Constitutional History - Law Note
Constitutional History

The Constitution of India was an outcome of long-lived historical events. To make India a republican country was the combined effort of all national leaders and constitution-makers. It took 2 years, 11 months, 18 days to complete the Constitution. Look at this law note that tells you about the Constitutional History of India – how things started in 1773 to gaining independence in 1947.

Evolution of Indian Constitution – Constitutional History

Regulating Act, 1773

  • Due to increasing corruption in the East India Company, it came under the direct control of the British parliament.
  • Governor of Bengal became the Governor-General of Bengal.
  • Warren Hastings became the first Governor-General of Bengal.
  • In Calcutta, Supreme Court was established.

Pitts India Act, 1784

  • A board of control was established for carrying out political responsibilities under the British government.
  • East India Company became more responsible towards the British government.

Charter Act, 1813

  • The councils of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta were empowered with more powers.
  • The local bodies in provinces were authorized to levy taxes from people.

Charter Act, 1833

  • Governor-General got empowered with more powers. The matters related to revenue were now under the control of the Governor-General.
  • This act was a step towards centralization.
  • The Governor-General of Bengal now became the Governor-General of India.
  • The first Governor-General of India was William Bentick.
  • Christian institutions had entered India by that time.

Government of India Act, 1858

  • The Act was passed by the Parliament of England.
  • Company’s rule came to an end, and the administration of India came under the direct control of the Crown.
  • Secretary of state for India was established, who would be a member of the British Cabinet.
  • Sir Charleswood was the first Secretary of State for India.
  • Now the Governor-General of India became the Viceroy of India. Lord Canning was the first Viceroy.

Indian Council Act, 1861

  • This Act was passed after the revolt of 1857.
  • A provision was made for the inclusion of Indians in the executive council. Out of 6 to 12 additional members, half of them were to be Indians.
  • Three Indians who were nominated for the council by Lord Canning were Raja of Banaras, Maharaja of Patiala, and Dinkar Rao.
  • High Court Act was also passed in the year 1861 for establishing High Courts in Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta.

Indian Council Act, 1892

  • There was the establishment of Congress in the year 1885.
  • The demand was raised for administrative reforms, political reforms, social reforms, and economic reforms.
  • This Act came up with the beginning of the Indian Civil Services Exam.

Act of 1909 (Minto Morley Reforms)

  • The principle of election was legally recognized by the legislative council.
  • Separate electorate was given to Muslims but Jinnah opposed communal representation.
  • The councils were given the right to discuss, pass resolution on the budget, but Governor-General had the power to disallow discussion.

Act of 1919 (Montagu Chelmsford Reforms)

  • The concept of Dyarchy was introduced in the provinces.
  • The provincial subjects were divided into reserved and transferred subjects respectively. Reserved subjects like police, jail, etc. And transferred subjects like education, sanitation, and so on.
  • A High Commissioner for India at London was appointed.
  • Bicameral legislature got set up at the centre consisting of council of states and legislative assembly.

Government of India Act, 1935

  • In the Simon Commission Report of 1927, Jinnah demanded a separate electorate in Constitution. This was the stage when the seed of separation and communalism flourished actually.
  • All India Federation was established at the centre consisting of British India and princely states.
  • Separation of powers into three lists as federal, provincial, and concurrent (Presently in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.)
  • Dyarchy was abolished. The act gave more autonomous powers to the provinces for better administration. The governor was made head of the provincial executive.

Cripps Mission

  • In 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps came with the proposal to frame the Constitution by elected Indian members of the Constituent Assembly.
  • The proposal was to give India dominion status through the Constitution. And those provinces which want to remain free and not to accept the Indian Constitution could maintain a separate position.

Cabinet Mission Plan

  • The purpose of the mission was to make India independent and form a constituent assembly for framing the Constitution.
  • The mission showed disagreement on the separate electorate for Muslims and separate Constituent Assembly.
  • All residuary powers to be vested in the provinces and the states (Presently, residuary power vests in the parliament under Article 248.)
  • Any communal dispute or issue in the legislature was to be resolved by the majority support of each two major communities present and voting as well as a majority of the members present and voting.

Indian Independence Act, 1947

  • After 15th August 1947, India shall no longer be a dependent state of the British Crown.
  • The Central legislature of India ceases to exist after 14th August 1947. After independence, the Constituent Assembly shall function as the Central Legislature.

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