Ilbert Bill (1883-84) was drafted by Justice CP Ilbert at the behest (a person’s order or command) of governor-general Lord Ripon (1880-84) to empower the Indian judges to try criminal cases involving Europeans.
It passed in 1884 as the Criminal procedure code Amendment act 1884.
When modern judicial system was established in India, Supreme Court’s were created to try the cases involving Europeans. The judges of the Supreme Court where Europeans.
In 1836, the judicial legal system was amended to empower Indian judges to try criminal cases involving Europeans. But as and when criminal cases involving Indians and Europeans reached the court, the European judges used to favor Europeans. The Indians could never get Justice.
Racial discrimination was rampant in India during British colonial rule. Because all the high civil and Military Officers were monopolized by Europeans. The Charter Act of 1793 provided that all the offices of monthly salary of 500 pound or above to be reserved for Europeans.
Indians were discriminated in clubs and social gatherings.
The British were always guided by the idea of supremacy of white race and Indians were termed as inferior. They were treated as second-class citizen.
Ilbert Bill controversy was not only the expression of white racism in India, but it was certainly the most inhuman example of racial discrimination.
When Ilbery bill was drafted to empower Indian judges to try European for criminal cases so that Indian Indians could also get the Justice it was opposed strongly by Europeans.
White racism was so dominant that European did not want Indians to get equality even in judicial matters. The Europeans wanted that their special privilege shall continue.
Agitation and demonstrations were organized by Europeans to pressurize British government so that this privilege could continue. Europeans defense Association was formed by them to come together against the ilbert bill.
The organized Europeans protest against Ilbert bill was successful. The British government pressurized Lord Rippon to amend the Ilbert bill in such a way that very purpose was lost.
The amended bill allowed Indian judges, but Europeans could demand their trial by jury in which not less than half of Judges where to be Europeans.
The Ilbert bill controversy and the success of the Europeans opened the eyes of Indians. Indians also realized the significance of organized protests. This realizations played an important role in the foundation of Congress in 1885.