Features and Objectives of Regulating Act of 1773 – Indian Polity
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Features, Objectives and Provisions of Regulating Act of 1773| UPSC IAS
The Regulating Act of 1773 was passed by the British Parliament with the object to removing the evils inherent in the Company’s Constitution and to provide an efficient and well-ordered administration to its territory in India. The Bill for this act was introduced by Lord North on May 18, 1773 and he stated ‘“Every article in it is framed with a view to placing the affairs of the Company on a solid and decisive establishment.”
Why Regulating Act of 1773 was introduced?
There were various reasons that created the background of Regulating Act of 1773 in which some of them are commercial and political activity of Company, defects of the dual government in Bengal, the role of English nabobs, financial bankruptcy of the Company and others.
• Company’s Territorial Sovereignty: After winning the Battle of Plassey and Battle of Buxar, East India Company was performing a dual function, commercial as well as political and its conduct was closely watched by authorities from England. It was a fundamental principle of the English Constitution that no nation should gain territories to become its sovereign. Thus, in India in the event that the Company was granted a sort of quasi-sovereign state, that was obviously an unusual situation. This was why it had become crucial to the British Crown to either regularize the territorial status of the Company within India or to acquire the entire territory.
• The Defects of the Dual Government in Bengal: The double or dual system of Bengal ‘a system where those with authority, i.e., the Company was not concerned with anything other than its money and those responsible for administration were powerless’ was extremely damaging. There were brutal oppression of the populace and and both the servants of the Nawab and Company’s officers competed with each other to fill their treasury. The working of the dual government had thus caused disaster to the people.
The servants of the Company further added to their miseries and sufferings. The famine of 1770 A.D. further worsened the situation.
• The Role of the English Nabobs: After getting the Diwani rights of Bengal, there was a great change had come in the attitude of the Company, who were nicknamed as “English nabobs”. They made huge profits through illegal and extortion from the people who were poor in India. They took huge wealth of England. The illicit money from India was spent in a way that was unsuitable for England. Through bribing voters in the local Rotten Boroughs, they gained access to the Parliament. The general public in England was deeply agitated by the tales of fraudulent ways that the “Nabobs” gained huge wealth and the upper class became in awe of their power when they appeared in Parliament as representative of the restorative Boroughs. Public opinion across England demanded a decisive intervention by the Government in the issues of the East India Company.
• Financial Bankruptcy of the Company: The reckless policies of the employees of the Company as well as its increasing political involvement in India eventually made the Company insolvent. It owed lot of money to the British Government Britain as well as money had to be distributed as subsidies for the Mughal Emperor and the Nawab from Bengal along with various Indian Chiefs. The company had asked for a loan of one million pounds from the British Government in the year 1772. This financial irregularities allowed Parliament to intervene into the Company’s operations and to regulate them in the most efficient way.
• Parliamentary Enquiries: Lord North’s government appointed two Parliamentary Committees the Select Committee and the Secret Committee in November, 1770 who submitted their reports condemning the Company for its misrule. The British Government, therefore, decided to regulate the Company.
Objectives of Regulating Act of 1773
• The officers of East India Company were running the business independently which was unacceptable for the British Parliament. Therefore, by this act they sought to regulate the control of the company’s working.
• The high level of corruption that was prevalent among the company’s top officials agitated the common people in Britain. This had to be rectified through this law.
• To eliminate the chaos caused by an Dual Government system (Company and Nawabs) This is why the British Government intervened into this system.
Provisions or Features of Regulating Act of 1773
• The term of company’s twenty four Directors was extended. Formerly, the Directors were elected for one year only, but now they were to be elected for four years and one fourth of them were to be retired every year and their place were to be filled up by fresh elections.
• It designated the Governor of Bengal as the ‘Governor- General of Bengal’ and created an Executive Council of four members to assist him.
• The Regulating Act set up a Central Government for the British territories in India. It was to consist of a Governor-General, assisted by four councillors. The first Governor-General was Lord Warren Hastings and his councillors (Clavering Manson, Bervell and Francis) were named in the Act.
• The decisions in the Council were to be arrived at by a majority of votes. In case of division among the members being equal, the Governor-General was allowed a casting vote.
• It made the governors of Bombay and Madras presidencies subordinate to the governor-general of Bengal, unlike earlier, when the three presidencies were independent of one another.
• It provided for the establishment of a Supreme Court at Calcutta (1774) comprising one chief justice and three other judges.
• The Act empowered, the Crown to establish by Charter a Supreme Court in Bengal with jurisdiction to hear criminal complaints against the British subjects and their servants residing in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
• It prohibited the servants of the Company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the ‘natives’.
• 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.
Drawbacks of Regulating Act of 1773
• The Act did not give veto powers to the Governor-General. The Governor-General was given only a casting vote in case of an equal division. This made him powerless before his Council.
• It did not clarify the nature of subordination of the Governors of Madras and Bombay to the Governor General. Governors can take decisions independently if they want which led to disloyalty of the Governors to the Governor-General.
• The provisions relating to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court were not known and defective. The entire civil and military administration of the provinces were in the hands of Governor-General and Council. However, it is also true that the Supreme Court can also take note of the cases against British as well as native employees of the company. The Act did not specify clearly who’s authority was final in the event of conflict among Council and Court. Council or the Court.