Historical Underpinnings and Evolution of the Indian constitution

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Here is a short revision notes on the important historical underpinnings and evolution of the India Constitution which is very important for UPSC as well as State PCS exams. 

Regulating act, 1773

- First step taken by the British Parliament to control and regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India.
- Prohibited company civil servants from engaging in private trade or accepting gifts.

Charter act of 1833

- For the first time called the Governor General’s government as the Government of India.
- Final step towards centralization in British India and ended the activities of the East India Company as a commercial body and it became a purely administrative body

Charter Act of 1853

- Introduced open competition for selection and recruitment of civil servants.
- This was also open to Indians.

Indian councils act, 1861

- Introduced for the first time Indian representation in the institutions like Viceroy’s executive plus legislative council (non-official).
- 3 Indians entered the Legislative council.
- It also empowered the Viceroy to issue ordinances and also gave recognition to the portfolio system.

Indian councils act, 1892

- Gave the legislative councils the power of discussing the budget and addressing questions to the Executive

Indian Councils act of 1909 (Morley- Minto Reforms.)

- Element of election was introduced for the first time
- Introduced a system of communal representation for Muslims by accepting the concept of separate electorate.
- Indians for the first time in Viceroys executive council (Satyendra Prasanna Sinha, as the law member)

Poona pact of 1932

- Seats reserved for the depressed classes out of general electoral seats in the provincial legislature

Government of India Act of 1919 (Montague-Chelmsford Reforms)

- Demarcated and separated the central and provincial subjects.
- Provincial budget was separated from the Central budget.
- The scheme of dual governance, ‘Dyarchy’, was introduced in the Provincial subjects
- Bicameralism was introduced at the centre.
- The concept of direct elections was introduced
- Provided for the establishment of Public Service
- Commission (PSC). Accordingly the Public Service
- Commission was set up for recruiting civil servants.

Government of India Act of 1935

- Prescribed a federation and established a responsible Government at the centre.
- The Act divided the powers between the Centre and the units into items of three lists, namely the Federal List, the Provincial List and the Concurrent List.
- Introduced bicameralism in 6 out of 11 Provinces- Assam, Bengal, Bombay, Bihar, Madras and the United Province.

Indian Independence Act of 1947

- Declared India as an Independent and Sovereign State.
- Established responsible Governments at both the
- Centre and the Provinces.

Some related questions (answers at the end)

1.  The distribution of powers between the States and the Centre (Federal form of Government) in the Indian Constitution is based on the schemes provided in the:


A.    Morley- Minto Reforms, 1909 
B.    Montague –Chelmsford Reforms, 1919 
C.    Government of India Act, 1935

D.    Indian Independence Act, 1947

2. Which of the following statement is ‘not’ true regarding Assam Legislative Assembly?

A.    It was set up under the Government of India Act 1935
B.    It was initially a Bicameral legislature
C.    It came into existence in 1939
D.    The present strength of Assam Legislative Assembly is 126


3. Consider the following statements:

1. Under the Government of India Act, 1919, the Indian Legislature was made more representative and for the first time bicameral.
2. The Government of India Act, 1935, prescribed a federation taking the Provinces and the Indian States as units.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?


A      Only l                          
B      Only 2
C      Both 1 and 2                
D      Neither 1 nor 2



4. Partially responsible governments in the provinces were established under which one of the following Acts?

A      The Government of India Act, 1919     
B      The Government of India Act, 1935
C      Indian Councils Act, 1909              
D      Indian Councils Act, 1892



1. C
2. C
3. C
4. A