Constitutional History of India

  1. The Regulating Act of 1773 (Constitutional Development of India)
  2. Pitt’s India Act 1784 (Constitutional 3- Development of India)
  3. Charter Act of 3-1813 (Constitutional Development of India)
  4. Charter Act of 4-1833 (Constitutional Development of India)
  5. Charter Act of 5-1853 (Constitutional Development of India)
  6. Government of India Act 1858 (Constitutional Development of India)
  7. Indian Councils (Constitutional Development of India) Act of 7-1861
  8. Indian Councils Act, 1892 (Constitutional Development)
  9. Indian Councils Act, 1909 (Morley-Minto Reforms)
  10. Government of India Act, 1919 (Constitutional Development of India)
  11. Government of India Act 1935 (Constitutional Development of India)
  12. Indian Independence Act, 1947 (Constitutional Development of India)

Regulating Act of 1773 (Constitutional Development of India)-

  • For the constitutional development of India, for the first time a written constitution was presented for governance by the Company. Through this Act, the first attempt was made by the British Government to regulate and control the affairs of the East India Company.
  • The Governor of Bengal was made the Governor General of Bengal and a 4-member Executive Council was formed to advise him. The governors of Madras and Bombay became subordinate to it.
  • Under this act, such a government was established in the Calcutta Presidency, in which the Governor General and 4 members of his council (Philip Francis, Clavering, Manson and Warwell) used their power jointly.
  • Parliamentary control over governance was established with the Company for constitutional development. The first Governor General under the Act was Warren Hastings.
  • A Supreme Court was established in Calcutta in 1774. It had jurisdiction in civil, criminal, naval and religious matters. Other judges were appointed. Its jurisdiction was up to Bengal, Bihar, Orissa. Its Chief Justice was Sir Elijah Impey and other judges were Chambers, Limester and Hyde.
  • The employees of the Company were prohibited from carrying on private trade and from accepting gratification and gifts from the Indian people. Under this Act, the British Government’s rule of the Company through the Court of Directors became more powerful.
  • Pitt’s India Act was brought in at the stage of constitutional development. It was named after the then young Prime Minister of Britain, William Pitt. Under this, for the first time the area under the Company in India was called the area of British occupation.
  • Through this act, the British government got complete control over the affairs and administration of the company. The Board of Control (Control Council) was established by this act, through which the British government exercised full control over the civil, military and revenue functions of the Company in India.
  • In addition, the Company still had a monopoly on trade with India and had the right to appoint or remove Company officials. Therefore, the rule of both the British Government and the Company, that is, dual rule, was established on British India.

Charter Act of 1813 (Constitutional Development of India)-

  • Company’s monopoly on Indian trade ended. Christian missionaries were allowed to preach religion in India. All British traders were given the freedom to trade with India.
  • A provision was made to spend Rs 1 lakh every year for the education of Indians from the company’s income.

Charter Act of 1833 (Constitutional Development of India)-

  • Under this Act, the Governor General of Bengal was made the Governor General of India. The civil and military powers were vested in the Governor General. The first Governor General of India was Lord William Bentinck.
  • Under this Act, the governors of Madras and Bombay were deprived of legislative power. The Governor General of India was given unlimited powers of legislature throughout British India.
  • Under this Act the East India Company became a purely administrative body. Under this, a provision was first made to start organizing open competition for the selection of civil servants, but due to opposition from the Court of Directors, this provision could not be implemented.
  • A fourth member was included in the Governor General’s Council as a legal expert. Macaulay was the first legal expert member.

Charter Act of 1853 (Constitutional Development of India)-

  • Under this, for the first time, the legislative and administrative functions of the Governor General’s Council were separated. Under this act open competition was started for the recruitment and selection of civil servants. Therefore, now Indian citizens could also participate in the civil service.
  • For the first time, local representation was introduced in the Indian Central Legislative Council under this Act. The Law Member was made a full member of the Governor General’s Council.

Government of India Act of 1858 (Constitutional Development of India)-

  • By ending the Company’s rule in India, the responsibility of governance was handed over to the British Parliament (Crown).
  • Under this, the Board of Control and the Court of Directors were abolished in India. Hence the diarchy came to an end.
  • On behalf of the British Empire, the Indian administration was to be conducted by the Secretary of State, for whose assistance a 15-member Advisory Council was formed.
  • The name of the Governor General of India was changed to ‘Viceroy’ (representative of the Crown) and he was forced to act according to the orders of the Secretary of India. Thus Lord Canning became the first Viceroy of India.
  • The Minister of India was given the right to conduct secret correspondence with the Viceroy and to present the Indian budget every year in the British Parliament.

Indian Councils Act of 1861 (Constitutional Development of India)-

  • Under this, the number of the Viceroy’s Legislative Council was increased. Now this council could have a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 members. At least half of those members were required to be non-officials. Under this Act, the process of decentralization was started by restoring legislative powers to the Madras and Bombay Presidencies.
  • The Viceroy was empowered to create new provinces for legislative purposes and to appoint governors or lieutenant governors in newly created provinces.
  • The Viceroy was empowered to issue ordinances without the consent of the Council. The duration of such ordinance was 6 months. This act recognized the departmental system introduced by Lord Canning in 1859.

Indian Councils Act, 1892 (Constitutional Development)-

  • Legislators were given the right to ask questions and debate on the budget. Although did not have the right to vote.
  • Through this, the number of additional (non-official) members in the Central and Provincial Legislative Councils was increased.

Indian Councils Act, 1909 (Morley-Minto Reforms)-

Lord Marley – Secretary of State for India

Lord Minto – Viceroy of India

  • This reform was carried out in 1906 by a Muslim delegation led by the Aga Khan in the context of a separate electoral system from the Viceroy Lord Minto.
  • Major Provisions:-The number of members of the Central and Provincial Councils was increased. For the first time a separate electoral system was arranged for the Muslim community.
  • Provision was made to appoint an Indian member in the Viceroy’s executive. The first such Indian member was Satyendra Sinha. Through this act, the subjects of discussion in the Legislative Councils were increased. For example, proposing a resolution on a subject of public interest, etc.

Government of India Act, 1919 (Constitutional Development of India)-

Montagu – India Secretary

Lord Chelmsford – Viceroy

  • A preamble was also added to it. Provision of bicameral central legislature and provision of direct election was made. The office of the High Commissioner of India was created in London.
  • A statutory commission was constituted under this act. The task of this commission was to submit its report after ten years of investigation.
  • Separate electorate on communal lines was expanded to include Christians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans. Communal constituencies were made more extensive, granting the franchise only to those who paid a certain amount of tax to the government.
  • Dual administration was established in the provinces, that is, the administration of the reserved subjects was done by the governor through his executive and the administration of the transferred subjects was done by the governor with the help of his Indian ministers. Out of the members of the Governor General’s Council, 3 members were required to be Indians.

Government of India Act of 1935 (Constitutional Development of India)-

  • Based on a white paper prepared in 1932, it had no preamble. In this, the All India Union, which included 11 British provinces, 6 Chief Commissioner’s Territories and voluntarily included princely states.
  • Three lists were made between the center and its units, Union list, State list and Concurrent list, which had 59, 54 and 36 subjects respectively.
  • The publication of the transferred subjects was entrusted to the Governor-General and the Ministers. The ministers were elected from among the members of the Legislature and were responsible to him. An All India Union was arranged in this act.
  • Residuary powers were vested in the Governor General. Under this bicameral system was started in 6 out of 11 provinces.
  • Diarchy was abolished in the provinces, they were given the right of independent and self-governance, but special powers were given to the governor.
  • Diarchy was established in the center and franchise was expanded. Powers were divided between the center and the provinces and the Federal Court was established.
  • The Indian Council was abolished and the communal electoral system was expanded. The supremacy of the British Parliament remained and Burma, Brar and Aden were separated from India.
  • Burma (present Myanmar) was separated from India. Under this act, in 1937 a Federal Court and ‘Reserve Bank of India’ was established.
  • The Council of India established in 1958 was abolished.

India Independence Act, 1947 (Constitutional Development of India)

  • Based on the Mountbatten Plan presented on June 3, 1947, the British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act on July 4, 1947, and it was approved by the Emperor on July 18, 1947.
  • It was implemented on 15 August 1947. India was declared an independent and sovereign state. In this, from 15 August 1947, two Dominion States of India and Pakistan were established.
  • For both the states, the British government will appoint a separate governor general and if both agree, they will appoint a joint governor general. Both the states can frame the constitution for their country in their respective Constituent Assembly.
  • Until a new constitution is framed, the governance will continue as per the 1935 Act.
  • The British Government would not have any control over both the states after August 15, 1947. The law made by the legislatures of these states will not be repealed on this ground.

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