Constitutional Experiment During the Rule of the East India Company-(1773-1857)

During this phase, the major constitutional experiment were incorporated in the following acts and regulations- 1. Regulating Act 1773 2. Pitt’s India Act 1784 3. Charter Act 1793 4. Charter Act 1813 5. Charter Act of 1833 6. Charter Act 1853

1. Regulating Act, 1773 :

Its major provisions included the following- (i) First attempt by the British Parliament to regulate the affairs of the Company; (ii) Provided for centralisation of Administration of Company’s territories in India; (iii) Governor of Bengal became Governor General for all British territories in India; (iv) Governor General and Council of 4 members was appointed for Bengal; (v) Court of Directors of 24 members was to be elected for 4 years, with one-fourth members retiring every year; (vi) Bombay (Maharashtra) and Madras (Tamil Nadu) Presidency subordinated to Ben¬gal Presidency; (vii) Supreme Court to be set up at Calcutta; and (viii) Company’s Servants forbidden from accepting bribes or doing private trade.

2. Pitt’s India Act, 1784 :

Its major provisions included the following- (i) Transferred the Indian affairs of the Company into the hands of the British Government; (ii) Abolished dual system of governance. Court of Directors consisting of 24 members to look after commercial functions; (iii) Board of Control consisting of 6 Parliamentary Commissioners was constituted to control civil, military and revenue affairs of India; (iv) Court of Directors had to comply with the orders and directions of the Board; (v) Strength of Governor-General’s Council reduced to 3; (vi) Control of Governor-General-in-Council on Bombay and Madras Presidency enlarged and made effective; and (vii) First effective substitution of Parliamentary Control over East India Company.

3. Charter Act, 1793 :

Its major provisions included the following- (i) Company given monopoly of trade for 20 more years (ii) Expenses and salaries of the Board of Control to be charged on Indian Revenue; and (iii) Governor-General could over-ride his Council.

4. Charter Act, 1813 :

Its major provisions included the following- (i) Company deprived of its trade monopoly in India except in tea and opium trade with China; (ii) All Englishmen could trade with India subject to certain restrictions; (iii) Rules and procedures made for use of Indian revenue; and (iv) A sum of Rs. 1 lakh earmarked annually for education.

5. Charter Act, 1833 :

Its major provisions included the following- (i) End of Company’s trade monopoly even in tea and opium with China; (ii) Company was asked to close its business at the earliest; (iii) Governor-General of Bengal to be Governor-General of India; (iv) Govt. of Madras and Bombay deprived of legislative powers; (v) A fourth member, Law Member, added to Council of Governor-General; (vi) Government Service was thrown open to the people of India; (viii) All laws made by Governor General council henceforth to be known Acts and ‘not regulations; (viii) Provision made for appointment of Law Commission for codification of laws; and (ix) Slavery was to be abolished.

6. Charter Act, 1853 :

Its major provisions included the following- (i) Expanded life of the Company for an unspecified period; (ii) For the first time a separate legislative machinery consisting of 12-member Legislative Council was created; (iii) Law member was made a full member of the Executive Council of the Governor-General. Six additional members added for legislative purposes; and (iv) Recruitment of Civil Services was based on open annual competitive examination.

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