All acts from 1773 to 1947 Upsc

The Company Rule

The Company rules are Regulating Act of 1773, Pitts India Act of 1784, Charter Act of 1793, Charter Act of 1833, and Charter Act of 1853. These rules came between 1773 to 1858. After 1858, the rules formed were called the Crown Rule.

Regulating Act of 1773

Regulating Act of 1773 was the first step by the British Crown to laid laws to regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India. It also laid the foundation of central administration in India.

Feature of Regulating Act 1773

  • The Governor of Bengal was designated as Governor-General of Bengal. The Executive Council of four members was created to assist the Governor-General of Bengal.

  • Lord Warren Hastings was the first Governor-general of Bengal. Earlier, the three presidencies were independent, but now the Governor of Madras and Bombay presidencies were made subordinate to the Governor-General of Bengal.

  • The Supreme court of Calcutta was established in1774 with one chief justice and three other judges.

  • Prohibited the Worker of the company to do private trade. Also Prohibited the workers of the company to accept Gifts, Bribes from the native people.

  • British control over the company was strengthened, by making the Court of Directors report its affairs such as revenue, and civil and military affairs to the British Government.

Act of Settlement or Amending Act of 1781

Regulating the Act of 1773 got some defects. In order to rectify those defects Act of Settlement or Amending Act of 1781 was made.

Amending act of 1781 features

  • It exempts the acts done by the Governor-General and the Council from the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for their official action. It also exempts the worker of the company from the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for their official action.

  • It exempts the revenue and revenue collection from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

  • The Supreme court will have jurisdiction over the inhabitants of Calcutta.

  • The Supreme court is required to administer the personal law of defendants. Hindu law for Hindus and Mohammedan Law for Muslims.

  • The appeal from the Provincial Courts could be taken to Governor-General-in-Council and not to the Supreme Court.

  • Now the Provincial court and council, regulation could be framed by Governor-in-Council.

Pitts India act of 1784

Pitt’s India Act (1784), was named after the British prime minister William Pitt the Younger. It was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain intended to address the drawbacks of the Regulating Act of 1773.

Pitts India act of 1784 features

  • The Pitts India Act (1784), distinguished the Political and Commercial functions of the company. By Pitts Acts, the Court of Directors will manage the commercial affairs, and the Board of Control will manage Political affairs. By this policy, the Double Government System is established.

  • It increased the power of the Board of Control in affairs of revenue and civil and military government possession in India. After, the Company territories were first time called British Possessions in India.

  • Then the British government had supreme power over the company.

Charter Act of 1786

It was a supplementary act passed in 1786. This act made Lord Cornwallis appointed as the Governor-general of Bengal.

Act of 1786 features

  • Lord Cornwallis was appointed as the 2nd governor-general of Bengal, and the effective ruler of British India by the authority of the Board of Control and Court of Directors.

  • By this law, the Governor-General got more powers and power over the Madras and Calcutta Presidencies.

  • This law also extended the trade Monopoly of East India Company in India for the next twenty years.

  • As per this act, the commander-in-chief was not to be a member of the Governor-General Council, unless he is appointed.

  • The members of the Board of Control and its servants are to be paid out of the Indian Revenue.

Charter Act of 1813 or East India Company Act, 1813

Charter Act of 1813 passed by the British Parliament renewed the East India Company’s charter for another 20 years.

Charter Act of 1813 features

  • This act abolished the EIC trade monopoly in India. EIC monopoly continued in tea and trade with China. This act asserted the sovereignty of the British Empire over the Company Territory of India.

  • It allowed Christian missionaries in India. It allowed western education for people in British Territories in India.

  • It allowed the local government to impose taxes and allowed punishment in case of non-payment of taxes.

Charter Act of 1833 or Saint Helena Act 1833

Charter Act of 1833 was passed in the British Parliament which renewed the East India Company’s charter for another 20 years. The company’s trade with China is brought to an end. This act allowed the Brits to settle freely in India.

Charter Act of 1833 Features

  • As per this Act, the Governor-General of Bengal made as to the Governor-General of India. He was vested with all the power of civil and military.

  • For the first time, the government of India has complete authority over the territory possessed by British in India. The powers of the Governor of Madras and Bombay were deprived.

  • The Governor-general of India was given full legislative power of the entire British possessions in India.

  • By the Charter Act of 1833, the laws made previous to this Act were called Regulations, and laws made by the Act of 1833 were called Acts. It also ended the EIC as a commercial body.

  • EIC then becomes the pure administrative body. This law provided the Company’s territories in India to the British Crown and its heirs and successors.

  • Introduced open competition for civil service exams to Indians. This law also states that Indians should not be debarred from holding any position under the company.

  • But it was negated after being opposed by the court of directors.

Charter Act of 1853

This is the last charter Act passed between 1793 and 1853, in British Parliament. This Act did not mention the time period of the company charter being renewed.  Charter Act of 1853 empowered the British East India Company to retain the territories and the revenues in India in trust for the British crown and not mention its time and will be specified by the parliament.

Main features of charter act 1853

  • For the first time, the legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General’s council were separated. It also provided an additional 6 members to the council called Legislative councillors. Out of 6 new legislative members, 4 members were appointed by the provincial governors of Madras, Bombay, Bengal, and Agra.

  • It established Indian Legislative Council and it adopted the procedures of the British Parliament. The Civil Services was opened to the Indians.

  • The committee on the Indian Civil Service was appointed in 1854, as Macaulay Committee. The Act also extended the EIC rule and allowed it to retain its territories in India on trust for the British Crown.

  • But it did not specify any time period like mentioned in the previous charters.

British laws in India after 1857 or Crown Rule

Government of India Act 1858

This act was passed after the Revolt of 1857. To know more about the Revolt of 1857 kindly check the book Indian War of Independence 1857. It aims to create a responsible government. Also, it abolished the East India Company and transferred its power to the British Crown.

Features of Government of India Act 1858

  • India will be governed by ‘Her Majesty’. The designation of Governor-general of India was changed to Viceroy of India.

  • Viceroy was the direct representative of the British Crown in India. The first Viceroy of India was Lord Canning.

  • It abolished the Board of Control and Court of Directors. Thereby double government is abolished. Then it created the Secretary of State for India.

  • Secretary of State, a new office that was responsible for the authority and control over the Indian administration. The Secretary of State is responsible for the British Parliament and is a member of the British Cabinet. The Secretary of the state is assisted by 15 member Council of India, which was established.

  • The secretary of state is made Chairman of the Council of India.

Indians Council Act of 1861

This act made significant changes in the Governor-General’s Council. The Indian Councils Act 1861 restored the power of legislation to the governor-in-councils of Madras and Bombay in respective matters.

Indian council act 1861 features

  • For the first time, Indians were associated with the law-making process. Some Indian were selected as non-official members of the expanded council by Viceroy.

  • These three Indians are selected to the legislative council by Lord Canning in 1862. They are Raja of Benaras, Maharaja of Patiala and Sir Dinkar Rao.

  • Decentralization of powers was initiated as Powers was restored to the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay.

  • As your centralization of powers started in 1773 by Regulating Act of 1773 and reached its zenith with the Charter Act of 1833.

  • By this New legislative councils were established for Bengal in 1862, North-Western Provinces in 1886, and Punjab in 1897.

  • It gave recognition to the portfolio system which was introduced by Lord Canning in 1859.

  • This act empowered the Viceroy to issue ordinances, without approval or informing the legislative council during an emergency and its life is 6 months.

Indian Council Act of 1892

 Indian Councils Act 1892 was an act of the British Parliament that increased the size of the legislative councils in India.

The act dealt exclusively with the powers, functions, and composition of the Legislative Councils in India.

Indian council act 1892 features

  • This Act increased the seats of non-official members in Provincial legislative councils and Central legislative councils. It maintained the official majority on them.

  • These acts increase the powers of the legislative council and gave powers of discussing the budget and other issues to the executive.

  • This act allowed the nomination of some non-official members of the a) Central Legislative Council by the viceroy based on the recommendation of the provincial legislative councils and the Bengal Chamber of commerce, And provincial legislative councils by the governors on the recommendation of the district boards, municipalities, universities, trade associations, zamindars, and chambers.

Indian Councils Act of 1909

Also referred to as Minto Morley reforms.

Features of Indian Council Act 1909

  • Both Central and Provincial legislative council sizes were increased. In Central legislative councils the seat increased from 16 to 60. Where the Provincial legislative council the seat was not uniform.

  • It retained the official majority of the central legislative council to have a non-official majority. Its the first time allowed Indians with executive councils of the Viceroys.

  • Satyendra Prasad Sinha is the first Indian to join the Viceroy’s executive council. Then Satyendra Prasad Sinha was appointed as the Law member.

  • It introduced the communal system of representation for Muslims. This Act legalized Communalism and Lord Minto came to be known as Father of Communal Electorate.

  • Minto-Morley reforms also gave a separate representation of the presidency, corporations, chambers of commerce, universities, and zamindars.

Government of India Act 1919

Also called as Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms.

Feature Government of India Act 1919

  • This act lightened the central control over the provinces. This is done by demarcating (எல்லை நிர்ணயம் செய்தல்) and separating the central and provincial subjects. The provincial and central legislatures were permitted to make laws on their respective subjects. But the structure of the government still stayed centralized and unitary.

  • This act further divided the provincial subject into two parts they are transferred and reserved subjects. Transferred subject – This subject is administered by a governor and with aid of ministers who are responsible to the legislative council. Reserved Subject – This subject is administered by the governor and his executive council without being answerable to the legislative council. This dual system of governance is known as Dyarchy. This system first time introduced bicameralism and also direct elections in India.

  • By Bicameralism, the Indian Legislative Council was replaced by a bicameral legislature with Upper and lower houses, where the majority of its members were selected through direct elections.

  • Out of 6 members of the Viceroy executive council, three were to be Indians, other than the commander in chief.

  • It extended communal representation by providing separate electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo Indians, and Europeans.

  • Voting rights (Franchise) were given to a limited number of people on the basis of property, tax, or education.

  • A new office called as High Commissioner for India is created in London. Some functions of the Secretary of state for India were transferred to him.

  • These acts provided the establishment of a Public service commission by that central public service commission was established in 1926.

  • For the first time, it separated the provincial budget from the central budget and also authorized the provincial legislature to enact a budget.

Government of India Act 1935

This act was detailed and has 321 Sections and 10 schedules.

Features of Government of India Act 1935

  • It provided the establishment of the All India Federation consisting of provinces and princely states as units.

  • The powers were divided between the Centre and the states called as Federal list, Provincial list, and concurrent list.

  • Viceroy is given Residuary powers. But the federation did not happen.

  • Provincial autonomy was established in place of the Dyarchy. The Act introduced responsible Government in the provinces by that the governor was required to act with the advice of ministers who are responsible to the provincial legislature. This came into effect in 1937 and it was discontinued in 1939.

  • It introduced bicameralism in six out of eleven provinces. Thus legislatures of Bengal, Bombay, Madras, Bihar, Assam, and United Provinces were made bicameral consisting of a legislative council (upper house) and a legislative assembly (upper house).

  • This act provided communal representation by giving separate electorates for SC, women, and workers/labourers.

  • This act established the council of India which was established by the Government of India Act of 1858.

  • It extended the voting rights and about 10% of the total population got the voting right. This act established the Reserve Bank of India.

  • This act established the Federal Court in 1937.

  • This act provided for the establishment of not only a federal public service commission but also a provincial public service commission and joint public service commission for two or more provinces.

Indian Independence Act of 1947

On 20th February 1947, British Prime Minister Clement Atlee declared that British Rule in India will come to end by 30 June 1948. On 3 June 1947, Lord Mountbatten put a Partition plan known as Mountbatten Plan. Mountbatten’s plan was accepted by Congress and the Muslim league.

The feature of the Indian Independence Act of 1947

  • India declare Independence and Sovereign state on August 15, 1947. It provided a partition of India.

  • It abolished the office of the Viceroy and provided, a governor-general for each dominion.

  • “His majesty” government in Britain has no responsibility to India and Pakistan.

  • It gave power to the constituent assemblies of two dominions to frame their own constitution and abolish any act of the British Parliament, including the Independence Act itself.

  • It empowered the constituent assemblies of both dominions to frame legislation for their territories till the new constitutions were drafted and enforced.

  • It granted freedom to Indian princely states either to join Pakistan or India or to remain independent.


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* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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