The following statement by John Stuart Mill (1806-73) responded to the petition by British residents in Calcutta and the areas against the India Act XI, or the so-called "Black Act." According to the Black Act, British subjects no longer enjoyed extra-territoriality but were instead placed under local East-India Company (EIC) Courts, which followed the practice of native laws. Mill rejected the claim that British citizens did not have to follow local law:

When an Englishman in India, beyond the bounds of the Presidency, borrows or lends, or enters into contracts of any other kind with natives, he must be understood to do so according to native laws, the only ones which are known to the parties he contracts with An Englishman has no right to go up to the country and said to the natives, I will regulate my transactions with you by the laws of my own country, and if you think I have injured you, you shall not have the redress your own laws would give you, but shall be satisfied with that given by the laws you know nothing of. (Mill, 1990, p. 13)

Mill's response shows a certain regard and respect for native institutions rare among administrators of his time. This respect for the native peoples of India was however put to the test in 1857 with the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny.


Mill, John Stuart. Writings on India. Edited by John M. Robson, Martin Moir and Zawahir Moir. Toronto: University of Toronto Press; London: Routledge, c1990.

Last modified November 2000