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Indian Polity and Constitution

Historical background of Indian constitution

Historical Background of Indian constitution - Quick Revision Guide

Regulating Act of 1773
  • Indian Polity and ConstitutionThe Regulating Act of 1773 was the first step taken by the British Parliament to control and regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India. 
  • Political and administrative functions of the company were recognized for the first time.
  • Designated the Governor of Bengal as the ‘Governor-General of Bengal’.
  • The first such Governor General was Lord Warren Hastings.
  • Provided for the establishment of a Supreme Court at Calcutta (1774).
  • Prohibited the servants of the Company from engaging in any private trade.
Pitt’s India Act, 1784
  • Distinguished between the commercial and political functions of the Company.
  • Court of Directors to manage the commercial affairs of the company
  •  Created a new body called the Board of Control to manage the political affairs.
  • Thus, it established a system of dual(double) government.
Charter Act of 1813
  • It abolished the trade monopoly of the company in India.
  • Allowed the Christian missionaries entry to India.
  • Provided for one lakh of rupees annually for the promotion of Indian education.
Charter Act of 1833
  • English East India Company ceased to be a commercial agency in India.
  • Transformed East India Company from a commercial body to a purely administrative body.
  • Made the Governor-General of Bengal as the Governor-General of India.
  • Lord William Bentick was the first Governor-General of India. 
  • Deprived the Governor of Bombay and Madras of their legislative powers.
Charter Act of 1853
  • Separated the legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General’s council
  • Created a separate Governor-General’s legislative council having six new members(Also known as Indian Central Legislative Council.). 
  • Introduced local representation for the first time.
  • Introduced an Open competition system for the recruitment of civil servants which was open to Indians also.
Government of India Act of 1858
  • Also known as the Act for the Good Governance of India.
  • Designation of Governor General of India was changed to Viceroy.
  • Governor General Lord Canning became the first Viceroy of India.
  • Board of Control and Court of directors were abolished transferring all their powers to British Crown.
  • New office ‘Secretary of state' was created. 
  • A 15-member council of India was created to assist the Secretary of State for India.
Indian Councils Act of 1861
  • First step to associate Indians to the legislative process.
  • Lord Canning nominated three Indians to his legislative council – the Raja of Benaras, the Maharaja of Patiala and Sir Dinkar Rao in 1962.
  • Gave recognition to the portfolio system.
  •  Legislative powers of Madras and Bombay presidencies were restored.
Indian Councils Act of 1892
  • Made an indirect provision for election.
  • Increased the number of additional (non-official) members in both Central and provincial legislative councils.
  • Devolved more power to legislative councils (For example, power of discussing the budget and addressing questions to the executive).
Indian Councils Act 1909
  • Also known as Morley-Minto Reforms.
  • Enlarged the size of the legislative council both at Central and Provincial level with more powers to members.
  • First time allowed the association of Indians with the executive council of the Viceroy.
  • Satyendra Prasad Sinha became the first Indian to join the Viceroy’s executive council as the Law Member.
  • Introduced a system of ‘separate electorate’ for Muslim community. 
Government of India Act of 1919
  • Also called Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms or Mont-Ford Reforms.
  • Provided separate electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans. 
  • Granted franchise to a limited number of people on the basis of property, tax or education.
  • Separated the central and provincial subjects for legislation.
  • Futher divided provincial subjects into two parts– transferred and reserved(Dyarchy).
  • Separated provincial budgets from the Central budget 
  • Introduced bicameralism and direct elections for the first time.
  • Provided for the establishment of a Public Service Commission.

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