Between the advent of the Government of India Acts of 1909 and 1919, in 1915 the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act of 1915, an Act meant for consolidating the existing statues relating to the Government of India. This article gives an overview of the entire act, its provisions and its importance in the historical background gripping the Republic of India.
Primarily focused at the establishment of High Courts which was in boom during this period the Government of India Act 1915, re-instated the provisions provided for in the Indian High Courts Act of 1861 and 1911.
By virtue of the powers conferred by Section 113 of the Government of India Act, 1915, the Crown by Letters Patent dated March 20, 1919 had established at Lahore, the High Court of judicature for the provinces of Punjab and Delhi to be called 'the High Court of judicature at Lahore'. The High Court of judicature at Lahore was a court of record.
The Government of India Act of 1915 bought about one firm reform and this was with regards to the jurisdiction of the High Courts. It was held in this act that no High Court could exert original jurisdiction over matters concerning---Revenue, or any act done concerning or relation to it.
The act of 1861 had not provided for such provisions and it is unclear as to why it was re-instated.
This author believes here that by taking revenue collection out of the original jurisdiction of these courts the British in India could enforce stronger and harsher revenue collection tactics without actually having to be questioned.
The mystery lies in why the courts were allowed appellate jurisdiction of such matters but not original.
The act also re-instated provisions provided for in the Regulating Act of 1773, and the Act of Settlement 1781. Under these provision's the Governor-general, Governor, lieutenant-governor, Chief Commissioner; members of the executive Council of the Governor-general, Governor or lieutenant-governor, and a minister would be exempt.
Thus we see a clear attempt on part of the British to again escape the liability of these courts, And set up a ground of difference between themselves and the Indians. This further justifies the writer's belief as to the re-incarnation of the Revenue Collection changes being in connection to escape of liability for British Subjects.
Further privileges seemed to don upon the British Subjects as now the Chief Justices and other judges were also exempt from being held liable in the High Court. Surely, a clear indication as to the direction they were heading towards The principle of natural justice was clearly being flouted in their path towards establishing themselves as a strong power.
The customs and traditions and laws of the parties was to be applicable, if both parties up front the Presidency high Court, were from the same custom group.Thus we see that the British are now going back in time. Retrospective laws are being introduced. In a time where development for the future was the key, we see old laws being reinstated and progress being hindered.
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1. OUTLINES OF INDIAN LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY ,PROF. M.P. JAIN, SIXTH EDITION REPRINT 2009,LEXIS NEXIS BUTTERWORTHS WADHWA NAGPUR,CHAP 19,PG 265
2.KELTH, op.cit. 249.
3. S.110 For analogous provisions in the Regulating act and Charter,see,Supra ,69,72
4. S. 112 consolidating Ss. 2, 3