Charter Act of 1793 – UPSC

In 1793, the British Parliament passed the Charter Act of 1793, also called the East India Company Act 1793, which renewed the charter issued to East India Company for the next 20 years. This Act continued the East India Company’s rule over the British territories in India.

Provisions of the Charter Act of 1793

  • The Charter Act 1793 continued the Company’s trade monopoly in India for further 20 years.
  • The Act affirmed the Governor-General’s power of ruling over his council. The Governor-General was empowered to override his council’s decision under certain circumstances. This power was initially provided to Lord Cornwallis in 1786, which now extended to all future Governors-General.
  • The Act granted the Governor-General of Bengal extensive powers over the subordinate presidencies of Bombay and Madras. When the Governor-General was in Bombay or Madras, he would supersede in authority over the Governors of Bombay and Madras.
  • In the Governor-General’s absence from Bengal, he could appoint a Vice-President from among the civilian members of his council.
  • The Act modified the composition of the Board of Control. It was to have a President and two junior members, who were not necessarily members of the Privy Council.
  • The salaries of the staff and paid members of the Board of Control were now charged to the Company.
  • The East India Company was allowed to raise its dividends to 10%.
  • After paying the necessary expenses, dividends, interest, salaries, etc., the Company had to pay 5 lakh British pounds annually to the British government from the Indian revenue.
  • The Act recognized the political functions of the Company were on behalf of the British government. It again reinforced that any territory acquired by East India Company in India was the British Possessions in India, and further acquisition by the Company would be done on behalf of the British Crown and not in its own right.
  • The royal approval was mandated for the appointment of the Governor-General, the Governors, and the Commander-in-Chief.
  • The senior officials of the Company were debarred from leaving India without permission. If they did so, it would be considered as a resignation.
  • The Act empowered the East India Company to give licenses to individuals and Company’s employees to trade in India (known as ‘privilege’ or ‘country trade’), which also paved the way for shipments of opium to China.
  • The Act separated the revenue administration from the judicial functions of the Company, which led to the disappearance of the Maal Adalats (revenue courts).

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