When judicial department officials at Bombay began to enforce the British East India Company’s (EIC) authority over the production and authentication of certain types of legal documents in the late 1830s, qāẓīs (Islamic judges) like Sayyid Aḥmad Ḥusain of Bharuch, objected to their loss of authority. In petitions sent to the Governor in Council from the edges of empire, these legal intermediaries objected to the Company’s interference with their livelihoods. Although the qazis’ complaints did not yield the desired results, by demonstrating the utility of their record-keeping abilities, qazis were able to retain discrete rights. The effects of these negotiations demonstrate the ways in which the intersections of expanding Company policies and local legal activity contributed to the growth of imperial power. Attending to the particularities of local legal practice, captured in the writings of these qazis, this article highlights the material mechanisms by which the EIC co-opted existing documentary cultures to extend state surveillance over local populations and challenges prevailing histories of legal translation and codification by focusing on the social ramifications of changing legal definitions at the moment such relations were first articulated in writing.