Features, Objectives and Provisions of Pitt’s India Act of 1784| UPSC IAS
Pitt’s India Act was introduced on 14th January, 1784, however, it was ultimately defeated by a small majority. This was followed by a dissolution of Parliament and a new election. Pitt’s Party reclaimed power in March after receiving a large victory. The bill was introduced again in July and was passed by a majority in both houses of Parliament. This was the first clear assertion of the Crown’s claim of ownership over the Indian territory acquired by the Company.
Why Pitt’s India Act of 1784 was introduced?
• The anomaly created by the disavowal of sovereignty could not be removed by the Amending Act of 1781. The Regulating and Amending Acts swiftly demonstrated their shortcomings. The company’s
war with the country powers demonstrated that the Act had neither given the state a definite control over Company, nor the Directors, a definite control over their servants, nor the Governor-General a definite control over his Council, nor the Calcutta Presidency a definite control over Madras and Bombay.
• The loss of the American colonies necessitated tight control over the East India Company. The American Revolution resulted in the loss of 13 American colonies. As a result, India became even more essential.
• The Parliamentary dominance was also triggered by the bad influence of English Nabobs in society and Parliament. The Company’s servants continued to return with incredible private wealth.
Provisions or Features of Regulating Act of 1773
• The act brought the Company under the direct control of the Government by setting up a Board of six Commissioners, usually known as the Board of Control. It was to consist of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, one of the principal Secretaries of State, and four members of the Privy Council. The Commissioners were to be appointed by the King and to hold office during his pleasure.
• The commissioners were authorised and empowered “to superintend, direct and control all acts, operations and concerns which in any ways related to civil or military government or revenue of the British territorial possessions in the East Indies.
• The Act further authorised that the Board of Control to transit through a Secret Committee to three Directors secret orders to India on the subject of war, peace or diplomatic negotiations with any of the country powers.
• The act distinguished between the commercial and political functions of the Company and submitted the Indian government to a system of dual control. On the one hand, patronage or appointments as well as the trading activities of the Company remained in the hands of the Directors. On the other hand, there were the representatives of the Crown. i.e., the Board of Control, who was to exercise control in all matters of policy over the Directors and the Indian administration.
• The Crown was given the right to remove or to recall the Company’s servants. Thus, the resignation from the offices of Governor General, Governor and Commander-in-Chief and members of the Council
were not to be deemed valid and regular unless signified by an instrument in writing.
• The entire diplomatic relations of the Company in India as also the finances necessary to support them were specially given to Supreme Government at Fort William in Bengal.
• The Company’s territories in India were for the first time called the ‘British possessions in India’; and the British Government was given the supreme control over Company’s affairs and its administration in India.
Drawbacks of Regulating Act of 1773
• In theory, the oversight in issues regarding Company’s possession in India belonged to the Court of Directors, but in reality the Board of Control asserts its superiority all the time and even interfered with a Director’s legal authority. In the Board of Control itself, it was the president which usually prevailed.
• The control of Company’s Government was divided between the Board of Control and Court of Directors which divided them. This made it hard for Indian Government to cooperate because of this division.