Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Daylight robbery

In the matter of  Dunlop India Limited vs Unknown on 26 March, 2012 , learned Judge Sanjib Banerjee from Calcutta High Court has preferred for an usage of phrase " Daylight robbery".

This is an interesting judgement with the expression "Daylight robbery" by the learned judge in first line of his pronouncement. Is the phrase tries to stress on the robbery before the visible eyes in the morning time?????

Let’s look on this figurative phrase "Daylight robbery" with a wider understanding of law. In the year 1861, Larceny Act of English gave provisions for the term "Burglary". Sec. 58 of the said Act states Burglary as "being armed with intent to break and enter any house in the night". On proper understanding of the said section - Burglary stands as a nocturnal crime i.e. “Dark-night burglary".

Is this is the accentuation point of the learned judge to mark the term Robbery annexed with day-light always???

At this juncture, it is autoschediastical for the readers to conclude the phrase "Daylight Robbery”. However the metaphorical expression does not have any nexus with the time. This idiom has much to do with language than Law.

"Daylight robbery means a situation in which you are charged much more for something than you think you should have to pay". This phrase is also termed as Highway robbery in Australian and American continents.

In the research process, I also understood the attention-grabbing origin of this expression. Like many English monarchs, William III was short of money, which he attempted to rectify by the introduction of the much-despised Window Tax laws. As the name suggests, this was a tax levied on the windows or window-like openings of a property. This canon tried to tax the rich class of persons who are the upper classes, having the largest houses, paid the most.

Hence, any property with light and air in England is robbed through Window tax. It was also a time where Taxes were rarely popular, but the Window Tax, which was considered to tax the very ingredient of life, i.e. light and air, was singled out for particular loathing.  People went to great troubles to evade paying it and many windows were bricked up for such reason. Many examples of buildings with brick window panels, sometimes with painted-on windows, still survive.

                           "The English were robbed of their daylight by the Window Tax."

This was the epicentre for the idiom "Daylight robbery". However such terms were not in use for many years until 1916. In the year 1916 it was used in a comic play by Harold Brighouse. Nevertheless who could forget the meticulous usage of the axiom by Daniel Marcus Davin's Roads from Home: "I can never afford it, said his sister. It's daylight robbery."

I thank the learned Judge for the usage of such figure of speech which paved me a way to scribble this post

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