Indian Constitutional Development in India

-Vande Mataram-

The Britishers entered India in 1600 for trading with name East India Company. Initial years Britishers were happy with trade and commerce. After the death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 Britishers have shown interest in political matters of India. Their intention to Rule India was clear after The Battle of Plassey. And the British consolidated in India with the victory ofThe Battle of Buxar.

Constitutional Development in India

By the middle of 19th Century most parts of India were in control of East India Company through direct ruling or through system of treaties and alliances with the Princely States. During this period certain measures of constitutional reforms were introduced. Only important points from these Acts are given in subsequent sections.

Regulating Act 1773

First written Act. First Act to control and regulate East India Company affairs. The Act designated Governor of Bengal as Governor-General of Bengal. Created Executive council of four to serve Governor-General

  • The first Governor-General of Bengal was Lord Warren Hastings.
  • The Act made Governors of Madras and Bombay presidencies as subordinate to Governor-General of Bengal.
  • The Act provided for establishment of Supreme Court at Calcutta Fort William with one Chief justice and other three Judges.
  • The first chief justice of Supreme Court was Lord Elisa Impey.

Pitts India Act 1784

Named after then Prime Minister Sir William Pitts. This act was passed to rectify shortcomings of earlier Act. It distinguished political and commercial activities of company

  • Company Directors to manage commercial affairs
  • 6 members Board of control to manage political affairs(New Board)

Act of 1786

Governor-General given the power to override the council

Charter Act of 1793

Extended East India company monopoly for next 20 years.

Charter Act of 1813

All Laws to be translated to Indian Languages The local Government in India is empowered to impose taxes and punish those who do not pay taxes.
This act provided a fund of Rupees 1 lakh set aside for religious and educational learning

Charter Act of 1833

Made Governor-General of Bengal as Governor-General of India.

  • First Governor-General of India – Lord William Bentick
  • This act deprived the governor of Bombay and Madras of their legislative powers

Charter Act of 1853

  • Last charter Act
  • Appointed Separate Governor for Bengal
  • Recruitment to Civil Services was based on open annual competition exam(excluding Indians)

THE CROWN RULE (1858 – 1947)

Government of Indian Act 1858

  • Rule of East Indian Company came to an end and the rule of Crown began
  • The Act was known as the Act for the Good Government of India
  • British Govt. took the direct responsibility of Administration of India
  • The Governor-General of India was also designated as Viceroy of India
  • Both the jobs held by same person. While administration of Indian provinces he is called Governor-General of India and while dealing with Indian prices as representative of crown was called as Viceroy of India
  • First Viceroy was Lord Charles Canning

The Indian Council Act 1861

  • Started Portfolio system
    * Each member of the Council of Governor-General was allocated portfolio of a particular department
  • The Viceroy of India was empowered to issue ordinances in case of emergencies
  • Added legislative non-official members to the Council of Governor-General
  • It is a beginning towards the establishment of legislative system.

The Indian Council Act of 1892

The Councils were to have the powers to discuss the annual statement of revenue and expenditure(i.e the budget) without the right to vote.

The Indian Council Act 1909

  • This Act also called as Morley-Minto Reforms
  • For the first time Indians were taken into Viceroy Executive Council
  • First Indian entered into Viceroy Executive Council was “Satyendra Prasad Sinha” appointed as Law member
  • Separate Communal Electorates was established for Muslims. Under this, Muslim members were to be elected by Muslim voters only. Because of this, Minto was called as “Father of Communal Electorates”

Government of India Act, 1919

First time, the British Government declared on Aug 20th 1917, that its objective is gradual introduction of responsible Government in India. This act came into force in 1921. This act is also known as Montogue-Chelmsford reforms.
Features of this Act:

  • The act had a separate Preamble at the beginning, which explained the purpose of the Act
  • It relaxed the Central control over the Provinces by demarcating & separating the Central & Provincial Subjects. The Provincial legislatures were authorized to make laws on their respective list of subjects. However, the structure of the Government continued to be centralized and unitary
  • It introduced Dyarchy (i.e., Dual Govt.) at Provinces by dividing Provincial subjects into two
    They are

    • Transferred Subjects : Administered by Governor with aid of Ministers responsible for the legislative council
    • Reserved Subjects : Administered by Governor with aid of his executive council without being responsible to the legislative council
  • Separated Central and Provincial budgets
  • Two House system was Introduced at center for the first time
    • Upper House: Council of States with 60 members and with tenure of 5 years
    • Lower House: Central Legislative Assembly with 140 members with a tenure of 3 years

Simon Commission – 1928

  • In November 1927, the British Government announced the appointment of 7 member statutory commission under the chairmanship of Sir Job Simon to report on the condition of India under its new Constitution
  • Commission was boycotted since all the members were Britishers
  • Commission submitted its report in 1930
  • With certain modification, recommendations of this committee were incorporated in next Government of India Act of 1935

The Government of India Act of 1935

The Act was based on white paper of 1932 prepared by British Government on the basis of deliberations of the three Round table conferences on the Indian Problem. There was no Preamble.
Features of this Act

  • It made the provisions for an All India Federation consisting of eleven British provinces, six Cheif Commissioner’s Areas and those Princely States which desired to be the part of Federation
  • But, The Federation never come into existence as Princely States did not accept to the proposal
  • It abolished dyarchy in the provinces and introduced ‘provincial autonomy’. (i.e Provinces were to act as independent units reporting to crown, than subordinate to Viceroy)
  • The Dyarchy was transferred from provinces to center
  • Reserve Bank of India was established as per this Act
  • 70% of Indian Constitution is from this Act
  • The act also provided for Public Service Commission for Federal Government and one for each Provinces
  • A Federal Court was established
  • The Indian Council was abolished
  • Burma was separated from India

Cripps Mission, 1942

  • Named after the head of the mission Sir Stafford Cripps
  • It came to India to get support from Indians during World War II
  • It proposed to give Dominion status to India and Establishment of Constituent Assembly

Government of India Act, 1947

The British Prime Minister Clement Atlee on 20th of February 1947 declared that the British rule in India would end by June 30, 1948. After that power would be transferred to responsible Indian hands.
This announcement was followed by the agitation by the Muslim League demanding partition of the country. Again on June 3, 1937, the British Government made it clear that any Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly of India(formed in 1946) cannot apply to those parts of the country which were unwilling to accept it. On the same day(June 3, 1947), Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy of India, put forth the partition plan, known as Mountbatten Plan. The plan was accepted by Congress and Muslim, League.

Features of the Act:

  • Two Dominion States- India and Pakistan came into existence on Aug 15 1947
  • The boundaries between the two Dominion States were to be determined by a Boundary Commission headed by Sir Cyril Radcliff
  • The both States shall have right to frame their Constitution by their respective constituent assemblies
  • The British Crown shall cease to be the ruler of India
  • The members of the Civil Services appointed before Aug, 15 1947 will continue to remain in service and to enjoy all the benefits, which they were entitled to avail



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here