Important British Legislations for Controlling India

LegislationPoints to remember
Regulating Act, 1773
  • Act passed for regulating the functioning of East India Company which was in financial crisis.
  • The Governor of Bengal was made the Governor-General of Bengal with the Governors of Bombay and Madras placed under him. A four-member council was formed to assist him.
  • A Supreme Court was established at Fort William in Calcutta.
  • The Act refrained the Governor General, Councilors, Judges, collectors and other district officials from taking gifts, present or reward and any monetary advantages from native subjects.
Pitts India Act, 1784
  • Named after William Pitt, the Younger, British Prime Minister.
  • Enacted to address the shortcomings of the Regulating Act, 1773.
  • Established the dual system of control by British Government and East India Company.
  • A board of control with 6 members was established.
  • The governing council was reduced to 3 members.
Permanent Settlement Act, 1793
  • Implemented by Lord Cornwallis.
  • Under this land revenues were fixed for each zamindar at 90% of his collections for 1793.
  • The rate of revenue was not to be increased ever in the future which was expected to serve as motivation to zamindars
  • Zamindars would be assured of long-term returns of continuous flow of revenue.
  • The zamindars' power of keeping the armed forces were taken back and they remained just the tax collectors of the land.
  • It was first introduced in Bengal and Bihar.
Doctrine of Lapse
  • The policy was originally enacted by the Court of Directors of East India Company in 1834.
  • The policy was vigorously pursued by Lord Dalhousie who took over in 1848.
  • According to the policy, if the ruler of an Indian state died without a male heir his state would be automatically annexed by the East India Company.
  • Satara (1848), Jaitpur and Sambalpur (1849), Nagpur and Jhansi (1854), Tanjore and Arcot (1855) were some of the states annexed by the Company under this policy.
  • The policy applied only to dependent states and not to independenct states.
  • The policy was rescinded by Queen Victoria in 1858.
Vernacular Press Act, 1878
  • It was enacted in 1878 on the proposal of Lord Lytton, then the Viceroy of India.
  • The main aim of the Act was to curtail the freedom of Indian language press and excluded English language publications.
  • Under the Act, the district magistrate was empowered to place restrictions on freedom of printer or publisher of vernacular newspaper and no appeal could be made against his action.
  • The Act led to strong protests from a wide spectrum of people.
  • The law was repealed by Lord Ripon in 1881.
Rowlatt Act, 1919
  • Rowlatt Act is the popular name of the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, 1919.
  • It was enacted on the recommendations of Rowlatt Committee headed by Sir Sidney Rowlatt.
  • This act authorised the Government to imprison any person for two years without trial.
  • There were widespread protests against the act and one such protest led to the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre.
  • The act was repealed in 1922.