Regulating Act of 1773

The Regulating Act of 1773 was an important milestone in British colonial rule in India. This act was the first attempt by the British Government to regulate the activities of the East India Company in India. It recognized the political and administrative authority of the Company and laid the foundations of central administration in India. Through this act, the British Government asserted its control over the Company, creating a Supreme Court and restructuring the three presidencies of Bombay, Bengal and Madras.

Background

The East India Company was founded in 1600, and by 1773 had become an immensely powerful entity in India. Its commercial activities had expanded, and it had extended its control over large parts of the country. This unchecked power of the Company had caused considerable alarm in the British Parliament, and thus the Regulating Act of 1773 was passed.

Features of the Act

The Regulating Act of 1773 is of great constitutional importance as it was the first step taken by the British Government to control and regulate the affairs of the East India Company in India.

Governor-General of Bengal

The Act 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. The Governor-General was given supreme authority over the presidencies of Bombay and Madras, making them subordinate to Bengal.

Supreme Court at Calcutta

The Act provided for the establishment of a Supreme Court at Calcutta (1774) comprising one chief justice and three other judges. This court had the power to hear appeals from the three presidencies and to try the servants of the Company for any offences committed in India. The Supreme Court was thus the highest court of appeal in India.

Prohibition of Private Trade

The Act prohibited the servants of the Company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the �natives�. This was done to ensure that the Company�s servants acted in the best interests of the state and not for their own gain.

Strengthening the Control of the British Government

Finally, the Act 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. This was to ensure that the Company�s activities were kept in check.

Conclusion

The Regulating Act of 1773 was an important milestone in British colonial rule in India. It was the first attempt by the British Government to assert its control over the East India Company. It recognized the political and administrative authority of the Company and laid the foundations of central administration in India. The Act also made provisions for the establishment of a Supreme Court at Calcutta and prohibited the servants of the Company from engaging in any private trade or accepting presents or bribes from the �natives�. The Act thus marked a significant shift in the way the British Government administered the affairs of the East India Company in India.

Written by IASPOINT

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