Charter Act of 1833

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Features of the Charter Act of 1833

The Charter Act of 1833 or Saint Helena Act 1833 or the Government of India Act 1833 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This act introduced important changes in the system of legislation of India. This act was the final step towards centralization in British India. It provided another lease to the Company for next 20 years.

Reason Behind Charter Act of 1833:

• Industrial Revolution in England which started seeing India as market for the English mass production.

• The Company was following the policy of territorial expansion.

• A liberal reform movement was happening in England at that time.

Features of Charter Act of 1833:

• The Company was allowed another twenty years to administer Indian territories “in trust of His Majesty, His heirs and successors.”

• The Company lost its monopoly of China trade and was asked to close its commercial business as early as possible.

• The Governor-General of Bengal was designated as the Governor-General of India having authority over the entire territorial area possessed by the British in India. Lord William Bentick was the first governor-general of India.

• In the first place, it vested the sole legislative power in India in the Governor-General in Council which was subordinate only to the East India Company’s Court of Directors and to the British Crown.

• There were to be four members of the Council elected by the Court of Directors. The first three members were permitted to participate on all occasions, but the fourth member was an ordinary member. The duty of ordinary member was confined entirely to the subject of legislation. He had no power to sit or vote except at meetings for the purpose of making rules and regulations, and it was only by courtesy, and not by right, that he was allowed to see the papers and correspondence or to be made acquainted with the deliberations of the Government upon any subject not immediately connected with legislation.

• The existing powers of the councils of Madras and Bombay were superseded. They were merely authorized to submit to the Governor-General in Council drafts or projects of any laws which they thought expedient, and the Governor-General in council was required to take these draft and projects into consideration and to communicate his decision there on to the local government proposing them.

• There was centralization of the legislative powers. A legislative council was set up to centralize the legislative powers. It was given the power to repeal or amend any law in India, with the exception of the Charter of 1833. Prior to 1833, laws made were called as regulation here after the laws made to be called as ‘Act’.

• It ended the activities of the East India Company as a commercial body, which became a purely administrative body.

• A new province, North Western Province was created which included the District of Agra and Western Awadh.

• The Charter Act of 1833 attempted to introduce a system of open competition for selection of civil servants, and stated that the Indians should not be debarred from holding any place, office and employment under the Company. However, this provision was negated after opposition from the Court of Directors.

• This act also provided the split of Presidency of Bengal, into two presidencies which were to be known as Presidency of Fort William and Presidency of Agra. However, this provision never came into action and was suspended later.

• The Act also provided measures for the abolition of slavery throughout in India.

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