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Act of 1786 and Charter Act of 1793

Act of 1786 and Charter Act of 1793

Act of 1786

  • In 1786, Lord Cornwallis was appointed as the Governor-General of Bengal. He placed two demands to accept that post, viz.,
    • He should be given the power to override the decision of his council in special cases.
    • He would also be the Commander-in-Chief.
  • Lord Cornwallis was appointed as Governor-General and commander in chief in India. He is known for having instituted land, judiciary, and administrative reforms and reorganized the British army and administration. He had a demand that powers of the Governor-General be enlarged to empower him, in special cases, to override the majority of his Council and act on his own special responsibility. The Act of 1786 was enacted to give him the power of working as Both Governor-General & Commander in Chief.
  • Thus via an act of 1786, Cornwallis became the first effective ruler of British India under the authority of the Board of Control and the Court of Directors.

Charter Act of 1793

  • The East India Company Act 1793, or Charter Act of 1793, was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain which renewed the charter issued to the British East India Company (EIC) for twenty years, giving it possession of all territories in India during that period and continued the Company’s rule in India.                Act of 1786 and Charter Act of 1793
  • In contrast with legislation concerning British India proposed in the preceding two decades, the 1793 Act “passed with minimal trouble”.
  • The Act made only fairly minimal changes to either the system of government in India or British oversight of the Company’s activities.
  • Company’s trade monopoly was continued for a further 20 years. The Company’s charter was next renewed by the Charter Act of 1813.

Features of this Act

  • It extended the overriding power given to Lord Cornwallis over his council, to all future Governor-Generals and Governors of Presidencies.
  • It gave the Governor-General more powers and control over the governments of the subordinate Presidencies of Bombay and Madras.
  • It extended the trade monopoly of the Company in India for another period of twenty years.                    Act of 1786 and Charter Act of 1793
  • It provided that the Commander-in-Chief was not to be a member of the Governor-General’s council, unless he was so appointed.
  • It laid down that the members of the Board of Control and their staff were, henceforth, to be paid out of the Indian revenues.


Indian Polity

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