Chapter 1: CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK

 

    • The very fact that the Constitution of the Indian Republic is the product not of a political revolution but of the research and deliberations of a body of eminent representatives of the people who sought to improve upon the existing system of administration, makes a retrospect of the constitutional development indispensable for a proper understanding of this Constitution.
    • Practically the only respect in which the Constitution of 1949 differs from the constitutional documents of the preceding two centuries is that while the latter had been imposed by an imperial power, the Republican Constitution was made by the people themselves, through representatives assembled in a sovereign Constituent Assembly. That explains the majesty and ethical value of this new instrument and also the significance of those of its provisions which have been engrafted upon the pre-existing system.

Making of the Constitution 1773 – 1947

Events that influenced our constitution and polity during the east India Company rule:

Regulating Act, 1773: 

The controller of East India company was the court of proprietors and court of directors.

The three presidencies of Bombay, Bengal, Madras were independent and managed by governor and his council.

The court of directors were elected annually and managed the affairs of the company. The mismanagement of Indian territories led to bankruptcy of the company and the directors asked for a loan. The government passed this act as a precondition for the loan.

It laid the foundations for a centralized administration in India. Governor of Bengal became the Governor General of Bengal with an executive council of four to assist him. Decisions would be taken by majority and Governor General could only vote in case of tie. Presidencies of Madras and Bombay lost their independence and became subordinate to Bengal.

It established a Supreme Court of Justice at Calcutta. It prohibited the servants of E.I.C from accepting gifts and engaging in private trade.

Pitts Act, 1784:

Board of control was established to control political affairs in India. So a system of dual government was created. The number of members in the governors council were reduced to 3.

The board of control were responsible to the parliament and controlled political affairs. The court of directors were in control of commercial affairs.

Charter Acts:

Charter Act, 1813: Reduced monopoly of E.I.C to trade with India. But kept monopoly for trade with china.

Charter Act, 1833: Ended all monopolies of E.I.C with respect to trade. Governor General of Bengal became the Governor General of India.

Charter Act, 1853: Created a Central legislative council for legislative functions. It had provincial representation for the first time. Open competitive exams were held for recruitment to the civil service.

Government of India Act, 1858:

    • British Crown assumed sovereignty over India from the East India Company, and Parliament enacted the first statute for the governance of India under the direct rule of the British Government – the Government of India Act, 1858 .
    • This Act was dominated by the principle of absolute imperial control without any popular participation in the administration of the country, while the subsequent history up to the making of the Constitution is one of gradual relaxation of imperial control and the evolution of responsible government.
    • By this Act, the powers of the Crown were to be exercised by the Secretary of State for India, assisted by a Council of fifteen members (known as the Council of India).
    • The Council was composed exclusively of people from England, some of whom were nominees of the Crown while others were the representatives of the Directors of the East India Co.
    • The Secretary of State, who was responsible to the British Parliament, governed India through the Governor-General, assisted by an Executive Council, which consisted of high officials of the Government
    • The essential features of the system introduced by the Act of 1858 :
      1. The administration of the country was not only unitary but rigidly centralised. Though the territory was divided into Provinces with a Governor or Lieutenant-Governor aided by his Executive Council at the head of each of them, the Provincial Governments were mere agents of the Government of India and had to function under the superintendence, direction and control of the Governor-General in all matters relating to the government of the Provtnce.
      1. There was no separation of functions, and all the authority for the governance of India – civil and military, executive and legislative, was vested in the Governor-General in Council who was responsible to the Secretary of State.
      1. The control of the Secretary of State over the Indian administration was absolute. The Act vested in him the ‘superintendence, direction and control of all areass, operations and concerns which in any way related to the Government or revenues of India’. Subject to his ultimate responsibility to the British Parliament, he wielded the Indian administration through the Governor-General as his agent and his was the last word, whether in matters of Policy or of details.
      1. The entire machinery of administration was bureaucratic, totally unconcerned about public opinion in India.

Governor General of India became the viceroy of India. The board of control and court of directors, proprietors were abolished and a new office of Secretary of State for India and his Indian council were created. They had supreme power to regulate all affairs.

Indian Council Act, 1861:

    • The Indian Councils Act of 1861 introduced a grain of popular element insofar as it provided that the Governor-General’s Executive Council, which was so long composed exclusively of officials, should include certain additional non-official members, while transacting legislative business as a Legislative Council.
    • But this Legislative Council was neither representative nor deliberative in any sense. The members were nominated and their functions were confined exclusively to a consideration of the legislative proposals placed before it by the Governor-General.
    • It could not, in any manner, criticise the acts of Lhe administration or Lhe conduct of the authorities.
    • Even in legislation, effective powers were reserved to the Governor-General, such as-(a) giving prior sanction to Bills relating to certain matters, without which they could not be introduced in the Legislative Council; (b) vetoing the Bills after they were passed or reserving them for consideration of the Crown;
    • Similar provisions were made by the Act of 1861 for Legislative Councils in the Provinces. But even for initiating legislation in these Provincial Councils with respect to many matters, the prior sanction of the Governor-General was necessary.

Allowed nomination of Indians to the central legislative council.

Started a portfolio system for convenient transaction of business.

Viceroy could issue ordinances without consulting the legislative council [lifetime of ordinances = 6 months].

Process of decentralization of legislative powers to the provinces began.

Indian Council Act, 1892:

    • Two improvements upon the preceding slate of affairs as regards the Indian and Provincial Legislative Councils were introduced by the Indian Councils Act, 1892, namely that
      1. though the Councils majority of official members were retained, the nonofficial members of the Indian Legislative Council were henceforth to be nominated by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and the Provincial Legislative Councils, while the non-official members of the Provincial Councils were to be nominated by certain local bodies such as universities, district boards, municipalities;
    • The Councils were to have the power of discussing the annual statement of revenue and expenditure. i.e., the Budget and of addressing questions to the Executive.
  • This Act is notable for its object. which was explained by the UnderSecretary of State for India thus: “to widen the basis and expand the functions of the Government of India, and to give further opportunities to the non official and native, elements in indian society to take part in the work of the Government”.

 

Quiz

Score more than 80% marks and move ahead else stay back and read again!

Q1:Regulating Act, 1773 allowed
1.The controller of East India company was the court of proprietors and court of directors.
2.three presidencies of Bombay, Bengal, Madras were independent and managed by governor and his council.
3.Governor of Bengal became the Governor General of Bengal with an executive council of four to assist him.
4.All

Q2:Pitts Act, 1784 made
1.Board of control was established to control political affairs in India.
2.The number of members in the governors council were reduced to 3.
3.The board of control were responsible to the parliament and controlled political affairs. The court of directors were in control of commercial affairs
4.All

Q3:Which is true
1.Charter Act, 1813: Reduced monopoly of E.I.C to trade with India. But kept monopoly for trade with china.
2.Charter Act, 1833: Ended all monopolies of E.I.C with respect to trade. Governor General of Bengal became the Governor General of India.
3.Charter Act, 1853: Created a Central legislative council for legislative functions. It had provincial representation for the first time. Open competitive exams were held for recruitment to the civil service.
4.All

Q4:Which is true?
1.Indian Council Act, 1861 Allowed nomination of Indians to the central legislative council.
2.Government of India Act, 1858: Governor General of India became the viceroy of India.
3.both
4.none

Q5:Which Act created communal electorate in India?
1.Government of India Act, 1919:
2.Indian Council Act, 1909
3.Indian Council Act, 1892
4.None