Regulating Act of 1773
The Regulating Act of 1773 was the first step taken by the British Parliament to control and regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India. Before we dive deeper into the provisions of this act, let’s understand why this act was brought by the British parliament in the first place.
Background of Regulating Act of 1773
The English East India Company was established on 31 December 1600 as per the Royal Charter issued by the Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Under this charter, the Company got the exclusive right of trading in India.
However, After the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the Battle of Buxar in 1764, the Company became a political power in India. In 1772, The company appointed Warren Hastings as governor of Bengal.
Early administration of the Company was corrupt and notorious. When the Company was in financial trouble, its servants were becoming richer every day by doing private trade.
Also, The Dual form of administration instituted by Robert Clive was very complex which brought lot of hardships for farmers and the general population.
The disastrous famine which broke out in Bengal in 1770 affected the agriculturists. As a result, the revenue collection was also poor.
In short, the Company was on the brink of bankruptcy. In 1773, the Company approached the British government for an immediate loan. It was under these circumstances that the Parliament of England resolved to regulate the affairs of the Company.
Important Provisions of Regulating Act of 1773
The important provisions of the Act were:
- The political and administrative functions of the company were recognized for the first time.
- It laid the foundation of central administration in India.
- It designated the Governor of Bengal as the ‘Governor-General of Bengal’ and created an executive council of four members to assist him. The first such Governor General was Lord Warren Hastings.
- It made the governors of Bombay and Madras presidencies subordinate to the governor-general of Bengal. Earlier, the three presidencies were independent of one another.
- It provided for the establishment of a Supreme Court at Calcutta (1774). Sir Elijah Impey was appointed as the first chief justice of the Supreme Court.
- It prohibited the servants of the Company from engaging in any private trade.
- It strengthened the control of the British Government over the Company by requiring the Court of Directors (governing body of the Company) to report on its revenue, civil, and military affairs in India.
Merit of Regulating Act of 1773
The greatest merit of this Act was that it put an end to the arbitrary rule of the Company and provided a framework for all future enactments relating to the governance of India.
Defects of Regulating Act 1773
The main defect of the Act were :
- It curtailed the powers of Governor-General.
- Powers of the Supreme Court’s were also not well-defined.
- As Governor-General had no veto power, this often created deadlocks in decision making between the Governor-General, his council and the Supreme Court .
- This act changed the administrative structure of the Company however it did not address the concerns of the Indian population in general.
Many of these defects were rectified by the Amending Act of 1781, also known as the Act of Settlement and later by the Pitt’s India Act of 1784.