Constitutional Reforms in British India

Constitutional Reforms in British India

Regulating Act, 1773:

  • End of Dual govt.
  • Governor of Bengal to be the Governor – General of British territories of India.
  • Establishment of Supreme Court in Calcutta.
  • Court of directors to be elected for 4 years
  • Number of Directors fixed at 24, 1/4th retiring every year.
  • In Bengal, collegiate govt was created with Governor General and 4 members of the council and were named in the act:- GG -> Warren Hastings and 4 members -> Philip Francis, Clavering, Monson, and Barwell.

Amending Act of 1781:

  • Actions of public servants of the Company in their official capacity were exempted from the jurisdiction of Supreme Court.
  • Jurisdiction of Supreme Court was defined. SC had to take into consideration and respect the religious and social customs and usages of the Indian while enforcing its decrees and processes.
  • The rules and regulations made by GG-in-Council were not to be registered with SC.

Pitts Act of 1784:

  • Introduced Dual System of Govt by the company and  by a Parliamentary board of directors.
  • gave the British Government a measure of control over the company’s affairs
  • company became a subordinate department of the State.
  • Reduced the number of members of Executive Council of the GG to three.

Act of 1786:

  • Governor General given the power to over-ride the Council and was made the Commander-in-chief also to prevail upon Cornawalis to accept the GG-ship of India

Charter Act of 1793:

  • Company given monopoly of trade for 20 more years.
  • laid the foundation of govt. by written laws, interpreted by courts.

Charter Act of 1813:

  • Company deprived of its trade monopoly in India except in tea and trade with China.
  • An amount of one lakh rupees was set aside for the promotion of Education in India.

Charter Act of 1833:

  • End of Company’s monopoly even in tea and trade with China.
  • Company was asked to close its business at the earliest.
  • Governor General of Bengal to be Governor General of India
  • (1st Governor General of India was Lord William Bentinck).

Charter Act of 1853:

  • The Act renewed the powers of the Company and allowed it to retain the possession of Indian territories in trust of the British crown.
  • Recruitment to Civil Services was based on open annual competition examination (excluding Indians).

Government of India Act, 1858:

  • Rule of Company in India ended and that of the Crown began.
  • A post of Secretary of State (a member of the British cabinet) for India created.
    • He was to exercise the powers of the Crown.
    • Secretary of State governed India through the Governor General.
  • Governor General received the title of Viceroy. He represented Secretary of State and was assisted by an Executive Council, which consisted of high officials of the Govt.
  • The system of double govt introduced by Pitt’s Act 1784 was finally abolished

Indian Council Act, 1861:

  • The Executive Council was now to be called Central Legislative Council.
  • The Governor General was conferred power to promulgate ordinance.

Indian Council Act, 1892:

  • Indians found their way in the Provincial Legislative Councils.
  • Element of Election was introduced.

Indian Council Act, 1909 or Minto-Morley Reforms:

It envisaged a separate electorate for Muslims.

Government of India Act, 1919 Or Montague-Chelmsford Reforms:

  • Dyarchy system introduced in the provinces.
  • The Provincial subjects of administration were to be divided into 2 categories:
  • Transferred
    • administered by the Governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the Legislative Council
  • Reserved
    • The Governor and the Executive Council were to administer the reserved subjects without any responsibility to the legislature.
  • Indian legislature became bicameral for the first time, it actually happened after 1935 Act.
  • Secy of state be paid by British Exchequer
  • Post of Commissioner of India

Government of India Act, 1935:

  • Provided for the establishment of All-India Federation consisting of
    • British Provinces
    • Princely States.
  • The joining of Princely States was voluntary and as a result the federation did not come into existence as the minimum number of princes required to join the federation did not give their assent to join the federation.
  • Dyarchy was introduced at the Centre (e.g. Department of Foreign Affairs and Defence were reserved for the Governor General).
  • Provincial autonomy replaced Dyarchy in provinces. They were granted separate legal identity.
  • Burma (now Myanmar) separated from India.

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