Evolution of Indian Constitution | History of Indian Constitution


Do you know how the Indian Constitution evolved? Which features of the Constitution were derived from the British acts? Here is a detailed article on the evolution of the Indian Constitution to help you understand the historical background of the Indian Constitution.

The acts that influenced the Indian Constitution are divided into two categories as given below:

Acts Passed Before 1858

Acts Passed 1858 onwards

Regulating Act of 1773

Government of India Act, 1858

Pitts India Act of 1784

Indian Councils Act 1861

Charter Act of 1793

Indian Councils Act 1892

Charter Act of 1813

Indian Councils Act 1909

Charter Act of 1833

Government of India Act 1919

Charter Act of 1853

Government of India Act 1935

 

Regulating Act of 1773

  • It was passed when Lord North was the British Prime Minister. It changed the designation of Governor of Bengal into Governor-General of Bengal.
  • Warren Hastings became the first Governor-General of Bengal.
  • It formed the Executive Council to help the Governor-General. The Executive Council, formed by the Regulating Act of 1773, had four members.
  • Governors of Bombay and Madras presidencies were made junior to the Governor-General of Bengal by the passing of this Act.
  • The Act provided for a Supreme Court at Calcutta and banned servants of the company from making private trade and taking bribes.
  • Under this Act, the Court of Directors of the Company was to report to the British Government.
  • Amending Act of 1781 or the Act of Settlement was passed to correct errors in the Regulating Act of 1773. 

Pitts India Act of 1784

  • This Act formed the Board of Control to manage all political functions of the Company. The board of Control has six members and a minister of the British government was its head.
  • The trade and commerce-related functions of the Company came under the jurisdiction of its Court of Directors. This Act formed a system of double government.
  • This Act gave Governor-General the authority to dismiss provincial governments failing to follow the central government’s orders.
  • This Act lowered the number of Executive Council from four as per the Regulating Act of 1773 to three.

Charter Act of 1793

  • Charter Act of 1793 permitted payment of salaries of Board of Control members from Indian revenue.
  • It gave the courts authority to interpret regulations.

Charter Act of 1813

  • Charter Act of 1813 ended East India Company’s trade monopoly in India, brought Madras, Bombay and Calcutta councils under British Parliament’s control.
  • It allowed preaching by Christian Missionaries in India.
  • It also gave local autonomous bodies the power to levy taxes.   

Charter Act of 1833

  • Governor-General of Bengal was made Governor-General of India through the Charter Act of 1833.
  • Lord William Bentick became the first Governor-General of India.
  • The legislative powers of governors of Bombay and Madras were taken away through this Act.
  • This Act gave legislative powers for entire British India to the Governor-General of India and his government and council for the first time came to be known as Government of India and Indian Council.
  • While the Governor-General of India made a single budget for the entire British India, Indian Council has all powers over revenue.  
  • This Act tried to bring in open competition for the selection of civil servants and to remove prohibition banning Indians from holding any employment under East India Company.
  • This Act stopped company’s activities as a commercial body and it became an administrative body having Lords and Ministers appointed to the Board of Control.

Charter Act of 1853

  • Charter Act of 1853 was the last of the British Parliament’s four Charter Acts from 1793 to 1853. It came after Lord Dalhousie’s report to improve company’s administration.
  • It separated legislative functions of the Governor-General’s council from its executive or administrative functions.
  • It created Governor General’s legislative council with six legislative members. It was later called the Indian (Central) Legislative Council and worked as a mini-Parliament.
  • The representation of local (provincial) governments in the Indian (Central) Legislative Council was for the first time brought by this Act only.
  • Local (provincial) governments of four provinces were to appoint four members in the Indian (Central) Legislative Council. These provinces were Madras, Bombay, Bengal and Agra.
  • This Act brought open competition for the selection of civil servants and opened civil services for Indians.
  • This Act gave British parliament powers to the British parliament to Company’s rule in India at any time.

Government of India Act, 1858

  • The Act for Good Government of India is another name of Government of India Act, 1858.
  • It renamed the Governor General of India as Viceroy of India. Lord Canning was 1st Viceroy of India. 

 

Name of the Act

Changes in the Post brought by the Act

First Occupants of new posts

Regulating Act of 1773

Changed Governor of Bengal into Governor-General of Bengal

Warren Hastings

Charter Act of 1833

Governor-General of Bengal into Governor-General of India

William Bentick

Government of India Act, 1858

Governor-General of India into Viceroy of India

Lord Canning

 

  • British crown took control of India’s administration from the East India Company through this Act. Viceroy directly represented the British Crown in India.
  • Double system of government established by the Pitts India Act of 1784 came to an end through this Act. It abolished Board of Control and Court of Directors.
  • It created the office of Secretary of State for India with a 15 member Council of India for assistance.
  • While the Secretary of State was ultimately responsible to the British parliament, Governor General-in-Council was responsible to the Secretary of State.

Indian Councils Act 1861

  • It brought in the provision to establish legislative councils at Centre and the provinces and to include non-official members in Governor General’s Executive Council.
  • It started decentralization as it transferred legislative powers from Governor General’s Executive Council back to the Governments of Bombay and Madras.     
  • It associated Indian people with the legislative process by allowing Governor-General to nominate them to his expanded council.
  • Secretary of State was to exercise the crown’s powers in India through Governor-General, assisted by Executive Council.

Indian Councils Act 1892

  • It allowed the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Provincial Legislative Councils to recommend to Viceroy. Viceroy nominated recommended members to Indian (Central) Legislative Council.
  • The nomination of non-official members of Provincial Legislative Councils was to be done by Governor on the basis of recommendations of universities, district boards, municipalities, zamindars, etc.
  • This Act allowed Legislative Councils to discuss budget and address questions to Executive.

Indian Councils Act 1909/ Morley-Minto Reforms

  • Morley was Secretary of State and Minto was Viceroy of India.
  • It increased the number of members in Central Legislative Council from 16 to 60 and in provincial legislative councils.
  • This Act included elected non-official members in Provincial Legislative Councils and removed the official majority in them. However, the official majority continued in Central Legislative Council.
  • It allowed members of legislative councils to move resolutions. These resolutions could be on Budget or matters of public interest. They could not be on subjects of Armed Forces, Foreign Affairs and Indian States.
  • It introduced separate electorates for Muslims, brought in communal representation for Muslims and made Lord Minto famous as Father of Communal Electorate.

Government of India Act 1919/ Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms

  • Montagu was Secretary of State and Chelmsford was Viceroy of India.
  • It introduced dyarchy at the provincial level. It divided administrative subjects into Central subjects under control of the central government and Provincial subjects divided into transferred and reserved categories.
  • Governor was to administer transferred provincial subjects with the help of Ministers. They had a responsibility towards Legislative council.
  • Reserved provincial subjects were to be administered by Governor with his Executive Council. In matters of reserved provincial subjects, Governor was not responsible to the Legislative council.
  • Central control over provinces was relaxed through this Act. This Act also separated the provincial budget from the central budget.
  • It allowed the provincial legislature to present its own budget and levy taxes. Bicameralism and direct elections were also introduced in India through this Act.
  • As a result, Upper House (Council of State) and Lower House (Legislative Assembly) replaced Indian Legislative Council.
  • It introduced communal representation for Sikhs, Anglo Indians, Indian Christians and Europeans.
  • It introduced limited franchisees based on tax, property and education of people.
  • It had provisions to establish a public service commission. It provided the Governor with the power to reserve bills related to certain matters.

Government of India Act 1935

  • It has provision to establish an All-India federation with provinces and princely states as units. As princely states did not join, the federation could not be established.
  • It divided powers between centre and units into Federal List, Provincial List and Concurrent List.
  • It ended dyarchy in provinces, replaced it with provincial autonomy and provided for diarchy at the centre.
  • It made legislature in 6 of the 11 provinces bicameral. It discontinued the Council of India.
  • It provided separate electorates for women, labour and depressed classes and continued communal representation.
  • It provided for the establishment of institutions given below:
    • Reserve Bank of India
    • Federal Public Service Commission
    • Provincial Public Service Commission
    • Joint Public Service Commission
    • Federal Court  

Indian Independence Act, 1947

  • It discontinued the office of Viceroy and office of the Secretary of state for India.
  • It had provision for the partition of India into independent dominions of India and Pakistan.
  • It gave Constituent Assemblies powers to legislate for their territories.
  • It ended British Paramountcy over Indian princely states.  

Constituent Assembly was formed to frame the Constitution for independent India in November 1946. The Constituent assembly formed committees for the purpose of making the Constitution. Total eleven sessions of the Constituent Assembly were held and Indian Constitution came into existence.

 

Summary

  • Regulating Act of 1773
    • Lord North was British Prime Minister
    • Changed the designation of Governor of Bengal into Governor General of Bengal
    • Formed Executive Council with four members, provided for a Supreme Court
    • Banned servants of the company from doing private trade and taking bribes
  • Pitts India Act of 1784
    • Formed Board of Control to manage all political functions of the Company
    • Introduced a system of double government
    • Lowered the number of Executive Council from four to three
    • Brought trade and commerce related functions of the Company under jurisdiction of Court of Directors
  • Charter Act of 1833
    • Changed Governor-General of Bengal Governor-General of India
    • Gave legislative powers for entire British India to Governor-General of India
    • Tried to bring in open competition for selection of civil servants
    • Stopped company’s activities as a commercial body
    • Took away legislative powers of governors of Bombay and Madras
  • Charter Act of 1853
    • Last of British Parliament’s four Charter Acts
    • Created Governor General’s legislative council
    • Representation of local (provincial) governments in Indian (Central) Legislative Council for the first time
    • Introduced open competition for selection of civil servants
  • Government of India Act, 1858
    • Act for Good Government of India
    • Renamed Governor General of India as Viceroy of India
    • Ended Double system of government established by Pitts India Act of 1784
    • Abolished Board of Control and Court of Directors
    • Created the office of Secretary of State for India with a 15 member Council
  • Indian Councils Act 1861
    • Legislative councils at Centre and at the provinces
    • Included non-official members in Governor General’s Executive Council
    • Associated Indian people with legislative process
    • Started decentralization
    • Allowed Governor General to nominate Indians to his expanded council
  • Indian Councils Act 1892
    • Allowed Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Provincial Legislative Councils to make recommendation to Viceroy
    • Allowed Legislative Councils to discuss budget
    • Nomination of non-official members of Provincial Legislative Councils by Governor
    • Viceroy nominated members to Indian (Central) Legislative Council
  • Government of India Act 1909
    • Morley (Secretary of State )-Minto(Viceroy) Reforms
    • Increased number of members in Central Legislative Council
    • Included elected non-official members in Provincial Legislative Councils
    • Introduced separate electorates for Muslims and communal representation for them.
  • Government of India Act 1919
    • Montagu (Secretary of State)-Chelmsford (Viceroy) Reforms
    • Dyarchy in Provinces, Central Subjects, Reserved and Transferrred Provincial Subjects
    • Separate Provincial and Central Budget, Bicameralism, Direct Electio
    • Communal Representation for Sikhs, Limited Franchisee
  • Government of India Act 1935
    • All-India federation, Federal List, Provincial List and Concurrent List
    • Ended dyarchy in provinces, Provincial autonomy, made legislature in 6 of the 11 provinces bicameral
    • Provided for Reserve Bank of India, Provincial Public service Commission, Federal Court
    • Brought in Separate electorates for women, labour, and depressed classes

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Evolution of Indian Constitution

FAQ question

1. Who was British Prime Minister at the passing of Regulating Act of 1773?

Lord North was the British PM when the Regulating Act of 1773 was passed.

2. Which act designated Governor of Bengal as Governor-General of Bengal?

Regulating Act of 1773 designated Governor of Bengal as the Governor-General of Bengal.

3. Who became the first Governor-General of Bengal?

Warren Hastings was the first Governor-General of Bengal.

4. How many members were there in the Executive Council formed by the Regulating Act of 1773?

There were four members in the Executive Council formed under the Regulating Act of 1773.

5. Which Act formed the Board of Control to manage all political functions of the Company?

Pitts India Act of 1784 formed the Board of Control to manage all political function of the Company.

6. Which act introduced a system of double government?

Pitts India Act of 1784 introduced a system of double government.

7. Which Act ended East India Company’s trade monopoly in India?

Charter Act of 1813 ended the East India company’s trade monopoly in India.

8. Which Act changed Governor-General of Bengal into Governor-General of India?

Charter Act of 1833 changed Governor-General of Bengal into Governor-General of India.

9. Who became the first Governor-General of India?

Lord William Bentick became the first Governor-General of India.

10. Which charter act brought representation of local (provincial) governments in the Indian (Central) Legislative Council?

The representation of local (provincial) governments in Indian (Central) Legislative Council was for the first time brought by Charter Act of 1853.

11. Which Act brought open competition for the selection of civil servants and opened civil services for Indians?

Charter Act of 1853 broouhgt open competition for the selection of civil servants and opened civil services for Indians.

12. Which Act renamed the Governor-General of India as Viceroy of India?

Government of India Act 1858 renamed the Governor-General of India as Viceroy of India.

13. Who was the first Viceroy of India?

Lord Canning was the first Viceroy of India.

14. Which act allowed Legislative Councils to discuss budget?

Indian Councils Act 1892 allowed Legislative Councils to discuss budget.

15. Who became famous as the Father of Communal Electorate?

Lord Minto is known as the Father of Communal Electorate.

16. Who was Secretary of State at the time of Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms?

Montagu was Secretary of State at the time of Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms.

17. Which Act introduced dyarchy at the provincial level?

Government of India Act 1919 introduced dyarchy at the provincial level.

18. Which Act ended dyarchy in provinces and provided for diarchy at the centre?

Government of India Act 1935 ended dyarchy in provinces and provided for diarchy at the centre.

19. Which act divided powers between centre and units into three different lists?

Government of India Act 1935 divided powers between centre and units into three different lists.

20. Which Act ended the office of Viceroy and office of the Secretary of state for India?

Indian Independence Act, 1947, ended the office of Viceroy and office of the Secretary of state for India.
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