TANTALIZING ADMINISTRATIVE AND LEGISLATIVE REFORMS IN INDIA AFTER REVOLT OF 1857 (Part-I)
Let’s take ourselves to 1857 India for better understanding legislative and administrative reforms in India after 1857… The Revolt of 1857 is a historical magnified manifestation of arising mass nationalism in India. No armed forces of such gigantic magnitude upsurged thereafter but even such tremendous military troops with the political assistance of Rani Laxmibai, Tantia Tope etc. couldn’t exterminate the deeply-rooted and stable colonial empire from India. However, it certainly compelled Britishers to analyze the prime reasons for such a spontaneously massive upheaval and resultingly they discovered the British East India Company as a major exploitative entity in India. Therefore, the Mutiny of 1857 was an antagonistic voice of opposition against the overpowering colonial policies introduced by the company. ( like Policy of Subsidiary Alliance, Dalhousie Doctrine of Lapse etc.) Eventually, in November 1857, Queen Victoria royally proclaimed herself as the Empress of India and abolished merchandise capitalism in India🇮🇳. She invalidated all preceding policies of territorial expansion and ensured Indian emperors the rights over their provinces.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND LEGISLATIVE REFORMATION
- Introduction of Department System: The dual system of political governance designed under Pitts India Act was abolished with the liquidation of the Board of Control and Court of Directors under this statute. Therefore, a new procedure of political governance was constructed under this enactment called the Department System. The topmost hierarchal position of this system was British Parliament and it was responded by Secretary of State for India who was a member of British Cabinet and vested extensive authority and control over Indian Administration. The Secretary of State for India was assisted by a 15-membered committee called Council of India who will function as an advisory body. In addition to this, Governor-General of India was titled as Viceroy of India who will be the direct representative of British Crown in India. He will supervise, administer and control the provincial governments in India. The Viceroy will be responsible to the Secretary of State.
- The diagrammatic representation of the new political system of governance with hierarchy
- First Viceroy and Last Governor-General of India: Lord Canning
- First Secretary of State: Edward Henry Stanley
- The prime objective of this act was to create an answerable and accountable government. Therefore, the direct rule of the British Government provided better regulations than the East India Company’s rule. Hence, it’s also known as “An Act for the Better Government of India.”
- Decentralization of legislative powers: The legislative powers that were rigidly centralized in Bengal after Charter Act 1833 were now decentralized in Madras and Bombay for effective administration. British Government’s motive of concentrating lawmaking powers in Bengal was to build legislative uniformity but the system wasn’t up to people’s expectations and it overburdened the Governor-General of India with innumerable responsibilities. Therefore, the foregoing provision was amended for administrative convenience.
- Introduction of Legislative Councils in other states: Additionally, Governor-General was entrusted to establish legislative councils in existing provinces for administrative comfort and he could appoint Lieutenant for legislation in these provinces. Consequently, new legislative councils were defined in Bengal (1862), North Western Frontier Province (1866) and Punjab (1897).
- The nomination of Non-Official Members of Legislative Council by Viceroy: Under this enactment, Viceroy was sought to nominate Indians as non-official members of his extended legislative council but they weren’t given any resilience and power to question on the administrative decisions. The first such members nominated by Viceroy Lord Canning were Raja of Benaras, Maharaja of Patiala and Sir Dinkar Rao.
- Enlargement of Executive Council: The Viceroy’s executive council was enlarged by the addition of 5th member called jurist. Later in 1874, a 6th member was also appointed for the public interest.
- Introduction of Portfolio System: Indian Executive Council that was composed of 6 members delegated by Governor-General were allocated distinct departmental responsibilities of home, revenue, military, law, finance and public welfare separately. Henceforth, a portfolio system started for the first time in India.
- Viceroy was permitted to issue ordinances (temporary laws) in case of emergency without the consensus of Legislative Council which would be plausible for 6 months.
- Enlargement of Central and Provincial Legislative Council: The numeric strength of non-official members was expanded in Central Legislative Council ( between 10 to 16) and variably in Provincial Legislative Council.
- Members of the Legislative Council were validated to discuss budget and public interests and articulate the questions to the executives.
- The nomination of Members of Central and Provincial Council: Under this enactment, Viceroy was designated to nominate non-official members of the Central Legislative Council with the recommendation of Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Provincial Legislative Council while Governor-General was instructed to nominate non-official members of Provincial Legislature by recommendation of certain local bodies like Universities, District Board and Municipalities etc.
- Enlargement of Central and Provincial Legislative Council: The numeric strength of non-official members was increased in the Central Legislative Council from 16 to 60 and non-uniformly in Provincial Legislative Council. The element of the election was installed in Central Legislative Council retaining the official majority but the non-official majority was ascertained in Provincial Legislative Council.
- Extension of powers of non-official members: The powers of non-official members of Legislative Council were extended and they were now entrusted to discuss budget and matters of public interest. They could also move resolutions and ask supplementary questions to executives.
- It welcomed the association of Indians with the executive council of Viceroy and Governors. Satyendra Prasad Sinha was the first member to join the Viceroy’s executive council in 1909.
- Communal Representation of Muslims: On the consistent demand of the Muslim League, the concept of communal representation i.e. separate electorates for Muslims were accepted. Under this act, some constituencies were set aside for Muslims and only Muslims could vote their representatives. Therefore, it certified communalism in India and Lord Minto is known as “Father of Communal Electorates in India.”
- Introduction of Dyarchy System in Provinces: Under this enactment, the administrative subjects were split into the Central Subjects and Provincial Subjects. Central Subjects were kept under the supervision of the Central Legislative Government while the Provincial Subjects were slightly given to Provincial Legislative Council. Provincial Subjects involved Transferred Subjects i.e issues supervised by Governor with the aid of Ministers and Reserved Subjects i.e. issues operated independently by Governor of Provincial Legislative Council. This administrative system of division of power is termed as Dyarchy System.
- Introduction of Bicameralism in Central Legislative Council: It introduced Bicameralism for the first time in Central Legislative Council. It proposed that the legislature should consist of Upper House called ‘Council of State‘ and Lower House called ‘Legislative Council‘ whose majority of members would be directly elected.
- The act mandated that three of six members of Viceroy’s Executive Council were to be Indians.
- Extension of Communal Representation for Sikhs, Christians, Anglo-Indians etc. : The concept of communal representation was extended for other religions and provided separate electorates for Sikhs, Christian, Anglo-Indians etc.
- Limited Franchise for People on basis of one’s tax payment, property and educational qualifications
- Creation of High Commissioner: The new office for High Commissioner was organized and he/she was given the extra functions that were so far performed by Secretary of State.
- Establishment of the Public Service Commission: Public Service Commission was established in London (in 1926) under this provision.
- A Statutory Commission was to be appointed to inquire into and report on its working after ten years of its coming into force.
- Establishment of All India Federation: The act prescribed the establishment of All India Federation, considering the consent of provinces and princely states. Three lists were formulated for the division of power- Federal List (for Centre consisting 49 subjects), Provincial List (for provinces consisting 54 subjects) and Concurrent List (for both centre and provinces consisting 36 subjects). Residuary legislative powers vested in the hands of Governor-General. Since princely states rejected the provision, the Federation couldn’t be ascertained.
- Provincial Autonomy reclaimed: The dyarchy system at provinces was abolished under this enactment and the provinces were empowered to act as autonomous administrative entities that could take its independent decisions subject to certain safeguards and limitations. The Governor was proclaimed as the head of the province who will be assisted by Ministers. However, this provision came into effect in 1937.
- Introduction of Dyarchy at Centre: Under this provision, the British Parliamentary Government divided the subjects of the federal list into two categories- Reserved Subjects and Transferred Subjects. Reserved subjects were controlled by Governor-General with the advice of three counsellors and it included issues like defence, justice, external and tribal affairs. Transferred Subjects were controlled by Governor-General with the assistance of the Council of Ministers and it included education, health and forest-related subjects.
- Establishment of Federal Court: It provisioned to create a Federal Court for interpretation of controversial clauses of this act which was finally constructed in 1937. It also functioned to sort out the disputes between the Federal Government and the provinces and amongst the provinces.
- Introduction of Bicameralism: Bicameralism (provisioned in GOI 1919) was now properly introduced in six out of eleven provinces. It included Bengal, Bombay, Madras, Assam, Bihar and United Provinces.
- Extension of Franchise: Almost 10% of British Indian Population was empowered to vote in elections.
- Extension of Separate Electorates: The concept of separate electorates was now extended to depressed sections, women and minorities.
- Abolition of Indian Council: Indian Council (structured under GOI 1858) was abolished under this provision and instead Secretary of State was provided with a team of advisors.
- Re-organisation of States: Burma (now Myanmar) was separated from British India and two new provinces catalogued- Orissa and Sind were created.