Throughout the mofussil of the Bombay Presidency British judges and magistrates called upon panchayats, that is, caste or village councils, to help them administer justice. By the mid-nineteenth century, panchayats were being deployed by British justices not only to offer their advice to judges attempting to decide a case, but much more frequently to investigate crimes, including murder, assault, robbery, arson, forgery, rape, and property disputes. Moreover, the active participation of the panchayat in the administration of criminal law varied as much in form as in function. In different scenarios, the panchayat functioned as a coroner's court, a criminal investigation team, and a general witnessing agent for the courts. With very few exceptions, they almost always appear in a supporting role on the prosecution side of any case offering their opinions on the crime in question in written form. Judges, for their part, appear to have relied quite heavily upon these recommendations and there are very few instances in which the panchayat's opinions were either ignored or rejected. There thus developed a hybrid system of justice whereby judges and magistrates adapted, transformed, and incorporated the expertise and knowledge of the ‘customary’ panchayat to suit the needs of British governance and legal administration.