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Colonial Cases

R. v. Dorabjee, 1839

[conspiracy - forgery - assault]

R. v. Dorabjee

Source: The Bombay Times, 23 March 1839


   A TRUE bill has been found against Nowrojee Dorabjee, the Editor of the Chabook, and two others for conspiracy. - Nowrojee Dorabjee, it will be remembered, last year, took an active part in convicting certain parties of stealing paper from the Times Office, who were found guilty, on the evidence then adduced, and transported.  The present indictment, we believe, goes to charge the whole of that evidence as false, by the result of a conspiracy to ruin the parties then tried, in revenge for a private quarrel.  The Bill is traversed to next sessions.



The Bombay Times, 6 April 1839

   THE trial of Nowrojee Dorabjee, the editor of the Chabook, and two other Parsees, for conspiracy, to which we alluded some days since, came on for trial at the Supreme Court yesterday morning.  Mr. Montrion appeared for the prosecution, the Advocate general for the defence.  The Court sat till past six in the evening, without being able to close the case for the prosecution.  The defence will open this morning, probably about 12 o'clock.

   The case is one of a very serious nature to the interests of justice, involving no less a question than the innocence of parties found guilty and sentenced to transportation in September last on the evidence of the present defendants.  But, mixed up with this serious character, a vein of considerable amusement runs through the whole proceedings, arising from the quaint and rich originality of the documents, from the pen of Nowrojee, produced in evidence.  We shall publish a full report of the trial on Wednesday, meanwhile we would recommend such of our readers as feel an interest in these matters to attend the Court house today.


NOWROJEE DORABJEE & Ors (Conspiracy) (1839)

The Bombay Times, 10 April 1839

   THE trial of Nowrojee Dorabjee and others, for conspiracy, after dragging its slow length along for four days, came yesterday evening to a conclusion, if, indeed, that can be called conclusion in which nothing was conclusively decided.  The Jury, after several hours of deliberation, came into Court and declared that there was no possibility of their coming to an agreement regarding a verdict, - being nearly equally divided and both sides having made up their minds definitely. - They were again remanded to deliberate, but at half past ten o'clock at night they continued of the same divided opinion, and, in all probability, will continue so till discharged this morning.

   This verdict, or rather absence of verdict, as in the celebrated case of Cobbett, would entitle the defendants, legally, to be discharged.  Morally it leaves the point in exact equilibrium.  We shall give a full account of the trial in our next.  It is the longest criminal case on record in this court except the celebrated trial for mutiny on board Captain Tucker's ship, under Sir Edward West.  The present trial is also remarkable for being the only one on record here with such a dubious result, if the Jury adhere to their determination.


Times Office, Wednesday Morning.

   At one o'clock this morning the Jury being still divided in opinion, Mr. Moutrion on the part of the prosecution consented to take a verdict of acquittal, and by such consent the Jury brought in a verdict of NOT GUILTY.

The Bombay Times, 12 October 1839


   At the Petty Sessions on Thursday. Nowrojee Dorabjee, Nowrojee Rustomjee, and Byramjee Rustomjee, with four others, were indicted for an assault on the 15th September last, on the person of Nanabhoy Framjee.  There appeared to have been much bad feeling between the parties arising from the trial which took place some months ago, in the Supreme Court, in which Nowrojee Dorabjee was acquitted of a charge of forgery.

   The complainant in the present case, in company with some friends, was passing the house of a relation of Nowrojee's, and seeing him, Nowrojee, at a window, made as was stated, some impertinent observations; on which Nowrojee threw a glass tumbler that was in his hand, at the complainant; one of his relatives, Nowrojee Rustomjee, followed this up by throwing a brass lotah, which struck him, the complainant, on the shoulder.  This was the signal for a general attack from the rest of the inmates of the house, who on being urged on by Nowrojee, sallied forth and beat Nanabhoy severely. 

   The defendants  did not deny the throwing of the tumbler and lotah, but justified their so doing, from the observations made by the complainant and his friends, which they stated, were expressive of the great regret they felt at seeing Nowrojee still alive.  Several witnesses were examined, who proved the assault, and the defendants were convicted.  Nowrojee Dorabjee, Nowrojee Rustomjee and Byramjee Rustomjee, were sentenced to play a fine of thirty Rupees each.  The remaining four persons, a fine of twenty Rupees each; and all of them were bound over to keep the peace for one year, themselves in Rs. 200, and two sureties in Rs. 100 each, or in default thereof, to be imprisoned in the House of Correction for one month.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School