The Company Rule (1773-1858)

The Company Rule (1773-1858)

There are many Regulating Acts and Charter Acts between 1773 and 1858,which were enforced by the East India Company. These acts are discussed in detail in this chapter.

Regulating Act of 1773

The East India Company was important to the British Empire and its shareholders. Due to the financial crisis of the company, the British Prime Minister, lord North, decided to overhaul the management of the East India company by the Regulating Act of 1773. This was the first step taken by the British government to control and regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India. This act laid the foundations of central administration in India.

Features of Regulating Act 1773

  • Earlier, the three presidencies were Bengal, Bombay, and Madras. These were independent of each other. When the Regulating Act of 1773 was enforced, then the governors of Bombay and Madras presidencies became subordinate to the governor-general of Bengal.
  • The Governor of Bengal became the ‘Governor-General of Bengal’ with an executive council of four members to assist him. Decisions were taken by the majority of the members, and if any decision tied, then the voting rights were given to the Governor-General.
  • Lord Warren Hastings was the first such Governor-General.
  • This Act was prohibiting the servants of the Company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the native.
  • A Supreme Court was established in Calcutta in 1774, comprising one chief justice and three other judges.

Pitts India Act of 1784

The Regulating Act of 1773 had many defects, these defects were tried to be removed by the Pitts India Act Of 1784.This Act is also known as The East India Company Act of 1784.The Pitts India Act is named for the British Prime Minister ‘William Pitt the Younger’.

Features of Pitts India Act 1784

  • This Act was provided for the appointment of a Board of Control. A Board of control had six members for political activities and a court of directors for financial/commercial activities.

  • A joint government of British India was established in this Act by the Company and Crown. It established the system of dual control of India, and these changes continued until 1858.
  • The East India Company’s territories in India were called the “British possession in India” for the first time.
  • It provided the British government with complete control over the Company’s affairs and its administration in India.
  • The dual system of control, the Company was represented by the Court of Directors and the British Government by the Board of Control. The Board of Control members were appointed to monitor and direct the Company’s policies.

Charter Act of 1793

The Charter Act of 1773 is also known as The East India Company Act of 1793. It gave the rights to the Company, the Company’s trade monopoly will continue for another 20 years.

Features of Charter Act 1793

  • This Act was given more power to the Governor-General of Bengal. If the Governor-General is present in Madras or Bombay, he would supersede in authority over the governor’s power of Madras and Bombay.
  • It was ordered to the Company to give the salaries of the staff and the Board of Control members.
  • It was ordered that the Company had to pay the British government 5 lakh British pounds from India after all expenses.
  • If the Governor-General of Bengal were in absence in Bengal, then he could appoint a Vice President from among the civilian members of the council.
  • Due to this Act, Crown approval was mandated for the appointment of the Governor-General, the Governor, and the Commander-in-chief.
  • This Act allowed the East India Company’s rule in India for the further 20 years.

Charter Act of 1813

The Charter Act of 1813 is also known as the East India Company Act of 1813.This Act allowed the East India Company’s rule in India for the further 20 years.

Features of Charter Act 1813

  • The East India Company’s commercial monopoly was ended, except for the tea and opium trade.
  • The Christian Missionaries were allowed to spread their religion in India through this Act.
  • Also, this Act allowed the East India Company’s rule in India for the further 20 years.

  • Local autonomous bodies were empowered to levy taxes.
  • This Act empowered the provincial government and courts in India over European British subjects.

Charter Act of 1833

The Charter Act of 1833 is also known as the Saint Helena Act of 1833. This Act extended the East India Company rule in India for the further 20 years.

Features of Charter Act 1833

  • This Act made the Governor-General of Bengal as the Governor-General of India. Lord William Bentinck became the first governor general of India.
  • The island of Saint Helena is transferred from the East India Company to the British Crown through this Act.
  • The laws made under the previous Acts were called as Regulations while laws made under this Act were called as Acts.
  • The British India Company ended the activities as a commercial body, and it became a purely administrative body.
  • This Act introduced a system of open competition for the selection of civil servants, but the Indians should not be debarred from holding any place, office and employment under the Company. However, this provision was negated after opposition from the Court of Directors.
  • This Act deprived the Governors Bombay and Madras of their legislative powers. The Governor-General of India was given exclusive legislative powers for the entire British India.

Charter Act of 1853

The Charter Act of 1833 was renewed in 1853, but this time not for another twenty years. The Charter Act of 1853 was the last Charter Act passed by the British Parliament between 1793 and 1853.

Features of Charter Act 1853

  • This Act introduced an open competition system of selection and recruitment of civil servants, also open for Indians. According to the Macauley Committee, which was appointed in 1854.

  • It allowed the Company’s rule in India. But it did not specify any particular period, unlike the previous charters. It was a clear indication that the Company’s rule could be terminated at any time by the British Parliament.
  • This Act provided that the salaries of members of the Board of Control, its secretary, and other officers would be fixed by the British Government. But these salaries would be paid by the Company.
  • A separate Governor for Bengal was to be appointed through this Act.
  • The members of the Court of Directors were reduced from 24 to 18 out of which 6 were to be nominated by the British Crown.
  • This Act also provided for the separation of the executive and legislative functions of the Governor-General’s council by adding new members.
  • For the first time, this Act introduced local representation in the Indian legislative council. Out of six members, four members were appointed local governments of Madras, Bombay, Agra, and Bengal.


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