10 April 2010

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Part 10 - Indian Legal History – Regulating act of 1773 and Creation of Supreme Court at Calcutta.

Part 10 - Indian Legal History – Regulating act of 1773 and Creation of Supreme Court at Calcutta.

Reality Views by sm -

The company servants made lot of money in India, when they went to UK, they started to live lavishly and even they bought the seats of House of Commons.


The population of UK started to doubt the working of East India Company in India.


The shareholders of the company voted and started to get the big dividends.


From the year 1767, it was the rule that company will pay to the British exchequer, four lakh pounds every year to retain its territorial acquisitions and revenues.


The company servants made money, started to become rich and company was making losses, so company approach to the British Government for loan.


After this, House of Commons appointed a select committee and a secret committee to probe the affairs of company before giving company the loan amount.


The reports suggested that Company should be brought under the British parliament and reports mentioned the evils of company affairs.


After this parliament enacted the Regulating Act, 1773 to remove the prevailing evils.


Parliament amended the constitution of company, brought company under the parliament, with this era of parliamentary enactments started.

10.Provisions of Regulating Act –


The term of the directors of east India Company was increased from one year to 4 year and provision was made that every year one-fourth directors were elected in rotation.


The voting power of shareholders was restricted.


The company directors were required to lay before the Treasury all correspondence from India relating to revenue and before a Secretary of state, everything dealing with the civil and military affairs of the Government of in India.


The act appointed a Governor General and Council of 4 at Calcutta


They got all the powers, civil and military regarding all the company acquisitions as well as revenue in the kingdoms of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa.


Warren Hastings was appointed as the first Governor General and other three came from England. All were to hold office for 5 years but king can remove them if Court of directors recommend the removal


The Governor General got only one vote and casting vote in case of tie


Governor General did not get the power to over rule the majority vote. Because of this, other three council members always opposed the policies of Warren Hasting and first six years Warren Hasting found it very difficult to introduce new laws or policies.


In the year 1776, one member from the council died and Warren Hasting became powerful because of casting vote. Only in the year 1786, governor general got the right of veto to over ride the decision of council. Because of experience, they knew that without veto Governor General fails to show the results and implement policies.


The Regulating act put the Madras and Bombay Presidency under the supervision of Calcutta Presidency in matters of war and peace.


The subordinate presidencies were required to send regularly all details of revenue and other important matters to the Governor General.


Only in emergency situations, subordinate presidencies were allowed to take decisions if required because of necessity. Because of this Madras and Bombay presidency always took the decisions without fearing governor general


Creation of Supreme Court at Calcutta, This act created the Supreme Court at Calcutta by the royal charter.


King George III on 26 March 1774 issued a charter establishing the Supreme Court at Calcutta.


The charter appointed Sir Elijah Impey as the chief justice and Robert chambers , Stephen Caesar Lemaistre and john Hyde as puisne judges.


Interesting story is that In India Supreme Court at Calcutta enjoyed jurisdiction in all type of matters, where as same time in England they got different courts for each, only after the passage of 100 years, after the passing of judicature act of 1873 in England all the different courts came under one. In this way what happened in 18th century at Calcutta , same thing happened in England in the 19th century but we Indians were slave in the both the cases.


Supreme Court was to consist of chief justice and three puisne judges who were appointed by the king and they were to hold the office during its pleasure.


Only the barrister with the 5 years of minimum experience was eligible to become the judge. The court was to be a court of record.


The court got the jurisdiction in following, civil, criminal, admiralty and ecclesiastical jurisdiction.


In criminal cases, the court was to act as a court of Oyer and terminer and gaol delivery for the town of Calcutta and the factories.


The jurisdiction of the court was not to extend to all the persons of Bihar, Orissa and Bengal. It extended to the servants of majesty, company servants etc.


Supreme Court was not allowed to hear the cases against the Governor General and council and exception was crime of felony or treason.


The appeals from the Supreme Court were made to the King in council in England.


Governor General and council got the powers to make the laws and rules but with the condition that all the rules and laws must be registered in the Supreme Court and did not become effective until they were registered and published in the Supreme Court .


Any person in India got the power to appeal against such rules within sixty days in the King in council, which then set aside such a rule or changed the law. The appeal was to be made in the Supreme Court of Calcutta within stipulated period.


It was mandatory to send all the rules made by Governor General to a secretary of state in England.


Any person in England got right to appeal against the rules within sixty days after the rules were published in the England.


King in council got the suo motto power to change or disallow any rule without appeal within the period of 2 years.


This provision of law and rule registration in the Supreme Court, made it easy to introduce the new laws and rules, which saved the time, as now it was not required to take the permissions from the England head office of the company.


The best part of was that Supreme Court reviewed the law before it became the law.


The governor general and council , supreme court judges and its officers were not allowed to do any private trade in India , as well as they were forbidden to accept any gifts and presents.


In the beginning one of the problem with the Regulating act was that majority terms were not defined properly by the regulating act and it lead to the conflict between the Supreme Court Judges and Governor and general and council.

Continued - Read Next Part


Neha April 10, 2010  

SM, if you compile all the parts of this legal history; a book will be ready..honestly..this is all very informative..

Shabnam Sultan April 10, 2010  

You have done a great job by creating these list of Indian legal history :)

sm,  April 10, 2010  


sm,  April 10, 2010  

Shabnam Sultan,

sm,  April 10, 2010  

दिगम्बर नासवा,

Unknown October 24, 2017  

What were the major changes introduced by the Regulating Act of 1773?

Unknown November 07, 2017  

Very good step....