(Last Updated on : 30-01-2019)
The Regulating Act of 1773 was the first landmark in the constitutional development of India which was introduced by Lord North or Frederick North to establish certain regulations for the better management of the affairs of the East India Company
in India as well as Europe.
Circumstances that led to the Regulating Act of 1773
It was the Battle of Plassey
(1757) and the Battle of Buxar
(1764-65) which led to the firm establishment of territorial dominance of the East India Company. At that time, their territories in the country included parts of current states of Maharashtra
, Tamil Nadu
, West Bengal
and Uttar Pradesh
. With these two important wars, the Nawab of Awadh
became their ally while the Mughal Emperor Shah
Jahan became their pensioner. However, this entire arrangement had its own flaws, which ultimately led to the Regulating Act of 1773.
Objectives of the Regulating Act of 1773
The key objectives of the Regulating Act of 1773 was addressing the problem of management of company in India and also the dual system of governance instituted by Lord Clive
. The other objective of the Regulating Act of 1773 included the control of the company which had morphed from a business entity to a semi-sovereign political entity.
Importance of the Regulating Act of 1773
The Regulating Act of 1773 recognized the political functions of the company, because it asserted for the first time for the parliament to dictate the form of government. It was the first attempt of the British
Government to centralize the administrative machinery in India. The Act set up a written constitution for the British possession in India in place of arbitrary rule of the company. A system was introduced to prevent the Governor-General
from becoming autocratic.
The Regulating Act of 1773 unequivocally established the supremacy of the Presidency of Bengal over the others. In matters of foreign policy, the Regulating Act of 1773 made the presidencies of Bombay
, subordinate to the Governor General and his council. Now, no other presidency could give orders for commencing hostilities with the Indian Princes, declare a war or negotiate a treaty. The Act resulted in the establishment of the Supreme Court
at Fort William
and thus marked the modern constitutional history of the country.
Provisions of the Regulating Act of 1773
The four main key features or provisions of the Regulating Act of 1773 are as follows:
The Act designated the Governor- General of Bengal and created an Executive Council of 4 members to assist him. And thus, Lord Warren Hastings became the first Governor-General of Bengal.
The Act also prohibited the servants or workers of the East India Company from engaging in any kind of private trade or accepting presents in the form of bribes from the natives.
It was under this Act, that a Supreme Court was established at Fort William with British judges to administer the British legal system that was used there.
The Act limited the Companys dividends to 6 percent until it repaid a GB 1.5 million pound loan and restricted the Court of Directors to a 4 year term.
The provision of the Regulating Act of 1773 clearly indicates that it was enacted to stop the malpractice of law and to control corruption among Company officials. However, it failed to stop the corruption and degeneracy became a common practice for all officials, from the top level to the lowest subordinate. The major charges were brought against the first Governor General, Warren Hastings
and he was impeached in the trial for corruption. In fact the whole council was divided into two fractions based on the corruptions- the Hastings Group and the Francis Group. They fought against each other on the issues of corruption charges alleged on them. Consequently, Pitt's India Act of 1784
was passed to prevent corruption and Lord Cornwallis
, was appointed in order to bring a corruption free environment in the company.