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UPSC (M) Paper iii (GS-II)– Indian Constitution : Historical underpinnings and Evolution

Historical Background

I. 1600: The British found India as traders.

II. 1765: Following the British defeated the Mughal emperor Shah Alam at Battle of Buxar in 1764, he granted Diwani rights – rights over revenue and civil justice of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

III. 1858: Direct responsibility i.e Crown Rule.

IV. 1947: Fall of crown.

V. With Independence came the necessity of a Constitution. MN Roy suggested for any constituent Assembly in 1934.

VI. This historical background could be studied under two broad heads : The organization Rule (1773 – 1858) and The Crown Rule (1858 – 1947).

UPSC (M) Paper iii (GS-II)-- Indian Constitution : Historical underpinnings and Evolution

UPSC (M) Paper iii (GS-II)– Indian Constitution : Historical underpinnings and Evolution

The organization Rule (1773 – 1858):

The company rule may be the rule of East India Company which involved few acts that are as follows:

a) Regulating Act of 1773 : a landmark act in Indian History that has constitutional importance as it laid the principles of central administration in India, immediate access of the East India Company in India also it recognized the political and administrative functions from the Company. The features of the act are:

  • It designated the Governor of Bengal because the Governor – General of Bengal and created a professional Council of four members to help him. The first such Governor – General was Lord Warren Hastings.
  • Governors of Bombay and Madras were created subordinate to governor- general of Bengal.
  • Establishment of Top court at Calcutta in 1774 comprising one chief justice and three other judges.
  • Court of Directors were inspired to report on its revenue, civil and military affairs in India.

b) Pitt’s India Act of 1784: To be able to rectify defects from the above act, the then pm of England William Pitt introduced this act in 1784. This act gained importance because the very first time, the company’s territories were known as the British possessions and also the British Government was handed supreme control over company’s affairs and it is administration in India. Onpar gps are:

  • Distinguished between the commercial and political affairs from the company.
  • Evolution of double government.
  • Introduction of Board of Control for political affairs from the company while court of directors was at charge of commercial affairs.
  • Empowering the board of control to supervise and direct all operations of civil and military revenues from the British possessions.

c) Charter Acts of 1833 and 1853: These acts were the closing steps towards centralization in British India. Their features are:

  • Governor General of Bengal is made the Governor General of India and vested in him all civil and military powers. Lord William Bentick was the very first governor general of India.
  • It deprived the governor of Bombay and Madras of the legislative powers. The governor general asia was given exclusive legislative powers for the whole British India.
  • Introduction of Indian legislative council which found known as mini parliament.
  • The laws made underneath the previous acts were known as regulations and laws made under this act were known as Acts.
  • It ended those activities of the east India Company like a commercial body, which was a purely administrative body.
  • An effort was made to introduce open competition for civil servants that was initially rejected by court of directors but later repealed.
  • Indians were also given an opportunity to be part of Indian legislative Council.

The Crown Rule (1858 -1947) :

The crown rule may be the direct ruling of the British crown and involved few acts that are as follows:

a) Government asia Acts of 1858, 1919 and 1935 : There were three significant acts which were introduced viz. 1858, 1919 and 1935.

1858 Act : was enacted within the wake of Revolt of 1857 sepoy mutiny and seemed to be known as “Act for the Good Government of India”. This act abolished East India Company and transferred powers towards the British crown. Its features are:

  • Designation of governor general asia was changed as Viceroy asia who was the direct associated with the British crown in India. Lord Canning was the very first Viceroy of India.
  • Abolition of double government.
  • It introduced a brand new office, Secretary of State for complete authority and treatments for Indian administration. The secretary of state would be a member of the British cabinet and was responsible towards the British parliament. He was assisted with a 15 member council in India.

1919 Act (also referred to as Montagu – Chelmsford Reforms as Montague was secretary of state and Chelmsford was the Viceroy asia at that time) :

On August 20, 1917 the British Government declared the very first time that its objective was the gradual introduction of responsible government in India. The federal government of India Act of 1919 was thus enacted which arrived to force in 1921. Its features are:

  • Relaxation of central treatments for the provinces by demarcating and separating the central and provincial subjects.
  • It further divided the provincial subjects into two parts – transferred (That have been administered by governor by the help of ministers who are responsible to legislative council) and reserved (that have been to be administered by the governor and the executive council without being responsible towards the legislative council).
  • Introduction of diarchy, Bicameralism, direct elections and establishment of central public service commission in 1926.
  • Franchise was granted to some limited people on foundation of property, tax and education.
  • Separation of central budget from provisional budget.
  • Appointment of statutory commission.

1935 Act : It is really a lengthy and detailed document having 321 sections and 10 schedules. The majority of the today’s constitution has drawn onpar gps from this. Its features are:

  • It deliver to the establishment of All India Federation. The previous names transferred and reserved subjects are changed as federal and provincial lists and concurrent list is definitely an addendum.
  • Abolition of Diarchy and introduced provincial autonomy.
  • Abolition of Council asia.
  • Establishment of RBI, federal court, Provincial PSUs and Joint PSUs.
  • Extension of bicameralism, communal representation and franchise.

Before 1919 and 1935 Government asia acts, there were Indian council acts of 1861, 1892 and 1909 that have been enacted to seek cooperation asia in Indian administration after sepoy mutiny.

b) Indian Councils Acts of 1861, 1892 and 1909 :

1861 Act: an essential landmark in the constitutional and political good reputation for India. Its features are:

  • Indians were involved with law-making process. For this purpose, viceroy nominated the Raja of Benaras, the Maharaja of Patiala and Sir Dinkar Rao.
  • Decentralization of legislative powers.
  • Establishment of recent legislative councils in Bengal, NWFP and Punjab in 1862, 1866 and 1897 respectively.
  • Introduction of portfolio system.
  • It empowered the Viceroy to issue ordinances with no concurrence of the legislative council throughout an emergency. The life of such an ordinance was 6 months.

1892 Act: this act designed a limited and indirect provision for that use of election in filling some of the non official seats in central and provisional legislative councils. It increased the amount of additional non official members within the central and provincial legislative councils.

  • Power discussing budget to legislative councils.
  • It deliver to the nomination of some non official people in the central legislative council through the viceroy on the recommendation of the provincial legislative councils which of the provincial legislative councils through the governors on the recommendations of the district boards, municipalities, universities, trade associations, zamindars and chambers.

1909 Act: (also referred to as Morley – Minto Reforms as Morley was the then secretary of state for India and Minto was the then viceroy asia) Its features are:

  • Increase in quantity of members in legislative councils.
  • People in legislative councils were made to inquire about questions and resolutions on budget.
  • It provided a provision for Indians to participate executive councils. Satyendra Prasad Sinha became first Indian to become listed on the Viceroy’s executive Council. He was appointed legally member.
  • Introduction of communal representation. Minto is called father of communal electorate. With this Indian council acts came to a close.

c) Indian Independence Act of 1947 : Last month 20, 1947, the then British pm Clement Atlee declared that the British rule in India would end by June 30, 1948. Onpar gps are:

  • End of the British rule.
  • Partition asia and Pakistan.
  • Abolition of Viceroy and appointed a governor general for India and Pakistan.
  • Empowering of Constitution for the nations.

In addition to above there aren’t many more provisions but happen to be an extension of earlier mentioned laws/acts.


I. The thought of a Constituent Assembly for India was submit for the first time by MN Roy in 1934.

II. The interest in Constituent Assembly was accepted by British Government with what is known as ‘August Offer’ of 1940.

III. In 1942, Sir Stanford Cripps, part of the cabinet came to India having a draft proposal, which was rejected by Muslim League which wanted India to become divided into two Constituent Assemblies.

IV. A Cabinet Mission was delivered to India which rejected the thought of two Constituent Assemblies and much more or less satisfied the Muslim League.

V. The Constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946 underneath the scheme formulated by Cabinet Mission Plan.

VI. The Constituent Assembly would be a partly elected and partly nominated body.

VII. The members may be elected indirectly by the people in the provincial assemblies who themselves were elected on the limited franchise which was according to tax, property and education.

VIII. The Constituent Assembly included all personalities asia at that time with the exception of Gandhi and Jinnah.

IX. The Constituent Assembly held its first meeting on December 9, 1946 that was boycotted by the Muslim League and insisted inside a separate state of Pakistan.

  • Dr. Sachchidanand Sinha – Temporary President of Assembly
  • Dr. Rajendar Prasad – President of Constituent Assembly
  • HC Mukherjee – V . p . of Constituent Assembly
  • BN Rau – Constitutional Advisor towards the Assembly

Objectives Resolutions: JL Nehru moved the historic ‘Objectives Resolutions’ within the Assembly which laid on the fundamentals and philosophy from the constitutional structure.

  • The Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India being an Independent Sovereign Republic.
  • The territories of British India, states asia, other territories outside India which are willing to join Independent Sovereign India, will be a Union of them. (Union of states : Article 1, that was inserted into Constitution by 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956)
  • This territories with their present boundaries or such others are determined by the Constituent Assembly and based on law of Constitution, they shall get autonomous status as well as shall have all residuary powers vested together to have safe government and administration except powers or functions vested using the Union.
  • All the power and also the authority of Independent Sovereign India, its constituent parts and organs of presidency shall be derieved from people. (Advocating Democracy)
  • People asia shall be guaranteed justice and secured social, economic and political equality of status of opportunity, before law, freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association, action and public morality. (Fundamental Rights)
  • Adequate safeguards will be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas and depressed along with other backward classes. (Part X, Part XVI)
  • Shall maintain integrity of the united states and its sovereign rights on land, sea and air based on civilized nations of the world.
  • India is definitely an ancient heritage and honored devote the world makes its full and willing contribution towards the promotion of world peace and also the welfare of mankind.

The alteration of the above ‘Objectives Resolutions’ forms the Preamble of Present Constitution. (Preamble was inserted into Constitution through 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976)

X. For Mountbatten Plan of partition of the nation in 1947, the Muslim League also joined the sessions from the Constituent Assembly.

XI. After introduction of Mountbatten plan, 3 major changes were created in Indian Independence Act of 1947, they’re:

  • The Assembly was made a completely sovereign body which could frame any Constitution of their wish and also has right to alter any law produced by the British in relation to India.
  • The Assembly also was a legislative body. In other words, two separate functions were allotted to the Assembly i.e making of Constitution free of charge India and enacting ordinary laws for that nation. Thus, the Assembly had become the first Parliament of free India. The assembly was chaired by Dr. Rajendra Prasad when met as Constituent body and was chaired by GV Mavlankar, when met as legislative body.
  • The Muslim League members who hail from Pakistan withdrew in the Constitution Assembly.

XII. The Constituent Assembly adopts national flag on July 22, 1947, adopts national anthem and national song on January 24, 1950.

XIII. The Constituent Assembly had 11 sessions over 2 yrs, 11 months and 18 days. The Constitution makers choose to go through the constitutions of about 60 countries and also the Draft Constitution was considered for 114 days. The entire expenditure incurred for making the Constitution amounted to 64 lakh.

  • November 26, 1949 – The Constitution was enacted
  • January 26, 1950 – The Constitution was commenced.

XIV. During the time of enactment, the Constitution had 395 articles and eight schedules.

XV. BR Ambedkar – Father from the Constitution of India and Modern Manu.

XVI. January 26 was specifically chosen because the ‘date of commencement’ of the Constitution due to its historical importance. It was about this day in 1930 that Purna Swaraj day was celebrated, following a resolution of the Lahore Session (1929) from the INC.

XVII. With the commencement from the Constitution, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and also the Government of India Act 1935 were repealed and also the abolition of Privy Council Jurisdiction Act of 1949 was continued.

XVIII. The very first elected Parliament with two houses came to exist in May 1952.


  • Not really a Representative Body – people in the Constituent Assembly weren’t directly elected by people according to universal adult franchise.
  • Not really a Sovereign Body – it was developed by proposals of the British Government plus they had sessions with the permission from the British Government.
  • Time Consuming
  • Covered with Congress – Granville Austin, an english Constitutional expert, remarked: ‘The Constituent Assembly would be a one-party body in an essentially one-party country. The Assembly was the congress and also the Congress was India.
  • Lawyer – Politician Domination
  • Covered with Hindus

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