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Laws from the time of the Company’s Rule (1773-1858)

  1. The Regulating Act of 1773


The Regulating Act of 1773 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain intended to overhaul the management of the East India Company’s rule in India. The Act did not prove to be a long-term solution to concerns over the Company’s affairs.

Pitt’s India Act was therefore subsequently enacted in 1784 as a more radical reform.

Provisions of the Act:

  1. The Act limited the East India Company’s dividends to 6% until it repaid a GB£1.5M loan (passed by an accompanying act).
  2. The Act restricted the Court of Directors to four-year terms.
  3. It prohibited the servants of company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the native Indian people.
  4. The Act elevated Governor of Bengal, Warren Hastings to Governor-General of Bengal and subsumed the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay under Bengal’s control. Governor of Bengal became the Governor General of Bengal with an Executive Council of four to assist him. Decisions would be taken by majority and Governor General could only vote in case of tie.
  5. A Supreme Court was established at Fort William at Calcutta. British judges were to be sent to India to administer the British legal system that was used there.

  1. Pitt’s India Act of 1784


The East India Company Act 1784, also known as Pitt’s India Act, was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain intended to address the shortcomings of the Regulating Act of 1773 by bringing the East India Company’s rule in India under the control of the British Government.

Named for British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, the Act provided for the appointment of a Board of Control, and provided for a joint government of British India by the Company and the Crown with the Government holding the ultimate authority.

Provisions of the Act:

  1. The Act provided for not more than sixPrivy Counsellors, including a Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be appointed “Commissioners for the Affairs of India”. Of these, not fewer than three formed a Board to execute the powers under the Act.
  2. The Board was presided over by a President, who soon effectively became the Minister for the Affairs of the East India Company.
  3. The Act stated that the Board would henceforth “superintend, direct and control” the government of the Company’s possessions, in effect controlling the acts and operations relating to the civil, military and revenues of the Company.
  4. The Governing Council of the Company was reduced to three members. The Governors ofBombay and Madras were deprived of their independence.
  5. The Governor- General was given greater powers in matters of war, revenue and diplomacy.

The Charter Act of 1833


The Charter Act of 1833 received royal assent on August 28, 1833 and came into force on April 22, 1834.

Provisions of the Act:

  1. The Governor-General of Bengal was designated as the Governor-General of India. The Governor General in council got the powers of superintendence, direction and control of the whole civil and military government and the revenues of India.
    There was centralization of the legislative powers.
  2. A legislative council was set up, which was given the power to repeal or amend any law in India, with the exception of the Charter of 1833.
  3. All the laws which were passed by the Legislative Council were called as Acts of the Government of India, before this they were called as regulations.

The Charter Act of 1853


This Act was the last Charter Act. It brought about significant changes in the Governor General’s Council. The Charter Act of 1853 marked the expansion of the Council of the Governor General for legislative purposes.

The council for legislative purposes which had 6 members now was expanded to 12 members. These new members were called Legislative Councilors.

Provisions of the Act:

  1. As per the Act, the 12 members of the Legislative Council were :
    1. The Governor General (1)
    2. The Commander- in- Chief (1)
    3. The Members of the Governor General’s Council (4)
    4. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Calcutta (1)
    5. A regular judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta (1)
    6. Representative members drawn from the Company’s servants with 10 years minimum tenure and appointed by the local Governments of Bengal, Madras, Bombay and North Western provinces.
    7. The fourth member (Lord Macaulay) was placed at an equal status with other members. He was also made entitled to sit and vote in the meetings of the Executive Council of the Governor General.

  1. Birth of the Indian Civil Services (ICS) Examination.
  1. The previous charter act of 1833 had lain down that the Court of Directors should nominate annually 4 times as many candidates as there were vacancies, from which one should be selected by competitive examination.

  1. A Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Macaulay prepared the regulations in this context.
  2. The Committee mentioned that there should be a broad general education rather than specialized education for the ICS recruits.
  3. The recruitment should be based upon an open competitive examination to bring out the best candidates and not through mere superficial knowledge.
  4. The appointments should be subject to a period of probation.

  1. Charter Act of 1853 deprived the Court of Directors of its right of Patronage to Indian appointments and now it was to be exercised under the regulations.
  2. Separate Governor for Presidency of Bengal.
  3. The Charter act of 1853 provided for appointment of a separate Governor for the Presidency of Bengal, distinct from the Governor General.
  4. However, the court of Directors and the Board of Control were authorized to appoint a lieutenant governor, till the appointment of a Governor was made.
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