History of The constitution and acts of the British government
History of the Constitution –
Present Constitution is drafted by a constituent- here’s end assembly, Before the formation of the constituent assembly, East India Company and British Government had enacted several laws from time to time.
Royal Charter of 1600-
- Queen Elizabeth of Britain established the East India Company and granted trade rights for 15 years.
- The management of the company is vested in a council which consists of a governor and 24 other members.
- This organization is called the governor and its council.
Royal Charter of 1726-
Governor and its council of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta were given right to make laws. This law-making power was vested in the Board of Directors located in England.
Regulating act of 1773-
On the recommendation of secret commit- tee, British PM Lord North brought changes in the administration of the Company.
- Introduction of the written constitution for the first time.
- Beginning of the parliamentary control over the affairs of the company.
- Analysis of the company’s affairs after every 20 years.
- Designated Governor of Bengal as Governor General of Bengal. Warren Hastings was the first Governor General of Fort Willims (Center of Governance for East India Company In India).
- It subordinated the Governors of Bombay and Madras to the Governor General of Bengal. Governor General was provided with a council consisting of four members.
- The term of the Board of Directors was extended from 3 to 4 years.
- Established Supreme Court at Calcutta in 1774. Elijah Impey was the first chief justice.
- The other three justices were Chambers, Limenster, and Hyde.
- An appeal can be made against the decision of the Supreme Court in the Privy Council located in England.
- It established “Central administration” in India. • Administration of Fort William was granted to Governor General.
- Implemented on 1st January 1774 Act of Settlement, 1781It was an amenable act.
- The government of Calcutta got powers to make laws for Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. The revenue authority of the Supreme Court was ended.
Pitts India Act, 1784-
It was first the constitutional document, of which the title was “India under the British Mo jurisdiction”.
Establishment of the “Board of Control” which had 6 members. Dundas was made president of
Board of Control
The number of members of Governor -General in- Council was reduced from 4 to 3. Distinguished between commercial and political functions of the country. The Board of Control was to manage political affairs and the Board of Directors was to manage the commercial affairs of the company. Introduced dual governance in India. It was introduced by William Pitt. Officers of the company were prohibited from receiving gifts.
In case of war or any diplomatic treaty, it was necessary to take permission from the company’s directors.
Charter Act of 1786-
In special conditions, Governor General was granted powers to cancel the decisions of his council and implement his own decision.
Governor General was granted powers of supreme commander.
Charter act of 1793-
- It laid the foundation of written laws in British-Indian territories. It ensured the eligibility of the Governor-General.
- The grip of the Governor General of Bengal over the presidencies of Bombay and Madras was tightened.
- Salaries of the members of the company were to be given out of the Indian treasury. Affiliation to permanent settlement
- The power of the supreme commander in Gover- nor-General’s council was ended. The company’s trade rights were extended by 20 years.
Charter Act of 1813-
- Christian missionaries were permitted to propagate religion in India.
- The act abolished the monopoly of the Company’s Indian trade and trade with India was open to all British traders.
- But trade in tea and trade with China was still exclusive to the company.
- It led to the birth of the business class in India.
- Provision was made to spend Rs. One lakh on education in India.
- The rights of the Control Board were extended.
- Local autonomous bodies were allowed to levy taxes.
Charter Act of 1833-
The Governor General of Bengal became the Governor General of India and Lord William Bentik was the first Governor General of India.
Ended activities of East India Company as the commercial body.
Governors of Bombay and Madras were deprived of their legislative powers.
One more member with legislative functions was added to the Council Macaulay was added as the 4th member. Macaulay is known as the “father of modern education in India ” There was a provision for the establishment of a “law commission”. Its chairman was Macaulay.
The slavery system was declared against in India and in 1843, the slavery system was abolished. The act provided for the codification of laws in India.
Section 87 of the act held, ‘that no native or natural born of the crown resident in India should be by reason only of his religion, place of birth, descent, color or any of them be disqualified for any place in the company’s service.
Charter Act of 1853-
Separated executive and legislative functions of the Governor General council. Created a separate 12-member legislative council for India.
- The 4th ordinary member (the law member) was made a full member of the executive council.
- All vacancies in India were to be filled by competitive examinations.
- Provision for the legislature for all of India. Inclusion of regional(local) representation in the Indian central legislative council.
- Note- As a result of the revolution of 1857, the East India Company rule ceased and India came under the control of the British Crown. This was the final Charter of Indian rule.
Government of India Act, 1858-
In April 1858 another act named For The better government of India’ was passed. The act put the end to Company’s rule in In- dia and power was transferred directly to the British Crown.
- The act created the “Secretary of State”. and an Indian council of 15 members to advise the secretary of State.
- The Governor General had, from now on, to be known as the Viceroy. Lord Canning was the first Viceroy.
- It also marked an end to the authority of the Board of Control and the Court of Directors.
- It ended dual administration.
Indian Council Act, 1861-
- Implemented on 1st August 1861.
- It led to constitutional development.
- In 1882 lord canning nominated 3 Indians, the king of Banaras, the king of Patiala, and sir Dinkar Rao to the legislative council.
- It created a legislative council for Presidencies. Portfolio System was introduced
- Empowered Governor General to exercise a veto on ordinances and any other act.
- Establishment of the high court in Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras.
- The council of the Governor General was to consist of members place of 4.
- The 5th member must be a law member. The current cabinet and ministerial setup is the same portfolio system.
Government India Act, 1873-
This act ceased the operational activities of East India Company completely Government of India 1876-
- 6th member appointed in the central executive Council for public works.
- On 28th April 1876, Queen Victoria was declared queen of India.
Indian Council Act, 1892-
The number of members in the Legislative Council increased. Now it was to be not less than 10 and more than 16 members.
- Indian members were given the right to discuss the budget and address questions to the executive.
- Introduced “indirect elections”, thus seeds of the “parliamentary system” sown in India.
- This act led to the introduction of representative government.
- Indian Council Act, 1909- [Morley-Minto Reforms]
To overcome the drawbacks of the 1892 Act and to suppress the extremists and revolutionary nationalism. It was named after Minto (Governor-General of India) and Morley(secretary of state). Based on the report of the sir Arundale Committee, passed in 1909This act provided Indian representation in the law-making process and public administration. “Satyendra Prasad Sinha” was the first Indian to be selected as a law member in the governor General Council. There was an increase in the additional members of the central and provincial legislative councils. Separate electorates for the Muslims under the policy of divide and rule.Introduction of communal electorates. Lord Minto is known as the father of the communal electorate. Members were given the right to ask questions and discuss the budget in detail. For the first time, Indian members were in- included in the Viceroy Council, they were K.C. Gupta and Sayyed Husain Wilgami. They were appointed to Indian Council in England the following statements are given about this Act-It has killed rising democracy:- K.M. MunshiThese reforms are like moonlight:-MajumdarIncomplete and short-term agreement be- tween democracy and bureaucracy. Macdonald
Indian Council Act, 1919- [Montague-Chelmsford Reform]
The first time, the word responsible government was used.
Establishment of partial responsible government and dual government (Diarchy). Expenditure for the Secretary of State was given from Indian revenue since 1793, but from now there was a provision to make expenses out of British revenue. Separate electorates for Sikhs on communal representation. Separated central subjects from provincial.
Provincial subjects were of two types.
Transferred subjects – Responsible to Legislature.
Not responsible to Legislature, Provision made for the appointment of High Commissioner in Britain. Recognition to “Local Government”. There would be an appointment of a commission to look into the constitutional reforms after 10 years of passing this act.
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak spells out this act as dawn without sun.
- Indians criticized this act as unsatisfactory and not sufficient.
- Government of India Act, 1935 (1st of April 1935)
Provided for the establishment of All India Federation with its units consisting of 11 Brit ish Provinces and 6 Commissionary provinces and those princely states who were willing to join the federation.
Introduced federation government in India for the first time.
Abolished diarchy in provinces and introduced provincial autonomy.
Introduced diarchy at the Centre and introduced partial responsible government,
Subjects were divided by central Government- Reserved subjects- Defence, foreign affairs, religious matters, and tribal areas.
Transferred subjects- With consultation with ministers.
Central Legislature has three organs. State Council- (Upper House = British India+ Princely States 156+104-260)
Legislative Assembly (Lower House Princely states+ British India 125 + 250 = 375) Provisions for Supreme Court, Union Public Service Commission, and Reserve Bank of India were given.