Important Acts under the Company Rule in India

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To control the powers and role of the East India Company in India, British Parliament passed several acts between 1773 and 1853 before taking the governance in their own hands.

This post will list all the important Acts and their features that were introduced under the Company Rule in a precise way.

Regulating Act of 1773

It was the first step taken to control and regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India. It also recognized the political and administrative functions of the Company and laid the foundation of central administration in India.

The main features of this act were –

1. It designated Governor of Bengal as ‘Governer-General of Bengal’ (First Governor-General of Bengal was Warren Hastings)
2. Created an Executive Council of 4 members to assist him.
3. The Governor of Bombay and Madaras were made subordinate (lower in rank) to him.
4. First Supreme Court was set up in 1774 at Calcutta (Composition – 1 chief Justice + 3 other Judges)
5. This act prohibited the servants of the Company to trade or accept presents or bribes from ‘natives’ (Indians)
6. Court of directors (Body responsible for administration in India) was required to submit report on revenue, civil and military affairs to the British Government.

Pitt’s India Act of 1784

Also called Settlement Act as it was introduced to rectify the defects of the regulating act.

For the first time, the Company’s territory in India was called the “British possessions” in India. It also gave the British Government supreme control over the Company affairs and administrations.

The main features of this act were –

1. It distinguished between the political and commercial functions of the Company.
2. Created a new body called the Board of Control to manage political affairs. Commercial affairs were managed by the Court of Directors. It hence established a system of double government.
3. The Board of Control was empowered to direct all operations of the civil and military government or revenues of the British Possessions in India.

Charter Act of 1833

This act was introduced to finalize the centralization in British India.

The main features of this act were –

1. It designated the Governor-General of Bengal as the Governor-General of India and gave him all civil and military powers (First Governor-General of India was Lord William Bentick)
2. Governor of Bombay and Madras were deprived of their legislative powers.
3. The laws made under this act were called ‘Acts’ and declared all the laws made under previous acts as ‘Regulations’.
4. East India Company became a purely administrative body ending its commercial functions.
5. This act attempted to introduce a system of open competition for the selection of civil servants for Indians also. However, this provision was struck down.

Charter Act of 1853

This was the last Act passed by the British Parliament under the Company Rule.

The main features of this act were –

1. For the first time, it separated the legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General Council. It established a separate Legislative Council (called Indian/Central Legislative Council) consisting of 6 new members.
2. It introduced an open competition system for the selection and recruitment of Civil servants thus making Indians eligible to compete. Hence, Macaulay Committee was appointed in 1854 for Civil Services.
3. It extended the Company’s rule but without any particular period indicating that the Company’s rule could be ended at any time the parliament liked.
4. It introduced Local Representation in the Legislative Council for the first time. Out of 6 members, 4 were appointed by the local (provincial) governments of Madras, Bombay, Bengal, and Agra.

What were some important Committees of the Constituent Assembly?

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The Committees of the Constituent Assembly were broadly divided into Major Committees and Minor Committees.

The most important committee (Major) of the Constituent Assembly was the Drafting Committee set up on August 29, 1947, under the chairmanship of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. It was entrusted with the task of preparing a draft of the new constitution.

It had seven Members –

  1. Dr. BR Ambedkar (Chairman)
  2. N Gopalaswami Ayyangar
  3. Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
  4. Dr. K M Munshi
  5. Syed Mohammad Saadullah
  6. N Madhava Rau (He replaced B L Mitter who resigned due to ill-health)
  7. TT Krishnamachari (He replaced DP Khaitan who died in 1948)

Major Committees

ChairmenCommittee
Jawaharlal NehruUnion Powers Committee, Union Constitution Committee, States Committee (Committee for Negotiating with States)
Dr. Rajendra PrasadRules of Procedure Committee, Steering Committee
Sardar PatelProvincial Constitution Committee, [Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas]
Dr. B. R. AmbedkarDrafting Committee
J.B KripalaniFundamental Rights Sub-Committee
H.C. MukherjeeMinorities Sub-Committee
Gopinath BardoloiNorth-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee
A.V. ThakkarExcluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than those in Assam) Sub-Committee
No ChairmanNorth-West Frontier Tribal Areas Sub-Committee
Note: The 5 Sub-committees mentioned in the table are all part of the Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal, and Excluded Areas.

Minor Committees

ChairmenCommittee
Dr. Rajendra PrasadFinance and Staff Committee, Ad-hoc Committee on the National Flag
Alladi KrishnaswamiCredentials Committee
Jawaharlal NehruSpecial Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution Ayyar
B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya House Committee
Dr. K.M. MunshiOrder of Business Committee
G.V. MavalankarCommittee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly
S. Varadachari (Not an Assembly Member)Ad-hoc Committee on the Supreme Court
B. Pattabhi SitaramayyaCommittee on Chief Commissioners’ Provinces
Nalini Ranjan Sarkar (Not an Assembly Member)Expert Committee on the Financial Provisions of the Union Constitution
S.K. Dar (Not an Assembly Member)Linguistic Provinces Commission
Usha Nath SenPress Gallery Committee
S. VaradachariAd-hoc Committee on Citizenship

Who was the President of the Constituent Assembly of India?

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The Constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946.

It held Its first meeting on December 9, 1946. The oldest member of the assembly, Dr Sachchidananda Sinha was elected as the temporary president.

Later on December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly. H. C. Mukherjee and V. T. Krishnamachari were elected as the Vice Presidents of the assembly.

‘The Constituent Assembly became the first Parliament of free India’.

When was Constituent Assembly demanded?

The idea of a constituent assembly was first mooted by M. N. Roy, a pioneer of communist movement in India.

A constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution of India was officially demanded, for the first time by the Indian National Congress in 1935.

The demand was finally accepted in principle by the British Government in what is known as the ‘August Offer” of 1940.

The Constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946 under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Some Quick Facts for Exams

  • The Constituent Assembly ratified (making it officially valid) India’s membership of the Commonwealth in May 1949.
  • “Elephant” was adopted as the symbol(seal) of the Constituent Assembly
  • It adopted the national flag on July 22, 1947, and the national anthem and national song on January 24, 1950.
  • The Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949. This is the date which is mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution of India.
  • The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was to be 389. Out of these, 296 were to be allotted to British India (means that elections were to be held on these 296 seats), and 93 to the Princely States.
  • Prem Behari Narain Raizada was the calligrapher of the Indian Constitution.