The Development Of Indian Constitution (1773-1950)
Post on 15,October 2014   1:48 PM
By - Mr. S.N Singh
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It was series of events which lead to the development of the constitution of India, the words largest written constitution. India has been a diverse country in respect of culture, people, and geographic terrain. So, was a challenging task for the makers of the constitution to form a supreme rule book according to which this rich diversified country can be effetely governed. Here below are series of Acts, Regulation and Declaration which gave shape to the Indian Constitution.   

The Regulating Act ( May 3, 1773): In 1765, after the battle of Buxer the East India Company got the Diwani ( Right to collect Revenue) of Bengal , Bihar and Orissa. This made company as commercial cum political establishment in India. Meanwhile, the resultant administrative anarchy and the accumulation of immense wealth by company servants were questioned in British Parliament. As a result of that British government set up a secret committee to prove into affairs of the company. The report submitted by the committee paved the way for the act submitted by the parliament called Regulating Act to enforce the governmental control and regulate the affairs of the company.

  • Presidency of Bengal was made supreme over those of Bombay and Madras. The governor of Bengal was designated as Governor- General of the three provinces. The governor general was given power of superintendence, direction and controls over two remaining territories.
  • The Governor General was assisted by four councilors. Their tenure of office was fixed for 5 years. The Governor General the council of members was required to work on the principle of a collegiate executive.
  • The Governor General was required to follow the orders of Directors and keep them updated about the all matters related to the interest of the company.
  • The Governor- General was empowered to make rules ordinances and regulations for the better government of the company’s entire territories. 
  • The Supreme Court of Judicature was established at Calcutta, consisting of Chief Justice and three other Judges.

Bengal Judicature Act (1781): The Prime objective of this Act was to remove ambiguities about the powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and define precisely its relation with the Governor General in council and the company courts, and also to make clear also about the laws the Supreme Court has to administer. It was clarified that Supreme Court has no jurisdiction in matters concerning revenue. The rules and forms of the Supreme Court were to respect the religion and usages of the people of India.

Pitt’s India Act (1784):  In the title of the Act, the company’s territories were called “The British possessions in India”, this was the clear assertion that British Crown claimed the ownership over the territory acquired by company in India.

It established the board of control, which was to be appointed by the Crown. The Board was invested with the power to superintend, direct and control all civil, military and revenue affairs of the company.

The Act also created a department of British Government in England to exercise control over the Directors of the Company and the Indian administration.

Charter Act (1793): The Act extended company privileges for next 20 years and subsequently regulating act, charters acts were passed for every 20 years.

Charter Act (1813):  Trade with India was opened to all British Citizen exception was tea trade and trade with China. The establishment of Church was established at the expense of the company in India.

Charter Act (1833): The Governor General of Bengal was designated as the Governor General of India.  He was vested with the full authority to superintend, direct and control the government of all parts of India which included the matters, relating to the civil, military and revenue administration. The governor General of India was vested with the duty to pass the resolution to improve the condition of the Indian without hurting the sentiments of the native people.

Charter Act (1853):  The Board of control was authorized to make rules and regulations governing appointments to the services in India. As a consequence of that the Civil Service examination was open to the public and entry to the service was made through the competitive examination. The Governor General Executive council was extended for legislative purpose.

The Act of Better Government of India or Government of India Act (1858) : This Act transferred the Government of India to the Crown from the Company and the east India company was abolished. The vested in Board of directors were got transferred to the Secretary of State (One of the cabinet minister of the British Government) the salary of secretary   of state was paid from the Indian revenue.

Indian Council Act (1861): Indians were nominated for the first time to the legislative council for the purpose of legislation.  The number of Indian in legislative council was 6 minimum and 12 maximum.  These members were nominated by Governor General for the 2 years. The act provided for the local legislature for the Madras and Bombay and empowered the Governor General to establish similar local bodies in Bengal and other provinces.

Indian Council Act or Morley- Minto Reforms (1909): The comes from the John Morley, the secretary of State for India and Minto the then Viceroy and the Governor General of India. It had provision for the enlargement of the legislative councils and at the same time them more effective. The number od additional members were significantly increased.

  • In the imperial council majority of the official members were maintained. However, In provincial councils, there were majority of Non – Official members, though not elected members, except in Bengal where there was small majority of elected members.
  • The act provided for the appointment of Indian to the viceroy’s Executive council. The executive council was also enlarged. The members could now ask questions and even debate on the budget, but they could not vote on it.
  • It also granted separate electrode to the Muslims.

The Government of India Act or Montagu Chelmsford Reforms (1919): The comes from the E.S Montagu, the then secretary of State for India and Lord Chelmsford the then Viceroy and the Governor General of India.

  • The dyarchy was introduced, under it the ministers responsible to their respective subject held the charges of “Transferred subjects” while the provincial governors and his councilors were to be in charge of the “Reserved Subjects”.
  • A bicameral legislature was set up at centre and a second Indian member was included in the Governor-General’s Executive Council.
  • The Act provided for the establishment of Public service commission.
  • The Act extended the communal electorate to the Sikhs, Europeans, Anglo-Indians and Christians.

The Government of India Act (1935): It was outcome of Simon Commission Report, deliberation at round table conferences, and the white paper introduced in the British Parliament. It was the longest and the last constitutional measure introduced by the British in India.


  • It provided for the Federation of India consisting of Governor Provinces and Princely states. However, the federation never started as Princely state never joined.
  • The Dyarchy introduced by 1919 Act was abolished and at its place provincial atomy was introduced. All subjects of provincial administration were placed in the hands of Ministers who belonged to the elected legislature.
  • The Act gave special powers and responsibilities to the Governors, this effectively curbed the power of minister and undermined the provincial autonomy.
  • The Act divided the British India into two categories- 2 Governor Provinces and 5 chief commissioner provinces.
  • The Act enlarged the legislature in the provinces. Six provinces (Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Bombay, Madras, the united province) were to have bicameral legislature (Legislative council and Legislative assembly).
  • Dyarchy which was abolished at provinces was established at centre. This means that the Reserved Subjects (Defense, External Affairs, Tribal Affairs, Etc.) were to be administered by the Viceroy and the Governor General.  
  • The Act separated Burma from India. Sind and North West Frontier Province were given the status of Province were given status of provinces.


Indian Independence Act (1947): The Act provided for the partition of India and the establishment of two dominions India and Pakistan on 15th August, 1947. All laws enforced in British India would remain applicable until amended by the dominion legislature.

Each dominion and all provinces were to governed as per the Government India Act 1935 till the formation of new constitution.

The Act provided the termination of Suzerainty of the British Crown over the Princely States. All treaty and functions exercised by crown to the princely states and the rulers would lapse from August 15, 1947.

The Constitution of India (January 26, 1950):  Dr. Rajendra Prashad as the president prepared the Draft of the new constitution of India in February 1948.  The constitution was finally adopted by constituent assembly on 26 November, 1949 and come into force on 26 January 1950, when the republic of India was born.

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