Constitutionally, the princely states were not part of British India nor were their inhabitants British subjects. The British Parliament had no power to legislate for the States or their people. Elucidate the ways in which crown's relationship with the Indian states was maintained during pre-independence era.

While the political relationship of the British Crown and British India was characterized by the complete supremacy of British sovereignty, the political relationship between the British Crown and princely states was defined to be a relationship of Paramountcy. The difference between sovereignty and Paramountcy relates to the scope and extent of control in the internal and external affairs of the State. While British India, in its internal and external matters, submitted fully to the British government, the Princely States were free from the control or interference of the British government in their internal affairs. The subject of external relations and defence of the Princely States was the responsibility of the British Crown.
In their internal affairs, the Indian States were formally free, though the British did interfere on various pretexts, including maladministration of the princes and rulers (this was a case of Oudh).Further, British used its modern communication infrastructure like post, railway, telegraph to encroach upon the powers of Princes.

Question for UPSC Mains:
"Constitutionally, the princely states were not part of British India nor were their inhabitants British subjects. The British Parliament had no power to legislate for the States or their people." Elucidate the ways in which crown's relationship with the Indian states was maintained during pre-independence era.

Published: September 18, 2017 | Modified:June 22, 2019

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