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. 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 for a Constitution. Hence, 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 were 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 under two major headings :

  1. The Company Rule (1773 – 1858)
  2. The Crown Rule (1858 – 1947)


Next Page :THE COMPANY RULE  (1773–1858)