List of Important Acts during British Rule (1773-1947 A.D.)

Important Acts during British Rule - Indian History notes on Important Acts during British Rule asked questions in competitive exams like UPSC, SSC CGL, CHSL, MTS, Railway and various other state government exams.


The Regulating Act, 1773

● The first attempt by the British Parliament to regulate the affairs of the Company.
● End of Dual Government.
● Provided for centralization of administration of Company’s territories in India.
● Governor of Bengal became Governor-General for all British territories in India.
● Governor General and council of 4 members appointed for Bengal.
● Bombay and Madras Presidency subordinated to Bengal Presidency.
● Supreme Court to be set up at Calcutta.

The Pitts India Act, 1784
● This Act gave the British government the supreme control over the Company’s affairs and its administration in India.
● The established a dual system of governance. Court of Directors consisting of 24 members to look after commercial functions.
● Board of Control consisting of 6 Parliamentary Commissioners appointed to control civil, military and revenue affairs of India.
● The strength of Governor General-in-Council reduced to 3.
● Subordinated the Bombay and Madras Presidency to Bengal in all questions of war, diplomacy & revenues.
● First effective substitution of Parliamentary Control over East India Company.

The Charter Act of 1793
● Company given monopoly of trade for 20 more years.
● Expenses and salaries of the Board of Control to be charged on Indian Revenue.
● Governor-General could override his Council.

The Charter Act of 1813
● Company deprived of its trade monopoly in India except in tea and trade with China.
● All Englishmen could trade with India subject to few restrictions.
● Rules and procedures made for use of Indian revenue.
● A sum of Rs 1 lakh earmarked annually for education.

The Charter Act of 1833
● End of Company’s trade monopoly even in tea and with China. The company was asked to close its business at the earliest.
● Governor-General of Bengal to be Governor-General of India. (1st Governor-General of India-Lord William Bentinck).
● Govt. of Madras and Bombay deprived of legislative powers.
● A fourth member, law member, added to the council of Governor-General.
● Government Service was thrown open to the people of India.
● All laws made by Governor General-in-Council henceforth to be known as Acts and not regulations.

The Charter Act of 1853
● Extended life of the Company for an unspecified period.
● First time separate legislative machinery consisting of the 12-member legislative council was created.
● Law member was made a full member of the Executive Council of the Governor-General.
● Recruitment to Civil Services was based on open annual competitive examination. (excluding Indians)

The Govt of India Act, 1858
● Rule of the Company in India ended and that of the Crown began.
● The system of double Government ended. Court of Directors and Board of Control abolished.
● Secretary of State (a member of the British Cabinet) for India was created. He was assisted by a 15-member council (India Council). He was to exercise the powers of the Crown.
● Secretary of State governed India through the Governor-General.
● Governor-General was to be called the Viceroy and was the direct representative of the Crown in India.
● A unitary and highly centralized administrative structure was created.

The Indian Council Act, 1861
● Policy of the Association of Indians in legislation started.
● A filth member who was to be a jurist was added to the Viceroyfs executive council.
● For legislation, executive Council ol Viceroy was enlarged by 6 to 12 members composed of half non-official members. Thus foundations of Indian legislature were laid down.
● Legislative powers of the Presidency Government deprived in 1833 were restored.
● Viceroy could issue ordinances in case of emergency.

The Indian Council Act, 1892
● Though the majority of official members were retained, the non-official members of the Indian Legislative Council were Bengal Chamber of Commerce and the Provincial Legislative Councils. While the non-official members of the Provincial Council were to be nominated by certain local bodies such as universities, district boards, municipalities.
● Beginning of the representative system in India.
● Council to have the power to discuss the budget and of addressing questions to the Executive.

Indian Council Act, 1909 (Morley-Minto Act)
● Morley was the Secretary of State, while Minto was the Indian Viceroy.
● Additional members in the central legislative assembly were increased to 60.
● Introduced for the first time indirect elections to the Legislative Councils.
● The separate electorate was introduced for the Muslims.
● Non-official seats were to be filled in by elections. They were distributed as follows :
● By non-official members of the Provincial Legislative Councils.
● By landholders of 6 provinces.
● By Muslims of 5 provinces.
● Alternately by Muslim landholders of UP/Bengal Chambers of Commerce of Calcutta and Bombay.
● Muslims were to be elected by separate electorate.
● Resolutions could be moved before the budget was taken in its final form. Supplementary questions could be asked.

The Govt. of India Act, 1919
Popularly known as Montague-Chelmsford Reforms.
● The idea of ‘‘Responsible Government’’ was emphasised upon.
● Devolution Rules: Subjects of administration were divided into two categories—“Central” and “Provincial”.
● Subjects of all India importance (like railways & finance) were brought under the category of Central, while matters relating to the administration of the provinces were classified as provincial.
● Dyarchy system introduced in the Provinces. The Provincial subjects of administration were to be divided into two categories—“Transferred” and “Reserved” subjects. The transferred subjects were to be administered by the Governor with the aid of Ministers responsible to the Legislative Council. The Governor and his Executive Council were to administer the reserved subjects (Rail, Post, Telegraph, Finance, Law & Order, etc.) without any responsibility to the legislature.
● An office of the High Commissioner of India was created in London.
● Indian legislature became ‘bicameral’ for the first time.
● Communal representation extended to Sikhs.
● Secretary of State for India now to be paid from British revenue.

The Govt. of India Act, 1935
● The Act was based on 2 basic principles, federation and parliamentary system.
● Provided for the establishment of an all India federation consisting of the British Provinces and the Princely States. The joining of Princely States was voluntary and as a result, the federation did not come into existence.
● Dyarchy was introduced at the Centre (e.g. department of Foreign Affairs and Defence were reserved for the Governor General). Provincial autonomy replaced Dyarchy in Provinces. They were granted separate legal identity.
● It made a three-fold division of powers - Federal, Provincial and Concurrent lists. Residuary powers were to be with the Governor General.
● The Indian Council of Secretary of State for India was abolished.
● The principle of separate electorate was extended to include Anglo-Indians, Indian Christians and Europeans.
● A Federal Court was to be constituted with a Chief Justice and 10 other judges. This was set up in 1937.
● Sind and Orissa were created.
● The franchise was based on property qualifications.

Indian Independence Act, 1947
This Act did not lay down any provision for the administration of India.
● Partition of India and the establishment of two dominions of India and Pakistan.
● Constituent Assembly of each Dominion would have unlimited powers to frame and adopt any constitution.
● The suzerainty of the Crown over Indian states was terminated.
● The office of the Secretary of State for India was to be abolished and his work was to be taken over by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs.


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