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Amending Act of 1781

Amending Act of 1781


  • The Enactment of the Regulating Act of 1773 and the Act of Settlement were two major enactments in the Indian Legal History.
  • The Regulating Act of 1773 was the first Act to bring in major changes in the administration and justice.
  • Then, late on, the Act of Settlement in the year 1781, was enacted to remove the flaws of the earlier passed Act.

Circumstances leading to the enactment of the act

  • There were many circumstances that made it necessary for the enactment of the act. It was the first direct interference of the British Government in the regulation of the affairs of the East India Company.
  • Firstly, the concept of the dual form of administration instituted by Robert Clive was complicated and brought trouble to the people of India. Under this system, the company had Diwani rights in Bengal and the Nawab had Nizamat rights (judicial and policing rights). Behind the curtains, Nizamat rights were also in the hands of Company as the Nawab acted as an agent of the company. This all only laid to the suffering of the people as they were being exploited by both the Nawabs and the Company.
  • Secondly, the plight of the people was when there was a terrible famine in Bengal where a huge population perished.
  • Thirdly, a major reason for the enactment of this Act was the financial crisis that arose in the company by 1773 and the company had asked for a loan of one million pounds from the British Government in the year 1772.                                                          Amending Act of 1781
  • Fourthly, the company through earlier charter had only been given trading rights by the British Parliament. But, slowly and slowly, as it started acquiring more and more territory it started acting like a ruling body. And, there in England, the British Parliament couldn’t swallow this situation. And, to put end to this tendency of company i.e. using the political powers in the name of trading rights, the company thought it was necessary that these territories should be brought under the control of Crown.
  • At, that time there existed three presidencies of Bengal, Madras, and Bombay in the country. But, all these three towns were independent of each other and there no centralized authority in India to control them. Thus, it became necessary to bring uniformity in the administration of these three towns.

Features of this Act

  • It exempted the Governor-General and the Council from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for the acts done by them in their official capacity. Similarly, it also exempted the servants of the company from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for their official actions.                            Amending Act of 1781
  • It excluded the revenue matters and the matters arising in the collection of revenue from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
  • It provided that the Supreme Court was to have jurisdiction over all the inhabitants of Calcutta. It also required the court to administer the personal law of the defendants i.e., Hindus were to be tried according to the Hindu law and Muslims were to be tried according to the Mohammedan law.
  • It laid down that the appeals from the Provincial Courts could be taken to the Governor-General-in-Council and not to the Supreme Court.
  • It empowered the Governor-General-inCouncil to frame regulations for the Provincial Courts and Councils.                      Amending Act of 1781

The Aim of the Act

  • To provide new administrative reforms which were to provide a Central Administration System
  • To control and regulate the affairs of East India Company                                                      Amending Act of 1781
  • To sort out the chaos created by the introduction of the system of dual government
  • To remove the political power from the hands of the Trading Company
  • To recognize the political and administrative power of the Company
  • To bring anti-corruption practices via the medium of the act by prohibiting the servants of the company, from engaging in any form of private trade and from accepting bribes, gifts, and presents from the people.                                                                  Amending Act of 1781
  • To improve the despotic state of affairs (situation) of the company


Indian Polity

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