Administrative & Legislative Reforms Before 1857 During British Rule

Updated July 22, 2022

The British came as a trader, but political hostility in India inspired them to start their career as a territorial power. They implemented numerous acts and reforms to shape the administrative as well as a legislative structure. The British Administrative and Legislative Reforms Before 1857 During British Rule in India, witnessed the evolution administrative as well as the legislative structure that can also be seen in today’s India.

Various Administrative & Legislative Reforms Before 1857

Regulating Act of 1773

  • Regulating Act of 1773 was passed by the British Parliament to control and regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India.
  • Governance of the East India Company was put under British parliamentary control.
  • It designated the Governor of Bengal as the ‘Governor-General’ for all the three presidencies. First Governor-General was Lord Warren Hastings.
  • A supreme court was established in Calcutta (1774) having one chief justice and three other judges.
  • It prohibited the worker’s Company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the natives.
  • Governor-General was empowered to make rules and ordinances with the contest of the supreme court.

Pit India Act of 1784

  • The East India Companies Act, also known as the Pitt’s India Act, was enacted to address the deficiencies of the Regulation Act of 1773. And, bring about better discipline in the company’s administration system.
  • This act set up a 6-members board of controller which was headed by a minister of the British government. Through which the British government could control all political responsibilities.
  • Trade and commerce related issues were under the purview of the Court of Directors of the company.
  • The instructions of the Central Government were following by provinces. And, Governor-General was empowered to dismiss the failing provincial government.

Charter Act of 1793

  • The Charter Act of 1793, was passed in the British Parliament in which the company charter was renewed.
  • The members of the Board of Controllers were provided from Indian revenue for the payment of salaries.
  • Courts were empowered to interpret the rules and regulations.
  • In this Act, the main provisions of the previous Acts were consolidated.
  • This Act continued the company’s trade monopoly in India for another 20 years.

Charter Act of 1813

  • Trade monopoly of the East India Company ended.
  • Powers of the three councils of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta were enlarged, they were also subjected to greater control of the British parliament.
  • The British government had allowed the Christian missionaries to spread their religion in India.
  • The British government had empowered local autonomous bodies to levy taxes.

Charter Act of 1833

  • The governor-general and his council were given great powers. It had the power to legislate on any subject of India and then the law or ordinance legislate by the governor-general and his council would go for the approval of the Board of Controller.
  • The East India Company was reduced to an administrative and political entity and several lords and ministers were nominated as ex-officio members of the Board of Controllers.
  • The council got full powers regarding revenue and Governor-General was prepared a single budget for the country.
  • The East India company trade links with China were also closed down.
  • For the first time, the Governor-General’s Government was known as the ‘Government of India’ and his council as the ‘Indian Council’.

Charter Act of 1853

  • Charter Act of 1853 was the last of Charter Acts. And, it made important changes in the system of Indian legislation.
  • This Act followed a report of the then Governor-General Dalhousie for improving the administration of the company.
  • A separate governor was to be appointed for Bengal.
  • The legislative and administrative functions of the council were separately identified.
  • The recruitment of the Company’s employees was to be done through competitive exams.
  • The British Parliament was empowered to end the rule of the company at any suitable time.

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