Legislations in British India - List of Acts Passed in British India

The legislations in British India included legislative bodies in the presidencies and provinces of British India. These legislations were created under Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom.

They were responsible for passing many laws that to this day are used in Independent India. This article will provide a list of acts passed by the British in India.

This topic is important for IAS Exam from both prelims and mains perspectives.

Legislations in British India (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

List of acts passed by British in India

  1. Hindu Personal Law, 1772
  2. Regulating Act of 1773
  3. Pitt’s India Act of 1784
  4. Charter Act of 1793
  5. Charter Act of 1813
  6. Charter Act of 1833
  7. Charter Act of 1853
  8. Bengal Regulation Act, 1818
  9. Bengal Sati Regulation Act, 1829
  10. Thugee and Dacoit Suppressions Acts, 1836
  11. Indian Slavery Act, 1843
  12. Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850
  13. Hindu Widow’s Remarriage Act, 1856
  14. Government of India Act, 1858
  15. Societies Registration Act, 1860
  16. Indian Penal Code, 1860
  17. Frontiers Crime Regulation Act, 1860
  18. Female Infanticide Prevention Act, 1870
  19. Criminal Tribes Act, 1871
  20. Christian Personal Law, 1872
  21. Indian Contract Act, 1872
  22. East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act, 1873
  23. Dramatic Performances Act, 1876
  24. Murderous Outrage Regulation, 1877
  25. Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878
  26. Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881
  27. Transfer of Property Act, 1882
  28. Ilbert Bill, 1883
  29. Indian Telegraph Act, 1885
  30. Age of Consent Act, 1891
  31. Indian Councils Act, 1892
  32. Punjab Land Alienation Act, 1900
  33. Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904
  34. Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act, 1907
  35. Indian Councils Act, 1909 / Morley-Minto Reforms
  36. Indian Press Act, 1910
  37. Government of India Act, 1912
  38. Ingress into India ordinance, 1914
  39. Government of India Act, 1915
  40. Defence of India Act, 1915
  41. Rowlatt Act, 1919
  42. Government of India Act, 1919
  43. Official Secrets Act, 1923
  44. Bengal Criminal Law Amendment, 1924
  45. Indian Forest Act, 1927
  46. Hindu Inheritance (Removal of Disabilities) Act, 1928
  47. Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929
  48. Indian Sale of Goods Act, 1930
  49. Jain Law, 1930
  50. Indian Partnership Act, 1932
  51. Government of India Act, 1935.
  52. The Foreigners Act 1946
  53. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
  54. Sindh Land Alienation Bill, 1947
  55. Indian Independence Act, 1947

Legislations of British India – Introduction

It is one thing being familiar with the legislative acts passed during the British colonial rule but candidates must also know why some of these acts were passed. The display of extra knowledge will increase the chances of scoring higher marks in the exam.

The purposes of some of these acts are highlighted below:

Legislation in British India

Name of Legislation Purpose of Legislation Date of Enactment
Regulating Act of 1773 To overhaul management of  East India Company’s rule in India June 10th, 1773
Pitt’s India Act of 1784 This act was passed to address the shortcomings of the Regulating Act of 1773. It provided for the joint rule of the crown and company with the crown being the supreme authority. August 13th, 1784
Charter Act of 1813 It renewed the charter issued to East India Company by the British Crown but also ended the company’s monopoly in certain areas of trade. (Royal Assent) July 21st, 1813
Bengal Sati Regulation Act of 1829 This act made the practice of Sati illegal in all areas under company rule and its practitioners liable to prosecution December 4th, 1829
Hindu Widows Remarriage Act of 1856 This act legalised the remarriage of widows, who were earlier forbidden from marrying and shunned from society as a result.  July 26th, 1856
Government of India Act of 1858 Following the 1857 mutiny, the British Parliament passed this act to liquidate the East India Company. The colonial rule of India came directly under the control of the British Government. This act marks the beginning of the British Raj. August 2nd, 1858 (Commenced, 1st November 1858)
Indian Councils Act of 1892 This act bought various amendments to the composition and function of legislative councils of British India February 3rd, 1893 (Royal Assent on June 20th, 1892)
Government of India Act of 1919 This act expanded the participation of Indians in the government of India when earlier only British members were allowed to take part. December 23rd, 1919
Rowlatt Act, 1919 This act indefinitely extended the emergency measures of preventive indefinite detention, incarceration without trial and judicial review enacted in the Defence of India Act 1915 March 18th, 1919
Government of India Act of 1935 The act allowed for a greater degree of autonomy to the provinces of British India ending the diarchy introduced by the Government of India Act, 1919 April 1st, 1937 (Royal assent on 24th July 1935)
Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 This act regulates the Indian Labour Law with regards to trade unions as well as individual workmen April 1st, 1947
Indian Independence Act, 1947 It is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan. August 15, 1947 (Royal assent – July 18th, 1947 

Legislations in British India (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Legislation in British India


Why did the British pass laws in India?

The British passed various legislations in India with the motivation to preserve their commercial and economic interests along with preserving their own power in the Indian subcontinent.

What were the India acts?

The first several acts—passed in 1773, 1780, 1784, 1786, 1793, and 1830—were generally known as East India Company Acts. Subsequent measures—chiefly in 1833, 1853, 1858, 1919, and 1935—were entitled Government of India Acts.

In order for candidates to better test their static and dynamic knowledge, it is advisable that they take the UPSC Prelims Test Series. Along with testing their knowledge, the mock test allows candidates to better gauge their strengths and weaknesses, therefore allowing for a greater scope for improvement in any weak areas.

Related Links:

Cabinet Mission 1946 Historical Background of the Constitution of India UPSC Notes Simmon Commission Report NCERT notes for UPSC Ryotwari and Mahalwari Systems Revolutionary Movement in India Doctrine of Lapse Permanent Settlement of Bengal


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