Important Acts in India Before Independence

Some crucial acts in India before Independence on August 15th, 1947 are The Regulating Act, 1773, The Pitts India act, 1784, The Charter Acts, The Government of India Acts and The Indian council Acts.

The Regulating Act, 1773
  • The Regulating Act, 1773 was the first attempt by the British Parliament to regulate the affairs of the Company in India. This Act also ended the Dual system of the Government of India.
  • This was the first attempt toward the Centralised Administration.
  • In this Act, the Governor of Bengal became Governor-General for all British territories in India.
  • Bombay and Madra's Presidency subordinated to Bengal's Presidency in some issues.
  • Supreme Court to be set up at Calcutta and also founded Calcutta Madarasa.

The Pitts India Act, 1784
  • The Pitts India Act, 1784 (The East India Company Act 1784) gave the British Government supreme control over the Company's affairs and its administration in India.
  • It established a dual system of governance:
    1. Government by Board of Control
    2. Government of Court of Directors.
  • The Board of Control was to guide and control the work of the Court of Directors.
  • Presidencies of Madras and Bombay were subordinated to the Governor-General and Council of Bengal in all matters of diplomacy.

The Charter Act of 1813
  • The Charter Act  1813 is also known as The East India Company Act 1813.
  • The East Indian Company was deprived of its monopoly of trade with India except in tea and trade in China.
  • Under this Act, a sum of one lakh rupees earns marked annually for education, which the Company pays.

The Charter Act of 1833
  • The Charter Act of 1833 ended the East Indian Company's trade monopoly even in tea and trade with China.
  • The Act centralized the administration of India.
  • The Governor-General of Bengal became the Governor-General of India (1st Governor-General was Lord William Bentick).
  • The government of Madras and Bombay was deprived of legislative powers.
  • A fourth member, a law member, was added to the Council of Governor-General.

The Charter Act of 1853
  • The Charter Act of 1853 extended the life of the East Indian Company for an unspecified period.
  • Law member was made a full member of the Executive Council of the Governor-General.
  • Recruitment to Civil Services was based on an open annual competitive examination (excluding Indians).

The Government of India Act, 1858
  • Indian Administration transferred from Company to British Crown, i.e., end of the rule of East India Company and beginning of the direct rule of Crown.
  • This Act abolished the Court of Directors and the Board of Control. Thus the 'Double Government' introduced by the Pitt's India Act of 1784 was finally ended. The doctrine of lapse was also withdrawn under this Act.
  • The post of Secretary of state for India was created (who was a member of the British cabinet and a direct representative of the Parliament).
  • Governor-General was called the 'Viceroy' and was the direct representative of the Crown in India.
  • A unitary and highly centralized administrative structure was created.

The Indian Councils Act, 1861
  • The Foundation of the Indian legislature was laid down in 1861 and the Policy of the association of Indians in legislation started.
  • The legislative power of the Presidency Government deprived in 1833 was restored.
  • Under this Act, the Civil Services became Indian Civil Services.
  • A portfolio (or Cabinet) system was introduced in the Government of India.
  • Viceroy could issue ordinances in case of emergency.

The Indian Councils Act, 1892
  • In 1892, the representative system started in India.
  • The Council has the power to discuss the Budget and address questions to the executive.

The Indian Councils Act, 1909 (The Morely-Minto Reforms)
  • Morely was the Secretary of State and Minto was the Indian Viceroy.
  • It introduced for the first time indirect elections to the state Legislative councils.
  • Separate electorates were introduced for the Muslims.
  • The resolution could be moved before the Budget takes its final form. Supplementary questions could be asked.

The Government of India Act, 1919 (The Montague-Chelmsford Reforms)
  • Devolution Rules: Administration subjects were divided into two categories - 'Central' and 'Provincial.' All important subjects (like Railways and Finance) were brought under the category of Central. In contrast, matters relating to the administration of the Provinces were classified as Provincial.
  • The Dyarchy system was introduced in the Provinces.
  • The Provincial administration subjects were divided into two categories, 'Transferred' and 'Reserved' subjects.
  • The Transferred subjects were to be administered by the Governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the Legislative Council.
  • The Governor and his Executive Council administered the Reserved subjects (Rail, Post, Telegraph, Finance, Law & order, etc.).
  • Indian legislature became 'bicameral' for the first time.
  • Communal representation extended to Sikhs.
  • Secretary of State for India now to be paid from British revenue.
  • An officer of the High Commissioner of India was created in London.

The Government of India Act, 1935
  • The Government of India Act, 1935 provided for the setting up the Federation of India comprising British Indian provinces and Indian States (Princely States). The joining of Princely states was voluntary, so the federation did not come into existence.
  • Dyarchy in the Provinces was replaced by Provincial autonomy. They were granted separate legal identities.
  • Its central threefold division of powers: Federal, Provincial and Concurrent. Residuary powers were to be with Governor-General.
  • The Indian Council of Secretary of State for India was abolished.
  • The principle of a separate electorate was extended to include Anglo-Indians, Indian Christmas and Europeans.
  • The Federal Bank (The Reserve Bank of India) and the Federal Court (Supreme Court of India) were established in 1935 and 1937, respectively.

Indian Independence Act, 1947
  • Indian Independence Act, 1947 did not lay down any provision for the administration of India.
  • Partition of India and establishing two countries (India and Pakistan).
  • The consistent Assembly of each Dominion would have unlimited powers to frame and adopt any Constitution.
  • The office of the Secretary of State for India was to be abolished and his work was to be taken over by the Secretary of State for commonwealth affairs.

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