Historical Background of Indian Constitution
Before 1947, India was divided into two main entities – British India and the Princely states. British India consisted of 11 provinces and princely states ruled by Indian princes under a subsidiary alliance policy. Both entities got merged together to form the Indian Union, but many of the legacy systems in British India are followed even now. The historical underpinnings and evolution of the Indian Constitution can be traced to its many regulations and acts passed before the Independence.
|Constitutional Landmark||Important Provisions|
|Regulating Act, 1773||British government to regulate affairs of East India Co.|
Established a Supreme Court at Calcutta.
|Pitts India Act, 1784||Indian affairs were under the direct control of the British government. A Board of Control was established.|
|Charter Act of 1793||Salary of the company to be drawn from the Indian exchequer. |
The Governor-General and governors override the decision of Councils.
The company got a monopoly of trade with India for another 20 years.
|Charter Act, 1833||Governor-General of Bengal became Governor-General of India.|
Governor-General of India. The Act centralized British rule in India.
Created Government of India, with authority over all of British India.
East India Co. lost its monopoly on the tea trade and China trade.
The Indian Civil Services was founded.
|Charter Act, 1853||Separated legislative & executive functions of Governor General’s Council.|
Open competition for Indian Civil Services. The patronage of the directors of the company ends.
|Government of India, Act, 1858||The act is known as the Act for the Good Government of India.|
Company rule was replaced by the British crown.
Secretary of State for India was appointed to exercise the power of the Crown. He was a member of the British cabinet, was responsible for it, and was assisted by the Council of India with 15 members.
Governor-General became the agent of the crown and is now known as the Viceroy of India. Lord Canning
|Indian Councils Act, 1861||The parliamentary system started in India. |
Started decentralization of power. Recognition of the ‘Portfolio’ system, was introduced by Lord Canning in 1859.
|Indian Councils Act, 1892||Introduced indirect elections. Governor-General could nominate members.|
The functions of the Legislative Council Expanded to discuss the budget and ask questions to the executive.
|Indian Councils Act, 1909 (Morley-Minto Reforms. Lord Morley was then the secretary of state for India and Lord Minto was then the viceroy of India).||Central Legislative Council became the imperial Legislative council with officials forming the majority.|
Satyendra Prasad Sinha Executive Council.
The provincial legislative council had a majority of non-official members.
Introduced communal representation for Muslims with a separate electorate system. Legalized communalism. Lord Minto created a communal electorate.
|Government of India Act, 1935||Established All India federation of provinces & princely states as constituent units. |
It provided for the establishment of the Reserve Bank of India, Federal Court, Public Service Commission, Provincial Public Service Commission & Joint Public Service Commission for two or more Provinces.
Federal, provincial and concurrent were lists introduced.
Abolished dyarchy in provinces that now had provincial autonomy.
Introduced dyarchy at the center and bicameralism in the provinces. Introduced responsible governments in provinces.
|The August Offer, 1940||Expansion of the Governor-General’s Executive Council to include more Indians.|
Establishment of an Advisory War Council.
|Cripps Proposals, 1942||Provision made up for participation of Indian States in the Constitution-making body.|
The leaders of the principal sections of the Indian people were invited to take active and effective participation in the councils of their country.
|C.R. Formula, 1944||C.R. Raja Gopalchari presented the ‘C.R.|
Formula’ by which the Muslim League would support the Congress demand for complete freedom.
|Wavell Plan, 1945||Under this plan, India was to be granted Dominion status in the near future.|
|Lord Attlee’s Announcement, March 1946||On 15 March 1946, Lord Attlee declared that as the tide of nationalism was surging ahead in India, it was in the British interest to take positive action.|
|Cabinet Mission Plan, 1946||There should be a Union of India, embracing both British India and the states which should deal with foreign affairs.|
To set up an Interim Government.
A Constituent Assembly should be set up to draw up the future Constitution of the country.
|Indian Independence Act, 1947||Declared India as an independent & sovereign state. |
Established responsible government at the Center & Provinces.
Designated Governor-General of India & Provincial Governors as Constitutional heads or nominal heads.
Lord Mountbatten becomes the first Governor-General of free India. The first & last Indian Governor-General was C. Rajagopalachari.