There were few significant acts passed in British parliament after East India Company established in India, which resulted in expansion of Company influence in India and at the end it ended Company rule with replacing crown rule after revolt of 1857.
1). Regulating Act of 1773:
There are mainly three reasons for this act to have great constitutional importance:
- It was the first step taken by British Government to control and regulate the affairs of East India Company in India.
- It recognized for the first time, the political and administrative functions of the company.
- It laid foundations of central administration in India.
Features of the Act:
- 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 such Governor- General was Warren Hastings.
- It made governors of Bombay and Madras presidencies subordinates to govenor- general of Bengal. (Before this, three presidencies were independent of one another)
- It prohibited the servants of the company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the natives.
- It strengthened the control of the British Government over the company by requiring the court of Directors (governing body of the company) to report on its revenue, civil, and military affairs in India.
In a bid to rectify the defects of Regulating Act of 1773, the British parliament passed the Amending act of 1781, also known as Act of Settlement.
The next important act was the,
2). Pitt’s India Act of 1784:
This act was significant for two reasons:
- Company’s territories in India were for the first time called British possessions in India.
- British government was given the supreme control over company’s affairs and administration in India.
Features of the Pitt’s India Act :
- It distinguished between the commerical and political functions of the company.
- It allowed the Court of Directors to manage the commerical affairs but created a new body called Board of Control to Manage the Political affairs. Basically, it established a system of double government.
- It empowered the Board of Control to supervise and direct all operations of the Civil and military government or revenues of the British possessions in India.
For the final Final centralisation in British India, Charter Act of 1833 passed by the British Administration.
3). Charter Act of 1833 :
Features of Charted Act of 1833:
- It made Govenor- General of Bengal as the Governor-General of India and vested in him all civil and military powers. William Bentick was the first Governor general of India.
- It deprived the govenor 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 activities of the East India company as a commercial body, which became a purely administrative body.
- The charter act of 1833 attempted to introduce a system of open competition for selection of civil servants and stated that the Indians should not be debarred from holding any place, office and employment under the company. However, the provision was negated after opposition from the Court of Directors.
The last act of this series passed by British Parliament was Charter Act of 1853. It was a significant constitutional landmark.
4). Charter Act of 1853:
Features of 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. Basically, 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 . Accordingly , the Macaulay Committee (the Committee on the Indian Civil Service) was appointed in 1854.
- It extended the Company’s rule and allowed it to retain the possession of Indian territories on trust for the British Crown. But , it did not specify any particular period , unlike the previous Charters . This was a clear indication that the Company’s rule could be terminated at any time the Parliament liked.
- It introduced, for the first time, local representa tion 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) govern ments of Madras, Bombay, Bengal and Agra .