Chapter 1: CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
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
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 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
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
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
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
Simon Commission 
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
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
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
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
Independence Act, 1947:
Ended British rule in India on 15 august
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.
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