No 16), pp 177-195];EZIII,pp 260-269 (No’27B,In 32)];Similarly Vicara [EZ.I,pp 41-57 (No.4, Ins 24,27,30);EZI, p 118 (No8 Insp 43)] or ” Having examined or having inquired into”, too is used alone. Though sometimes this may have had the force and meaning of Hindi Vicara, it aiso indicated any type of enquiry.

This process of enquiry is referred to by other terms as well. The phrase dand-kam karat refers to the process of administering justice. But it means really the process of imposing fines. Probably the fine being the commonest form of punishment and further this being one of the sources of revenue, this phrase must have become synonymous with the administration of justice. This concern over the earning of finance is reflected in the whole clause for it says in EZ.I, pp 230-241(No.20,Ins39-40).

“kala varajak ata nisiyan hinda dand-kam karat misa labha radol-kot no-ganna,”

in It is interesting to note that the word used for fines in the latter half of the sentence is labha (profit) which had to be handed over to the Vihara.

Daduvan karanu with reference to the punishment of Monks who had done wrong in a Vihara has probably no relation to fines though it is derived from the same word danda or dada which stands for fines. The commonest phrase in which dad is used in order to convey the meaning of administering justice is just to take or levy (ganna) fines.

Fines: Dand or Dada

This term dand or dada used so often in these records is interesting for it has more than one meaning. The vrarious shades it carried such as danduvam, cannot be recovered from our meagre sources but we can largeiy detect two meanings. The commonest is that of fine and consequently is used so often in those clauses which deal with the administration of justice.[EZ.I,pp 41-57 (No.4,lns20-2I);EZI[,pp 71-100 (No.4,lns A26,P.5 , 7); [EZ.V1955-66 (No.16),pp 177-195);EZ.I, pp 113-120 (No.8,1ns 34-35); EZ.III, pp 294-302 (No.32); EZ I, pp 75-113 (No.7A,lns 37,51, 58) ; EZ.I, pp 241-251 (No.21,lns 27 -24)]. It is associated many a time with wrong doing and criminal offences (Varaj)[EZ.I, pp 75-113 (No.7A,ln 5I);EZ.I, pp 41-57 (No.4,1n 20);EZ-I, pp 230-241(No.20,1n40)]. on the other hand owing to the common practice of regarding fines from the inhabitants of the land as part of the revenue of the land and perhaps a considerable source of profit, the word dada occasionally carried the meaning of revenue. Thus the compound Dadanayaka [EZ.III,pp71-100 (No.4,lnsA21-22);-[EZ,V, 1955-66 (No.16), pp 177-195);EZ.I,pp 113-120(No.8,In 39 ) ; EZ.l, pp 41-57 (No.4,1n23)] is not exclusively one who collects fines but rather one receiving the proceeds from a village or market. In some of the exampies quoted of dada as a fine, there is greater stress laid on the profit derived from justice than on justice itself. The curious situation this leads to in the Vevelkatiya inscription where there seems to be a conflict between the administration of justice and the collection of dues has already been touched upon. It was more profitable to fine a murderer than to give him his just punishment which was death. The fines mentioned in the Anuradhapura siab inscription of Mahinda IV may have had the meaning of dues and revenue too. For not only does the record deal with the sharing of land and produce but the dand was to be determined by five villagers.[EZ.I, pp 713-720 (No.8,lns34-35)].The terms ge-dad or Ge dand,[ Confiscation of the House as a punishment[EZ I 21.19,23;EZ III 27,No 2.33;EZ I 4.25];7.37] sihin-dad [ Minor Fine – EZ I 31.24;IC ,III Vol III ,24.15]and ko-dand [lesser Punishemnt [ EZ I. 7.37].
The method of determining the fine was also part of the process of administering justice for not only did custom regulate the fine but there were also grades of fines and punishments equivalent to the crime committed. The terms used for this determination are pirikapa[ Having determined] dakva [Pointed out] dun [given]dada [Fine] [EZ.III, pp 77-100 (No.4,lnsB4-5); [EZ.V, 1955-66 (No.16), pp 177-195) ] or kiru dand [ which has been weighed- ? Scales of Justice?] [EZ.I, pp 75-113 (No.7A,1n51).or tirakot [Having taken into custody ] gat dad.[EZ.II,pp 9-14 (No.3,lns C15-16);EZI,pp 241-251. (No.21,Ins19,28);EZ.III, pp 71-100 (No.4,In B7);[EZ.V, 1955-66 (No.16), pp 177-195]. This was largely left in the hands of those who knew the custom of the village, the village officials themselves. Dand-Na and Danda-Nayakayan too seem to have had this function sometimes. There is frequent reference to the custom which determined the fine -pere sirit [ Former Customs]dada,[EZ.III, pp 71 -100 (No. 4, lns A 46- 47 ) ] annayen[ Illeagally] dada,[EZ.III, pp 71 -100 (No. 4, lns A26; Ibid.], gam sirit [ Village Custom]dand[EZ.I, pp 75-113 (No.7A,ln 51)]., gam dannase dand,EZ.1,, pp 41-57 (No.4,Ins 20).] ,Gam Vaisiyan pas denaku ki [ Fine decided by a committee of 5 Villagers (elders?)]dand [EZ I, pp 113-120 (No.8,lns34-35).]
. The whole effort to find out the correct fine to be levied so much so that anything taken in excess was to be returned, shows this same respect to custom (Hariya Uutuvak harna isa)[EZ.I, pp 41-57 (No. 4,lns23-24).] .The Vevalkatiya record [EZ.l, pp 241-251 (No.21)].shows a scale of both fines and punishment and the Anuradhapura slab inscription of Kassapa V again lays down that punishment suited to the wrong be meted out (pat-pat-seyin danduvan karanu).[EZ.I, pp 4I-57 (No.4,lns 30-31).

The Record of Judicial Proceedings

The recording of judicial proceedings is mentioned only in the Vevalkatiya inscription where dadanayakayan when they punish assault, theft and murder with death, they had to write down the proceedings that took place when the dasa-gam attan held enquiry about those crimes (Upan dayat pa haki-se liya tuba…);[EZ.I, pp 247-25I (No.21,lns 11-12).]. Since in the temples such records are commonly referred to it is possible that serious crimes were recorded for the purpose of review by Samadaruvan.
Special Terms in the Administration of Justice

there are two other terms used sometimes for the administration of justice. They seem to be common words which at this time had acquired a specialised meaning. The first of these is Illanu which means to ask or demand, as used in the records this can mean to demand funds, or wrongs for redressing or taxes and dues. The phrase rat illannat giya raj-kor-samdaruvan’ may be interpreted in all three ways. This word appears in these and similar contexts with the meaning that have been given.The other word similar to this and used armost with the same meaning and in the same context is patvanu or patavannat. There is the phrase rat patavannat giya raj-kot- samadaruvan .The meaning .conveyed by this term is not so much the demanding of criminals as punishing them. This is brouglrt out .clearly in phrases such as pat-vu varadat,.. and palavamu gama attan patavannat harna kot isa and mara patavanu , At kapa Patavanu,6 Kota Patavanu’7

Elvanu is another term that is used with almost the same meaning; but no exact significance can be attached to it. This may not be a technical term as its use is so limited. In one sentence it runs-g anr ulfa genti ge tirii genti dnda no elaantt isn dnda giitttii htndii ,:1r,rt nristi krLdln-[irriniitot kotui7o gina yaru’t isa’a It is used elsewhere with a different meaning’

The term tira kot is used for the successful termination of an enquiry. lt is often used and it was in all probability a technical term used at this time. It occurs in phrases such as Tiri kot gena,s tirti no ksla. rnthis sense it is very much rtke pat-unntt’ The above terms relate mostly to the transgressigns of the regulations laid down in the grants or to crimes in the ordinary ,”.rrJ *hich came up for hearing. There were besides cases which arose out of disputes, about the regulitions or about the grants’ These have a special terminology. Thuru were referrecl to, as usually’ direct to thg highest level u^a tr,. settlemenl”of these cases have a separate terminology’ what procedure was followed we cannot say for certain, but it may have been informai as in the case of the uihara dispute mentioned in the Anuradhapura slab inscription of Kassapa Vl really an attempt at pacification or on the other extreme u*urdir,g u iudgement. The phrases so used are aarrl haraaa,2 sahn dentr isa,s aiuad.a hnrna isa,s nintaua,s saha pasindunnna isa.a Ali these terms imply the settlement of disputes and the giving of relief or restoring of peace rather than -hearing a case in a strict judicial manner.

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