Making of the Constitution 1773 - 1947

Events that influenced our constitution and polity during the east India Company rule:

Regulating Act, 1773: 


The controller of East India company was the court of proprietors and court of directors.

The three presidencies of Bombay, Bengal, Madras were independent and managed by governor and his council.

The court of directors were elected annually and managed the affairs of the company. The mismanagement of Indian territories led to bankruptcy of the company and the directors asked for a loan. The government passed this act as a precondition for the loan.

It laid the foundations for a centralized administration in India. Governor of Bengal became the Governor General of Bengal with an executive council of four to assist him. Decisions would be taken by majority and Governor General could only vote in case of tie. Presidencies of Madras and Bombay lost their independence and became subordinate to Bengal.

It established a Supreme Court of Justice at Calcutta. It prohibited the servants of E.I.C from accepting gifts and engaging in private trade.

Pitts Act, 1784:

Board of control was established to control political affairs in India. So a system of dual government was created. The number of members in the governors council were reduced to 3.

The board of control were responsible to the parliament and controlled political affairs. The court of directors were in control of commercial affairs.

Charter Acts:

Charter Act, 1813: Reduced monopoly of E.I.C to trade with India. But kept monopoly for trade with china.

Charter Act, 1833: Ended all monopolies of E.I.C with respect to trade. Governor General of Bengal became the Governor General of India.

Charter Act, 1853: Created a Central legislative council for legislative functions. It had provincial representation for the first time. Open competitive exams were held for recruitment to the civil service.

Government of India Act, 1858:


Governor General of India became the viceroy of India. The board of control and court of directors, proprietors were abolished and a new office of Secretary of State for India and his Indian council were created. They had supreme power to regulate all affairs.


Indian Council Act, 1861:


Allowed nomination of Indians to the central legislative council.

Started a portfolio system for convenient transaction of business.

Viceroy could issue ordinances without consulting the legislative council [lifetime of ordinances = 6 months].

Process of decentralization of legislative powers to the provinces began.

Indian Council Act, 1892:

Increased number of non-official members to the central and provincial legislative assemblies. Official majority was retained, however more powers were granted to members. Certain non official members to the Central legislative assembly were nominated from provinces and Bengal chamber of commerce. Also non official members of the provincial assemblies were nominated from local bodies. Limited franchise was introduced in India.


Indian Council Act, 1909 [Morley – Minto Reforms]:  

Allowed non-official majority in the provinces but not in the central legislative council. It increased number of members in the legislative councils. Allowed for a system of separate electorate [communal representation] for Muslims. Indians were for the first time appointed to the Central Executive council.


Government of India Act, 1919:

Subjects on which legislation can be made were divided into central and provincial. Provincial were further divided into reserved and transferred. The reserved subjects were administered by Governors of provinces and their executive councils. Transferred subjects were to be administered with the help of ministers responsible to the provincial legislative councils.

The central legislative council was replaced by a bicameral legislature. Majority of members of both houses were non-official and chosen by direct elections.

Central executive council to have 3 Indian members out of six.

Made provision for a public service commission. Granted a limited franchise based on education and property. Created a statutory body to inquire into and report on the working of the act in 10 years of its coming into force.


Simon Commission [1927]

It was established to review the working of the Act. All members were British and so the commission was boycotted by majority of the political parties. The recommendations were continuation of communal representation, abolition of diarchy, extension of responsible government in provinces, creation of Indian federation of British India and princely states.

Three round table conferences were conducted by British government with representatives of British India, princely states and British government. A white paper on this was presented to the British parliament and the suggestions were incorporated into Government of India Act, 1935.


Communal award, 1932:

British PM Ramsay McDonald extended the separate electorate to Scheduled classes. This was protested by Gandhi who went on fast unto death. Finally, BR Ambedkar and Gandhiji signed the Poona Pact by which separate electorates were removed and reservations were given to dalits.


Government of India Act, 1935:

It provided for establishment of All India federation of provinces and princely states. It divided legislative powers into Central, Provincial and Concurrent. Residuary powers were with the viceroy. However, the federation never came into existence as princely states didn’t join it.

It replaced diarchy in provinces with provincial autonomy. At provinces, governor would act with aid and advice of ministers responsible to the provincial legislative councils.

It introduced diarchy at the centre as central subjects were divided into reserved [viceroy and executive council] and transferred [viceroy with aid and advice of legislative council]. However this too never became operational.

Provision of a Reserve bank, provincial public service commission and Joint public service commission. Establishment of a federal court. Extended franchise to Indians, separate representation to dalits. Replaced Indian council with an advisory team to the secretary of state.

Indian Independence Act, 1947:

Ended British rule in India on 15 august 1947.  Abolished viceroy, secretary of state offices. British emperor would no longer be emperor of India. Provision for partition of India into India and Pakistan. Princely states given choice to accede or remain independent. Constituent assemblies to frame constitution for their dominion. GoI Act, 1935 would be enforced till new constitution was ready. Governor General of Centre and provinces would be nominal heads and act on aid and advice of Ministers.

Constituent assembly could enact, repeal, and amend any law. Thus it was made a legislative body too. When it worked a legislative body it was chaired by GV Malwankar till 1949.


Score more than 80% marks and move ahead else stay back and read again!