Landmarks in the Development of the Indian Constitution

By | February 1, 2016
  • In 1934, the idea of Constituent Assembly for India was put forward for the first time by Manabendra Nath Roy.
  • In 1935, The indian National congress (INC) demanded a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution.
  • In 1938, Jawaharlal Nehru, on behalf of INC declared that Constitution of Free India must be framed without outside interference, by Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of Adult franchise. The demand was accepted by British Government during August Offer 1940.
  • In 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the Cabinet came to India with draft proposal of the British Government on the framing of an independent Constitution, to be adopted after the World War 2.
  • The Cripps proposals were rejected by the Muslims League which wanted India to be divided into two autonomous States with two separate Constituent Assemblies.
  • Finally, the Constituent Assembly was constituted in November, 1946 under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Landmarks, Acts in the Development of the Indian Constitution from the regulating act, 1773 to Indian Independence Act, 1947 are as follows:

Regulating Act, 1773

  • It made a provision of Supreme Court at Fort William, Calcutta comprising one Chief Justice and three other judges.
  • It prohibited the servants of the company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the natives.

Pitts’s India Act, 1784

  • It made a provision of separation in company’s commercial and political activities.
  • It created a new body called Board of Control to manage the political affairs while Court of Directors were allowed to manage the commercial affairs.
  • The company’s territories in India were for the first time called British possessions in India.

Charter Act, 1793

  • Salaries of the members of the board to be drawn from the Indian exchequer.

Charter Act, 1813

  • East India Company monopoly over trade was abolished in India but its monopoly over trade with China and for Trade in tea retained.
  • Constitutional position of the British territories in India was explicitly defined for the first time.
  • This act asked Company to spend one lakh rupees every year on the education of Indians.
  • Christian missionaries were permitted to preach their religion in India.

Charter Act, 1833

  • Company lost its monopoly over trade with China also and it was asked to close the commercial business. The company became a purely administrative body. It made the Governor General of Bengal as the Governor General of India.
  • This act asked government to abolish slavery in India.

Charter Act, 1853

  • Separation of executive and legislative functions of the Governor General’s Council.
  • It provided for addition of six new members called Legislative Councillors to the Council. It was known as Indian (Central) Legislative Council.
  • An open competition system of selection and recruitment of civil servants was introduced.
    for the first time local representation in the Indian (Central) Legislative Council was allowed.

Government of India Act, 1858

  • It brought an end to the Company’s rule and transferred power to the British crown.
  • It changed the designation of Governor General of India to that of viceroy of India and he was appointed as the direct representative of British crown in India.
  • Dual government introduced by Pitt’s Act was abolished by this act.
  • This act proposed highly centralised administration.
  • A new office of Secretary of state for India was created and he was vested with complete authority and control over Indian administration. The secretary of India was a member of the British Cabinet and was responsible ultimately to the British Parliament.

Indian Councils act, 1861

  • Governor general was empowered to issue ordinances in case of emergency.
  • participation of some non-official members in Viceroy’s Executive Council permitted.

Indian Councils Act, 1892

  • The Universities, District boards, Municipalities, Zamindars and Chambers of Commerce were empowered to recommend members to the Provincial Legislative Council which were to be nominated by Governors.
  • The members of the Legislature were now entitled to take part in debate over Annual Statement of Revenue and expenditure i.e Budget. They could also put questions with certain limitations.

Indian Councils Act, 1909 (Morley-Minto Reforms)

  • Morley was then secretary of State for India and Lord Minto was then Viceroy of India.
  • It was the first ever attempt to bring in a representative and popular element in the governance of the country.
  • The principle of election was introduced, but only in some cases.
  • A provision was made for the association of Indians with the Executive Council of the Viceroy and governors. Satyendra Prasad Sinha became the first Indian to join the Viceroy’s Executive Council. He was appointed as Law Member.
  • Muslims were given separate representation and hence Lord Minto came to be known as the Father of Communal Electorate.

Government of India Act, 1919 (Montague-Chelmsford Reforms)

  • During 1919, Montague was the Secretary of State for India and Chelmsford was the then Viceroy of India.
  • The idea of Responsible Government was emphasised upon.
  • All administrative subjects were divided into two groups viz. central and provincial.
  • Provincial subjects were further divided into two parts-transferred and reserved.
  • The transferred subjects were to be administered by the Governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the Legislative Council. While Governor was not responsible towards Legislative Council in the discharge of reserved subjects.
  • Separate representation was given to Sikhs, Christians Anglo-Indians, Europeans, etc.
  • A high commissioner for India was appointed whose duty was to look after India trade in Europe.
  • For the first time Indian Central Legislature was made bicameral (Two Houses).
  • For the first time, direct elections in the country were introduced. It granted franchise to a limited number of people on the basis of property, tax or education.
  • It also provided for the establishment of the Public Service Commission, which was established in 1926.

Government of India Act, 1935

  • Establishment of an All India Federation inclusive of Governor’s Provinces, Chef Commissioners Provinces and States.
  • Council of States having 260 members (156 from British India & 104 from Indian States) was to be permanent House with 1/3 members to retire every three years.
  • Federal assembly having 5 years duration consists of 375 members (250 from British India and 125 from Indian States).
  • It abolished the Council of India, established by the Government of India Act, 1858.
  • The Act provided for a Federal Court and a Federal Bank.

Indian Independence Act, 1947

  • This act called for the two dominions, namely India and Pakistan.
  • It asked power to be transferred to the Indians on August 15, 1947.

Framing of Constitution of India

  • The constitution Assembly was set up in November 1946 as per the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946.
  • The members were elected indirectly by the Provincial Assemblies in the ratio of one member per million population.
  • There were a total of 389 members in the Constituent Assembly, of which 296 were elected by the members of Provincial Assemblies and the rest were nominated by the Princely States.
  • Its first meeting was held on 9th
  • Jawaharlal nehru moved the objectives resolution in the Assembly on December 13, 1946. It was adopted by the Assembly on January 22, 1947.
  • The constituent assembly formed committees for framing the Constitution. Chairman of some important committees are given below.