Updated: Dec 16, 2020
INDIAN CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY
Vasco-da-Gama landed at Calicut in 1498, a historical date to reckon with in Indian History. In fact,he had discovered the sea route to India and had hastened commercial contacts between the European Countries and India. Among those who came, it was the Britishers who succeeded in establishing themselves. In 1600, the East India Company was founded. The development from this date to 1857 is interesting and filled with many memorable historical incidents. The Company was wounded up in 1857 and the Crown took over the rule in the Indian sub-continent. 1857-1909, is a short period which saw some Constitutional changes. But, the period from 1909 to 1950 seems to be most interesting, containing a number of reforms with far-reaching consequences. Attention is to be paid to this period and the sequences must be studied in detail if the mighty and heroic efforts of our great Indians are to be appreciated. It is the solemn obligation of all of us, to remember with heart- felt gratitude and respect all those who have sacrificed their lives, to make India free. Let their soul rest in peace/ Let our path always be on democratic lines!
The War of Independence of 1857 ended with the suppression of the Indians by the Britishers. However, the East India Company was wounded up and the crown established direct rule over India. The Indian Council Act 1882 introduced certain reforms, but this did not satisfy the aspirations of the people of India. The Indian National Congress, founded in 1885, had been divided into extremists and moderates. Tilak and Arvind Ghosh advocated a terrorist policy while Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Lala Lajpatrai and others were the moderater who believed in Constitutional means to achieve freedom. Gokhale visited England and discussed the Indian problems with the Secretary of State, Lord Morley. A Royal Commission consisting of Lord Minto and Lord Morely was appointed by the British Government. The essential function of this was to suggest reforms to tone up the administration in India. Its members made a broad survey of Indian administration taking into consideration the following factors : 1. The difficulty of administering India from a single headquarters; 2. The varied problems of the Provinces with their different traditions, languages and interests; 3. The lack of consciousness of responsibilities in the Provinces and the States; 4. The varied problems of Educating the people in public affairs; It suggested the following reforms : (i) It strongly recommended for de-centralisation. In fact, a Royal Commission on de-centralisation was later appointed by the British Government.I (ii) It recommended for an increase in the membership of Indians in the Councils. (iii) In the Governor General's Legislative Council, the reforms called for an increase in the proportion of the nonofficial members, substantially. (iv) It suggested for a thorough change in the mode of selection of these members i.e., it recommended for an Indirect Election. (v) Further it suggested that there should be a separate linguistic constituency to represent the muslim population in India. It may be noted that this seed sown under these reforms, sprouted up, in later years, into a big tree culminating in the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. (vi) The functions of the Council were enlarged. It could propose resolutions, could ask questions and supplementaries and also could vote. It could discuss the budget also. The reforms were introduced as revolutionary changes to tone up the administration but they neither fulfilled the objectives nor helped to satisfy the Indian objectives or aspirations. However, it is salutary to note that it introduced certain changes in respect of decentralisation and also provided for more Indian participation in administration.