Maharaja Nandakumar

Maharaja Nandakumar, also called Nuncomar (1705? - died 5 August 1775), was a collector of taxes, more so a diwan for various areas in what is now West Bengal. Nanda Kumar was born at Bhadrapur, which is now in Birbhum. He was India's first victim of hanging under British rule. He was appointed by the East India Company to be the collector of taxes for Burdwan, Nadia and Hoogly in 1764, following the removal of Warren Hastings from the post.[1]

In 1773, when Warren Hastings was re-instated as governor-general of Bengal, Nandakumar brought accusations of peculation against him that were entertained by Sir Philip Francis and the other members of the Supreme Council of Bengal. However, Warren Hastings could overrule the Council's charges. Thereafter, in 1775 Warren Hastings brought charges of fraud against the Maharaja. The Maharaja was tried under Elijah Impey, India's first Chief Justice, and friend of Warren Hastings, was found guilty, and hanged in Kolkata on 5 August 1775.

Hastings, along with Sir Elijah Impey, the chief justice, were impeached by Parliament. They were accused by Burke (and later by Macaulay) of committing judicial murder; but Sir James Stephen, who examined the trial in detail, states that the indictment for forgery arose in the ordinary course, was not brought forward by Hastings, and that Impey conducted the trial with fairness and impartiality.

Early life

The title "Maharaja" was conferred on Nandakumar by Shah Alam II in 1764.[1] He was appointed Collector of Burdwan, Nadia, and Hugli by the East India Company in 1764, in place of Warren Hastings. He learnt Vaishnavism from Radhamohana Thakura.[1]

Charges against Hastings

Maharaja Nandakumar accused Hastings of bribing him with more than one-third of a million rupees and claimed that he had proof against Hastings in the form of a letter.[2]


Warren Hastings was then with the East India Company and happened to be a school friend of Sir Elijah Impey. Some historians are of the opinion that Maharaja Nandakumar was falsely charged with forgery and Sir Elijah Impey, the first Chief Justice of Supreme Court in Calcutta, gave judgement to hang Nandakumar.[3] Nandakumar's hanging was called a judicial murder by certain historians.[3] Macaulay also accused both men of conspiring to commit a judicial murder.[3] Maharaja Nandakumar was hanged at Calcutta, near present-day Vidyasagar Setu, during Warren Hasting's rule on 5 August 1775.[4] In those days the punishment for forgery was hanging by the Forgery Act, 1728 passed by the British Parliament in England (United Kingdom), but the law was construed for the people committing forgery in England due to the then prevailing conditions in England and there was no provision in the law that it is applicable in India too.[5][6]


Maharaja Nandakumar was a reasonably respectable person, and his hanging created a local panic that resulted in a Bengali exodus from Calcutta to places like Benaras etc.[3]



Gallows of Nanda Kumar near Hestings(Vidyasagar Setu) Kolkata
Akalipur Kali Temple-(Gujjya Kali)
The turban of Nanda Kumar-Now it has been kept at Victoria Memorial-Museum

External links


  1. 1 2 3 "The Kunjaghata Raj family". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  2. Barbara Harlow, Edited by Mia Carter (2003). From the East India Company to the Suez Canal. Durham, NC [u.a.]: Duke Univ. Press. p. 132. ISBN 9780822331643.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Bhattacharya, Asim (2010). Portrait of a Vancouver Cabbie. USA: Xlibris Corporation. p. 141. ISBN 9781456836078.
  4. Mandal, Sanjay (9 November 2005). "History that hangs fire - Nandakumar neglect". The Telegraph (Calcutta). Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  5. The History of Court by Prof. Pithawala
  6. Lion Feuchtwanger und Bertolt Brecht, Lion Feuchtwanger, (1927). Kalkutta, 4. Mai: drei Akte Kolonialgeschichte. Dr.PLISCHKA Hans Peter. p. 12.
  7. "Affiliated Colleges". Vidyasagar University. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  8. Your local guide. "INDRANI DUTTA KALA NIKETAN IN MAHARAJA NANDAKUMAR ROAD". Bharat Desi. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  9. "Floods result in epidemic threat". The Statesman. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
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