The Company Rule in India (1773-1858)

  • Beginning of Rule:The British East India Company was established as a trading company in 1600 and transformed into a ruling body in 1765.
  • Interference in Internal Affairs: After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the East India Company got the Diwani(right to collect revenue) of Bengal, Bihar and Orissaand gradually, it started interfering in Indian affairs.
  • Exploitation of Power:The period from 1765-72 saw duality in the system of governmentwhere the Company had the authority but no responsibility and its Indian representatives had all the responsibility but no authority.
  • Rampant corruptionamong servants of the Company.
  • Excessive revenue collectionand oppression of peasantry.
  • The Company’s bankruptcy,while the servants were flourishing.
  • Response of British Government: To bring some order into the business, the British government decided to regulate the Company with a gradual increase in laws.

Regulating Act of 1773

  • Significance
  • This was the first step taken by British Government to control and regulate the affairs of East India Company in India.
  • The political and administrative functions of the company were recognized for the first time.
  • It laid the foundation for central administration in India
  • Features
  • Governor of Bengal was designated as the Governor General of Bengal (Fort William)
  • Governors of Bombay and Madras became subordinate to the Governor General
  • Executive Council of 4 members was formed to assist Governor General
  • Supreme Court established – Lord Elijah Impey was the first chief justice of Bengal
  • Officers were prohibited from private trade or accepting bribe

  • Facts
  • First Governor General – Warren Hastings
  • Supreme Court had one chief justice and three judges
  • The court heard cases with the help of Jury of British subjects
  • The Court of Directors (24) had to submit report on its Revenue – civil and military

Jurisdiction Act of 1781

  • Features
  • Exempted public servant’s actions done during official capacity from scrutiny of Supreme Court
  • Jurisdiction over inhabitants of Calcutta and administer personal law of defendant
  • Supreme court to consider religions and social customs while enforcing decrees
  • Appeal from provincial court to Governor General-in-council is final for cases less than 5000 pounds
  • If it is more than 5000 pounds then appeal is sent to King-in-Council

Pitts India Act of 1784

  • Significance
  • For the first time, company’s territory in India was called as British possessions in India
  • British government got complete control over company’s affairs and its administration
  • Features
  • Demarcated the political and commercial functions of the company
  • Commercial affairs to be managed by the Court of Directors
  • Political affairs to be managed by a newly formed Board of Control
  • Board of Control can supervise the operations of the government and revenue

Executive council’s members were decreased from 4 to 3

Act of 1786

  • Features
  • To convince Cornwallis to accept the Governor-Generalship (by Pitt)
  • Governor General got powers to override his council is extraordinary cases on his own responsibility

Charter Act of 1793

  • Features
  • Company’s privileges extended to 20 years
  • Power to override council by Governor General was extended to all future Governor Generals and Governors
  • All the members salary was to be paid from Indian Revenue (practiced up to 1919)
  • Permission for East India Company to ship opium from India to China
  • Country privileges given to the officials of East India Company to trade outside India

Charter Act of 1813

  • Features
  • Monopoly ended except for tea trade and trade with China
  • Allotted one lakh annually for education and improvement of literature and Science etc.
  • Christian missionaries allowed to preach in India

Charter Act of 1833

  • Significance
  • Came in the wake of Industrial revolution and liberal principles in England
  • The Act created for the first time, a government of India having authority over the State territorial area possessed by the British
  • Features
  • Governor General of Bengal was designated as Governor General of India
  • Bombay and Madras presidency lost their legislation powers
  • Governor General got complete control over civil and military affairs
  • A law member was added as the fourth member to the Governor General’s Council
  • Law commission was constituted in 1834
  • Laws made from these acts were named as Acts (previously called Regulations)
  • Government makes Act, while Company makes Regulation. So, EIC started acting as Government.
  • East India Company had to end its monopoly over commercial activities. (became an administrative body mainly*)
  • Facts
  • First Governor General of India: William Bentick (1828 -1835)
  • T.B. Macaulay became the first law member, also the first law commission’s chairman.
  • This act tried but failed to introduce open competition for civil services
  • Section 87, no discrimination to office under company (between Indians and British Residents)
  • Abolition of slavery by Act V of 1843

Charter Act of 1853

  • Features
  • A separate governor was appointed for Bengal
  • Extended the company’s rule to possess Indian territories. (no specific tenure)
  • For the first time separated the legislature and executive functions of Governor General’s Council
  • Open competition was introduced to recruit for civil services
  • Macaulay Committee was introduced to recruit for Civil Services

Charter Act of 1853

  • Number of Court of Directors (at London) were reduced from 24 to 18
  • Legislation became a separate entity
  • Central legislative Council was formed comprising of –
  • 6 legislative members
  • 4 members from local provincial governments
  • 2 members appointed by the British
  • 1 chief Justice of Calcutta + 1 puisne judge of Calcutta

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