Jury System

Jury System Trial by jury system means a panel of laymen in a law court sworn to listen to the facts in a case, and to decide whether the accused person is guilty or not. The judge remains aloof from the deliberations of the jury. The jury's function is to find fact and judge's function is to find law and legal procedure of the case concerned. On legal questions, the judge instructs the jurors of evidence and classification of crimes and waits for the verdict of the jury. There is evidence to suggest that the jury system of trial was followed in many parts of ancient and medieval India at local level though procedurally, it was much different from the rest of the world. The modern jury system originates from England.

The jury system was first introduced in 1726 with the establishment of the Mayor's Court at Calcutta. The Supreme Court of Judicature established under the Regulating Act of 1773 had transacted its judicial proceedings on jury system. The diwani and faujdari adalats of the Company's kingdom came under jury system in 1827. But the reform came under severe public criticism because of its racial undertone. It was laid down that Christians alone could be empanelled as jurors in the trials of Christians, whereas non-Christian Indians could be tried by a jury composed of Indians of all denominations. In the wake of general protest, the discrimination was later modified.

The jury system was introduced in Bengal districts under the High Court Act of 1861. The Calcutta High Court had jury system only for the citizens of Calcutta and the Europeans in the country. Only the criminal cases were tried under jury system. The session judge was bound to pronounce his judgement according to the majority verdict of the jury. Local people not in legal profession were enlisted for session trial. An uneven number of jurors upto three to nine members were summoned to hear the session trial and give their opinion on the proceedings. The majority opinion of the jury was binding on the judge. The system of trial by jury was abolished in Pakistan by a martial law regulation in 1959. [Sirajul Islam]