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Centenary celebrations of Madras Legislative Council

  • Category
    History
  • Published
    19th Aug, 2021

Context

President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the centenary celebrations of the Madras Legislative Council, now known as the Tamil Nadu legislature.

Background

  • The first elected legislature in the State, originally called the Madras Legislative Council, was established in 1921 under the Government of India Act, 1919.
  • The Madras Legislative Council came into existence with the Justice Party, a precursor to the state’s ruling DMK, forming the first government of the Madras Presidency under British rule. 
  • Legislative Council or Vidhan Parishad is the Upper House in some states in India that have a bicameral legislature.
  • Such Councils are formed or abolished by the use of Article 169 of the Constitution of India.

Analysis

Establishment of MLC

  • The MLC was established in 1921 continued to function as the legislative assembly of the then Madras state after independence and thereafter Tamil Nadu from 1969. 
    • After the first council elections in 1920, the Justice Party formed the government – the government – the DMK’s precursor ruled the council in the first, second, and fourth elections. 
    • The last and the fifth council saw the Justice Party running a minority government. 
  • It was inaugurated by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, and uncle of George V, Emperor of England, on January 12, 1921.

Presidents or Chairpersons of Legislative Council: 

  • P. Rajagopalachari - 1920-23 
  • Lewis Dominic Swamikannu Pillai - 1923-25
  • M. Ruthnaswamy - 1925-26
  • C.V.S. Narasimha Raju - 1926-30
  • B. Ramachandra Reddy - 1930-37 
  • U. Rama Rao - 1937-46
  • R.B. Ramakrishna Raju - 1946-52  
  • P.V. Cherian - 1952-64 
  • M.A. Manickavelu - 1964-70 
  • C.P. Chitrarasu - 1970-76
  • M.P. Sivagnanam - 1978-86

How was it the largest gathering?

  • The Madras Legislative Council was the largest gathering of its kind in India, constituted with 127 members in 1921, which included a total of 98 elected representatives, who were given a fixed term of three years to work for the people. 
    • The elected body would meet at Fort St. George regularly to carry out their public duties. 

Fort St. George

  • Fort St. George was historically known as White Town and was the first British fortress constructed in India. 
  • It was founded in 1639 in Madras before its change in nomenclature to Chennai. 
  • The fort currently houses the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly, a church, a museum and other official buildings.

MLC’s achieved Key milestone in its history

The House had passed several landmark legislations like the- 

  • April 1921: The Legislative Council adopted the removal of sex disqualification on women for the franchise, which removed the gender restriction on voting as well as enabling the possibility of women becoming elected members.

In 1927, Muthulakshmi Reddy, the well-known medical practitioner and social activist, became the first woman member of the Council and, in no time, became the Deputy President of the Council.

  • Hindu Religious Endowment Act (1926): It took over the management and administration of Hindu temples in the province. It established “boards” appointed by the government.
  • Abolition of the Devadasi system (1947): It gave devadasis the legal right to marry and made it illegal to dedicate girls to Hindu temples.
  • July 1947: The National Flag of India which was designed by Pingali Venkayya was first adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on July 22, 1947, barely one month before India's independence from the British on August 15, 1947. The first-ever flag flown after the independence is also stored in the third floor of a museum premises inside the Fort complex. 

Wrapping Up

For the State that boasts a Chola inscription of around 920 CE (Uthiramerur, about 90 km south of Chennai), dealing with a written Constitution, the celebration carries a special meaning beyond the fact that the legislature has completed 100 years of existence.

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