Constitutional Development in India-I
Constitutional Development in India
Constitution is the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it.
It is a written instrument embodying the rules of a political or social organization. It is a method in which a state or society is organized and sovereign power is distributed.
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles according to which a state is constituted or governed.
The Constitution specifies the basic allocation of power in a State and decides who gets to decide what the laws will be.
The Constitution first defines how a Parliament will be organized and empowers the Parliament to decide the laws and policies.
The Constitution sets some limitations on the Government as to what extent a government can impose rules and policies on its citizen. These limits are fundamental in the sense that the Government may never trespass them.
The Constitution enables the Government to fulfil the aspirations of a society and create conditions for a just society.
Advent of the Britisher In India
The British came to India in 1600 as traders, in the form of East India Company, which had the exclusive right of trading in India under a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I.
In 1765, the Company obtained the ‘diwani’ (rights over revenue and civil justice) of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
This started its career as a territorial power.
In 1858, in the wake of the ‘sepoy mutiny’, the British Crown assumed direct responsibility for the governance of India. This rule continued until India was granted independence on 15 August, 1947. With Independence came the need of a constitution.
A Constituent Assembly was formed for this purpose in 1946 and on 26 January, 1950, the Constitution came into being. However, various features of the Indian Constitution and polity have their roots in the British rule.
Regulating Act, 1773
The act designated the Governor of Bengal as the Governor-General of Bengal. The First Governor-General of Bengal was Lord Warren Hastings. The act subordinated the Governors of Bombay and Madras to the Governor-General of Bengal.
The Supreme Court was established at Fort William (Calcutta) as the Apex Court in 1774.
Pitt’s India Act of 1784
The act established Board of Control over the Court of directors to guide and supervise the affairs of the company in India. It was introduced to remove the drawbacks of the Regulating Act. It was named after the then British Prime Minister. The act placed the Indian affairs under the direct control of the British Government.
Charter Act of 1833
Company’s monopoly of trade with India was completely abolished. The act created the post of Governor General of India. It made the Governor General of Bengal as the Governor General of India. First Governor General of India was Lord William Bentick. Governments of Bombay and Madras were deprived of their legislative powers. This was the final step towards centralization in the British India. The act ended the activities of the East India Company as the commercial body.
Charter Act of 1853
In 1853, the charter act of 1833 was to time out and had to be renewed. It was renewed but no substantial changes were made. Legislative and Executive Councils were separated. The charter act of 1833 provided the Haileybury college of London should make quota to admit the future civil servants. However, this system of an open competition was never effectively operated.
The Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Macaulay had prepared the regulations in this context.
Government of India Act of 1858
British Crown assumed sovereignty over India from the East India Company. It provided absolute imperial control without any popular participation in the administration of the country.
This Act transferred the Government, territories and revenues of India from the East India Company to the British Crown. The rule of company was replaced by the rule of Crown in India.
Secretary of state
- The powers of the British Crown were to be exercised by the Secretary of State for India.
- The secretary of state was a member of the British Cabinet.
- He was assisted by the Council of India, having 15 members.
- He was vested with complete authority and control over the Indian administration through the Governor-General as his agent.
- He was responsible ultimately to the British Parliament.
- The Governor General was made the Viceroy of India.
- Lord Canning was the first Viceroy of India 1858
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