In what way did the Charter Act of 1793, 1813, 1833 and 1853 affect the structure of the Company Government in India? Discuss limiting yourself to Governor General and his council only.
Previously, the Home government in England consisted of the Court of Directors and the Court of Proprietors. The Court of Directors were elected annually and practically managed the affairs of the Company. In India, each of the three presidencies was independent and responsible only to the Home Government. The government of the presidency was conducted by a Governor and a Council. This structure was changed frequently with the passage of charter acts:
By this act the Governor of Bengal was styled as the Governor-General of Fort William and extended his tenure for a period of five years. A council of four members was appointed to assist the Governor-General. The government was to be conducted in accordance with the decision of the majority. The Governor- General had a casting vote in case of a tie The Governor-General in Council was made supreme over the other Presidencies in matters of war and peace. A supreme court was also established by this act and made it as independent of the Governor- General in Council.
The main defect of the Act was that the Governor-General was made powerless because the council which was given supreme power often created deadlocks by over-ruling his decision.
The Charter Act of 1833 centralized the Indian administration and the Governor-General of Bengal was now made the Governor-General of India. By this act all financial and administrative powers of all presidencies were centralized in the hands of Governor General-in-Council. The Governor-General in Council was empowered to superintend, control and direct both the civil and military affairs of the Company.
Now of members in the council were increased to 4. A Law Member was appointed as a fourth member to the Governor-General’s Council. But the 4th member was not entitled to act as a member of the council except for legislative purposes. T. B. Macaulay was the first Law Member of the Governor- General-in-Council.
Charter act 1853:
Law member was now made a full member of the Governor-General’s Executive Council and this Council’s membership was enlarged by inclusion of six members who would sit in the Council when it would function in its legislative capacity and a puisne judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta and one each from Bengal, Madras, Bombay and North Western Provinces.