At the same time we must not forget the many acts of cruelty cooitted by them and their tyrannical treatment of the unfortunate Garhwalis. The administration of justice was on no regular system, each of the officers exercising jurisdiction according to his position and the number of man at his disposal to ensure his orders being obeyed. Throughout Kumaon and Garhwal all civil and petty criminal cases were disposed of by the commandant of the troops to which the tract was assigned, while cases of importance were disposed of by the civil governor of the province, assitsted by the military chiefs who happened to be present at his headquarters. But the commandants were frequently absent on active duty and delegated their powers to Becharis, as their deputies were styled, who either farmed the dues on law proceedings at a specific sum or remained accountable for the full receipts. Thir method of procedure was that common to their predcessors and most Hindu states and was simple in the extreme. A brief oral examination of the parties was conducted in the presence of the court, and in case of the parties was conducted in the presence of the court, and in case of dubt the section of the Mahabharata known as the ‘Harivanse’ was placed on the head of the witness, who was then required to speak the truth. Where the evidence of eye witnesses was not procurable or the testimony was conflictiong, as in the case of boundary disputes, recourse was taken to ordeal.
Three forms of ordeal were in common use: (a) the gola-dip, in which a bar of red-hot iron was carried in the hands was plunged into burning oil, and like the former the evidence of innocence was that no harm resulted; and (c) the tarazu-ka-dip, in which the person undergoing the ordeal was weighed against a number of stones which were carefully sealed and deposited in some secure place and again weighed the next morning, and if the person undergoing the ordeal was weighed against a number of stones which were carefully sealed and deposited in some secure place and again weighed the next morning, and if the person undergoing this ordeal proved heavier than on the preceding evening, his innocence was considered established. Even the mahant of the sacred temple of Ram Rai at Dehra had to submit to the karai-dip ordeal when charged with murder, and being severely burned was obliged to pay a heavy fine. The judgment was recorded on the spot and witnessed by the bystanders and then handed over to the successful party, whilst the other was mulcted in a heavy fine proportioned more to his means than the importance of the case. Panchayats or councils of arbitrators were frequently had recourse to, especially in cases of disputed inheritance and commercial dealings and these, too were frequently disposed of by lot. The names of the parties were written on slips of paper of equal size, shape and material, and were then laid before an idol in temple; the priest then went in and took up one of the papers and the name recorded therein was declared successful. Many meters were simply decided in a somewhat similar way by the claimant proceeding to some well known temple and there swearing by the idol that his statement was the true one. To the present day several temples are celebrated in this respect.
The following forms of ordeal are also noted by Traill. The tir-ka-dipi, in which the person remained with his head submerged in water while another reanthe distance of a bow shot and back, was sometimes resorted to. The Gorkhali governors introduced another mode of trial by water, in which tow boys, both unable to swim, were thrown into a pond of water and the longest ‘liver’ gained the cause. Formerly poison was in very particular causes resorted to as the criterion of innocence; a given dose of a particular root was administered, and the party, if he survived, was absolved. A further mode of appeal to the interposition of the deity was placing the sum of money, or a bit of earth from the land in dispute, in a temple before the idol; one of the parties volunteering such test, then with imprecations on himself if false, took up the article in question. Supposing no death to occur within six months in his immediate family, he gained his cause; on the contrary he was casting the event of being visited with any great calamity, or if afflicted with severe sickness during that period.
Treason alone as a rule was punished by death. Murder, if committed by a Brahman, brought a sentence of banishment and all other crimes were visited by fines and confiscation. The willful destruction of a cow, however, or the infringement of caste by a Dom, such as touching the pipe (hukka) of a Brahman or Rajput, were also punishable with death, Under the previous governments death was inflicted by hanging or beheading, but the Gorkhalis introduced impaling and sometimes put their convicts to death with the most cruel tortures. Under the Chands, executions were rare and confined almost exclusively to Doms, but under the Gorkhalis they became numerous and common. Traill writes that in petty thefts, restitution and fine were commonly the only penalties inflicted; in tose of magnitude, the offender was sometimes subjected to the loss of a hand or of his nose. Crimes of the latter description have ever, in these hills, been extremely rare, and did not call for any severe enactment. Acts of omission or commission, involving temporary deprivation of caste, as also cases criminal intercourse between parties connected within the degrees of affinity prescribed by the Hindu law, offered legitimate objects of fine. Adultery among the lower classes was punished in the same manner. Where, however, the husband was of rank or caste, the adulterer was commonly put to death and the adulteress deprived of her nose. Tree revenge of the injury was on these occasions left to the husband, who by the customs of the country, and by the existing principles of honor was authorized and required to was off the stain on his name by the blood of the offending parties, and no lapse of time form the commission or discovery of the crime proved a bar to the exaction of the revenge.
Convicts were occasionally condemned to labor on the private lands of the Raja, to whom they from that period became hereditary slaves…. The most oppressive branch of the police, and that which proved the most fruitful source of judicial revenue, consisted in the prohibitions issued under the gorkhali government against numerous acts, the greater part of which were in themselves perfectly unobjectionable. The infringement of these orders was invariably visited with fines; indeed they would appear to have been chiefly issued with such view, as among the many ordinances of this kind it may be sufficient to specify one in which Garhwal forbade any woman form ascending on the top of a house. This prohibition, though apparently ridiculous, was in fact a very serious grievance; a part of the domestic economy hitherto left to the women, such as drying grain, clothes, and so on, is performed there, and firewood and provision for immediate consumption are stored in the same place, and the necessity for men superintending these operations, by withdrawing them form their labor in the fields, was felt as a hardship.