Historical Background

British came to India in 1600 as a trader in the form of East India Company.
 1765 – Diwani right(revenue and civil justice)- Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
 This started its career as a territorial power.
 1858,- ‘Sepoy mutiny’, the British Crown assumed direct responsibility for the governance of India.
 Continued until India was granted independence on August 15, 1947
 With Independence came the need of a Constitution.
 Suggested by M N Roy (a pioneer of communist movement in India) in 1934.
 Constituent Assembly was formed for this purpose in 1946 and on
 January 26, 1950 the Constitution came into being.
 Various features of the Constitution and polity have their roots in the British rule.

THE COMPANY RULE (1773–1858)

1)-Regulating Act of 1773
 Great constitutional importance
 1)-First step taken by British Govt to control and regulate the affairs of EIC in India.
 2)-Recognised- first time- political and administrative functions of the Company.
 3)-Laid the foundations of central administration in India.
Features
 1)- Governor of Bengal- ‘Governor-General of Bengal’
 2)-Bombay and Madras presidencies subordinate to the governor general of Bengal
 3)-Created an Executive Council of four members to assist him.
 4)-Governor-General- Lord Warren Hastings.
 5)- 1774 -Supreme Court Calcutta comprising one chief justice and three judges
 6)-Prohibited- servants of Company from engaging in any private trade or accepting gift or bribes
 7)-Control of British Govt over Company by Court of Directors (governing body of the Company) to report on its revenue, civil, and military affairs in India

2)-Pitt’s India Act of 1784

 a)-Rectify the defects of the Regulating Act of 1773.
 b)-British Parliament passed the Amending Act of 1781,
 c)-Also known as the Act of Settlement.
Features
 1)-Distinguished between- commercial and political functions of the Company.
 2)-Court of Directors to manage the commercial affairs.
 3)-New body- Board of Control to manage the political affairs.
 4)-Established a system of double government.
 5)-Board of Control to supervise all operations of the civil and military government or revenues
 Company’s territories – first time called the ‘British possessions(संपत्त in India’.
 British Government- Supreme control over Company’s affairs and its administration.

3)-Charter Act of 1833
 Final step towards centralisation in British India.
Features
 1)- Governor-General of Bengal as the Governor-General of India.
 2)- Power- Civil and Military powers
 3)- Lord William Bentick was the first governor-general of India.
 4)-Deprived- Governor of Bombay and Madras of their legislative powers
 5)-Governor General of India was given exclusive legislative powers for the entire British India
6)-Regulations while laws made under this act were called as Acts
7)- End- East India Company as a commercial body- Purely administrative body.
 8)- Open competition for selection of civil servants- Indians should not be debarred
 Provision was negated after opposition from the Court of Directors.

4)-Charter Act of 1853

 Last of the series of Charter Acts passed by the British Parliament between 1793 and 1853.
 Significant constitutional landmark.
Features
1)-Separated first time- Legislative and Executive functions of the Governor General’s council
 2)-This legislative wing of the council functioned as a mini-Parliament,
 3)-Adopting the same procedures as the British Parliament.
 4)-Introduced open competition system of selection of civil servants- Open to the Indian.
 5)-Macaulay Committee (the Committee on the Indian Civil Service) was appointed in 1854.
 6)-Local representation in the Indian (Central) Legislative Council.
 7)-Extended the Company’s rule- retain Possession of Indian territories- Not specify any particular period, unlike the previous Charters- Clear indication that the Company’s rule could be terminated at any time the Parliament liked.

PDF for Lecture 2 –

Video of Lecture 2 by VeeR Talyan –     

Leave a Comment