Tuesday 16 June 2015

800 years of Magna Carta

Why in news?
  • It completed 800 years on 15th June 2015!

What is a charter?

  • charter is the grant of authority of rights, stating that the person granting the rights formally recognises the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority (or soverignity), and that the recipient admits a limited (or inferior) status within the relationship, and it is within that sense that charters were historically granted, and that sense is retained in modern usage of the term.
  • Origin of words charter
    • Old French word - charte (ultimately from the Latin word for "paper"). 
  • Usage of word
    • It has come to be synonymous with the document that lays out the granting of rights or privileges

What is Magna Charter?
  • Magna Carta is Latin for simple English "The Great Charter"
  • Also known as Magna Carta Libertatum (Latin for "the Great Charter of the Liberties")
  • History
  • Baron is a title of honour,
    often hereditary, and ranks as one
    of the lowest titles in
    nobility system of Europe.
    Source: Wikipedia
    • In 1215 a charter was agreed upon by King John of England.
    • First drafted by Archbishop of Canterbury to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons, it promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the crown, to be implemented through a council of 25 barons. 
      • Neither side stood behind their commitments, and the charter was annulled by Pope Innocent III, leading to the First Baron's War
      • After King John's death, his young son,Henry III, reissued the document in 1216, stripped of some of its more radical content, in an unsuccessful bid to build political support for their cause. 
      • At the end of the war in 1217, it formed part of the peace treaty agreed at Lambeth, where the document acquired the name Magna Carta, to distinguish it from another charter  (the smaller charter of the Forest) which was issued at the same time. 
      • Slowly this charter became part of England's statute law in 1297
Importance of Magna Carta

  • Magna Carta still forms an important symbol of liberty today, often cited by politicians and campaigners, and is held in great respect by the British and American legal communities
  • Lord Denning described it as "the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot".
  • It is loved equally by Supreme Court Judges across the globe and also human right activists
Existing provisions from Magna Carta
  • Only three clauses of Magna Carta still remain on statute in England and Wales.
    • The freedom of the English Church, 
    • The "ancient liberties" of the City of London
    • A right to due legal process
Magna Carta and India


Magna Carta of English  Education in India Wood’s Despatch, 1854
Magna carta of British Trade in India When Farrukhsiyar gave duty free trade facility to British who had sent John Surman and Dr. William Hamilton seeking some concessions in 1715
Magna Carta of Maratha Dominion/ Some call it Magna Carta of Mughal Dominion When Marathas under Balaji Vishwanath got right of Chauth and Sardeshmukhi from Mughals.
According to some there is also: Magna Carta of India Part III of Indian Constitution - i.e Fundamental rights
Magna Carta of South African Indians A committee of enquiry in South Africa was set up which led to Smuta-Gandhi agreement. Gandhi Ji called t Magna Carta of South African Indians

If you know any other Magna Carta related to India, please leave the information in comment section. We would be happy to update it. 


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