Charter Act of 1833
Charter Act of 1833
- The Charter Act of 1833 was passed in the British Parliament which renewed the East India Company’s charter for another 20 years.
- This was also called the Government of India Act 1833 or the Saint Helena Act 1833.
- This Act was the final step towards centralisation in British India.
Features of this Act
- It made the Governor-General of Bengal as the Governor- General of India and vested in him all civil and military powers. Thus, the act created, for the first time, Government of India having authority over the entire territorial area possessed by the British in India. Lord William Bentinck was the first Governor-General of India.
- It deprived the Governor of Bombay and Madras of their legislative powers. The Governor-General of India was given exclusive legislative powers for the entire British India. The laws made under the previous acts were called as Regulations, while laws made under this act were called as Acts.
- It ended the activities of the East India Company as a commercial body, which became a purely administrative body. It provided that the Company’s territories in India were held by it ‘in trust for His Majesty, His heirs and successors’.
- 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.
Significance of the Charter Act of 1833
For many reasons, the Charter Act 1833 was a watershed moment for the constitutional and political history of India.
- Firstly, the elevation of Governor General of Bengal as Governor General of India was a major step towards consolidation and centralization of the administration of India.
- Secondly, end of East India Company as a commercial body effectively made it the trustee of the crown in the field of administration.
- Thirdly, this act for the first time made provision to freely admit Indians into administration in the country. Indians could enter into the civil service but the process was still very difficult.
- Fourthly, this act for the first time separated the legislative functions of the Governor General in Council from the executive functions. Also, the law commission under Lord Macaulay codified the laws.