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Historical Background

  • The British came to India in 1600 as traders, in the form of East India Company, which had the exclusive right of trading in India under a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I.

  • In 1765, the Company, which till now had purely trading functions obtained the ‘diwani’ (i.e., rights over revenue and civil justice) of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

  • The Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam, granted ‘Diwani’ to the Company after its victory in the Battle of Buxar (1764)

  • This started its career as a territorial power.

  • In 1858, in the wake of the ‘sepoy mutiny’, the British Crown assumed direct responsibility for the governance of India.

  • This rule continued until India was granted independence on August 15, 1947.
  • With Independence came the need of a Constitution.
  • As suggested by M N Roy (a pioneer of communist movement in India) in 1934, a Constituent Assembly was formed for this purpose in 1946 and on January 26, 1950, the Constitution came into being.
  • However, various features of the Indian Constitution and polity have their roots in the British rule.
  • There are certain events in the British rule that laid down the legal framework for the organisation and functioning of government and administration in British India.
  • These events have greatly influenced our constitution and polity.

  • They are explained here in a chronological order.

    • THE COMPANY RULE (1773–1858)

      • Regulating Act of 1773

      • Pitt’s India Act of 1784

      • Charter Act of 1833

      • Charter Act of 1853

    • THE CROWN RULE (1858–1947)

      • Government of India Act of 1858

      • Indian Councils Act of 1861, 1892 and 1909

      • Government of India Act of 1919

      • Government of India Act of 1935

      • Indian Independence Act of 1947

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