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​Historical Development of Constitution


  • 1600: British came to India with exclusive trading rights granted to them by Queen Elizabeth.

  • 1765: East India Company obtained Diwani rights of Bengal, Bihar, Odisha.

  • 1858: Revolt of 1857: Crown assumed direct responsibility for the governance of india.

  • 1934: First time suggestion of constituent assembly was given by MN Roy.

  • 1946: Constituent  Assembly was established. 

  • 26 January 1950: Constitution came into being.


Journey to Indian Constitution:


  • This act was the first step by british government to control and regulate working of East India company (ElC).

  • It recognized the political and administrative functioning of the company.

  • CENTRALIZATION: It laid down the foundation of central administration in India thus establishing a UNITARY TYPE OF GOVERNMENT. 

  • This law designated the Governor of Bengal as Governor General of Bengal. LORD WARREN HASTINGS became the first governor general of Bengal.

  • It also created an executive council of 4 members to assist the Governor General.

  • Governor of Madras and Bombay were made subordinate to him. Earlier, they were independent.

  • It also provided for the establishment of the Supreme Court in Calcutta in 1774 consisting of Chief Justice + 3 puisne judges.

  • It prohibited servants of the company from engaging in private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the native.

  • Strengthen control of british government, over the company by requiring COD to report in revenue, civil, and military affairs.


  • In 1781 amendment act to 1773 was passed Known as Act of Settlement to rectify the defects of regulating act.

    • In this act the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court was defined within calcutta i.e. to administer personal law of the defendant.

    • Servants of the government were given protection/ immunity for their act.

  • Pitts act was passed in 1784

    • It distinguished between commercial and political functions of the company. 

    • It allowed the Court of Director (COD) to manage the commercial affairs and created the Board of Control (BOC)  to carry out political affairs.

    • BOC was assigned the task of supervising and directing all operation of civil and military government and revenues of the british possessions in india. 

Significance of the Act: 

  • For the first time company territory was called the British possessions in india.

  • British government was given supreme control over company affair and its administration in India.


  • Company monopoly over trade in India was ended by this Act.

  • However, the company retained trade with china and tea trade.

  • Company's shareholders were given 10.5% dividend on revenue of India.

  • Company retains the right over its Indian territory and revenue for next 20 years. 

  • State responsibility of education was imposed as the company was bound to allocate Rs. 1 lakh for education and literature. 

  • Regulations made by Madras and Calcutta were required to be laid before british parliament, Constitutional positions were thus explicitly defined for the first time.

  • Power of superintendence & direction of BOD was defined nad enlarged

  • Christian Missionaries were allowed to preach in India.


  • Governor General of Bengal as Governor General of India. All the civil and military  powers were vested in him.

  • Indian territories were to be governed under the name of British Crown.

  • LORD WILLIAM BENTICK became the First Governor General of India.

  • Governor General was given exclusive legislative powers for the entire british india.

  • Laws made under this act were called ACTS whereas in previous were called REGULATIONS.

  • EIC thus became a completely administrative body.

  • A law member was added to governor general council : codify and consolidated india law

  • Slavery was abolished in 1843.

*During the discussion of this act introduction of open competition for selection of civil servants and should not be debarred from holding any place, office and employment under their company was attempted to be introduced. However, it got negated after opposition from COD.


  • By this act the strength of the Court of Director was reduced to 18.

  • It led to the separation of  legislative and executive functions of Governor General council.

  • It also provided for the addition of 6 new members who were called as the legislative councilors to the council.

  • Separate governor general Legislative council called as Indian (central) legislative council.

  • Legislative wing of council functions as mini parliament.

  • Thus, legislation was treated for first time as a special function of government requiring special machinery and special process.

  • Introduce open competition for selection and recruitment of civil servants. COVENANTED civil service was thus open and thus MACAULAY COMMITTEE ( the committee on indian civil service) was set up in 1854.

  • Extended the company rule and allowed it to retain the possession of indian territories on trust of british crown.

  • It did not specify any particular period unlike the previous charters which was indicative of the fact that the company rule can be terminated anytime with parliament will.

  • It also introduced local representation in indian legislative council, out of 6 new members: 4 were appointed by local provincial government of MADRAS, BOMBAY, BENGAL, AGRA.



  • It is also known as the ACT FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE IN INDIA.

  • It led to the abolition of the East India Company and transferred the power of government to british crown.

  • The title Governor general  was changed to viceroy of india. Thus, LORD CANNING became the first viceroy of India.

  • It led to the end of  double government as it removed BOC & COD.

  • It created the Secretary of States (SOS) for India and vested in him complete authority and control over Indian administration.

  • Secretary of State was member of british cabinet.

  • 15 member council of india to assist secretary of state. This council was advisory in nature.It was chaired by secretary of states.

  • Constituted secretary of state in council as a body corporate, capable of suing and being sued in India and in England.


  • This act changed just the administrative machinery of government in India but did not alter the substantial way the system of government that prevailed in india.

  • It marked the beginning of representative institutions.

  • Under this Act, Viceroy  nominated some Indians as non official members of his expanded council. Three Indians were nominated in the name of Raja of Benaras, Maharaja of Patiala, Sir Dinkar Rao.


    • Reversed centralizing tendencies ignited in 1773 and reached its max in 1833.

    • It restored the legislative powers to Bombay, Madras presidencies.

    • This legislative devolution resulted in grant of almost complete internal autonomy to the provinces in 1937.

    • It provided for a new legislative council to be set up in Bengal, NWFP and Punjab, and were established in 1862, 1866, 1897 respectively.

  • It also empowered Viceroy to make rules and orders for more convenient transactions of business in council.

  • It recognised the  portfolio system introduced by Lord canning in 1859.

  • Members of the viceroy council were made in charge of one or more departments with final decision making powers. They can issue ORDINANCES without concurrence of legislative council. Life of ordinance was kept 6 months.


  • Number of additional ( non official) members in central and provincial legislative councils was increased, however, the official majority was maintained.

  • Functions of the legislative council were enlarged. It got the power of discussing the budget and asking questions to the executive.

  • This act made Limited indirect provision for use of election in filling up some of non official seats both in central and provincial legislative councils.

    • It also provided for nomination of non official members of the central legislative council by viceroy on recommendation of provincial legislative council and Bengal chamber of commerce.

    • The members of the provincial legislative council were to be nominated by governor on recommendation of district boards, municipality, universities, trade associations, zamindars and chambers.


  • It increased the size of both the central and provincial legislative council.

    • Number of members was raised from 16 to 60 in the central legislative council.

    • Number of members were also raised in the provincial legislative council in a non uniform manner.

  • It retained an official majority in central legislative council and in provincial legislative assembly non official majority was introduced, but since some of these non officials were nominated and not elected, overall non elected majority remained.

  • Elected members were INDIRECTLY elected.

  • Satyendra Prasad Sinha became the first member to join the viceroy executive council.

  • It introduced communal representation for Muslim, by accepting separate electorate thus LORD MINTO came to be known as Father of communal electorate.

  • Along with separate ELECTORATE, representation in ratio to their population was accorded to muslims.

  • Income qualification was kept lower than hindus for voting.

  • Also provided for separate representation of presidency corporations, chambers of commerce, universities and zamindars.

Power of Legislature

  • Legislature could now pass resolutions which may not be accepted, ask questions and supplementaries, vote separate items in the budget but the budget as a whole could not be voted upon.

*August declaration, 1917, in this declaration, British Government for the first time declared that their objective is introduction of responsible government​


Government of India Act 1919 was enacted and came into force in 1921.



      • Dyarchy was introduced. It means the rule of 2 executive i.e. councillors and popular ministers was introduced.  Governor is executive head.

      • There were two subject list

        • One was Reserved which included subjects like law order, finance, land revenue and irrigation.

        • Second list was Transferred which included subjects like education, health, and the local government industry, agriculture etc.

      • Reserved list was administered by the Governor through the executive council and the transferred list was administered by the Ministers who were nominated by elected members of legislative council.

      • Responsibility of minister was introduced. He had to resign if no confidence motion against him was passed.

      • However, it did not introduce the responsibility of Executive councilors.

      • In case of failure of constitutional machinery, the governor had the power to take over.

      • The Secretary of State (SOS) & Governor General could interfere in the reserve list but the scope of interference in the transferred subjects was restricted.


      • Provincial Legislative Councils were expanded and 70% of the members were elected.

      • System of communal electorates was strengthened.

      • Women were given the right to vote.

      • Legislative councils could initiate legislation however,  final assent was of Governor.

      • Governor could veto the bill and issue ordinances.

      • Legislatures enjoyed freedom of speech.


    • Not responsible Executive:

      • The Governor General was the chief of executive authority.

      • There were two lists of administration i.e. central and provincial lists.

      • Legislature could now pass resolutions which may not be accepted, ask questions and supplementaries, vote separate items in the budget but the budget as a whole could not be voted upon.

      • The Viceroy executive council was composed of eight members out of which three were Indians.

      • The viceroy had the power to restore cuts in grants and could also certify bills rejected by central legislation and issue ordinances.

    • Legislature:

      • Bicameral arrangement was introduced. 

        • Lower house also called as the central Legislative assembly was composed of 144 members, majority of them were  elected. The tenure was of three year.

        • Upper house also known as council of state, majority of which was elected. The tenure of the council was 5 year. Only males were allowed to join the council.

        • Legislature could ask questions and supplementaries, pass adjournments motion and vote a part of the budget. However, the 75% budget was still not votable.


  • In November 1927, the appointment of a 7 member statutory commission under the chairmanship of John Simon was announced. 

  • The report of this commission was submitted  in 1930, it suggested the following changes in the administrative structure::

    • Abolition of dyarchy.

    • Extension of responsible government in the provinces.

    • Establishment of federation of British India and princely states.

    • Continuation of communal electorate

    • To consider the proposals of the commission : 3 round table conference was convened and on the basis of discussion, WHITE PAPER ON CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS was prepared and submitted for the consideration of the joint select committee of British parliament.

*Recommendation of these committees were incorporated in GOI act 1935.


  • This act was the second act that was introduced in order to establish a responsible government.

  • Features:

    • All india federation:

      • Federal, Provincial and Concurrent lists were made.

      • Residual powers were granted to the viceroy.

    *Federation never came into being as the princely states never joined it

  • Abolished dyarchy in provinces and established in centre

    • Federal subjects were divided in two lists i.e. into reserved and transferred lists.

*This provision did not come into being.

  • This act introduced provincial autonomy and responsible government in provinces. This provision came into effect in 1937 and discontinued in 1939.

  • Bicameralism was introduced in 6 out of 11 provinces which are Bengal, Madras, Bombay, Bihar, Assam, UP, but with restriction.

  • It extended the principle of communal representation by providing separate electorate for depressed classes (SC) and women and labour (workers).

  • By this act the Council of India established, the 1858 act was abolished. 

  • The Secretary of States for  India was provided with a team of advisors.

  • It extended the franchise about 10% of the total population got voting rights.

  • Provide for RBI establishment to control the currency and credit

  • It also provided for the establishment of the Federal Public Service Commission, Provincial Public Service Commission, and Joint Public Service Commission.

  • It also provided for the establishment of a federal court, which was set up later in 1937.


On February 20,1947, Clement Atlee the Prime Minister of Britain declared that the british rule will end by June 30 1948.

On 3rd June, 1947, Lord mountbatten, the then viceroy of India put forth the plan known as MOUNTBATTEN PLAN. On the same day itself, British government made it clear that any constitution framed by constituent assembly will not apply to those parts of the country which are unwilling to join.

Indian Independence act ended british rule and it says the following:

  • It provided for the partition of India and creation of two independent dominions of India and Pakistan with the right to secede from british commonwealth.

  • It abolished the office of Viceroy and established each dominion with the Governor General, who was appointed by British king to advise the cabinet.

  • It also empowered the constitutional assembly to frame and adopt any constitution.

  • The act further Empowered the Constitutional assembly of both dominions to legislate for their respective territories.

  • Indian Independence act abolished the office of Secretary of state and transferred his function to Secretary of state for commonwealth affairs.

  • It also allowed for the lapse of british paramountcy.

  • It further granted freedom to Indian princely states either to join dominion of India or Pakistan or remain independent.

  • It also provided for governance of each dominion and provinces by the government of India Act of 1935.

  • It deprived British monarch of his right to veto bills or ask for reservation of certain bills for his approval, but was reserved for Governor General.

  • It designated the Governor General in India and provincial governors as the constitutional heads of state.

  • It also dropped the title of Emperor of India.

  • The Act discontinued appointment to civil services and reservation of post by Secretary of State for India.

  • Lord Mountbatten  became the first governor General of new dominion.

Historical Development of Constitution : List
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