(In this chapter let us know what exactly happened during the British rule that prompted and provoked Indian’s to think of a separate Constitution for India).

ü  The British came to India in 1600 AD as traders in the form of East India Company.

ü  East India Company was also known as East India Trading Company or English East India Company.

ü  The East India Company was founded in the year 1600 for persuading the trade with East Indies (South Asia and South East Asia).

ü  But the East India Company traded mainly in the Indian subcontinent and China.

ü  The East India Company has exclusive rights to trade in India.

ü  In the year 1765 the East India Company obtained “Diwani” (Rights over revenue and civil justice) of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

ü  In the year 1858 after the Sepoy mutiny, British crown assumed direct responsibility for the governance of India.

ü  This rule continued up to August 15, 1947. (India got independence).

*      The above few lines are the very brief description.

*      Now let us try to understand more.

*      We will be learning what happened between 1600 and 1947.

THE COMPANY RULE (1773-1858):



ü  This was the first step taken by British Government to control and regulate the affairs of East India Company in India.

ü  The political and administrative functions of the company were recognized for the first time.

ü  It laid the foundation of central administration in India.


ü  The Governor of Bengal was designated as the Governor-General of Bengal and the Executive council of the 4 members was created to assist the Governor-General.

ü  The first Governor-General of Bengal was Lord Warren Hastings.

ü  The 1773 act made the Governors of Bombay and Madras presidencies subordinate to the Governor-General of Bengal.
ü  The act provided for the establishment of Supreme Court at Calcutta in the year 1774.

ü  The Supreme Court comprised of a Chief Justice and 3 other judges.

ü  This act prohibited the servants of the company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presentations (gifts) or bribes from the natives (local people).

ü  The 1773 act strengthened the control of British government over the company by requiring the court the Directors to report on its revenue, civil and military affairs in India.

ü  The 1781 act of Settlement – passed by the British parliament to rectify the defects of 1773 Act.


ü  The Pitts India act distinguished between commercial and political functions of the company.

ü  The Court of Directors entrusted with the responsibility to manage commercial affairs of the company.

ü  The Board of control was entrusted with the responsibility of political affairs.

ü  Thus the Pitts India act established the dual (double) government.

ü  The company territories in India were for the first time called British possessions in India.


ü  This is the final step towards centralization of power in India.

·         What is centralization?

·         This is the concentration of power in single authority.

ü  The Governor-General of Bengal was made the Governor-General of India.

ü  The first Governor-General of India was Lord William Bentinck.

ü  The laws that were made prior to 1833 were called regulation.

ü  The laws that were made under 1833 charter were called Acts.

ü  The East India Company purely became the administrative body.

ü  Commercial body …….> Administrative body.

ü  This act provided for the company’s territories in India were held by it in trust for His Majesty, his heirs and successors.

ü  The superintendence, direction and control of whole civil and military government of all the British territories and revenues in India was expressly vested in ‘The Governor General of India in Council”.

ü  For the first time the Governor-General’s government was known as the Government of India.

ü  The council was known as ‘Indian Council”.

ü  The council was enlarged for legislative work by the addition of a Law member in addition to the existing three.

ü  This act attempted to introduce a system of open competition for selection of civil servants. (This is an attempt only; open competition system was introduced later).

ü  Indians were not debarred from holding any place, office and employment under the company, but negated because of the opposition from the court of directors.


ü  This was the last charter act passed by the British Parliament between 1793 and 1853.

ü  This act created the Legislative council.

ü  The legislative council functioned as a mini Parliament.

ü  The Charter Act of 1853 introduced Open competition system of selection and recruitment of civil servants.

ü  This was also open to Indians. (Indians were permitted to take part in the competitive examination).

ü  Accordingly Macaulay Committee (Committee on the Indian civil services) was appointed in the year 1854.

ü  Satyendra Nath Tagore was the first Indian to join the civil services.

THE CROWN RULE (1858 – 1947)


This came into being after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

·         Regarding the Sepoy Mutiny we learn more during Indian History discussion.

ü  This act is also known as the Act for good government in India.

ü  This is the first statute enacted by the Parliament for the governance of India under the direct rule of the British government.

ü  The GOI Act abolished the East India Company.

ü  The British crown assumed sovereignty over India from the East India Company.

ü  The designation of Governor-General of India was changed to the Viceroy of India.

ü  The last Governor-General of India was Lord Canning.

ü  The first Viceroy of India was Lord Canning.

ü  The GOI act abolished the Board of Control and Court of Directors.

ü  A new position called Secretary of State for India was created and the powers of the crown were exercised by the Secretary of State for India.

ü  The Secretary of state for India is a member of Cabinet and is responsible to the British Parliament.

ü  The Secretary of state for India was assisted by a council called ‘Council of India’ that contained 15 members.

ü  The Council of India was composed of exclusively of people from England.

ü  The secretary of state of India who was responsible to the British Parliament governed India through the Governor-General, assisted by an executive council which consisted of higher officials of the government.

ü  The administration of the country was unitary and rigidly centralized through 1858 Act.

ü  The provincial governments though existing headed by a Governor were mere the agents of the Government of India and functioned under the direct control of the Governor-General.

ü  There was no separation of functions. The legislative, executive, civil and military authority was vested in Governor-General in council of India who was responsible to the secretary of state for India.

ü  The control of the secretary of state of India over the Indian administration was absolute (complete, total).

ü  The machinery of the administration was totally unconcerned about the public opinion.


ü  This act introduced a grain of popular element by including some non-official members in the executive council while transacting legislative business like legislative council.

ü  The Viceroy of India would nominate Indians to the legislative council.

ü  The functions of nominated members were confined exclusively to the consideration of the legislative proposals placed before it by the Governor-General (Viceroy).

ü  Even in the provinces for initiating legislations the prior sanction of the Governor-General (Viceroy) was necessary.

ü  In the year 1862 Lord Canning (first Viceroy of India) nominated Raja of Benaras, the Maharaja of Patiala and Sir Dinakar Rao to the legislative council.

ü  This act restored the powers of Bombay and Bengal presidencies.

ü  The Legislative Council for Bengal was created in the year 1862.

ü  The Legislative council for NWFP (North West Frontier Province) was created in the year 1866.

ü  NWFP is in present day Pakistan and the name is changed to “Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa”.

ü  The Legislative Council for Punjab was created in the year 1897.

ü  This act gave recognition to the portfolio system. (Portfolio system means placing each member in charge of a specific department).

ü  Lord canning introduced Portfolio system in the year 1859.

ü  This act also empowered the Viceroy to issue ordinances.

ü  What is Ordinance? We learn during the discussion of the President of India.


ü  This act gave the legislative councils the power of discussing the budget and addressing questions to the executive.

ü  This act also provided for the nomination of some non-official members to the legislative councils by the Viceroy.

Indian Councils ACT of 1909 (MORLEY – MINTO REFORMS):

ü  Minto was the then Viceroy.

ü  Morley was the then Secretary of State.

ü  This act increased the size of legislative councils by including elected non-official members.

ü  An element of election was introduced at the central legislative council but the official majority was maintained.

ü  The members of the legislative council were allowed to ask supplementary questions.

ü  The members were allowed to move the resolutions on budget or on any matter of public interest except subjects like armed forces, Foreign affairs and Indian states.

ü  This act provided the association of Indians with executive council of the viceroy and the Governor.

ü  The first Indian to join the Viceroys Executive council was Satyendra Prasad Sinha.

ü  The 1909 act introduced a system of communal representation for Muslims by accepting the concept of ‘Separate Electorate’.

ü  Under the ‘Separate Electorate’ the Muslim members were to be elected only by Muslim voters.

ü  For the 1st time the seeds of separatism were sown.
ü  The 1909 act legalized communalism.

ü  Minto was regarded as the “Father of Communal Electorate”.

ü  The Minto-Morley reforms did not aim at establishing a parliamentary system of the government.

ü  The final decision on all matters was retained in the hands of the irresponsible executive.


ü  This act came into picture when the Indian National Congress became very active during the 1st World war and launched the ‘Home Rule’ movement.

ü  This is also called Montague – Chelmsford reforms.

ü  Chelmsford was the then Viceroy.

ü  Montague was the then Secretary of state.

ü  On August 20, 1917 the British Government made a declaration that the policy of His Majesty’s Government is that of increasing association of Indians in every branch of administration and the gradual development of self-governing of institutions with a view to progressive realization of responsible government in British India as an integral part of the British empire.

ü  Montagu-Chelmsford were entrusted with the responsibility of formulating proposals for the said policy and the GOI Act, 1919 gave a formal shape to the same.

ü  The report of Montague-Chelmsford led to the enactment of GOI of 1919.

ü  The GOI Act 1919 introduced diarchy or dual government.

ü  The diarchy was introduced at the provinces and not at the centre.

ü  This act demarcated the central and provincial subjects.

ü  The provincial subjects were further divided into transferred subjects and reserved subjects.

ü  Transferred subjects are those subjects that are administered by the Governor with the aid of ministers and responsible to the Legislative Council in which the proportion of elected members was raised to 70 percent.

ü  Hence, the foundation of responsible government was introduced in the narrow sphere in the form of transferred subjects.

ü  The reserved subjects on the other hand were to be administered by the Governor and his executive council without any responsibility to the Legislature.

ü  The source of revenue was also divided into 2 categories, so that the provinces could run the administration with the aid of revenue raised by the provinces by themselves.

ü  Provincial budget was separated from the Central budget.

ü  The control of the Governor-General over provinces was retained by empowering the Governor to reserve the bill for the consideration of the Governor-General.

ü  Through the GOI Act of 1919 bicameralism (two houses i.e. Upper and Lower House) was introduced at the centre.

ü  The Upper House was called Council of state composed of 60 members of whom 34 were elected.

ü  The lower House was called Legislative Assembly composed of 144 members of whom 104 were elected.

ü  The powers of both the Upper and Lower Houses were equal except that the power to vote supply (budget) was given only to the Lower House.

ü  The concept of elections was introduced.

ü  The Indian Legislative council consists of the Upper House (Council of State) and the Lower house (Legislative Assembly).

ü  The majority of the members from both the houses are elected directly.

ü  The act of 1919 extended communal representation for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Europeans and Anglo-Indians. (Remember the 1909 act introduced communal representation only for Muslims and not for all communities). (These are the questions that are asked in the examination, read carefully).

ü  This act provided for the establishment of Public Service Commission.

ü  Accordingly the Public Service Commission was set up for recruiting Civil Servants.

ü  The act of 1919 also provided for the separation of provincial budget from the central Budget. (Province means a smaller area, just like a present day state. Today we have 2 budgets in the country, central and state budgets, this started with the 1919 Act and even after the commencement of the Constitution we continued with the same).

ü  The 1919 reforms failed to fulfill the aspirations of the people in India and this led to “Swaraj” or “Self-government” agitation under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.  

ü  In the year 1927 a statutory commission was appointed under the chairmanship of Simon to inquire into and report on the working of the 1919 Act.


ü  The Simon Commission was appointed by the British Government in November 1927.

ü  This was a 7 member Commission.

ü  The Chairman of the Commission was Sir John Simon.

ü  The purpose of the commission was to report on the condition of India under the new constitution (GOI 1919).

ü  All the members of the committee were British.

ü  Hence all the parties boycotted the Commission.

ü  The Simon Commission submitted the report in the year 1930.

ü  The Simon Commission recommended for the abolition of diarchy.

ü  This commission also recommended for the continuation of communal electorate.

ü  The British government convened three round table conferences to consider the proposals of Simon Commission.

ü  The conferences to be attended by the representatives of British Government, British India and Indian princely states. (Regarding the round table conferences we learn more during the study of National Movement).

ü  The three rounds table conferences held between 1930 and 1932.

ü  Mahatma Gandhi attended the second round table conference only.

ü  On the basis of these discussions a white paper on constitutional reforms was prepared and the same was submitted to the Parliament.

ü  The recommendations were incorporated in the GOI Act of 1935.


ü  On August 4, 1932 the communal award was announced by Ramsay MacDonald (The then British Prime Minister).

ü  This is meant for providing extending separate electorate to Scheduled Castes.

ü  In fact the concept of separate electorate for depresses classes was raised by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar.

ü  The proposal was accepted by the British and announced the Communal award.

ü  Gandhi opposed this on the grounds that this proposal would disintegrate the Hindu society.

ü  Mahatma Gandhi began indefinite hunger strike in Yeravada jail (Pune, Maharashtra) against the separate electorate for Scheduled Castes.


ü  As Mahatma Gandhi went on to hunger strike Dr Ambedkar was under tremendous pressure to save the life Gandhi.

ü  Hence Dr. Ambedkar accepted for an agreement.

ü  This is an agreement between the Dalits (Then called depressed classes) of India led by Dr. B.R.Amdedkar and the upper caste Hindus of India.

ü  This took place on September 24, 1932 at Yeravada jail.

ü  Under Poona pact of 1932 there shall be seats reserved for the depressed classes out of general electoral seats in the provincial legislature.


ü  The GOI Act 1935 prescribed a Federation.

ü  The GOI act 1935 divided the powers into

*      Federal List (59)
*      Provincial List (54)
*      Concurrent List (36)

ü  The residuary powers were vested with the Viceroy.

ü  The GOI act of 1935 abolished the diarchy in provinces.

ü  The GOI act of 1935 provided the diarchy at the centre. (This did not come into operation).

ü  The responsible government was introduced in provinces. The Executive authority of the province was also exercised by the Governor on behalf of the crown and not as a subordinate of the Governor-General.

ü  The GOI act of 1935 introduced bicameralism (2 house, Upper and lower) in 6 out of 11 provinces. This was Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.

ü  In the rest of the provinces the legislature was unicameral.

ü  This act extended separate electorate for depressed classes (SC’s), Women and labor.

ü  This act extended the franchise (Right to vote).  With this 10% of the population got the voting right.

ü  The GOI 1935 granted limited franchise on the basis of tax, property and education.

ü  The GOI act of 1935 provided for the establishment of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the year 1935.

ü  Establishment of RBI was recommended by Hilton-Young Commission in the year 1926.

ü  The RBI in the year 1935 was set up at Calcutta (Kolkata).

ü  In the year 1937 RBI was shifted to Bombay (Mumbai).

ü  The GOI act of 1935 provided for the establishment of Provincial and Joint Public Service Commission.

ü  The GOI act also provided for the establishment of Federal Court.

ü  The Federal Court was set up in the year 1937 in Delhi.

ü  The seat of the Federal court was the Chamber of Princes in the Parliament building in Delhi.

ü  The first Chief Justice of the Federal Court was Maurice Gwyer.

ü  (Note: The present Supreme Court was established on January 28, 1950).


ü  On February 20, 1947 the Prime Minister of England Sir Clement Atlee declared that the British rule in India would end by June 30, 1948.

ü  The Muslim League demanded for the partition.

ü  On June 3, 1947 the government announced that the constitution is not applicable to unwilling parts of the nation.

ü  Lord Mount Batten (then Viceroy) put forth the partition plan on the same day. It is called Mountbatten plan. (This is also called June 3 plan).

ü  This plan was accepted by both congress and Muslim league.

ü  The Indian Independence Act of 1947 ended the British rule and declared India as an independent and sovereign state from August 15, 1947.

ü  This act provided for the partition of the country into India and Pakistan.

ü  The office of Viceroy was abolished and provided for the Governor-General for each dominion (India and Pakistan) appointed by the king.

ü  This act also empowered the constituent assemblies to frame and adopt any constitution.

ü  The Central legislature of India composed of the legislative assembly and the council of states ceased to exist on August 14, 1947.

ü  The Indian Independence Act granted freedom to the princely states either to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent.

ü  The civil servants were allowed to entitle all the benefits.

ü  Lord Mountbatten became the first Governor-General of independent India.

ü  Jawaharlal Nehru was sworn in as the first Prime Minister of India by Lord Mount Batten.

ü  Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the first Governor-General of Pakistan.