Updated February 5, 2022
The Government of India Act 1858 was passed on 2 August 1858, it was enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Its provisions called for the liquidation of the British East India Company and transferred of control of the British government in India to the British crown. At the time, Victoria was the queen and Lord Palmerston was a minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. And, Lord Palmerston introduced a bill for the transfer of control of the British government in India to the British crown, referring to serious flaws in the current system of government of India. However, before this bill was passed, Palmerston was forced to resign on another issue. But on later, Edward Henry Stanley or Lord Stanley introduced another bill which was originally titled as “An Act for the Better Government of India” and it was passed on August 2, 1858. It is also named as Government of India Act 1858.
Features of the Government of India Act 1858
- The British East India Company was liquidated.0
- This Act scrapped the system of double government by abolishing the Board of Control and Court of Directors.
- The act changed the designation of the Governor-General of India to Viceroy of India.
- The Viceroy was a direct representative of the British Government in India. Lord Canning thus became the first Viceroy of India.
- The Viceroy of the various Presidencies was appointed by the Crown.
- This act made India a direct British colony.
- This act also abolished the doctrine of lapse.
- All the authority for the government of India was vested in the Governor General-in-Council who was responsible to the secretary of state.
- The Secretary of state was ultimately responsible to the British Parliament. And Via the Secretary of State, the British parliament could ask questions regarding Indian affairs.
- It provided for absolute (British) imperial control over India without any popular participation in the administration of the country.
- The powers of the crown were to be exercised by the Secretary of state for India, assisted by a council of fifteen members, known as the council of India.
- The Country was divided into provinces headed by a governor or lieutenant Governor aided by his Executive council.
- The Provincial Governments had to function under the superintendence, direction, and control of the Governor-General in all matters.
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