Historical Background of Indian Constitution: Regulating Act, Charter Act, Pitts India Act & GOI Act

By Naveen Singh|Updated : July 27th, 2021

Background of the Indian Constitution: Political Science is one of the most important topics in General Awareness. Many students find it difficult on how to go about solving questions from this topic. For this one needs to have a thorough knowledge of Polity. To simplify the Historical Background of the Indian Constitution subject we are have divided the subject into smaller topics and are providing you with the notes for the same. Know all about Regulating Act, Charter Act, Pitts India Act & GOI Act which helped in framing the Indian Constitution.

Table of Content

Background of the Indian Constitution: Regulating Act, Charter Act, Pitts India Act & GOI Act

The British administration can broadly be divided into two phases, that is

  1. The Company Administration (1773-1857)
  2. The Crown Administration (1858-1947)

The following are the important Acts, regulations, and developments which eventually led to the development of the present-day Indian polity.

The Company Administration

Regulating Act of 1773

  • The post of 'GOVERNOR' was now made 'GOVERNOR-GENERAL'.
  • Bengal was the first province to have Warren Hastings as the first Governor-General. He was assisted by an executive council of four members.
  • Governors of Bombay and Madras were subordinates to the Governor-General of Bengal.
  • The Supreme Court at Calcutta was established with one chief justice and three other judges.
  • Sir Elijah Impey was the 1st Chief Justice of British India.

Pitt’s India Act of 1784

  • Created another body- ‘BOARD OF CONTROL’ to manage political affairs in India. COURT OF DIRECTORS kept on managing commercial affairs though.
  • Thus, companies’ possessions were for the first time called ‘British possessions in India’ and the commercial wing was headed by the court of directors and the political wing headed by the board of control.
  • The Act was introduced by the then British Prime Minister William Pitt.
  • Governor General's council was reduced to a strength of 3 members.
  • Governor's council was established in Madras & Bombay.

Charter Act of 1813

  • Ended the monopoly of the trading rights of British East India Company and allowed other companies to participate in trading activities with India.

Charter Act of 1833

  • Created the post of ‘GOVERNOR GENERAL OF INDIA’ in place of Governor-General of Bengal.
  • The presidencies of Madras and Bombay were taken away with their respective legislative powers and were made subordinate to the Presidency of Calcutta.
  • William Bentick was the first Governor-General of India.
  • This act completely ended the commercial activities of the company.
  • The company existed but it became a purely administrative and political organization.

Charter Act of 1853

  • Established a separate Governor General’s Legislative council.
  • 6 Members in Legislative Council. Out of these 6 members, four were to be appointed from govt of Madras, Bengal, Bombay & Agra.
  • The introduced and open system of competition for Indians into Civil Services. Macaulay committee was formed (1854) for this purpose. Satyendra Nath Tagore became the first Indian to qualify that service in 1863.
  • Father of Civil Services in India – Lord Charles Cornwallis because of his efforts to modernize civil services in India.

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The Crown Administration

Government of India Act of 1858

  • The Crown administration replaced the administration of the Company.
  • It is also known as the Act for Good Government of India.
  • It abolished control & court of directors.
  • Abolished the British East India Company. Abolished the Mughal administration as well.
  • Abolished the Governor General’s post and created a new post Viceroy.
  • Lord Canning became the first Viceroy of India.
  • It also created a new office – Secretary-of-State for India and a 15-member council to assist him. He was a member of the British parliament.

Indian Councils Act 1861

  • Expanded the viceroy’s executive council. Made provisions for him to nominate some Indians as non-official members.
  • Lord Canning nominated the Raja of Benaras, the Maharaja of Patiala and Sir Dinkar Rao.
  • New Legislative councils for Bengal (1862), North Western Frontier Province (1866) and Punjab (1897) were established.

Indian Councils Act 1892

  • The power of discussing the budget was given to the legislative council in India.
  • Expanded the councils and some members could be nominated to both Central as well as Provincial Legislative Councils.

Indian Councils Act 1909

  • It is also known as Morley-Minto Reforms.
  • The number of members in the Central Legislative council was increased from 16 to 60.
  • Satyendra Prasad Sinha became the first Indian to be nominated as a law member to the Viceroy’s Executive Council.
  • The communal electorate was introduced. Muslims were given separate representation to elect their representatives. Hence, Minto is also referred to as ‘Father of Communal Electorate’.

Government of India Act 1919

  • It is also called as Montague-Chelmsford reforms and it came into effect in 1921.
  • Central and provincial subjects or lists were introduced where they could frame laws in their respective lists.
  • Provincial subjects were further divided into transferred and reserved. Thus, this act introduced diarchy.
  • Introduced Bicameralism and direct elections. 
  • Introduced 140-member Legislative Assembly and 60-member Legislative Council.
  • Public Service Commission was established.

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Government of India Act 1935

  • The act divided the power between centre & units into 3 items - Federal, Provincial & the Concurrent List.
  • Provided for the establishment of an All-India Federation with provinces and princely states as units. The Federation never came into being as princely states did not join it.
  • Abolished diarchy in the provinces and introduced ‘provincial autonomy’ in its place. But in the centre, it introduced diarchy; however, that never came into being.
  • Introduced bicameralism in 6 out of 11 provinces - Assam, Bengal, Bombay, Bihar, Madras & the United Provinces.
  • Established RBI and a federal court at the centre.

Indian Independence Act 1947

  • Partition Plan or the Mountbatten Plan (3rd June 1947) was to give effect to partition of the country and Atlee’s declaration (20th February 1947) to provide independence to the Nation.
  • Created two independent dominions of India and Pakistan, ended British rule and authorised the two independent Nations’ constituent assemblies to frame their respective constitutions.
  • The Indian independence bill got royal assent on 18th July 1947.

Other Important Facts:

  • Rail Budget was separated from the General Budget in 1921.
  • Laws created before the Charter act was called 'Regulations'. It was later termed as 'Acts'.
  • Lord Rippon was known as 'Father of Local Self-government in India'.

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