Indian Council act 1861 and 1892 – legal history


Causes for the act’s emergence

On the question of the income tax bill, there is a disagreement between the supreme government and the government of Madras. Doubts raised about the legality of laws introduced in non-regulation provinces without legislative council approval.

Provisions of the Indian Council act 1861

Following are the maIn Provisions of the Indian Council act 1861

1. Provisions relating to central executive

The act enlarged the executive council of governor general.

Members of Council

  • Three people who had served in India for ten years, either for the firm or for the crown.
  • At least one member must be a five-year lawyer or advocate.
  • One should be the commander in chief (appointed by the secretary of state for inglia).
  • The act gave the governor general the authority to set commercial rules and regulations.

In the absence of the governor general from headquarters, the governor general council may appoint a president in council with all of the governor general’s powers. In matters of safety and the interests of British possession of India, the Governor General had the authority to overrule the majority in the council. The governor general might also create new provinces and divide or change the boundaries of existing presidency or province. Governor general in council may authorise the governor general to execute all or some of the governor general’s powers, excluding those relating to laws and regulations.

2. Provisions relating to-central legislature

The governor general in council was expanded into a central legislative council for legislative purposes. It is made of of at least six and up to twelve members appointed by the governor general. Their term would be two years, with half of them serving as non-officials. The new legislative council’s functions were strictly limited to legislation.

The Legislative Council was to make laws for British India, but laws pertaining to public revenue, religion, army, navy, or foreign affairs were not to be submitted without the governor general’s previous approval. The Governor General in Council had the authority to abolish, amend, or change any laws or regulations pertaining to British India.

3. Provisions relating to provincial legislature

The Indian Council Act of 1861 restored the administration of Madras and Bombay’s powers of making and amending laws. The council of governors of Madras and Bombay was expanded for legislative purposes with the addition of an advocate general and a few more members. These members might attend and vote in governor and council meetings held for the purpose of establishing laws. The governor’s approval was required for laws to be valid.

However, provincial legislatures were not authorised to examine any laws pertaining to the army, foreign affairs, political affairs, currencies, patents, copyright, and so on.

Without the prior approval of the governor general. Later, the governor general was given the power to form a legislative council for Bengal, as well as for the northwestern provinces and Punjab. The act enabled the governor general to create new provinces as needed for legislative purposes and to appoint new lieutenant governors.

The Indian Councils Act of 1892

The Indian Councils Act of 1892 attempted to expand public opinion representation in India by raising the number of additional and non-official members on the Central Council. There were to be 10 to 16 extra members in the Supreme Legislative Council. The number of additional members in Provincial Councils was increased to a maximum of 20 in Madras and Bombay and 15 in other Councils.

While the Governor General and the Governor concerned were to nominate the additional members, the Act left it to the Governor-General in Council to determine the terms under which the nominations were to be made.

The Act of 1892 further expanded the scope of the Legislative Councils’ activities, allowing them to ask questions but subject to certain constraints aimed to reduce trouble to the government. The budget could be discussed, but no resolution could be submitted and no division could be requested. As a result, the Act of 1892 removed some of the limits placed by the Act of 1861 on Legislative Council proceedings.

Related Post | Indian Council act 1861 and 1892

What are the major Provisions of the Indian Council act 1861 ?

1. Provisions relating to central executive,
2. Provisions relating to-central legislature,
3. Provisions relating to provincial legislature.

Refrences Book

  • M. Rama Jois, Legal and Constitutional History of India
  • M.P. Jain, Outlines of India Legal History
  • A.B. Keith, Constitutional History of India
  • Indian legal and constitutional history by Dr. N. V. Paranjape
  • Rankin G.C. Background to Indian Law
  • V.D. Kulshrestha, Landmarks in Indian Legal History



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