Modern India – British Company Rule ACT 1773 – 1858

BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY RULE ACT (1773 – 1858) – Exam Preparation Free Study Material

Regulating Act of 1773

The Regulating Act of 1773 opened a new chapter in the constitutional history of the Company. Previously, the Home government in England consisted of the Court of Directors and the Court of Proprietors. The Court of Directors were elected annually and practically managed the affairs of the Company. In India, each of the three presidencies was independent and responsible only to the Home Government.

The government of the presidency was conducted by a Governor and a Council. It designated the Governor of Bengal as the ‘Governor-General of Bengal’ and created an Executive Council of four members to assist him. The first Governor-General was Lord Warren Hastings.

It made the governors of Bombay and Madras presidencies subordinate to the governor-general of Bengal, unlike earlier, when the three presidencies were independent of one another. It provided for the establishment of a Supreme Court at Calcutta (1774) comprising one chief justice and three other judges. It prohibited the servants of the Company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the ‘natives.

Pitt’s India Act of 1784
It distinguished between the commercial and political functions of the Company. It allowed the Court of Directors to manage the commercial affairs but created a new body called Board of Control to manage the political affairs. Thus, it established a system of double government.

Charter Act of 1833

This Act was the final step towards centralisation in British India. It made the Governor-General of Bengal as the Governor-General of India and vested in him all civil and military powers Lord William Bentick was the first governor-general of India. It deprived the governor of Bombay and Madras of their legislative powers. The laws made under the previous acts were called as Regulations while laws made under this act were called as Acts. It ended the activities of the East India Company as a commercial body, which became a purely administrative body.

Charter Act of 1853

It separated, for the first time, the legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General’s council. It provided for addition of six new members called legislative councillors to the council. In other words, it established a separate Governor-General’s legislative council which came to be known as the Indian (Central) Legislative Council.It introduced an open competition system of selection and recruitment of civil servants. The covenanted civil service was thus thrown open to the Indians also.It introduced, for the first time, local representation in the Indian (Central) Legislative Council. Of the six new legislative members of the governor-general’s council, four members were appointed by the local (provincial) governments of Madras, Bombay, Bengal and Agra.

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