Features and Objectives of The Charter Act of 1813 – Indian Polity
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Features, Objectives and Provisions of The Charter Act of 1813| UPSC IAS
The Charter of the British East India Company 1813, also known as the Charter Act 1813, was a law passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom that renewed the company’s charter and allowed it to continue exercising authority in India.
The East India Company obtained a charter in 1793, which granted it a monopoly to trade with East for 20 years. However, the English merchants had bad days after Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power. Napoleon Bonaparte introduced the Berlin decree of 1806 and Milan Decree of 1807, which prohibited the import of British goods into European nations. Also, Adam Smith’s free-trade theory had also gained a lot of traction in those days. The advocates of this idea began making claims that ending the East India Company’s monopoly in trade with India would benefit British commerce and industry. Due to these hardships, the British traders urged for access to East’s ports and the dissolution of the East India Company’s trade monopoly in response to these difficulties.
It was argued by many such as the Evangelicals that it was the duty of Great Britain to improve the religion and morals of the Indian people. This demand was amplified when the Evangelist Charles Grant was elected to the Court of Directors. Those who spoke on behalf of the Company opposed the move on the ground that it would amount to interference with the religion of the people and would alarm them and rouse their religious antagonism.
Provisions or Features of The Charter Act of 1813
• It expressly asserted the Crown’s sovereignty over British India.
• The Company’s monopoly on trade in India was ended. The Indian trade was made available to all British merchants, but the company’s monopoly over tea and commerce with China were maintained.
• The act permitted Christian missionaries to propagate and preach their religion.
• The Governor-General and Council’s legislative powers was limited both by the constitution itself and in practice to Bengal’s presidency.
• The company debt was to be reduced and dividend was fixed 10.5% per annum.
• Financial provision was also made to encourage a revival in Indian literature and for the promotion of science. The Company must spend rupees one lakh annually for religious and educational learning of Indians.
• The Act empowered the local governments to impose taxes on persons subject to Supreme Court jurisdiction. They could also punish the persons for not paying taxes.
• British subjects coming to India for trade or other lawful purposes under the system of licenses were liable to taxation by the Company’s government in India. Justices of the Peace were appointed to try cases brought against them for trespass, assault, and also for small debts. This established a vicious cycle in which Europeans could only be judged in India by European judges.