The history of Law Department is invariably linked to the legislative history of Travancore and Travancore-Cochin. The legal framework of Travancore was earlier based on oriental conceptions until this was modified by western jurisprudence after the establishment of the alliance with the English East India Company. Earlier, the new rules were promulgated by the Maharaja in the form of ‘Chattavariyolas’ to facilitate administration of justice. The credit of engrafting the principles of Anglo-Indian Legislation on the statute book of Travancore goes to Col. Munro who combined in himself the offices of Dewan and Resident. The drafts of the Acts and proclamations were prepared by the Dewans and submitted to the rulers who exercised their minds on the principles and the details involved in them before promulgation.
The establishment of the new courts necessitated the restatement of the law and it was Cunden Menon who was appointed as Dewan Peishkar in 1835 A.D., who for the first time drafted the first Code of Regulations in the modern sense of the term. The Indian councils Act of 1861 paved the way for the association of the popular element in the work of legislation.
The era of representative institutions was inaugurated by His Highness Sri Mulam Thirunal Maharaja and the Legislative Council was established by the Legislative Council Act II of 1063 M.E. (1887 AD). The Sri Mulam Assembly was constituted in 1904 under an executive order. The promulgation of the Legislative Reforms Act II of 1933 led to the formation of two Legislative Chambers – Sri Chitra State Council and Sri Mulam Assembly. Even though these Chambers had large powers in initiating legislative matters and the sovereign seldom withheld his assent to the Bills passed by the Chambers, the Maharaja had enjoyed the prerogative of enacting laws without consulting the House of Legislature. These enactments were issued in the form of Acts or proclamations.
The United State of Travancore-Cochin was formed on 1st July 1949. The ruler of Travancore, designated as ‘Raj Pramukh” was to head the United State by virtue of the Covenant entered into by the rulers of Travancore and Cochin.
Consequent on the re-organisation of States, State of Kerala came into being on 1st November, 1956 and the powers of the Kerala State Legislature were vested in Parliament.
In the course of these legislative developments, in 1865, the foundation stone was laid for the Secretariat building by His Highness Ayilyam Thirunal Majaraja. The Secretariat began to function from 23rd August 1869. Earlier, the Secretariat was known as Huzur Cutchery, Public Office or Puthen Kacheri. The Secretariat came to be known as ‘Government Secretariat’ from 25th August 1949 by virtue of Circular no. M3-5412/49/CS. As part of the modernization of administration, in 1871, Col. Munro and Her Highness Rani Lakshmi Bai framed some of the major departments of the Secretariat like Revenue, Finance Police etc. The formation of Law Department was to come still later.
The Law Department was at first a part of the State Secretariat Service and comprised in it the Election Department, the Office of the Advocate General and Official Trustee. The work of publication of the Acts and Ordinances so far carried out by the Government of Travancore-Cochin was taken over by the Law Department from the year 1951 onwards.
In June 1956, Shri.C.P. Gopalan Nair was appointed as Special Officer to re-organise the Secretariat with a view to bringing it up to the pattern of a Part A State Administration in connection with the re-organisation of States. The Special Officer submitted a report recommending changes, which were designed to re-organise on the Madras model. The government accepted the recommendations and the re-organisation was brought into force with effect from 1-1-1957 with ten departments including Law Department.
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