A Comparative Study of the Indian Constitution - Vol. 1

By Sirdar D. K. Sen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION

ONE of the basic features of the Indian Republic is that it not only possesses a federal structure but is also a decentralized unitary State. Originally the Indian Federation comprised two different and distinct categories of constituent units. There were, in the first place, nine Part A States which previously formed an integral portion of the unitary State of British India and secured their autonomous status under the Government of India Act, 1935. The second category included nine Princely States or Unions of States. These did not form part of British India, nor were they within the legislative jurisdiction of the British Parliament. Their relations with the British Crown were governed by treaties, engagements and sanads. Part C States, which were not strictly speaking constituent units of the Indian Federation but were decentralized portions of the Indian Republic, also belonged to this category with the exception of the States of Delhi, Ajmer and Coorg which were British territories directly under the control of the Government of India. These historical differences between the two different categories of constituent units naturally led to different lines of constitutional and political development, and although under the latest amendments to the Indian Constitution, the distinction between these categories has disappeared, the differences did survive in the first stage of the federalizing process as a result of the differences in historical antecedents.

Six Periods of Constitutional Development. First Period: Evolution of the East India Company. The constitutional history of the first category of States which jointly made up what was known as British India falls into six distinct periods. The first began with the establishment of the East India Company as a trading corporation under Queen Elizabeth's Charter of 1600. This Charter

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