The Constitutional History of India- 1858- 1950

“We the People of India.” Who knows better than us, the real meaning of independence? We fought the continuous period of 150 years with British Empire, and then we saw the dawn of freedom. The journey of this freedom struggle is the monument of our glorious history. And the “CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY” is one of the important chapters of it. Of course it’s not the thing which took place in month or two. After the long period and with the great efforts of our constitution makers; one fine morning of 26th November 1949, “We Adopt, Enact and Gave to ourselves this Constitution.

” So, it’s quite obvious that, the history of Indian Freedom Struggle and the history of Indian Constitution can not be studied in isolation. These two things are linked together internally. Hence we can’t separate them. But yes, it’s also true that, history of Indian Constitution has its own importance. As it tells us, how the legacy of British-India passed to the present “Union Of India” We can classify the Historical Development of Constitution into following segments:- I.

1600 to 1958

II. 1958 to 1909
III. 1909 to 1919
IV. 1919 to 1935
V. 1935 to 1950
So, Historical development can be studied from the arrival of British Empire.

1) ADVENT OF BRITISH (1600-1765)
“Attracted by the stories of the fabulous wealth of the India and forfeited by the adventurous maritime activity the Elizabethan era Englishmen were eager to establish commercial; contacts with the East”. THE British came to India for trade. It was 31st of December 1600 that the East India Company formed by some merchants of London secured from Queen Elizabeth the royal charter, this charter granted monopoly right to the company to trade in India for continuous period of 15 years.

Top Writers
Dr. Karlyna PhD
Verified expert
4.7 (235)
Bella Hamilton
Verified expert
5 (234)
Verified expert
4.7 (239)
hire verified writer

It laid down constitution, powers and privileges of the company. Each year all the members of the company were to elect one governor and 24 one man committees. The management of the company was entrusted to these 25 men in England. Subsequently this company came to be called Directors and the court of Director was born. The Governor and the company could make laws for ensuring good governance of the company, regulating its business and maintaining discipline among its servants. But the legislative power of the company was limited. The power and privileges of the company were enlarged by each subsequent charter. By the year 1700, the company had established its trading centers and chief settlements at Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. By the charter of 1669, the Island and port of Bombay was entrusted to the company at an annual rental of Sterling pounds 10. Simultaneously, company was given the power to make the laws and issue ordinances for the good government of Bombay and its residents. Thus for the first time company acquired authority to rule over the definite territory and its people. From mere trading company it became the ruler. Whatever territories were being acquired by the company or came under its control, were all for the British Crown with company acting as its representative. * The Charter of 1726

It empowered the Governors-in-Council of the three presidencies of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta to make bye-laws, rules and ordinances in conformity with English laws and subject to approval by the court of directors. Mayor’s court was established due to this act. Taking advantage of weakening central authority and disturbed conditions all over the country all over the country
after the Aurangzeb’s death, the company gradually emerged as the dominant power. The victory of company at Battle of Plassey and Battle of Buxar, laid to the foundation of British rule in India. In 1765, Shah Alam entrusted the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the company which meant that the company acquired full powers of land revenue collection and administration and civil justice. The diarchy which prevailed during 1765-1772 proved disastrous and led to the appointment of the appointment of an inquiry committee by British House of Commons. The committee recommended need for regulating the activities of the company. And the result was Regulating Act of 1773.

* THE COMPANY’s RULE (1773-1858)

The 1773 Act is particularly important in India’s constitutional history as much as it was the beginning of the efforts at British parliamentary control over the company’s administration in India. The Regulating Act 1773 for the first time presented a written charter for company rule in India and acknowledged the political and administrative responsibilities of the company. This Act was the first step in Consolidation of British rule and centralization of administration in India. The Act established a Supreme Court at Calcutta, brought the three independent presidencies under the control of Governor General of Bengal with 4 newly appointed councilors, and brought about fundamental reforms in the composition of the Court of Directors in England.

The 1773 Act suffered with several shortcomings and thus the Amending Act 1781 tried to remedy it. However the next major Act was Pitt’s India Act 1784. Under this Act the East India Company’s Court of Directors were left with the responsibilities in the matter of trade and commerce. While for political matters the British Government appointed a Board of Control of 6 members. This Board was empowered to superintend, direct and control all operations of the civil and military government of the British possessions in India. * Charter Acts of 1793 & 1813

The Charter Act 1793 and 1813 renewed the Company’s Charter each time for further period of 20 years. The 1813 Act, deprived the company of the monopoly of trade in India. While the powers of the three councils of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta were enlarged they were also subjected to greater control of the British parliament. All the regulations made by the three councils were required to be laid before Parliament. * Charter Act 1833

The first faint beginnings of the constitution making during the British rule in India are to be found in the Charter Act of 1833. The superintendence, direction and control of the whole civil and military government of all the British territories and revenues in India were expressly vested in the “Governor-General-of-India-in-Council”. For the first time the Governor-Generals government was known as the “Government of India” and his council as the “Indian Council”. The Act introduced centralization in the legislative spheres as well. The Governor-General-of-India-in-Council was now vested, subject to certain restrictions, with the exclusive power of legislation for the whole of the British territories in India. * Charter Act, 1853

The last of the Charters Acts, the Charter Act 1853 made important changes in the machinery for Indian legislation. Though the Governor Generals council was continued as the one legislative authority competent to enact laws for the whole of the British India, so many alterations were made in its Character and composition that “the system was entirely changed”. The council was enlarged for legislative purposes by the addition of six special members who were expressly debarred from sitting and voting in the council, “except at the meeting thereof for making laws and regulations”. The council now consisted of 12 members including the Governor-General, the Commander in chief, four representatives of the local governments of Madras, Bombay, Calcutta and Agra. The legislative functions of the Council were clearly demarcated from its executive functions and their special nature emphasized by express requirements of Section 23 of the Act that the powers of making laws and regulations, vested in the Governor-General-in-Council, were to be
exercised only “at meetings of the said Council”. 2) The Government Of India Act, 1858

* Transfer of power from East India company to the British Crown. “ The Passing of the Government of India Act, 1858 closed one great period of History and unshered in another rear – the direct rule of Crown” Government of India Act, 1858 declared that henceforth India shall be governed by and in the name of the Queen and vested in the Queen all the territories and powers of the English Company. The first war of Indian Independence in 1857 brought the career of East India Company to an end. In 1858, the Government of India was placed directly under the crown through the Secretary of State for India and all the matters were to be seen by him. With the establishment of the Act the Board of Control and the Court of Directors were abolished and all the powers possessed by them were given to the “Secretary of the State” for India and the India Council. The Secretary of State was given the power to superintend, control and directs the affairs of the Government of India. He was to sit in the Parliament and was to be assisted by a Parliament under Secretary. The Secretary of State was to be a member of the British Cabinet but his salaries and allowances were to be paid out of the revenues of India. The India Council was to consist of 15 members. Seven of them were to be elected by the Court of Directors and the rest of the 8 members were to be appointed by the Crown. More than half the members of the Council were to be those persons who lived in India for 10 years or more and had not left India for more than 10 years at the time of appointment. The numbers were to hold office during good behavior. Each member was to get a remuneration of 12000 pounds annually from the revenues of India. Some of the important provisions of this act of 1858- * The East India Company’s control came to an end as:

* The Board of Directors was abolished.
* The basis of Court of Proprietors came to an end.
* Appointment of Secretary of State
* He will be a member of British Cabinet.
* He will be drawing salaries and emoluments from Indian revenue. * He will be responsible directly to British parliament.
* He will have his own Council consisting of 15 members – 8 nominated by the Crown and 7 would be elected by the outgoing Board of Directors. * All decisions were taken by majority vote by the Secretary of State’s council but Secretary of State for India was given the power to override the decision of the Council as he felt necessary. * The Secretary of State was required to lay before the parliament an account for the financial year containing the statement of the revenues * Expenditure of India and also a statement showing the moral and material progress made by the Indians. * Appointment of the Governor General of India

* He was placed under the Secretary of State as the consent of Secretary of State was important/necessary for implementation. * The internal position of Governor-General remained unchanged. His power of veto remained undiluted. * The Indian Council Act, 1861

It was a significant constitutional development that took place after the revolt of 1857.It provided for expansion of Executive Council and the number of its members was raised from 4 to 5 and its nomenclature was changed to Imperial Legislative Council. Under the provisions, the place of its fifth member was reserved for a law qualified person. Apart from this, the Act authorized the Governor-General to nominate a President who was to preside over the meetings of the Executive Council in his absence. The Governor-General was also given the power to make rules and regulations for the conduct of the business of the Executive Council i.e. he was accorded authority to enact rules deemed fit by him. The Governor-General had the right of increasing the strength of the Council by adding not less than 6 and not more than 12 members. They were to be nominated by him for purposes of legislation. Half of the additional members were to be non-officials and were to hold office for two years. The function of the Council was strictly limited to legislation. The Act foreboded the transactions of any other business. The administrative departments were entrusted to different members, who were answerable to the Viceroy whose advice was sought before taking any decision on the departmental problems. Indian Councils Act of 1861, provided that the Governments of Bombay and Madras be given power of nominating the Advocate-General and not less than 4 and not more than 8
additional members were to hold office for two years. According to the Act, there was no distinction between the Central and Provincial subjects. The Central Government dealt with the subjects like Public Debt, Finance, Post Office, Telegraph, Religion etc.The Act provided for creation of new provinces by the Governor-General. He was also authorized to divide or alter the limits of any presidency, province or territory. Apart from this he was given the power to appoint Lieutenant Governors. The Act provided for issuance of Ordinances by the Governor and it could remain in force for a maximum of 6 months. Although the Indian Council Act of 1861 marked an important step in the constitutional history of India it had no relation with the problems of general public.It greatly helped the Governor-General in enacting legislation and made the Governor-General omnipotent. It brought the whole of India under his control, but the Act had to face opposition from the Indians. Subsequently, an Amendment Bill was presented in the House of Lords, from the advice of Lord Crop, Secretary of State for India and it was passed in 1892 as the Indian Council Act.

* Rise of Nationalism & the birth of Indian National Congress- 1885 The growth of nationalism and political consciousness led to the birth and growth of several political organizations emerged mostly during the latter half of the 19th century. The objects of the Congress, as stated by its president W.C. Banarjee were: (i) To promote personal intimacy of and friendship amongst those people from every part of India who were sincerely devoted to the welfare of India. (ii) To protect and enhance the feeling of unity among all Indians without distinction of Caste, religion and province etc.. (iii) To collect all those opinions concerning society which were properly deliberated on by the educated Indians, (iv) To fix up those aims and means which were to be adopted by Indian politicians for the welfare of India.

The Indian Councils Act 1892 failed to meet the legitimate demands of the Congress. The continuing economic exploitation of the British rulers led the Indian extremists to raise their voice of protest. On the other hand the
moderate leaders emphasized the constitutional and the systematic policy to protest. This created a discontent among the moderates and the extremist leaders after the enactment of the Indian Councils Act of 1892. Therefore there were several socio-economic convulsions prior to the enactments of the Indian Council Act of 1909. * MAIN PROVISIONS-

In spite it had been declared, the educated Indians were not given due share in the Government services. This created a tremendous discontent among the educated natives. The Calcutta Corporation was completely made the house of the Europeans by reducing the total numbers of the Indian member by the infamous acts of 1899. A similar policy was also implemented for the Indian Universities. As a result the autonomy of the Indian Universities was curbed. In the year 1904, the Official Secret Act, greatly extended the scope of the term sedition. But the climax of the exploitation was reached when the infamous act of Partition of Bengal was declared in the years 1905. This act was considered as the attack in the solidified nationalism of the British.

In the meantime another important development had taken place. When the Indian National Congress was growing stronger as the exponent of the demand for national freedom, the Muslim league was completely aloof from the nationalist currents. In such circumstances, the British government introduced its policy of “Divide and rule” in order to strengthen its position in India. The entire socio-political circumstances became opportune for introducing further reforms of Lord Morley. He was appointed as the Secretary of State in the liberal Cabinet. Both Lord Morley and Minto agreed to the facts that certain reforms were necessary for the further political advances. There was correspondence between the viceroy and the Secretary of State on the subject of further reforms. The secretary of State framed his proposals and subsequently a committee of the executive Council was formed. This Committee was entrusted with the charge to study the subject. The Governments of India sent a dispatch in England embodying its proposals. Later Morley sent the proposals of further reforms to the Local government for the purposes of public criticisms. In the lights of public criticisms, the bill was drafted. After the approval of the Cabinet, passed by the Parliament in February 1909, and become Indian Councils Act of 1909. The Indian Councils Acts of 1909, also known as the Morley Minto reforms in the years of 1909, by its provision, enlarged the size and their functions of the legislatures both at the center and Provinces . By the Act of 1909 or the Morley Minto reforms, the functions of the legislative councils, both at the Center and the Provinces were enlarged, considerably. The Act had given the members right of discussion and asking supplementary questions. The member in charge was authorized to demands time, if he could not furnish information asked for on the spot. The Morley Minto reforms laid down detailed rules on the subjects of budgets in the Central Legislature. Members, though not were entitled with the powers of voting , yet they could move resolutions concerning additional grants and to the Local governments, any alteration in the taxation, son a new loans, which might have been proposed in the financial statement or the explanatory memorandum.

Rules were laid down concerning discussion matters of general public interests. According to the reforms adopted by Morley and Minto, members of the Legislative council could discuss this matter, move resolution on them, ands could also vote. However the President was empowered to disallow the whole or parts of the resolution without assigning any reason. According to the Act, the governments was not obliged to accept such resolutions , even if passed, whether concerning public interest or concerning financial system. Apart from these there were certain provisions in the reform act of Morley Minto, under which the Members could not discuss certain subjects. The foreign relations of the government of India and its relation with the Indians princes, a matter under the adjudication the court of law, expenditure on railways, interests and debt etc could not be discussed by the members of the Legislative council. Narrow franchises, indirect elections, limited powers of the Legislative Councils etc dabbled the representative government established in India. The real power was vested in the office of the Government, and the councils were left with no functions but criticisms. The system of election led by the Acts of 1909 was very indirect. The people elected the members of the local bodies, which elected members of the electoral college, which in turn elected the members of the provincial Legislatures. The members of the provincial legislature finally elected the members of the Central Legislature. In such complicated system
of voting the people could not have the opportunity for political education. The Reforms of 1909 granted influence to the common people rather than power. It left responsibility of the power of the government to one set of people, while rapidly transferred it to the other groups. The Morley Minto Reforms led to the mutual antagonism between the Indian community and the British government.

4) MONTAGUE-CHELMSFORD’s Reforms- 1919
The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms were introduced by the British Government in India to introduce self-governing institutions gradually to India. The reforms took their name from Edwin Samuel Montague, the Secretary of State for India during the latter parts of World War I and Lord Chelmsford, Viceroy of India between 1916 and 1921. The reforms were outlined in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report prepared in 1918 and formed the basis of the Government of India Act 1919. Indian nationalists considered that the reforms did not go far enough.

* Background-
Edwin Montague became Secretary of State for India in June 1917 after Austen Chamberlain resigned. He put before the British Cabinet a proposed statement containing a phrase that he intended to work towards “the gradual development of free institutions in India with a view to ultimate self-government.” Lord Curzon thought that this phrase gave too great an emphasis on working towards self-government and suggested an alternative phrase that the Government would work towards “increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire.” The Cabinet approved the statement with Curzon’s phrase incorporated in place of Montagu’s original phrase. * The report

In late 1917, Montagu went to India to meet up with Lord Chelmsford, the Viceroy of India, to meet with leaders of Indian community such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Muhammed Ali Jinnah to discuss the introduction of limited self-government to India and protecting the rights of minority communities such as Muslims and Sikhs. The Report went before Cabinet on 24 May and 7 June 1918 and was embodied in the Government of India Act of 1919. These reforms represented the maximum concessions the British were prepared to make at that time. The franchise was extended, and increased authority was given to central and provincial legislative councils, but the viceroy remained responsible only to London. The changes at the provincial level were significant, as the provincial legislative councils contained a considerable majority of elected members. In a system called “Diarchy,” * The nation-building departments of government — agriculture, education, public works, and the like were placed under ministers who were individually responsible to the legislature. * The departments that made up the “steel frame” of British rule — finance, revenue, and home affairs — were retained by executive councilors who were nominated by the Governor. They were often, but not always, British and who were responsible to the governor. In 1921 another change recommended by the report was carried out when elected local councils were set up in rural areas, and during the 1920s urban municipal corporations were made more democratic and “Indianite. * The main provisions were the following:

1. The secretary of state would control affairs relating to Government of India 2. The Central Legislature would comprise two chambers- The Council of State and the Indian Legislative Assembly 3. The Central Legislature was empowered to enact laws on any matter for whole of India. 4. The Governor General was given powers to summon, prorogue, dissolve the Chambers, and to promulgate Ordinances. 5. The number of Indians in Viceroy’s Executive Council would be three out of eight members 6. Establishment of unicameral Provincial Legislative councils. 7. Diarchy in the Provinces-

* Reserved subjects like Finance, Law and Order, etc.
* Transferred subjects like Public Health, Education, agriculture, etc. 8. There would henceforth be direct election and an extension of Communal franchise. ” At the grass roots level, many young Indians wanted faster progress towards Indian independence and were disappointed by lack of
advancement as Britons returned to their former positions in the administration. At the Indian National Congress annual session in September 1920, delegates supported Gandhi’s proposal of swaraj or self rule — preferably within the British empire or outside it if necessary. The proposal was to be implemented through a policy of non-cooperation with British rule meaning that Congress did not stand candidates in the first elections held under the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms in 1921. * Shortcomings of the Act of 1919.

Thought the Act gave a substantial measures to the powers to the provinces, yet the structure of the Central government remains Unitary & centralized, with the Governor General in council as the key-stone of the whole constitutional edifice and it was through the Governor-general- in – council the Secretary of the State and ultimately the parliament discharged their responsibility for the peace, order and good “Government of India” * SIMON COMISSION- 1927

The Montagu-Chelmsford report stated that there should be a review after 10 years. Sir John Simon headed the committee (Simon Commission) responsible for the review which recommended further constitutional change. Three roundtable conferences were held in London in 1930, 1931 and 1932 with representation of the major interests. Gandhi attended the 1931 roundtable after negotiations with the British Government. The major disagreement between Congress and the British was separate electorates for each community which Congress opposed but which were retained in Ramsay MacDonald’s Communal Award. A new Government of India Act 1935 was passed continuing the move towards self-government first made in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report.

After the Act of 1919, the government of India Act, 1935 was the second important milestone on the road to a fully responsible Government of India. It played a very vital role in shaping and molding the new constitution of India of 1950. The Act of 1935 is said to be the product of four diverse forces, namely Indian Nationalism, British Imperialism, Indian communalism and Indian Princes. The Act kept the supremacy of the British parliament.
Though the enactment of the Act disappointed ambitious Indian leaders and was forced upon the Indians by the British Parliament. It was definitely advancement towards the constitutional development of India. After the third Round table conference was unsuccessful, the British Government established a Joint Select Committee with the task of formulating new Act for India. The committee consisted of sixteen members from the House of Commons and House of Lords, Twenty representatives for British India and seven members from the small princely states of India. The president of the committee was Lord Linlithgow. The committee worked for after a year and a half and finally came out with a Draft bill on February 5, 1935. The Bill was discussed for a period of forty three days in the House of Commons and for thirteen days in the House of Lords. The Bill was finally signed by King of England in July 1935 and was enacted as Government of India Act 1935. * Important features:

* An All-India federation;
* Responsible Government with safeguards;
* Separate representation of communal and other groups; and * It had 321 sections with 10 schedules.
Aimed at the federal structure the Governor General was to have a Council of Ministers, not exceeding 10 number “to aid” and “advise him” in the exercise of his function in his discretion or in his individual judgment. * Diarchy was rejected by the Simon Commission, was provided for the Federal Executive. * The Administration of Defence, External Affairs, Ecclesiastical affairs and Tribal areas, was to be made by Governor General in the discretion with the assistance of maximum three councilors appointed by him, who were not responsible to the legislature. * With regard to the matters other than ‘reserved subject’ the Governor General was to Act on the advice of a Council Ministers, who was responsible to legislature. * As regards the special responsibilities and the Governor General was act under the control and directions of the Secretary of State. * Federal list: Federal Subject was divided into two categories, the reserved and transferred. * Advice of Council of Minister, who was responsible to legislature. * As regards the special responsibilities and Governor General was to act under the control and directions of the Secretary of
State. * Federal Structure: The Council of State was to be a permanent body with one –third of its membership being vacated and renewed triennially. The Federal Assembly whose duration was fixed for five year.

* Features of federal Legislature:
* Ironically, in the Upper House the election was to be direct while in lower and theoretically more popular House was indirect. * The Princes were to nominate 1/3rd of the representatives in the Lower House and 2/5th in the Upper house. * There was a provision of diarchy at the Center, As regards the subject matter of Federal and Provincial laws. * There were three lists:

* Federal legislative lists; consisted of 59 items like External Affairs, Defence, Currency, and Coinage, Naval, Census, Ecclesiastic Affairs, etc. * Provincial legislative list; consisted of 54 items of local interest like, Education, Public Services, Police etc, and Concurrent legislative list; consisted of 26 subjects like Criminal law, Criminal procedure, Civil Procedure, Marriage and Divorce, Arbitration, etc. * Residuary legislative powers were vested in the Governor-General to decide in his sole discretion as to under which list a particular subject fell. * Federal lists; Federal Subjects were divided into two categories, the reserved and Transferred. * The reserved subject like Defence, External Affairs, Ecclesiastic Affairs, and Tribal areas, was to be made by the Governor-General in his discretion with the help of the Councilors appointed by him who were not responsible to the legislature. * The transferred subjects were to be administered by the Governor-General who was to act on the advice of the council of ministers that were responsible to the legislature. * Federal court: the Act established a federal court with a chief justice and not more than six judges. The retiring age of these judges was sixty-five years. The judges were appointed by the crown. * Provincial Government: the provincial executive was to consist of Governor and a Council of Ministers to advice him. In all provincial legislative assemblies all members were directly elected by the people. In six provinces (Madras, Bombay, Bihar, Assam, the United Provinces and Bengal) there was a bicameral legislature.


i. Option for the States to join: The Act provided for the formation of an all India federation. All the provinces were to join the federation automatically but a peculiar problem arose in the case of Native Indian States. ii. Division of Power: The Act provided for the division of power between the center and the units fewer than three lists, namely, Federal list, provincial list and the Concurrent list. iii. Diarchy at the center: It established diarchy at the center and the diarchy which was established in provinces, under the Act of 1919, was abolished. iv. Bicameral Federal Legislature: The Federal Legislature was to be Bicameral, consisting of Federal Assembly and the council of States .Life of the Federal Assembly was fixed for five years. v. Legislature power restricted: The powers of the Indian Legislature were severally restricted there were certain subjects on which neither the federal nor the provincial Legislature were authorized to legislate, e.g. affecting the Sovereign or the Royal family etc. vi. Autonomy in name only: Another most important provision of the of the Act of 1935 was relating to the establishment of autonomy in the provinces. This was in accordance with the August declaration of 1917. The old dyarchial system in the provinces was dropped and the distinction between the Transferred and the reserved subjects was abolished. vii. Indian council of secretary of state: The Act established a Federal court with original and appellate jurisdiction to decide between the federating units, between the Federal Government and a unit or units and with regards to interpretation of the constitution viii. Governor-General all-in-all: The Governor-General had vast administrative, legislative, and financial powers under the Act of 1935. He was not merely a constitutional head even in regard to the administration of the Transferred subject.

* Salient features of the Government of India Act, 1935 are:

* Without the assent of the Governor-General, no finance bill could be placed in central legislature. * The secretary of the State was hindered from interfering in matters that the Governor dealt with, with the help of
Indian ministers. * The provinces were given autonomy with respect to subject delegated to them. * Diarchy, which had been established in the provinces by the Act of 1919, was to be established at the center; however it came to an end in the provinces. * Two new provinces Sindh and Orrisa were created.

* Burma and Aden were separated from India.
* The Federal court was established in the Center.
* The Reserve bank of India was established.

* Importance
* 2/3rd of the Constitution of India is based upon the Government of India Act,1935 * When the Indian Independence Act, 1947 came into existence it is provided into it that, “till the new Constitution come into existence, whole administration of both the dominions of India And Pakistan shall be governed on the basis of Government of India Act,1935.

Sr.No.| Dates| Events|
1.| 24th march 1946| Cabinet mission arrived in India|
2.| 16th May 1946| Cabinet mission itself suggested certain solutions to the political parties| 3.| June 1946| Actual elections for the constituent assembly took place| 4.| 16th May 1946| Muslim League performed the “Direct Action Day”| 5.| 2nd September1946| Indian national congress formed the interim government on the invitation of the lord Wavell| 6.| 13th October 1946| Muslim League also participated in the interimGovernment.| 7.| 9th December 1946| Both the parties had joint the sitting to form the Constituent Assembly| 8.| 11th December 1946| The Constituent Assembly elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its Chairman| 9.| 20th February 1947| Claimant Atlee’s Statement regarding the Quit India by British Government before June 1948.| 10| 3rd June 1947| Lord Mountbatten’s plan regarding the Partition Of India| 11.| 18th July 1947| British Parliament passed the Indian Independence Bill| 12.| 15th August 1947| India got the Independence from the British Empire| 13.| 29th August 1947| Constituent Assembly appointed Drafting committee by Chairmanship of Dr.Ambedkar| 14.| 4th November 1947|
Drafting Committee submitted its draft to the Constituent Assembly to debate on it.| 15.| 26th November 1949| Chairman of the Constituent Assembly Dr. Rajendra Prasad signed the Draft | 16.| 24th January 1950| All the members of the constituent assembly appended their signatures on the constitution| 17.| 26th January 1950| The Constitution of India came in to force.|

6) Constitutional history since 1946 to 1950
Though it seems to be a small span of 4 years, there were n number of instances, events and activities took place in these 4 years, which ultimately helped a lot for the further development of Indian Constitution. In which the most distinguish year was 1946. On 24th of March 1949, the Cabinet Mission was arrived in India, sent by the parliamentof England. That Cabinet Mission was consisted with 3 members, namely- * Pathick Lawrence.

* Stafford Cripps.
* Mr. Alexander.
After the arrival OF THE Cabinet Mission, it had a prolonged discussion with the 2 major political parties of the India, wiz,. Indian National Congress, and Muslim League. Unfortunately both the parties could not arrived on mutual understanding and mutual agreement, so ultimately on 16th of May, 1946 the cabinet Mission itself suggested certain kind of solutions to them, such as follows- * Rejection of the Muslim League’s demand for the full-fledged Pakistan- This was the first solution from the Cabinet Mission to the political parties. Cabinet mission also stated that in this changing scenario, the demand of Pakistan would lead the gross destruction to the proposed democratic system, which will be going to be adopted by the India. * Formation of the groups of the States-

Though on the one hand Cabinet mission denied the demand of Pakistan, but on the other hand is had also favored to the groups of the present Indian states. Wiz,
Group A- Provinces of Bombay, Madras, Bihar, Orissa
Group B- Punjab and North-West frontier provinces
Group C- Bengal and Assam
Because of this, the whole united India was divided into various segments. Though it was earlier pretended that, it will help to the administration, but ultimately this idea was proved to be vague. Because, these groups of the states provided the “substances of Pakistan” to the Muslim League. * Paramouncy of the British Crown shall be come to an end- This was the landmark provision put forwarded by the Cabinet Mission. And due to this it was confirmed that British government would no more to be able to rule India. Ultimately it was the sign of dawn of the independence of India. * Need of the constituent Assembly-

This was also an immense important recommendation from the Cabinet Mission. This was the first time, any British Cabinet Mission was suggesting to have a Constituent assemblyfor India. Because of this vital suggestion, the Constituent Assembly came into existence in further year, and actual work of the making of the Constitution of India was also been started in India. * Formation of Interim Government –

This was also been proved to be the very vital suggestion. Interim government of India would be the sign of Independence of India. Because of this solution, in further span of time, actual elections were took place to form the interim government in India. And this gave the real confidence to the political leaders of that time, that they can run this country; they can implement democracy. Anyhow, because of these solutions of Cabinet Mission, finally in June 1946, the actual elections were took place to form an interim government for India. In which * Indian National Congress got 205 seats,

* Sikh community got 4 seats,
* Muslim Leaguegot 73 seats,
As the total strength of the Assembly were 389 members. Anyhow, those 4 Sikh communities further merged into the Indian national Congress, and hence the Indian National Congress got the clear majority of the 209 seats. Because of this Muslim League got disappointed and afterwords on 16th August 1946 it
performed the “Direct Action Day”. On this day Muslim League performed so many violent activities throughout the country, and it also very aggressively put forwarded its demand of separate Pakistan. Muslim League also completely withdrew its acceptance to the Cabinet Mission. Anyhow the Indian national Congress got full majority in the Assembly, so on 2nd of September 1946 Viceroy Lord Wavell invited Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for the formation of interim government. And on this day interim government of India came into existence. Initially Muslim League kept itself away from this interim government, but later on 13th of October 1946 Muslim League also participated into the interim government. Then on 9th December 1946, both the two Indian Political Parties, i.e. Indian national Congress and The Muslim League had the joint sitting to form a Constituent Assembly. And then further on 11th December 1046 the Constituent Assembly of India elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its Chairman. Soon after that the work of the Constituent Assembly began. * SESSIONS OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

Like this there was 22 different committees were established, in order to do the systematic arrangement of the Constitution of India. In these 22 committees, 10 committees were appointed for the Procedural matters, and rest 12 committees were appointed for the Substantial matters. Those 22 committees gave their respective reports, their suggestions, their solutions, their opinions to the constituent Assembly. * COMPOSITION of Constituent Assembly-

Members were chosen by indirect election by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies, according to the scheme recommended by the Cabinet Mission. The arrangement was:
(i) 292 members were elected through the Provincial Legislative Assemblies. (ii) 93 members represented the Indian Princely States; and (iii) 4 members represented the Chief Commissioners’ Provinces. The total membership of the Assembly thus was to be 389. However, as a result of the partition under the Mountbatten Plan of 3 June, 1947, a separate Constituent Assembly was set up for Pakistan and representatives of some Provinces ceased to be members of the Assembly. As a result, the membership of the Assembly was reduced to 299. On 13 December, 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru moved the Objectives Resolution Main provisions were as follows-

1) This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution;

2) WHEREIN the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts of India as are outside British India and the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted into the Independent Sovereign India, shall be a Union of them all; and

3) WHEREIN the said territories, whether with their present boundaries or
with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the law of the Constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous Units, together with residuary powers and exercise all powers and functions of government and administration, save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union, or as are inherent or implied in the Union or resulting there from; and

4) WHEREIN all power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government, are derived from the people; and

5) WHEREIN shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India justice, social economic and political : equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality; and

6) WHEREIN adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes; and

7) WHEREBY shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its sovereign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations; and

8) This ancient land attains its rightful and honored placed in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.

This Resolution was unanimously adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947. Late in the evening of 14 August, 1947 the Assembly met in the Constitution Hall and at the stroke of midnight, took over as the Legislative Assembly of an Independent India. And then further on 29th August 1947 the Constituent Assembly appointed the DRAFTING COMMITTEE under the chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. That drafting committee played the key role to create the constitution of India. The Drafting Committee was consisted with the following members:- * Gopalswammy Iyyengar.

* Alladi Krishnaswammy Iyyer
* K.M. Munshi
* Mohammed Sadullah
* B.L. Mittar replaced by N. Madhav Rao
* D.P.Khaitan was replaced by T.T. Krishnammachari.
This Drafting committee referred various constitutions of the world; they also borrowed various useful things to the constitution of India. And depending on that analysis the Drafting Committee submitted its final draft to the constituent Assembly on 4th November 1947. Then a long debate took place for 2 years on the final draft of the constitution. All the members of the constitution assembly suggested their opinions and the recommendations and the solutions on it. There were 7635Amendments were suggested which were actually tabled, out of which 2473 Amendments were actually took place in that draft. Then on 26th November 1949, Dr. Rajendra Prasad signed on the draft of the constitution as the chairman of the Constituent Assembly. Of course it was not the easy task, to create such a vast document like constitution of India, neither it came into existence in a day or two. The Constituent Assembly took almost three years (two years, eleven months and seventeen days to be precise) to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India. During this period, it held eleven sessions covering a total of 165 days. Of these, 114 days were spent on the consideration of the Draft Constitution The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November, 1949 and the hon’ble members appended their signatures to it on 24 January, 1950. In all, 284 members actually signed the Constitution. On that day when the Constitution was being signed, it was drizzling outside and it was interpreted as a sign of a good omen. The Constitution of India came into force on 2 6 January, 1950. On that day, the Assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in1952. The date of the 26th January was selected in the memory of “1930’sPurn Swarajya Movement.” On 31st December 1929, the Indian National Congress had the Session in the Lahore. At the at place near the Ravi river, the President of the Indian national Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the Flag, and on 26th January 1930, the Purn-Swarajya Declaration was passed by the Indian National Congress. So the 26th January was the date which was selected as
the republic day. It is the World’s largest and lengthiest written constitution which is keeps on serving this World’s largest democracy since 63 years.

* Books referred-
* Constitutional Law of India, H.M. Seervai, VOL. NO. 1-3. * Outlines Of Indian legal history – M.P. Jain
* Landmarks of Indian legal and constitutional history- V. D.Kulshekhara * The Constitutional Law of India- J.N. Pandey
* UPSC- General Studies Manual- Tata MC-Graw Hills
* Websites-

[ 1 ]. M.V. Paylee – Constitutional History of India, p.1
[ 2 ]. G.N.Singh- Landmark in Indian Constitutional history and National Development p. 73 [ 3 ]. Report of the Joint Parliamentary committee. Vol. 1, pp 232-238. [ 4 ]. An article on

[ 5 ]. Landmarks of Indian legal and constitutional history- V. D.Kulshekhara [ 6 ]. Outlines Of Indian legal history – M.P. Jain

Cite this page

The Constitutional History of India- 1858- 1950. (2016, Apr 08). Retrieved from

The Constitutional History of India- 1858- 1950
Are You on a Short Deadline? Let a Professional Expert Help You
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7