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by:Mamta Aggarwal|category:BritishIndia


Read this article to learn about the administration of the East India Company and Crown
during the British rule in India!

i. The Act provided that the Court of Director hitherto elected every year, was henceforth
to be elected for four years. The number of Directors was fixed at 24, one-fourth retiring
every year.
ii. In Bengal a collegiate government was created consisting of a Governor General
having a casting vote when there was an equal division of opinion. The first Governorgeneral (Warren Hastings) and councillors (Philip Francis, Clavering, Monson and
Barwell) were named in the Act.

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The Governor-General-in-Council were vested with the civil and military government of
the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal.


iii. The Act empowered the Crown to establish by charter a Supreme Court of Judicature,
consisting of a Chief Justice and three puisine judges which was given both original and
appellate jurisdic
tion. All British subjects in Bengal, European and Indian, could seek
redress in the Supreme Court. It was constituted in 1774 with Sir Elijah Impey as Chief


i. The Act of 1784 introduced changes mainly in the Companys Home Government in
London. While the patronage of the company was left untouched, all civil, military and
revenue affairs were to be controlled by the Board of Control consisting of 6 members.
ii. In India, the chief government was placed in the hands of Governor-General and
council of three.
iii. The Presidencies of Madras and Bombay were subordinated to the Governor General
and Council of Bengal in all matters.
iv. Only covenanted servants were in future to be appointed members of the Council of the

i. In 1793, the Companys commercial privileges were extended for another twenty years.
ii. The power which had been specially given to Cornwallis on his appointment to over-ride
his Council was extended to all future Governor Generals and Governors.

i. By this Act, the company was deprived of its monopoly of trade with India but it still
enjoyed its monopoly of trade with China and the trade in tea.
ii. The Act continued to the Company for a further period of twenty years the possession of
the territories and revenues.
iii. It contained a clause providing for a sum of one lakh of rupees annually for the spread
of education.

i. It completed the introduction of free trade in India by abolishing the companys
monopoly of trade in tea and trade with China.
ii. All restrictions on European immigration into India and acquisition by them of land and
property in India were removed.
iii. The Act centralised the administration of India. The Governor-General of Bengal

became the Governor-General of India (William Bentinck was the first Governor-General
of India).
iv. The Act also brought about legislative centralisation. The Governments of Madras and
Bombay were drastically deprived of their powers of legislation.
v. The Act enlarged the Executive Council of the Governor General by the addition, of the
fourth member (Law member) for legislative purposes. Macaulay was the first law
vi. Section 87 provided that no Indian or natural born subject of the Crown resident in
India should be by reason only of his religion, place of birth, descent, colour, be
disqualified for any place of office or employment under the company.

i. The Act renewed the powers of the company and allowed it to retain possession of
Indian territo
ries in trust for her majesty, not for any specified period but only until
Parliament should other
wise provide.
ii. The number of the members of the Court of Directors was reduced from 24 to 18 out of
6 were to nominated by the crown.
iii. The Law Member was made a full member of the Governor-Generals Executive council
and this Council while sitting in its legislative capacity was enlarged by the addition of six

British rule in India started paramountacy in all fields of governance. Though prior rulers
also made several organisations to run their Government but those were not as organized
as were during British rule. British practices in the process of paramountacy have been
described below:-

The British Raj and the Indian colonial civil service were symbiotically related to each
other. If the principal pillar on which the whole of the superstructure of the Raj rested was
the Indian civil service, then also true was the fact that it, on its part, provided the

irresponsible civil servants on playground and rules of the game with adequate room for
both ruthless repression as well as skillful adjustments.
The British intercourse with India started from 1600, when the East India Company
obtained a charter from Queen Elizabeth I granting it monopoly at the trade with the
In one of the ships of third expedition of the Company in 1607-8, arrived Sir William
Hawkins, the first civil servant, not in the strict sense of the term, but only in the sense of
his distinctiveness from a military servant, more appropriate for commercial ventures
than for an administrative club. From this date till 1750s, most of the so-called civil
servants were alien free booters interests only in making their fortunes in the shortest
possible time-frame.
They carried on inland trade in salt, and tobacco, used and misused the dastaks, received
nazarana, rishwats and dasturs and finally, returned to their home. Acceptance of
presents was customary in India and there was no person in Company service who had not
done so, agreed Clive.
This shaking of the pagoda trace transformed the granary of India (Bengal) into a
confused heap as wild as chaos itself. Clearly, the civil servants of this generation were
interested more in rapid swelling of their money bag than in the administrative
The arrival of Warren Hastings in Bengal as Governor of the presidency of Fort William in
1772 proved to be a turning point in this direction. The same year, the Company was
ordered by the Court of Directors to stand forth as Diwan which meant the termination of
system of dual government and imposition of an administrative task upon the
commercial men and thus the foundation of the civil service was formally laid.
Accordingly, Englishmen were to be appointed as Collectors in district under the overall
control of a Board of Revenue at Calcutta, a weak system, rightly characterized by

Hastings as petty tyrants and heavy rulers of the people. The foundation of the civil
service in the modern sense was, nonetheless, laid down during his regime.
(a) Hastings, having proficiency in Bengali, Urdu, Persian, understood the relationship
between on acculturated civil servant and an efficient one and accordingly emphasized on
the creation of an orientalized elite club of the civil servants, competent in Indian
languages and responsible to Indian tradition.
(b) He made efforts at lifting the moral tone and intellectual standards of servants.
Dastaks were abolished in 1773 and those engaged in the private trade had to pay a duty
of 2% to the Board of customs.
(c) Hastings separated the revenue and commercial branches as also revenue from the
judicial func
(d) The Regulation Act of 1773 prohibited all officials of the Company, from the GovernorGeneral and his councilors and Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Courts
downwards, from ac
cepting gifts, donations, gratuity or rewards. If found guilty of doing
so, they could be legally convicted by the Supreme Court or the court of the Mayor.
(e) In 1780-81, revenue and judicial administration in districts was entrusted to English
officers which was the beginning of the nucleus of the civil service with systematization
and specialization of functions, essential to such service.
(f) By Pitts India Act of 1784, they were provided with definite scales of pay and
Thus Hastings laid the foundation on which Cornwallis built a superstructure. Cornwallis,
who came to India as Governor General in 1786, was determined to purify the
(a) He enforced the rule against the private trade and acceptance of presents and brides by
official with strictness.
(b) He raised the salaries of the civil servants with the fact in mind that the Companys
servants would not give honest and efficient service so long as they were not given

adequate salaries. Collector of a district was, therefore, to be paid Rs. 1500/- a month and
1% commission on the revenue collection of his district. In fact, Companys civil service
now became the highest paid service in the world.
(c) Cornwallis also laid down that promotion in the civil service would be by seniority so
that its members would remain independent of outside influence.
(d) A special feature of the Indian civil service since the days of Cornwallis was the rigid
and complete exclusion of Indians from it. It was laid officially in 1793 that all higher posts
in administration worth more than $500 a year in salary were to be held by Englishmen.
This policy was also applied to other branches of administration and Government, such as
they army, police, judiciary, engineer
ing, etc.
(e) He reduced the number of collectors from 36 to 23.
(f) He organized the administration four divisions (i) Public or General, (ii) Revenue, (iii)
Judicial and (iv) Commercial.
From the middle of the 18th century, Companys territorial empire in India started
expanding but the Company servants were not efficient and suitable to the requirement. It
was under this backdrop that Wallesley established the College of Fort William at Calcutta
in 1800, with an intention of having an Oxford of the East at their disposal. The directors
of the Company, however, disapproved of his action and in 1806 and replaced it by their
own East India College at Haileybury in England.
One thing to be noted is that prior to 1833 Charter Act, there was no element of
competition, whatsoever. The Court of Directors remained supreme in selection and
appointment of civil servants, in the direction and supervision of East India College and,
in fact, in any other matte concerned directly or indirectly with the exercise of patronage.
The change that followed the enactment of 1833 was mainly in two directions-First, the
imperial control of Companys civil service became direct exercisable immediately by the
Board of Control, a parliamentary body. Secondly, the disciplinary control of the
Government of India over civil servants became more pronounced than ever before.

Their appointment still continued to proceed from the Court but increasing directness of
relationship between the Board of Control and the Government of India could not but
relegate to the background both the influence and the authority of the Company exercised
The Charter Act of 1833 specifically provided that no Indian should be debarred from
holding any office by reason only of his religion, place of birth, descent or colour. In other
words, there should be no governing caste in British Indian and that capacity and not
race as to be the criterion of eligibility for administrative service.
Indians were accordingly appointed in increasing numbers to responsible judicial and
executive posts, but not to the corps de elite represented by Indian civil service, which
had a monopoly of the higher posts.
Provision for open competition was first made by the Charter Act of 1853. The old powers,
rights, and privileges of Court of Directors to nominate candidates for admission to
Haileybury were to cease in regard to all vacancies which occurred on or after April 30,
This Act provided that subject to such regulations as the Board of Control might make
from time to time any person being a natural born subject of Her Majesty who may be
desirous of being admitted into the said college at Haileybury shall be admitted to be
examined as a candidate for such admission.
(a) The appointment of civil servants was to proceed from the Court of Directors as before,
but it could appoint only such person as were declared entitled under the regulation so
framed by the Board of Control.
(b) A five member committee with T.B. Macaulary as Chairman was appointed to decide
the preconditions and mode of examination.
(c) The maximum age for admission was at first 23 (the minimum being 18), in 1859 it was
lowered to twenty two and selected candidates were to remain on probation in England for
one year.
(d) In 1866, the maximum age was further lowered to 21 and the probationers had to go

through a special course of training at an approved university for two years.

It was extremely difficult for Indians to pass this examination. The journey to England was
not only expensive and unfamiliar but, in case of the Hindus, was frowned upon by the
more orthodox leaders of the community.
To compete with the English boy since an examination conducted through the medium of
English in an English University was indeed a formidable task. It was no wonder,
therefore, that comparatively few Indians were successful.
British Government realized the inadequacy of the Indian element in the superior civil
(a) In 1870, an act was passed authorizing the appointment of Indians to the higher offices
without any examination, but it came into effect only in 1879.
(b) The rules adopted in 1879 ordained that a proportion not exceeding one sixth of the
total number of covenanted civil servants appointed in any year by the Secretary of State
should be natives selected in India by the local governments subject to the approval of the
Governor-General-in- Council.
These officers were called statutory civil servants and were recruited from young men of
good family and social position possessing of fair abilities and education. The system was,
however, sub
ject to same defects from which all systems of nomination were bound to
Even Indians them
selves preferred competitive examination. But in order to give Indians a
fair and equitable chance, they recommended that there should be simultaneous
examinations both in England and in India.
For the same reason they were against lowering of the maximum age of admission below
21 as it would adversely affect the Indian candidates who were to be examined in a foreign
tongue. The lowering of the maximum age limit to nineteen in 1877 was regarded as a
deliberate attempt to shut out Indians and led to an agitation which culminated in the
Congress movement.

The Congress vigorously took up the question of simultaneous examination and

employment of Indians in larger numbers.
In 1886, Lord Dufferin appointed a Public Service Commission to investigate the
problem with Sir Charles Atchnison as its president.
(a) The Commission rejected the idea of simultaneous examination for covenanted service,
and advised the abolition of the statutory civil service.
(b) It proposed that a number of pasts, hitherto reserved to covenanted service should be
thrown open to a local service to be called the Provincial Civil Service, which would be
separately recruited in every province either by Promotion from lower ranks or by direct
(c) The terms covenanted and un-covenanted were replaced by Imperial and Provincial,
and below the latter would be Subordinate Civil Service. The recommendations were
accepted. The covenanted civil service was hence forth service was called after the
particular province, as for example, the Bengal Civil Service. A list of posts reserved for the
Civil Service for India, but open to the new provincial service, was prepared and local
governments were empowered to appoint an Indian to any such listed post.
In other branches of the administration such as Education, Police, Army, Public Works
and Medical departments, too, there were similar divisions into imperial, provincial and
subordinate service. The first was mainly filled by Englishmen, and other two almost
exclusively by Indians.
In 1893, the House of Commons passed a resolution in favour of simultaneous
examinations in England and India for the Indian civil services. The resolution was
forwarded S.O.S. to the Government of India which opposed the resolution and thus
nothing came out of the proposal.
During the early years of 20th century Indians continued to agitate for a greater share in

the public services. In September 1912, a royal commission on the public services in India
was appointed. With Lord Islington as chairman. It recommended:
(a) That besides the recruitment of Indians to the I.C.S. through the London examination,
25% of the posts in the Superior Civil Service should be filled from among Indians, partly
by direct recruitment and part by a promotion from the lower service.
(b) To make the working of this scheme possible, it also recommended the holding of an
examination in India for the recruitment of civilians, thus conceding to the Indians, in a
changed from what they had been demanding for more than half a century.
The authors of the Montagu-Chelmsford Report took a more liberal sympathetic view than
the Islington Commission on the question of Indian zing the civil services. They proposed
(a) 33% of the superior posts should be recruited in India, and that this percentage should
be increased by 1 % annually.
(b) All racial distinctions in the matter of appointment should be abolished.
(c) For all the public services for which there was a recruitment in England open to
Europeans and Indians alike, there must be a system of appointment in India.
For about four years, the above principles were followed in the matter of recruiting
Indians. Royal Commission
To solve certain difficulties continuing in the service, a Royal Commission was appointed
in June, 1923, with Lord Lee of Fareham as Chairman. The Lee Commission submitted its
report in 1924 and most of its recommendations were accepted by the Government.
(a) The Commission recommended that All India officers of the Indian Civil Service, the
Indian Police Service, irrigation branch of the Service of Engineers and the Indian Forest
Service should con
tinue to be appointed by S.O.S.-in-Council, while the services of the
transferred departments should be controlled by provincial governments, except the
Indian Medical Service, for which each province was to appoint in its Civil Medical
Department a certain number of officers lent by the Medical Department of army in India.

(b) As regards, Indianization of services which were still to be controlled by S.O.S., the
Commission recommended that 20% of the officers should be recruited by promotion
from provincial civil ser
vices, and of the remaining 80%, half should be British and half
Indian. It calculated that by follow
ing the principle, there would be equal number of
Europeans and Indians in Superior Civil Services in 1939.
(c) It recommended the immediate establishment of a Public Service commission. Such a
sion, composed of five whole time members, was appointed in 1925.
(d) After 1922, certain officers in the Indian civil services were recruited on the result of a
competitive examination held in India.
Part X of the Government of India Act, 1935 defined the rights and status of the civil
servants. It also provided for a Federal Public Service Commission and Provincial Public
Service Commissions; but two or more provinces might agree for one commission. The
functions of commissions were purely advisory. They could only recommend names, which
the ministers, atleast in some cases, might accept or reject.

Although the Indian civil service is usually described as the steel frame of British
administration, the ultimate basis of the British rule in India had always been the Indian
Army, that aptly be described as the second important pillar of the regime. It fulfilled four
major functions:
(a) It acted as the principal imperial tool through which the Indian powers were
(b) It defended British Empire in India from the rival imperial powers.
(c) If safeguarded the British hegemony and therefore, an apt British answer of internal
bances and revolt.
(d) It was the chief instrument in extending the British imperial from Indian to Asia and

II. Up to the Revolt, an even for a long time after that, the presidencies of Bengal, Bombay
and Madras maintained separate armies under separate army commanders. Although the
Commander- in-Chief of Bengal Army became nominally the head of the military forces in
India, the Govern
ments of Bombay and Madras managed their own forces.
III. But an act was passed in 1893 whereby the whole army of India was placed under the
single control of the Commander-in-Chief and was divided into four territorial units-those
of Bengal, Ma
dras, Bombay and Punjab-each under Lieutenant-General.
IV. In 1904 Lord Kitchner made a new organization on different lines. The Indian military
forces were organised into three army commands and nine divisions. The advantage of this
system lay in the fact that it co-ordinated the organization in time of peace with what
would be necessary in time of war.
V. Each Presidency-army originally consisted to three elements, viz., (1) Indian troops,
mostly locally recruited, (2) European units belonging to the Company and (3) Royal
regiments. After 1858, the last two had to be amalgamated, but this provoked great
discontent amongst the Companys troops and about 10,000 men claimed their discharge.
This is known as White Mutiny. The discontent was, however, allayed by the offer of a
bounty and other concessions.
I. But the 1857 revolt forced the British Government to introduce changes in the structure
of army. Several steps were taken to minimize, if not completely eliminate, the capacity of
Indian soldiers to revolt.
(a) The domination of army by its European branch was carefully granted through raising
the proportion of Europeans to Indians and was fixed at one to two in the Bengal Army,
and two to five in the Madras and Bombay armies.
(b) The European troops were kept in key geographical and military positions.
(c) The crucial branches of army like artillery and later in 20th century, tanks and
armoured crops were put exclusively in European hands.
(d) The older policy of excluding Indians from the officers corps was strictly maintained.
Till 1914 no Indian could rise higher than the rank of a subedar.

(e) The organization of the Indian section of the army was based on the policy of balance
and counter-poise or divide and rule so as to prevent the chance of uniting against in an
anti- British uprising.
(f) Discrimination on the basis of caste, region and religion was practised in recruitment to
the any. A fiction was created that Indians consisted of martial and non-martial classes.
diers from Awadh, Bihar, Central India and South India, who had first helped the
British to conquer India but later participated in the revolt, were declared to be nonmartial.
They were not taken in the army on a large scale. On the other hand, Punjabis, Gorkhas,
Pathans who had assisted in the suppression of the revolt were declared to be martial and
were recruited in large numbers. By 1875, half or the British army was recruited from
(g) In addition, Indian regiment were made a mixture of various castes and groups which
were so placed as to balance each other, Communal, caste, tribal and regional loyalties
were encour
aged among the soldiers so that the sentiment of nationalism would not grow
among them.
(h) It was isolated from nationalist ideas by every possible means. Newspapers, journals
and nationalist publications were prevented from reaching the soldiers.
II. There might have been some justification for the curious anomaly when each
Presidency main
tained a separate army, but when all the Indian forces were brought
under the single control of Commander-in-Chief in 1895, the anomaly called for redress.
(The anomaly being the representa
tives of the army in the Governor Generals executive
council at the same time-the Military Mem
ber, started appointing from 1861, and the
Lord Kitchner took up this ques
tion in 1904 and proposed to remove the anomaly by
making the Commander-in-chief the sole advisor of the Government on military matters.
Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, strongly opposed the proposal, as the feared that it would
remove, to a large extent, the ultimate control of the civil over the military authorities and
thereby, S.O.S., however, supported Kitchner and his decision was conveyed in such terms
that Lord Curzon tendered his resignation in 1905.
III. The Command System introduced by Lord Kitchner in 1904 was abolished by him in

1907 when the Indian army was divided into two sections, the Northern and the Southern.
IV. The first World War (1914-18), during which Indian troops of all descriptions rendered
valuable services, showed the defects of the system and it was thus re-organized after the
The Indian Territory was divided into four commands, subdivided into 14 districts, each
district containing a certain number of brigade commands. One of these, the Western
command was abolished in November, 1938.
V. The defence forces of India consisted in 1939 of the Regular army, including units from
the British army; the Auxiliary force, the membership of which was limited to European,
British subjects; the Territorial force, composed of three main categories, provincial
battalions, urban units and the University Training Corps units; the Royal Air Force from
There was also the Indian State Forces, formerly known as the Imperial Service Troops,
raised and maintained by the rulers of the states at their own: cost and for State Service.
VI. There were two main categories of officers in Indian army, those holding Kings
commission and those holding Viceroys commission.
The latter were all Indians having a limited status and power of command. As for the
Kings commission, the Indians had been eligible for it since 1918 in three ways:
(a) By qualifying themselves as the cadets at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, and
the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun (opened in 1932).
(b) By selection, of efficient Indian officers or promotion of non-commissioned officers of
the regi
(c) By award of honorary kings commission, to officers who cannot quality themselves for
these on account of their advanced age or lack of education.
With the progress of Nationalist Movement in India, her people demanded a definite
control over the defence administration. Our Nationalist leaders continuously and
insistently complained against the heavy expenditure which, according to them was a
dangerous national waste, if diverted construc
tively to the Indian interest, possessed
potential of national-building.

The Montagu-Chelmsford Re
port, after praising the brilliant and faithful services of
Indian Army in the World War I, emphasized the necessity of grappling with the
problem of Indianizing it further. The Nehru Report advocated the transfer of control
over the Indian Army to the ministers.
The Skeen Committee, appointed in the June, 1925, with Major-General Sir Andrew
Skeen, as chairman and commonly known as the Indian Sandhurst Committee,
recommended the abolition of eight unit scheme (announced by Lord Rawlinson in
1923) and the establishment of an Indian Sandhurst by 1933.
These recommendations were not fully carried out. Indian Security Commission
considered the cardinal problem of national defence in a totally different perspective, and
insisted on the presence of British element in the Army on three considerations-frontier
defence, internal security and obligations to the Indian States. No substantial change was
made in the matter of India defence by the Government of India Act, 1935.

I. The third pillar of the British imperialism in India (the first and second being the civil
service and army respectively) was the police.
II. It was through this instrument the Mai-Baap myth of the British administrators was
created which in a way helped the British Imperialism to build a cultural hegemony over
ever quarrelling masses of India, a mere geographical expression, they claimed and
III. Though a system of circles or thanas headed by daroga with its sepoys was rather a
modern concept, evolved once again by Cornwallis, but a two-tier police administration
with the Nazim or Governor at the provincial headquarters and the faujdar with a
contingent of military police in the district, a primitive police system was present even in
Mughal period.
The existence of a local subordinate functionary called Shigdar is referred to at places but
he does not seem to form a part of the regular hierarchy of police officials. The other
significant character to Mughal proto-police system, i.e. the existence of a non-official
peace-keeping force, intended primarily for the land revenue collection but also invested
with the responsibility of law and order, had its root in the village-system.

With the disintegration of central authority of the Mughals, the official and private
instruments of the police began to work at cross-purposes, the latter becoming
increasingly inde
pendent of the former especially in the districts under the Zamindar or
revenue-farmers leadership.
IV. With the arrival of the British on the Indian political platform, the system of official
and un-official police system, working for cross-purposes, needed a change for the obvious
reasons. But the daroga system introduced by Cornwallis in 1792 did not remain limited to
reducing the non-official apparatus to the original intention of the instruction.
The private system was struck off. The Zamindars and farmers were altogether divested of
their local responsibility and were asked to disband their militia.
(a) The police daroga of Cornwallis, who stepped into the position previously occupied by
Zamindari thanedars, became a direct instrument of Government operating under the
direct control of the English magistrate.
(b) The authority of daroga extended to the village watchmen and although their
appointment and emolument remained for time being with the Zamindars, it was not long
before they became stipendiary servants for the Government.
(c) The village Militia, which under the Mughals were paid and controlled by the
community, became the stipendiary servants of government under British.
(d) The agency through which the change was brought about was that of the police daroga.
(e) In the big cities the old office of kotwal was, however, continued, and a daroga was
appointed to each of the wards of a city.
V. Another important feature which distinguished the police reforms of British was the
introduction of a coordinating agency under special and expert control exercisable over a
group of magistrates by a separate civilian superintendent of police appointed in 1808 for
the divisions of Calcutta, Dacca and Murshidabad and in 1810 for those of Patna,
Benarasand Bareilly.
It was a controlling function which later came to be rested in the Divisional
Commissioners appointed under Regulation I of 1829. Earlier under Mughals, there had
been no such agency between the faujdar and Nazism.

VI. The search for a general system of police for the whole of British India proceeded in
1860fromtwo main considerations, efficiency and economy. A police force had been
organized for Punjab in 1849 on the lines comparable to those of Sind.
It consisted of a military preventive police and a civil detective police. In Mutiny, this
force contributed effectively to the restoration of order. But it involved serious financial
burdens, and the financial crisis that followed the; Mutiny necessitated an immediate
reduction of cost and therefore a commission was appointed. The Commission (1860)
(a) The abolition of the military police as a separate organization and the constitution of
single homogeneous force of civil constabulary for the performance of all duties which
could not properly be assigned to its militarily arm.
(b) The discipline and internal management of the force so established was to be vested in
an Inspector General of Police.
(c) He was to be assisted by a District Superintendent in each district, with an Assistant
intendent in case the size of a district happened to be unusually large, both these
officers being European, and the I.G. being, on occasion, of the Indian Civil Service, and
sometimes an officer of the police department created for each of the provinces.
(d) The subordinate force below them was to consist of inspector, head constables,
sargents and constables; the head constable being in-charge of a police station, while the
Inspector, of a group of such stations.
(e) The village police was to remain an official apparatus.
(f) It was specifically laid down that Divisional Commissioners should cease to be
dents of police.
(g) On the question of the relation between magistracy and the police the commission
made it clear that no magistrate of rank lower than the District Magistrate should exercise
any police function.
VII. The Commission submitted the draft of a Bill on the pattern of Madras Police Act
(1853) to give effects to its recommendations, and this was passed into Act V of 1861. The
importance of the traditional co-operation of the community was thus completely lost

sight of, and responsibility for all police work was entrusted on regular police officers at
subordinate levels who were for the most part untrained and ill-educated.
Once again, the Indians were excluded from all superior posts due to the very logic of
imperialism. The police was, on the whole, unsympathetic to the native population which
was obvious, for they were not meant for restoration of law and order to promote Indian
interests, but they wanted to restore it to make it possible and possible for further
unending process of colonial exploitation and drain of Indian wealth to the mother
country, the shop-keepers of the world, the Great Britain.

Earlier, the administration of justice used to be under the Zamindars and the process of
dispensing justice was often arbitrary.
i. District Diwani Adalats were established in districts to try civil disputes. These adalats
were placed under the collector and had Hindu law applicable for Hindus and the Muslim
law for Mus
lims. The appeal from District Diwani Adalats lay to the Sadar Diwani Adalat
which functioned under a president and two members of the Supreme Council.
ii. District Fauzdari Adalats were set up to try criminal disputes and were placed under an
Indian officer assisted by qazis and muftis. These adalats also were under the general
supervision of the collector. Muslim law was administered in Fauzdari Adalats.
The approval for capital punishment and for acquisition of property lay to the Sadar
Nizamat Adalat at Murshidabad which was headed by a deputy nizam (an Indian Muslim)
assisted by chief qazi and chief mufti.
iii. Under the Regulating Act of 1773, a Supreme Court was established at Calcutta which
was competent to try all British subjects within Calcutta and the subordinate factories,
including Indi
ans and Europeans. It had original and appellate jurisdictions. Often, the
jurisdiction of the Su
preme Court clashed with that of other courts.
i. The District Fauzdari Courts were abolished and, instead, circuit courts were established

at Calcutta, Dacca, Murshidabad and Patna. These circuit courts had European judges and
were to act as courts of appeal for both civil and criminal cases.
ii. The Sadar Nizamat Adalat was shifted to Calcutta and was put under the governorgeneral and members of the Supreme Council assisted by the chief qazi and the chief
iii. The District Diwani Adalat was now designated as the District, City or the Zilla Court
and placed under a district judge. The collector was now responsible only for the revenue
administration with no magisterial functions.
iv. A gradation of civil courts was established (for both Hindu and Muslim laws):
(i) Munsiffs Court under Indian officers,
(ii) Registrars Court under a European judge,
(iii) District Court under the district judge,
(iv) Four Circuit Courts as provincial courts of appeal,
(v) Sadar Diwani Adalat at Calcutta, and
(vi) King-in-Council for appeals of 5000 pounds and above.
The Cornwallis Code was laid out:
a. There was a separation of revenue and justice administration.
b. European subjects were also brought under jurisdiction.
c. Government subjects were answerable to the civil courts for actions done in their official
d. The principle of sovereignty of law was established.
i. The four Circuit Courts were abolished and their functions transferred to collectors

under the supervision of the commissioner of revenue and circuit.

ii. Sadar Diwani Adalat and a Sadar Nizamat Adalat were set up at Allahabad for the
convenience of the people of Upper Provinces.
iii. Till now, Persian was the official language in courts. Now, the suitor had the option to
use Persian or a vernacular language, while in the Supreme Court English language
replaced Persian.
A law Commission was set up under Macaulay for codification of Indian laws. As a result, a
Civil Procedure Code (1859), an Indian Penal Code (1860) and a Criminal Procedure Code
(1861) were prepared.
It was provided that the Europeans can claim no special privileges except in criminal
cases, and no judge of an Indian origin could try them.
The Supreme Court and the Sadar Adalats were merged into three High Courts at Calcutta,
Bombay and Madras.
The Government of India Act provided for a Federal Court (set up in 1937) which could
settle disputes between governments and could hear limited appeals from the High Courts.
i. The rule of law was established.
ii. The codified laws replaced the religious and personal laws of the rulers.
iii. Even European subjects were brought under the jurisdiction, although in criminal
cases, they could be tried by European judges only.

iv. Government servants were made answerable to the civil courts.

i. The judicial system became more and more complicated and expensive. The rich could
late the system.
ii. There was ample scope for false evidence, deceit and chicanery.
iii. Dragged out litigation meant delayed justice.
iv. Courts became overburdened as litigation increased.
v. Often, the European judges were not familiar with the Indian usage and traditions.

The earliest efforts in Municipal administration in India were made in the Presidency
Towns of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay. In 1687, an order of Court of Directors directed
the formation of a Corporation of Europeans and Indian members of the city of Madras
but the Corporation did not survive. Under the Regulating Act of 1773, the GovernorGeneral nominated the servants of the Company and other British inhabitants to be the
Justices of Peace.
They were empowered to appoint scavengers for the cleaning and repairing of the streets
of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay, for making assessment for those purposes and for the
grant of licences for the sale of spirituous liquors.
The reason for this provision was the insanitary state of affairs in the Presidency Towns.
Between 1817 and 1830, spas
modic attempts were made in Madras and Calcutta to
undertake works paid out of the lottery funds and much was done with this money in
laying out those towns.
On completion, the roads and drains were handed over to the Justices of Peace to be
maintained by them out of their assessments. However, even for maintenance work, the
funds never sufficed. In Bombay, a tax on carriages and carts was levied for the purpose of
making roads. In 1840, an Act was passed for Calcutta and in 1841 for Madras.

Those Acts widened the purposes for which the Municipal assessment was to be utilized.
The inhabitants of the town were given control over the assessment and collection of taxes.
However, much did not come out of those Acts.
There was no response from the public. In 1845 an Act was passed for Bombay. It
concentrated the administrative powers in the hands of a Conservancy Board on which
were two Europeans and three Indian Justice, with the senior Magistrate of Police as
A fresh attempt to deal with the sanitation of the Presidency Towns was made in 1856. One
Act dealt with the conservancy and improvement of the Presidency Towns. The second Act
provided for the assessment and collection of rates.
Special Acts were passed for the appointment of three Commis
sioners in each town.
Special provision was made for gas lighting and construction of sewers in Calcutta.
Bombay Act of 1858 gave power to levy dues. In spite of this legislation sanitary conditions
remained most unsatisfactory.

Outside the Presidency Towns, there was practically no attempt at Municipal legislation
before 1842. An Act was passed in that year in Bengal but it remained a dead letter. An Act
of 1850 was made applicable to the whole of British India. The Act was of a permissive
The Government of any province was given the power to bring the Act into operation n
any town if it was satisfied that the inhabitants of the town wanted it. A large number of
municipalities were set up in all provinces. In most provinces, the Commissioners were
nominated by Government.

It was only after 1870 that real progress was made in the direction of Local SelfGovernment. The Resolution of 1870 dealing with Decentralisation of finance referred to
the necessity of taking further steps to bring local interest and supervision to bear on the
management of funds devoted to education, sanitation, public works etc. Between 1871
and 1874, new Municipal Acts were passed in various provinces and they extended the
elective principle.

The next step was taken by Lord Ripon who has rightly been called the Father of Local
Self- Government in India. His resolution on Local Self-Government is a great landmark in
the growth of local self-government in the country.
It was stated in the Resolution of 1881 that the Governor-General of India was of the view
that time had come when further steps should be taken to develop the idea of Lord Mayos
Government. It was asserted that agreements with the Provincial Governments regarding
finance should not ignore the question of Local Self-Government.
The Provincial Governments were directed to transfer considerable revenues to the local
bodies. The Government of India directed the Provincial Governments to undertake a
careful survey of the provincial, local and municipal Acts.
The object of the inquiry was to find out what source of revenue could be transferred from
the provincial to the local heads so that they could be administered by the Municipal
Committees. It was also to be administered by the Municipal Committees. It was also to be
investigated what items could safely be given to the local bodies.
Only those items were to be transferred which were understood and appreci
ated by the
people. Another object of the inquiry was to devise steps which were necessary to ensure
more Local Self-Government. Letters were sent to the Provincial Governments.
The Government of India hinted at those items of expenditure that could conveniently be
transferred to the local bodies for control. The Provincial Governments were directed to
examine other items also which could be handed over to the local bodies. The Government
of India recommended that the District Magistrate or the Collector should be the President
of the District Committees and Assistant or Deputy Commissioner the President of
subordinate committees.
In those committees, the number of the non-official mem
bers was to be not less than onehalf and not more than two-thirds of the whole. The Provincial Governments were told
that it would be hopeless to expect any real development of Self-Government if the local
bodies were subject to check or interference in matters of detail.
The Governor-General was serious that fullest possible liberty of action should be given to
the local bodies. The Provincial Governments not only approved of the policy contained in

the resolution of 1881 but also submitted their schemes to the Governments of India.

Another resolution was passed in 1882. Lord Ripon took special pains to make it clear that
the expansion of the system of local self-government would not bring about a change for
the better from the point of view of efficiency in municipal administration.
Lord Ripon indicated the general lines on which further steps were to be taken so that
some real and substantial progress might be made in the field of Local Self-Government.
The first part of the recommendations was concerned with the fundamental principles.
Local Governments were directed to maintain and extend a network of Local Boards in
every District.
The area and jurisdiction of every Local Board was to be so small that local knowledge and
local interest on the part of the members of the Board could be secured. The number of
non-official members was to be very large and the official element was not to exceed onethird of the whole.
However, the second part of the recommendations of the Government of India was
concerned with the degree of control to be retained by the Government over the Local
Boards. The Government control should be exercised in two ways.
In the first place, the sanction of the Government should be made necessary to legalise
certain actions of the Local Boards, e.g., raising or levying of taxes, etc. The number of
cases where sanction was required was to be large at the beginning but was to be reduced
later on as the Local Boards got more experience. Secondly, the Local Government was
authorised to interfere either to set aside altogether the proceedings of the Board in
particular cases or to suspend them temporarily in cases of crises and continued neglect of
their duty.
The power of absolute super
session was to be exercised only with the consent of the
Government of India. The Local Government were directed to hand over to the Local
Boards complete control over the local rate and cesses, licences, tax assessments and
collections, pounds and ferry receipts etc. The Local Boards were to be granted lump-sum
grants from the provincial revenues.
The District Engineer was to help the local bodies in their work of supervision and

maintenance of buildings, but he was to work as their servant and not as their master. The
Local Boards were to be left free in the matter of initiative and direction of operations.
Whatever be the importance of Ripons Resolution, it cannot be denied that both the
Provincial Governments and the Governments of India did not carry out the policy laid
down in the Resolution.
The result was that even after the lapse of 36 years, when another Resolution was passed
in 1918, no substantial progress had been made in the field of local self-government. The
British bureaucracy in India was determined to see that local bodies did not succeed in
their work. The result was that all the wishes and good-will of Lord Ripon could not and
did not improve the state of affairs in the country.

The Royal Commission on Decentralisation examined the whole question of Local SelfGovern
ment in India and made important recommendations. Particular reference was
made to the lack of financial resources and their adverse effect on the working of local
bodies. The Commission put emphasis on the importance of village Panchyats and
1. The adoption of special for their revival and growth.
2. Village Panchayats should be given powers like summary jurisdiction in petty civil and
criminal cases, incurring of expenditure on village scavenging the minor village works, the
construction, maintenance and management of village schools, the management of small
fuel and fodder reserves, etc.
3. Village Panchayats should be given adequate sources of income and interference by
District Officers should be circumscribed.
4. The establishment of a Sub-District Board in every Taluka or Tehsil. The sub-District
Boards were not to be completely under the control of a District Board for the whole
district. Separate duties and separate sources of income were to be given to Sub-District
Boards ad District Boards.
5. About the municipalities the withdrawal of existing restrictions on their powers of
taxation. The municipalities were to take primary education. Middle vernacular schools

were also to be put under their control it they so desired. Municipalities were to be relieved
of expenditure on second
ary education, hospitals, famine relief, police, veterinary works,

In 1918, the Government of India passed an important Resolution on Local SelfGovernment. The basic principle of that Resolution was that responsible institutions will
not be stably rooted until they are board-based and that the best school of political
education is the intelligent exercise of the vote and the efficient use of administrative
power in the field of Local Self-Government.
The general policy should be one of gradually removing all the unnecessary controls from
the local bodies. The Govern
ment was to separate the spheres of action appropriate for
local institutions from those appropriate for the Government. The Resolution formulated
certain principles calculated to establish wherever pos
sible complete popular control over
local bodies.
It suggested an elected majority in all the Local Boards and the replacement of official
chairman by the elected non-official chairman in the municipali
ties. The same was to be
done in the case of rural bodies, wherever possible.
The minorities were to be represented by nomination. The franchise was lowered to such
an extent that the constituencies became really the representatives of the tax-payers. This
Resolution also put emphasis on the advis
ability of developing the corporate life of the
village. The Government was to encourage the growth of village Panchayats. The only
immediate Action taken on this Resolution was that the District Officer was relieved of his
duty as the Chairman of the District Board in all the provinces except the Punjab.
The Report on the Indian Constitutional Reforms of 1918 examined the existing system of
local Government in the country and came to the conclusion that throughout the educative
principal had been subordinated to the desire for immediate results. As far as possible,
there should be complete popular control in local bodies and highest possible
independence from outside.

Dyarchy was introduced in the provinces by the Government of India Act, 1919 and under

that Act the Department of Local Self-Government was transferred into the hands of an
Indian minister who was responsible to the Provincial Legislature for the same. The result
was that some good work was done during the period of dyarchy.
Laws were passed practically in all provinces to make local bodies as effective training
grounds for higher responsibilities in the future. Practically all the Acts passed on Local
Self-Government aimed at lowering the franchise, increasing the elected element to the
extent of making it the immediate arbiter of policy in local affairs. Laws were passed in
every province for the growth of village Panchayats.

The Simon Commission Report contained certain references to Local Self-Government. It
was pointed out that village Panchayats had not made much progress except in certain
The Commission recommended the increase of the control of the Provincial Government
over local bodies so that more efficiency could be secured. The Commission also referred
to the unwillingness of the elected members to impose new taxes.

Provincial autonomy was introduced under the Government of India Act 1935. The
Department of Local Self-Government came under the control of a popular minister who
could afford to put more money at the disposal of the local bodies. Laws were passed
practically in every province to give more functions to local bodies.
However, the sources of income of local bodies, instead of increasing, became less.
Restrictions were imposed on the powers of the local bodies to levy or enhance terminal
taxes on trades, callings and professions and municipal property. The result was that not
much progress was made in the field of Local Self-Government.

India became independent in 1947. Article 40 of the Constitution provides that village
Panchayats should be re-organised and more powers should be given to them so that they
can function successfully. As units of Local Self-Government. Panchayati Raj Acts have
been passed in many states with a view to give more powers to village Panchayats.

The Local Finance Inquiry Committee submitted its report in 1951. It referred to the
hopeless financial condition of local bodies and made recommendations to improve the
The view of the Committee was that with the grant of larger powers will come an
increased realisation of responsibility and the growth of improved public opinion will
constitute a check which will prove more effective than financial intervention.

Local bodies have to face many handicaps. There is an all embracing control of the
executive in every field of activity. This undoubtedly destroys all initiative on the part of
the members of local bodies. Without initiative on the part of the people we can never
hope to put vigour into the lifeless bodies of local institutions.
There is also the handicap of finance. Local bodies do not have enough of resources to
perform their duties in such a way that they can add to the fullness and richness of lives of
the people. New sources of revenue have to be found and the Government has to follow a
liberal policy in the matter of grants-in-aid and the borrowing powers of local bodies.
There is also the lack of public interest in the work of local bodies. There is also the lack of
public interest in the work of local bodies.
All means of modern propaganda must be employed to emphasize on the people the
importance of local bodies in the national life of the country and thereby induce them to
take interest in them. There is a dearth of books on the subject.
The result is complete ignorance on the part of the people with regard to local affairs. It is
the greatest necessity of all concerned to take interest in local affairs. We should never
forget that without a vigorous system of Local Self-Government in the country, the
foundations of democracy will always remain weak and shaky.

i. The size of the Legislatures, both at the Centre and in the Provinces, was enlarged and so
were their functions.
ii. The Central Legislature was to consist of 69 members of whom 37 were to be officials

while the remaining 32 non-officials (5 to be nominated by the Governor-General while

the remaining 27 were to be elected). Thus an element of direct election to the Legislative
Councils was intro
duced and officials majority in the central legislature was retained.
iii. The Act provided for non-official majorities in the provinces.
iv. Now the members of the legislatures at both the levels were given the right of
discussion and asking supplementary questions. Detailed rules were laid down concerning
the discussion of budgets in the Central Legislature but members were not empowered to
v. The Act also introduced separate electorates for Muslims.

1. The Secretary of state for India who used to be paid out of the Indian revenues was now
to be paid by the British Exchequer. Some of his functions were taken away from him and
given to the High Commissioner for India who was to be appointed and paid by the
Government of India.
2. The number of Indians in the Governor-Generals Executive Council was raised to three
in a Council of eight. The new scheme of Government envisaged a division of subjects into
the Central List, which were to be administered by the Governor-General-in-Council, and
the Provincial List.
3. The Act set up a bicameral legislature at the Centre in place of the Imperial Council
consisting of one House. The two Houses were to be the Council of States (elected
majority) and the Central Legislative Assembly (it was to consist of 145 members of whom
41 were to be nominated and 104 elected). The life of the Assembly was to be three years
but it could be extended by the Governor-General.
4. The most significant changes made by this Act were in the field of provincial
administration as it introduced Dynarchy in the provinces. Under this system, the subjects
to be dealt with by the provincial Government were divided into two parts. Reserved and
transferred subjects. The Reserved subjects were administered by the Governor with the
help of the members of the Executive Council who were nominated by him and who were
not be responsible to the legislature while the Transferred subjects were administered by
the Governor acting with the ministers appointed by him from among the elected

members of the Legislature and who were to be responsible to the Legislature and were to
hold office during his pleasure.

1. The Act provided for the establishment of an All-India Federation in which Governors
provinces and the Chief Commissioners Provinces and those Indian States which might
accede to the united, were to be included, (it did not come into existence since the Princely
States did not give their consent for the union).
2. Dyarchy was provided in the Federal Executive. Defence, External Affairs, Ecclesiastical
Affairs and the Administration of Tribal Areas were reserved in the hands of the GovernorGeneral to be administered by him with the assistance of a maximum of three Councillors
to be appointed by him. The other federal subjects would be administered by the
Governor-General with the assistance and advice of a Council of Ministers to be chosen by
him responsible to the Federal legislature.
3. The Federal Legislature was to have two chambers; the Council of State (members
elected directly by the people) which was to be a permanent body with one-third of its
membership being vacated and renewed triennially and the Federal Assembly (members
elected indirectly by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies on the basis of
proportional representation with the single transferable vote) whose duration was fixed
for five years. As regards the subject-matter of Federal and Provincial laws, there were
three lists the Federal legislative List, the Provincial Legislative List and the Concurrent
Legislative List. Residuary legislative powers were vested in the Governor-General.
4. Another significant feature of this Act was the provision of responsible Government
both at the Centre and the Province levels with safeguards.
5. Provincial autonomy was introduced and dyarchy in the provinces was abolished.
Provincial legislatures were made bicameral, for the first time in 6 provinces (Bengal,
Madras, Bombay, U.P., Bihar and Assam).
6. The separatist system of representation by religious communities (General, Muslim,
European, Anglo-Indian, Indian Christian and Sikh) and other groups (Labour,
Landholders, Commerce and Industry, etc.)
7. The Act provided for a Federal Court, with original and appellate powers. Federal Court

at Delhi was established in 1937 with a Chief Justice.