20 December 2010

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Part 35 – Indian Legal history – Charter Act 1853, codification of Laws and Law commissions under British India.

Part 35 – Indian Legal history – Charter Act 1853,  codification of Laws and Law commissions under British India.

The charter Act of 1853 made the law member a full fledged member of the governor general’s council. Thus He got the right to vote at executive meetings of the governor generals meetings.
As per charter act of 1833, legislative council member ship was limited.
But charter act of 1853 increased the number of legislative council members.

The new legislative council was consisted of

1.Governor general and members of his council

2.one member from each presidency

3.lieutenant governor to be appointed time to time

4.chief justice of the supreme court at Calcutta

5.one judge of the supreme court to be named by governor general

6.court of directors could direct the governor general to add two more persons

The sittings, meetings of the legislative council were made public and their proceedings were officially published.

The charter act of 1853 again made provision for the law commission.
This time law commission worked sits in England and not in India.

The preamble to S.28 of the act of 1853 accepted publicly and openly the failure of First law commission in India.

First law commission worked hard in the beginning but it ultimate result was that it failed.

Thus the law was that her majesty can appoint any time persons to study the recommendations of first law commission to reform judicial law system, to reform laws of India.

Second law commission was formed for the next 3 years that is up to year 1856.

Second law commission was appointed in England on the 29th November 1853.

Following were the members of the 2nd law commission.

1.Sir, Lord john Romilly

2.master of the rolls as president of the commission

3.Sir john jervis

4.chief justice of the pleas

5.sir Edward ryan

6.ex chief justice of the supreme court at Calcutta Robert lowe

7.lord sherbrook M.P


9.john m.macleod


The second law commission consisted of leading lawyers of England and few persons who worked in India and knew about the Indian laws and adalat system

In next 3 years second law commission submitted 4 reports
The first report recommended formation of single court at the place of Supreme Court and sadar adalat, this court was to be called as High court.

Recommended adoption of civil and criminal procedure code throughout the jurisdiction of the High court.

In third report commission made plan for the establishment of judicial system in north western provinces.

The fourth report made plan for the presidencies of Bombay and Madras.

In 1858 the East India Company was dissolved and the Government of India was taken over by the British crown.

After this many important Indian laws were passed by the British crown, Indian legislature which we Indians are still using them.

1.code of civil procedure 1859

2.limitation act 1859

3.Indian penal code 1860

4.code of criminal procedure 1861

Formation of third law commission –
On 2nd December 1861 a new commission was formed.
The 3rd law commission was directed to frame a body of substantive law, in preparing which the law of England should be used as basis but which once enacted should itself be the law of India on the subject it embraced.

The third commission submitted seven reports containing the drafts of the future proposed laws to the secretary of India.

The first report submitted draft, bill of the future law
And this bill was enacted and was titled as The Indian succession act 1863
First report, draft was submitted on 23 June 1863

July 18, 1866
2nd report was about law of contracts

July 24 1867
3rd report was about law of negotiable instrument

December, 18 1867
4th report was answer to the questions or doubts ask by the Indian legislature regarding proposed law of contract.

August 3, 1868
5th report proposed the law of evidence

May 28 1870 -
6th report proposed the draft of law of transfer of property

June 11 1870, last and final report or draft
7th report proposed the revision, changes in the code of criminal procedure code.

Third commission worked for 9 years and did excellent job.

Law commission was working speedily but Indian legislative council in India was very slow, it was raising doubts which delayed the work.
Even Indian educated people started to oppose these new proposed laws as before this everything was done as per custom and religion which was beneficial to upper caste, or rich Muslim people of India.

Indian legislation delayed the implementation of new laws by one or another reason.

During Sir Henry Summer Maines tenure as the law member 211 acts were passed.

Indian companies act was enacted in year 1866.

General clauses act was passed on 1868

Divorce act was passed in 1869

New limitation act was passed in 1871

Evidence act was passed in 1872

After this 4th law commission was established.
This commission also suggested the how the codification of Indian law should be made.
And many other provisions.

Indian negotiable instrument act was passed on 1881
Transfer of property and easement act was passed on 1882

The fourth law commission was the last law commission which was formed in British India.

The 4th law commission directed that there should be a uniform code for India, which we Indians haven’t achieved yet.

In 1858, British crown took the charge of India from East India Company.
Indian council’s act 1861 was passed by British Parliament
The act had three main objectives –

1.expansion of governor generals legislative council

2.restoring legislative powers to the presidencies of Bombay and Madras

3.Providing establishment of legislative bodies in other provinces

The first meeting of the National congress was held in 1885 and it demanded the presence of elected members in the councils, the right to discuss the budget and to ask questions.

After the Indian council act of 1861, Indian council act of 1892 was enacted.
The act increased the membership, representation of public opinion by increasing number of additional and of non official members in the central council.

After this Indian council act 1909 was enacted
was based on Minto Morlay reforms.
Continued –

Suggested Reading –

 Part 1 to last Part 38 Complete Indian Legal History from year 1600 to 1935

Reality views by sm –

Monday, December 20, 2010


Irfanuddin December 20, 2010  

very informative post.....:-)

plz spar ur time at http://irfanurs.blogspot.com

sm,  December 20, 2010  


Anonymous,  May 12, 2015  

really a great work !!! it has helped m n various wayss tq so much