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NCERT Notes: Charter Act of 1813
- Due to Napoleon Bonaparte’s Continental System in Europe (which prohibited the import of British goods into French allies in Europe), British traders and merchants suffered.
- So they demanded they be given a share in the British trade in Asia and dissolve the monopoly of the East India Company.
- The company objected to this.
- Finally, British merchants were allowed to trade in India under a strict license system under the Charter Act of 1813.
- But in trade with China and the tea trade, the company still retained its monopoly.
Provisions of the Charter Act of 1813
- This Act asserted the Crown’s sovereignty over British possessions in India.
- Company’s rule and trade monopoly in India was extended to another 20 years. Monopoly was ended except for the trade in tea and with China.
- It empowered the local governments to tax people subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
- The company’s dividend was fixed at 10.5%.
- The Act gave more powers for the courts in India over European British subjects.
- Another important feature of this act was to grant permission to the missionaries to come to India and engage in religious proselytization. The missionaries were successful in getting the appointment of a Bishop for British India with his headquarters as Calcutta in the provisions of the Act.
- The act provided for a financial grant towards the revival of Indian literature and the promotion of science.
- The company was also to take up a greater role in the education of the Indians under them. It was to set aside Rs.1 Lakh for this purpose.
NCERT Notes: The Regulating Act of 1773
The Regulating Act was passed in the British Parliament in June 1773. It was the first parliamentary ratification and authorization defining the powers and authority of the East India Company with respect to its Indian possessions.
Reasons for passing the act
The East India Company was in severe financial crisis and had asked a loan of 1 million pounds from the British government in 1772.
Allegations of corruption and nepotism were rampant against company officials.
There was a terrible famine in Bengal where a huge population perished.
The Dual form of administration instituted by Robert Clive was complex and drawing a lot of complaints. According to this system, the company had Diwani rights (obtained after the Battle of Buxar) in Bengal and the Nawab had Nizamat rights (judicial and policing rights) as secured from the Mughal Emperor. In reality, both powers were were vested with the company. The farmers and the general population suffered as their improvement was neglected and the company was only concerned with maximising revenue.
Lawlessness increased in Bengal.
The defeat of the company against Mysore’s Hyder Ali in 1769.
Provisions of the Act
This act permitted the company to retain its territorial possessions in India but sought to regulate the activities and functioning of the company. It did not take over power completely, hence called ‘regulating’.
The act provided for appointment of a Governor-General along with four Councillors in the Presidency of Fort William (Calcutta), jointly called the Governor-General in Council.
As per this, Warren Hastings was appointed as the Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William.
The Governors in Councils at Madras and Bombay were brought under the control of Bengal, especially in matters of foreign policy. Now, they could not wage war against Indian states without Bengal’s approval.
The company directors were elected for a period of five years and one-fourth of them were to retire every year. Also, they could not be re-elected.
The company directors were directed to make public all correspondence on revenue, civil and military matters with Indian authorities before the British authorities.
A Supreme Court of Judicature was established at Calcutta with Sir Elijah Impey as the first Chief Justice. Judges were to come from England. It had civil and criminal jurisdiction over the British subjects and not Indian natives.
Drawbacks of the Regulating Act
The Governor-General had no veto power.
It did not address the concerns of the Indian population who were paying revenue to the company.
It did not stop corruption among the company officials.
The Supreme Court’s powers were not well-defined.
The parliamentary control that was sought in the activities of the company proved to be ineffective as there was no mechanism to study the reports sent by the Governor-General in Council.
NCERT Notes: Modern History, Bipin Chandra
Warren Hastings (1732 – 1818) became the first Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal) in 1772 and the first Governor-General of Bengal in 1774 till he resigned in 1785.
He started his career as a writer (clerk) in the East India Company at Calcutta in 1750.
In 1758, he became the British resident at Murshidabad, the capital of Bengal, after Mir Jafar was installed as the Nawab after the Battle of Plassey.
During his term, the second Anglo-Mysore and the first Anglo-Maratha wars were fought.
The Regulating Act of 1773 was passed during his term.
He supported Sir William Jones in forming the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1785.
Reforms of Warren Hastings
Abolition of the Dual System
Hastings abolished the Dual System that had been established by Robert Clive. In the Dual System, the company had Diwani rights (rights to collect revenue) and the Nizam or Indian chiefs had the administrative authority.
The Nawab’s annual allowance of Rs.32 lakh was reduced to Rs.16 lakh.
The annual tribute paid to the Mughal Emperor was also stopped.
For revenue collection, a Board of Revenue was set up at Calcutta.
Treasury was moved from Murshidabad to Calcutta. Calcutta became Bengal’s capital in 1772.
British collectors were appointed for each district and an Accountant General was also appointed.
Unreasonable fines were done away with and restrictions were placed on the raising of rent.
The judicial powers of the Zamindars were abolished.
Civil and criminal courts were established. Two appellate courts were established at Calcutta, one for civil (Sadar Diwani Adalat) and one for criminal (Sadar Nizamat Adalat) cases.
The criminal court was to have an Indian judge.
Muslims were to be tried according to their law in the Koran and Hindus, according to Hindu laws. A code of Hindu Law, prepared by Hindu Pandits was translated into English.
He also came down heavily on the dacoits in Bengal.
Hastings abolished the system of dastaks which were misused by company officials and traders earlier.
He enforced a uniform tariff of 2.5% for Indian and foreign goods.
Private trade by company officials was restricted.