Corrupt British forensic experts undermined race-based narratives about truth-telling and corruption in colonial India, as well as ideological claims made for western science and the rule of law. This talk examines two such cases circa 1900 that threatened credibility claims made for the new field of Indian medical jurisprudence. Under Indian criminal procedure, the scientific expert differed from his counterpart in England in significant ways. What can this tell us about the perceived imperatives of colonial rule, and the heightened risk of corrupt experts going undetected?
Mitra Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia and Associate Professor of Law and Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (with History affiliation). Her first book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (2014) was awarded the Law and Society Association’s 2015 Hurst Prize. In addition to her second book project, she is also writing an article on abortion during the Raj and another on Asian and African law students who were expelled from the Inns of Court. Since 2010, her South Asian Legal History Resources website has shared resources for the historical study of law in South Asia. She is a regular contributor to the Legal History Blog.