Mitra, Sir Rameshchandra

Mitra, Sir Rameshchandra (1840-1899) lawyer and judge, was born in Rajarhat-Bishnupur village in the 24-Paraganas, West Bengal. His father was Ramchandra Mitra, a high official in the Sadar Diwani Adalat. Rameshchadra Mitra studied at Hare School in Kolkata and won scholarships in both junior and senior scholarship examinations. After passing BA from presidency college, he obtained his BL degree in 1861.

Rameshchandra started practising law at the Sadar Diwani Adalat. After it was amalgamated with Calcutta High Court in 1862, he served as a judge from 1871 to 1890. He was the first Bengali judge to become chief justice of Calcutta High Court twice, first in 1882 and then in 1886. For some time he also worked at the Hay's Law Report as a reporter.

Rameshchandra became a member of the Public Service Commission in 1887 and nominated a member of the Indian Legislative Council in 1891. He also became a member of the Jury Commission in 1893. He opposed the Elliott Notification, which aimed to disable the jury system. He was a fellow of calcutta university, president of the law faculty of the university, and for some time vice-president of the indian association for Cultivation of Science. He was also associated with the british indian association. The British government knighted him in 1890. After his retirement in 1890 he joined the indian national congress.

Rameshchandra was an activist in promoting education in India. In 1890 he saved Ripon College from closure. He gave financial support to Metropolitan Institution. He played an important role in establishing educational institutions such as, Deaf and Dumb School, Bhowanipore Suburban School and Bhowanipore Girls' School. To promote teaching of Sanskrit, he established the Bhagabat Chatuspathi at Bhowanipore. He also helped maintain a charitable dispensary and the two schools founded by him in his native village. He provided a monthly allowance to hemchandra banerjee.

In a contempt of court case filed against surendranath banerjea (1883), he delivered a judgment opposing the arguments of the English judges. Rameshchandra was a strong nationalist and supported the Ilbert Bill, which proposed to make Indians and Europeans equal in the eyes of law. He suggested that the ICS examination be held in India and England simultaneously. Rameshchandra passed away on 13 July 1899. [Sambaru Chandra Mohanta]