Historical Background Indian Political arena

India was under British rule for about 200 years. Which has changed the nature of India polity over the period of time. It was 1858 when Britishers firstly behaved as a territorial power. And take direct responsibility for governance of India.

India Polity under The Rule of East India Company

East India Company came to India and first started affairs as a company and start trading. However, eventually, they interfere with administration and took control over Indian kings. So for better management, they make regulations first then in 1858 they started making “Acts.”

THE COMPANY RULE (1773–1858)

Regulating Act of 1773
  1. It was meant for controlling and regulating the East India Company in India. It laid the foundations of central administration in India.
  2. Governor of Bengal was Designated the ‘Governor-General of Bengal.’
  3. Laid the Foundation of a Supreme Court at Calcutta in 1774.
  4. This act was further amended as Amending Act of 1784 to overcome the defects of the Regulating Act 1773.

Pitt’s India Act of 1784

Act Separated commercial and political functions of the Company. It established the system of double Govt. It enables the British govt. To overtake the company’s affair and its administration in India.

Charter Act of 1833

  1. Final step towards centralization in British India
  2. Governor of Bengal declared as the Governor of India and Lord William Bentick declared as the first governor-general of India.
  3. Through this Act, open selection of civil servants was introduced.

Charter Act of 1853

  1. Separated Legislative and executive functions.
  2. It established Indian (Central) Legislative Council, which adds six new members to the council. Out of which four were appointed by the local provincials (Madras, Bombay, Bengal, and Agra) thus gives the representation to the Indians in administration.
  3. Introduced open competitive exam for recruitment of civil servants. It allows Indian to take part in civil services.

Macaulay Committee 1854 (ICS)

India Polity Under The crown rule (1858–1947)

Indian Polity changed significantly after 1858 , When British Government realises the need of good governance in India.

Government of India Act of 1858 (Act for the Good Government of India)

  1. Abolished the East India Company, and transferred the powers of government, territories, and revenues to the British Crown.
  2. Governor-General of India designated as the Viceroy of India
  3. Lord Canning – First Viceroy of India.
  4. Ended the system of double government. Introduced new office, Secretary of State for India.

Indian Councils Act of 1861, 1892 and 1909

1. Features of the Act of 1861

  • Give power to Viceroy to nominate Indians as non-official members of his council.
  • First, appointed Indians were the
  • Raja of Banaras
  • Maharaja of Patiala  
  • Sir Dinkar Rao.
  • Reversed the centralizing tendency that started from the Regulating Act of 1773
  • New legislative councils for Bengal (1862), North-Western Frontier Province (NWFP) (1866) and Punjab (1897).
  • ‘Portfolio’ system was introduced by Lord Canning in 1859
  • Empowered the Viceroy to issue ordinances without the concurrence of the legislative council, during an emergency.

2. Features of the Act of 1892

Increased the number of (non-official) members in the Central and provincial legislative councils, and increased their power.

3. Features of the Act of 1909 Morley-Minto Reforms

  • Central Legislative Council size rose from 16 to 60. While Size of State province was not uniform
  • Satyendra Prasad Sinha became the first Indian to join the Viceroy’s Executive Council.
  • Lord Minto (Father of Communal Electorate) introduced the idea of separate electorate.

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

    1. Provinces were provided some independence and control over them loosen.
    2. Bicameralism and direct elections are introduced.
    3. Indian Legislative Council abolished
    4. Bicameral legislature introduced with a new structure
  • Upper House (Council of State)
  • Lower House (Legislative Assembly)

Direct election chose the majority of members of both the Houses.

5. Three of the six members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council (other than the commander-in-chief) were to be Indian
6. Communal representation by providing separate electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anndiannd Europeans.
7. Rights to few (Voting) persons on the basis of property, tax or education.
8. Establishment of Public service commission.
9. It separated provincial budgets from the Central budget.

Simon Commission

  • November 1927
  • chairman – Sir John Simon
  • Reason Behind boycott – All the members of the commission were British
  • report submitted in 1930
  • The abolition of diarchy
  • Extension of responsible government in the provinces
  • Establishment of a federation of British India and Princely states
  • Continuation of communal electorate

August 1932 Ramsay MacDonald (British PM) brings reservation for minorities of Hindus which were called Communal Award.

However, Hindu leaders give disagreement to this proposal. So they make an agreement called Poona Act, which provided reserved seats to the depressed classes.  

Government of India Act of 1935

  • 321 Sections and 10 Schedules.
  • Establishment of an All-India Federation consisting of provinces and princely states as units. The Federation never came into being as the princely states did not join it.
  • Introduced ‘provincial autonomy’ which replaced diarchy system. This came into effect in 1937 but discontinued in 1939.
  • Bicameralism in six provinces (Total 11). Bicameral Provinces were





The United Provinces


  • Abolished the Council of India, Secretary of state for India was provided with a team of advisors
  • 10 percent of the total population got the voting right.
  • Reserve Bank of India to control the currency and credit of the country.
  • Establishment of PSC (Public service Commission) And JSC along with the Federal Public Service Commission
  • Federal Court, which was set up in 1937.

India Independence Act of 1947

India Polity changed over the time and the current system came into existence in 1947. It was tested with time and the final draft which we see today is a result of long-term research and experiments.

Again on June 3, 1947, the British Government made it clear that any Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly of India (formed in 1946) cannot apply to those parts of the country which were unwilling to accept it. On the same day (June 3, 1947), Lord Mountbatten, the Viceroy of India, put forth the partition plan, known as the Mountbatten Plan.

  • Sovereign state from August 15, 1947.
  • Partition of India to two independent dominions India and Pakistan
  • Constituent assemblies of both the newly formed dominion were empowered to legislate for their respective territories till the new constitutions were drafted and enforced.
  • There were three options to the princely states either join the Dominion of India or Pakistan or stay independent.

Lord Mountbatten the first governor-general India swore in Jawaharlal Nehru as the first prime minister of independent India. The Constituent Assembly of 1946 became the first Parliament of the Indian Dominion.