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:
- administered by the Governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the Legislative Council
- 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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