Constitutional Developments Linked to Indian National Movement
Regulating Act, 1773: It marks the beginning of parliamentary’ control over the government of the Company. It accorded supremacy to the Presidency of Bengal and the Governor of Bengal was appointed as the Governor-General. The Governors and the Councils of Madras and Bombay were rendered subordinate to the Governor-General and Council of Bengal, which thereby became ‘The Supreme Government’ in India.
The Act of Settlement, 1781: It exempted the actions of the public servants of the Company done in official capacity from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
The Pitts India Act, 1784: The Court of Directors were allowed to manage commercial affairs of the Company, but for political affairs Board of Six Commissioners, known as Board of Control, was appointed to control such affairs. The Board was empowered to superintend, direct and control all operations of the civil and military Governments of the British possessions in the East India.
Charter Act, 1793: The Council of Governor-General as well as the Governors of the Presidencies were to have only three Members. These Members were to be appointed from amongst persons who had been residents of India for at least twelve years. The Commander-in-Chief was not to be a member of Council, unless the Court of Directors specially appointed him.
Charter Act, 1813: The Act renewed the lease of the Company for a further period of twenty years but deprived it of monopoly of trade with India, except for tea. The Act authorized the Board of Control to make rules and regulations for the civil and military servants of the Company.
Charter Act, 1833: The Governor-General of Bengal was henceforth, to be styled as the Governor-General of India. The Act led to the centralisation of power in the hands of the Governor-General-in-Council by vesting the legislative power solely in him.
Charter Act, 1853: 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 meetings thereof for making laws and regulations.” These members were called “Legislative Councillors.” The legislative functions of the Council were clearly demarcated from its executive functions and their special nature emphasised by the expres • requirement of section 23 of the Act that the powers of making laws or regulatL ns vested in the Governor-General-in-Council, were to be exercised only “at meeting of said Council…”.
Government of India Act, 1858: It abolished the Court of Directors and the Board of Control and vested their powers in one of Her Majesty’s Secretary (a Minister in the British Cabinet). He was designated as Secretary of State for India and was empowered to superintend, direct and control all the governmental affairs in India. The Governor-General came to be called as “Viceroy” from then onward.
Indian Council Act, 1861: It enlarged the Governor-General Executive Council by adding a new Law Member. The Governor-General was empowered to “make rules and orders for the more convenient transactions of the business in the Council.” The Act restored to the Presidencies of Bombay and Madras the lawmaking powers, which had been taken away from them by the Charter Act of 1833.
Indian Councils Act, 1892: The Act was intended to widen the basis and expand the functions of the Government of India and to give greater opportunities to the non-official and native elements in Indian society to take part in the work of Government.
Government of India Act, 1909: By this Act, the size of Legislative Councils, Central as well as Provincial, was considerably increased. The number of additional members in the Governor-General’s Council was raised from 16 to 60. The Act conceded separate electorates to Muslims, inducting Communism in the political life of India.
Government of India Act, 1919: The Act divided the functions of government in two categories: Central and Provincial. The Provincial subjects were further subdivided into Transferred and Reserved. In the Transferred subjects, the Governors were to be assisted by the ministers responsible to the legislature; while in the Reserved subjects, the Governors were to be advised by the
Councillors who were not accountable to the legislature. Thus, in the provinces a new form of government, dyarchy, was introduced. Dyarchy means dual set of governments, e.g. accountable and non-accountable.
The Central Legislature was empowered to consider, pass or reject legislation on any of the subjects enumerated in the Central List.
Government of India Act, 1935: The Government of India Act, 1935, is regarded as the second milestone on the highway leading to a full responsible government. It was a lengthy document, detailed and complicated having 321 Sections with 10 Schedules. The basic features of the Act were: the introduction of partial responsibility at the Centre, Provincial autonomy and an All India Federation.
The August Offer, 1940: The Viceroy Linlithgow promised that after the termination of the War in Europe: full responsible government on the Dominion model would be established in India as soon as possible.
Cripps Mission Proposals 1942: A new Indian Union comprising Princely States and British Indian Provinces would be established. A constitution-making body would be set up to draw a new constitution for the Indian Union. This Constituent Assembly would be an elected body having delegates from both British India and the States. In the interim period, the British Government was to retain the control and direction of the Defence of India ‘as a part of their world-war effort’.
Wavell Plan, 1945: The Viceroy’s Executive Council would be reconstituted. The new Council would include only Indian members except the Viceroy and the Commander-in-Chief. The Indian members of the Council would be nomi­nated by the Governor-General from amongst the leaders of Indian public life.
Cabinet Mission Plan 1946: The Cabinet Mission came to India on 4th March 1946. It consisted of three British Cabinet Ministers—Lord Pethick Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and Mr. Alexander. The Mission recommended the following proposals: There should be a Union of India embodying both British India and the States and with the exception of certain reserved subjects, all subjects were to be retained by the States.
For the purpose of framing a new Constitution, a Constituent Assembly was to be elected.
The Mountbatten Plan, July 1947: The Viceroy’s Plan, broadly speaking, was a compromise between Akhand Hindustan and Pakistan. Its important features were, in brief as follows:-
Partition of India was the only possible solution of the Indian problem.
The three disputed provinces viz., Bengal, Assam and the Punjab, were also to be partitioned.
A referendum would be held in the N.W.F. Province to decide whether that province would like to join Pakistan or India.
Indian Independence Act, 1947: The Act provided for the creation of two independent dominions, India and Pakistan from 15th August, 1947. Each dominion was to have a Governor-General, who was to be appointed by the King. The Indian Independence Act, 1947, came into force on August 15, 1947, when the British rule in India came to an end.
Motilal Nehru (1861-1931): Qualified as an advocate; joined the Home Rule movement in 1916; in response to Gandhiji’s call of non-cooperation in 1921 gave up lucrative practice; suffered imprisonment during the boycott of the Prince of Wales visit; joined C.R. Das in organising the Swarajya Party to conduct the nation’s struggle against the British Raj within the legislature.
Hakim Ajmal Khan (1865-1927): Came into politics as a Muslim League leader and was successful in bringing it to the fold of national politics; one of the founders of Jamia Millia Islamia and its first Chancellor; ardent advocate of communal harmony.
Sarla Behn (1900-32): Catherine Mary Heilanian, she was named Sarla Behn by Mahatma Gandhi whose disciple she was a social worker.
Maulana Shaukat AH (1873-1938): Left government servcie to enter politics; a prominent leader of the Khilafat movement.
Maulana Muhammad AH (1878-1931): Educated atAIigarh and Oxford; as follower of Gandhi, Muhammad Ali led the Khilafat agitation in India and mobilized public opinion in favour of the Non-Cooperation Movement.
Mukhtai Ahmad Ansari (1880-1936): A leader of the Home Rule Movement, President of the Muslim League in 1920 and of the Khilafat Committee in 1922.
Saifuddin Kitchlew (1888-1963): A close associate of Gandhi, played a leading role in the Satyagraha Movement of 1919; transported for life by the Martial Law Commission in 1919, but released later.
Jamnalal Bajaj (1889-1942): Born in Jaipur State; adopted by a millionaire of Wardha; in 1915 came under the influence of Gandhi; from 1920 occupied the position of the Congress treasurer-a post he held throughout his life. Govind Ballabh Pant (1889-1961) : Hailed from Almora district of Uttaranchal; elected to the All India Congress Committee and served as the Swarajist leader of the opposition in the UP Council; prominent in organising demonstrations against the Simon Commission, imprisoned between 1930 and 1932 for his participation in the civil Disobedience Movement.
Asaf Ali (1888-1953) : Started his legal career at Delhi and later joined the Home Rule Movement.
Gopinath Bordoloi (1890-1950) : One of the builders of modern Assam; imprisoned in 1941 and 1942 for taking part in the individual satyagraha and the Quit India Movement.
Kasturba Gandhi (1869-1944) : Endearingly called “Ba”; married to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1882; arrested for participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942; died while serving imprisonment at Poona.
Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) : Educated in England; showed a marked flair for literature at an early age which later found expression in beautiful English verses; earned the title of “Nightingale of India”; joined Home Rule League in 1916; first Indian lady to preside over the Congress (Kanpur, 1925).
Narayan Malhar Joshi (1879-1955) : A philanthropist; joined the Servants of India Society in 1909 and became renowned for promoting the cause of labour welfare.
Pattabbi Sitaramaiah (1880-1959): Started his medical practice in Masulipatnam; entered public life in 1906 and distinguished himself in politics in Andhra; in 1916, became a full-time worker of the Congress.
Master Tara Singh (1885-1967): Joined the Gurudwara Reform Movement in 1921; leader of Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee; formed the ‘Save Democracy Committee’ consisting of all the opposition parties of the Punjab.
Acharya Narendra Dev (1889-1956): When Gandhiji launched the Non-Cooperation Movement, Acharya gave up his legal practice and was one of the first to join the fray; identified himself with the socialist elements within the Congress and was the President of the Socialist Conference at Patna in 1934.
Swami Sahjanand Saraswati (1889-1951) : Popular name of Navrangrai; pioneered the peasants’ cause and became the founder-President of the Bihar Kisan Sabha in 1927; also President of the All India Kisan Sabha.
Rajkumari Amrit Kaur (1889-1964) : Belonged to the ruling family of Kapurthala in the Punjab; took an active part in the satyagraha of 1930 and the Quit India Movement of 1942 and suffered imprisonment; served as first Health Minister of independent India.
Kamla Nehru (1899-1936) : Married to Jawaharlal Nehru in 1916; joined her husband in the Non-Cooperation Movement.
Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904-1966): Joined the Non-Cooperation Movement and suffered imprisonment in 1921; succeeded Nehru as the Prime Minister of India in 1964, faced the Indo-Pak crisis of 1965 with supreme confidence, went to Tashkent in 1966 to come to peaceful settlement with Pakistan and died shortly after signing the Declaration.
Chittaranjan Das ‘Deshbandhu’ (1870-1925) : Participated in the anti-partition agitation; initially opposed to Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation programme, formed the Swaraj Party.
Tanguturi Prakasam (1872-1957): Joined the freedom movement at the call of Gandhi; largely responsible for the abolition of the Zamindari system in Madras; became the Chief Minister of Madras.
Bhulabhai Desai (1877-1946) : Served as the Advocate-General in Bombay for some time: made his debut in politics as a Home Rule Leaguer in 1916 and later joined the Liberal Party.
Bidhan Chandra Roy (1882-1962) : Only student in India to obtain his M.R.C.P. and F.R.C.S. in one year; entered politics in 1923 when he was elected to Bengal Legislative Assembly.
S. Satyamurti (1887-1943) : Popularly known as the ‘Firebrand of South India’ resigned from the Madras Legislative Council in 1930; actively participated in the Salt Satyagraha; led the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Vijayalakshmi Pandit (1900-1990): Sister of Jawaharlal “Nehru; a prominent national leader; imprisoned in connection with Civil Disobedience Movement and Quit India Movement.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988) : Popularly known as “Frontier Gandhi”, he joined the national movement at very young age and inculcated the ideas of nationalism into the minds of the Pathans; plunged into the agitation against the Rowlatt laws, the Khilafat, Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movements; founded the Khudai Khidmatgar (literally, God’s Servants) in 1929, a peace corps of dedicated workers who gave him the title of Fakhre-Afghan (i.e. pride of the Afghan).
Mahadev Desai (1892-1942) : In 1917, came in close contact with Gandhi, pledged himself into the Champaran Satyagraha, accompanied Gandhi to London in 1931 to attend the Round Table Conference, served Gandhi as his private secretary for twenty-five years, died in the Aga Khan Palace. Poona.
Ram Manohar Lohia (1910-1968): A Socialist; in 1934, became a founder member of the Congress Socialist Party and edited its journal The Congress Socialist; in 1936 at the instance of Nehru, took over the Foreign Department in the Congress.
Sachidananda Sinha (1871-1950) : A distinguished lawyer, journalist, politician and educationist, joined the Congress in 1899; in 1916-17; actively participated in the Home Rule Movement; served as the first Indian Finance Member till 1926.
Vallabhabhai Patel (1875-1950): Born in an agriculturist family of Nadiad in Gujarat, distinguished himself as a criminal lawyer; entered politics by joining the Gujarat Sabha in 1915; led the famous peasants’ agitation against an increase in land revenue at Bardoli; described as “the Sardar” by Gandhi for his leadership; in free India became the Deputy Prime Minister and looked after the States Ministry; successfully dealt with the intricate problem of the accession of Indian States and helped in consolidating the Indian Union; a man of iron will who never allowed personal sentiment to confuse his duties.
Acharaya Vinoba Bhave: Close associate of Gandhi; leader of Sarvodaya and the Bhoodan Andolan; a staunch advocate of cow protection.
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1878-1972): Gaveuphis legal profession in 1920 to join the Non-Cooperation Movement; imprisoned for his participation in the Salt Satyagraha and the Civil disobedience Movement; a chief organiser of the Congress in the South; in 1948, succeeded Lord Mountbatten as the first Indian Governor-General of the Indian Dominion till 26 January 1950 when India became a republic; between 1952 and 1954 Rajaji was the Chief Minister of Madras.
Rajendra Prasad (1884-1963) : As a student, he took interest in the anti-partition agitation in Bengal; participated in the Champaran Satyagraha of 1917; led the Non-Cooperation Movement in Bihar; joined Interim Government as Minister for Food and Agriculture in 1946; elected President of the Constituent Assembly, became the first President of the Indian Republic, awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1962.
Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958) : Popularly known as Maulana Azad; associated himself with the revolutionaries during the Swadeshi Movement; in 1912 started the Urdu weekly, AI Hilal, to propagate nationalistic ideas; started another weekly the Al Balagh in 1915; in 1920 came in close contact with Gandhi and supported the Non Cooperation programme; participated, as the Congress President, in the Simla Conference (1945), led the negotiations with British Cabinet Mission (1946); joined the Interim Government as Minister of Education and Arts; in free India, he became the Education Minister.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948): Called the Father of the Nation; associated with many movements during freedom struggle, such as Non-Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement, Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement; assassinated by Nathu Ram Godse in 1948.
Jawahar Lai Nehru (1889-1964) : One of the world’s greatest statesmen; Prime Minister of India until his death in 1964; author of the doctrine of Panchsheel, an author of international fame.
Subhash Chandra Bose (1897-1945): Popularly known as “Netaji”, he was a dynamic freedom fighter; organised the Indian National Army (INA) to overthrow the British Rule.


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