Important Acts under the Company Rule in India

To control the powers and role of the East India Company in India, British Parliament passed several acts between 1773 and 1853 before taking the governance in their own hands.

This post will list all the important Acts and their features that were introduced under the Company Rule in a precise way.

Regulating Act of 1773

It was the first step taken to control and regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India. It also recognized the political and administrative functions of the Company and laid the foundation of central administration in India.

The main features of this act were –

1. It designated Governor of Bengal as ‘Governer-General of Bengal’ (First Governor-General of Bengal was Warren Hastings)
2. Created an Executive Council of 4 members to assist him.
3. The Governor of Bombay and Madaras were made subordinate (lower in rank) to him.
4. First Supreme Court was set up in 1774 at Calcutta (Composition – 1 chief Justice + 3 other Judges)
5. This act prohibited the servants of the Company to trade or accept presents or bribes from ‘natives’ (Indians)
6. Court of directors (Body responsible for administration in India) was required to submit report on revenue, civil and military affairs to the British Government.

Pitt’s India Act of 1784

Also called Settlement Act as it was introduced to rectify the defects of the regulating act.

For the first time, the Company’s territory in India was called the “British possessions” in India. It also gave the British Government supreme control over the Company affairs and administrations.

The main features of this act were –

1. It distinguished between the political and commercial functions of the Company.
2. Created a new body called the Board of Control to manage political affairs. Commercial affairs were managed by the Court of Directors. It hence established a system of double government.
3. The Board of Control was empowered to direct all operations of the civil and military government or revenues of the British Possessions in India.

Charter Act of 1833

This act was introduced to finalize the centralization in British India.

The main features of this act were –

1. It designated the Governor-General of Bengal as the Governor-General of India and gave him all civil and military powers (First Governor-General of India was Lord William Bentick)
2. Governor of Bombay and Madras were deprived of their legislative powers.
3. The laws made under this act were called ‘Acts’ and declared all the laws made under previous acts as ‘Regulations’.
4. East India Company became a purely administrative body ending its commercial functions.
5. This act attempted to introduce a system of open competition for the selection of civil servants for Indians also. However, this provision was struck down.

Charter Act of 1853

This was the last Act passed by the British Parliament under the Company Rule.

The main features of this act were –

1. For the first time, it separated the legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General Council. It established a separate Legislative Council (called Indian/Central Legislative Council) consisting of 6 new members.
2. It introduced an open competition system for the selection and recruitment of Civil servants thus making Indians eligible to compete. Hence, Macaulay Committee was appointed in 1854 for Civil Services.
3. It extended the Company’s rule but without any particular period indicating that the Company’s rule could be ended at any time the parliament liked.
4. It introduced Local Representation in the Legislative Council for the first time. Out of 6 members, 4 were appointed by the local (provincial) governments of Madras, Bombay, Bengal, and Agra.

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