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British India and its Wependencies:
bury, Fort William, and Fort St.
currences, Births, Marriages, Deaths,
Proceedings of the Royal Asiatic So-
ciety of Great Britain and Ireland.
pany's Ships for the Season.
JANUARY TO JUNE 1828.
8c. 80. 8c.
THE CALCUTTA STAMP TAX. No measure of the Indian government has perhaps ever produced a stronger effect upon the public mind, at home as well as abroad, than the regulation imposing a stamp duty upon legal and commercial instruments at Calcutta, the inhabitants of which have hitherto enjoyed an exemption from this tax, although levied for some years past in the provinces. The degree of feverish excitement which prevails in the community of our eastern metropolis is kept alive by the apprehension that this measure is a political experiment, intended to try how far a system of taxation analogous to that at home can be introduced into our eastern settlements; and that, if carried, this tax will be the harbinger of a host of others. In compliance with our usual practice, of not suffering current political topics relating to India to pass by without notice, we shall, in a spirit of perfect freedom and impartiality, bestow a few cursory observations upon the present measure.
We are not inclined, and we think it totally unnecessary, to examine the arguments and positions of the petitioners against the tax and against the registering of the regulation in the Supreme Court. Our object will be to deal with the question in its simple original form; leaving the multitude of topics with which the ingenuity of lawyers has contrived to entangle it, to those who can find amusement in the solution of ideal difficulties.
The questions to be considered in this case are two; the legality and the expediency of the tax; that is, first, whether there is any power given by the British Parliament for its imposition; and, secondly, whether, supposing the power to exist, it has been judiciously exerted on this occasion.
The opposition to the stamp tax at Calcutta is grounded mainly upon its alleged illegality. It is asserted that no parliamentary authority exists by which such a tax can be imposed. There cannot be a stronger example of the imperfections inherent in human legislation than that such an argument can be urged in respect to an enactment so exceedingly clear and simple as the law upon this subject appears to us.
The act of the 53d Geo. III., c. 155, upon Asiatic Journ. Vol. 25. No, 145, B