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Pitt's India Act of 1784 - Important Points for Civil Services

The Pitt’s India Act, 1784 also called the East India Company Act, 1784 was passed to correct the mistakes and deficiencies in the Regulating Act of 1773. The act gave the British Government large control over East India Companies affairs. The EIC became a subordinate department of the British Government. The company's territories in India were termed 'British Possessions'.

The act was passed during the tenure of William Pitt the younger and hence its name Pitt's India Act. The act is important for UPSC and other Government exams. Make notes and revise thoroughly.

Important Provisions of the act :

  1. Company's Territories in India were termed as British possessions and hence the control of British Government over company affairs increased greatly.

  2. Dual Government was introduced which consisted of Board of Control and Court of Directors.

  3. Board of control exercised control over companies Civil, Military and revenue affairs and comprised of 6 members which included Chancellor of Exchequer, A secretary of state and four members of Privy council to be appointed by the crown. The board was given full access to the company’s records. The president of the board was the secretary of state-appointed by the British. All dispatches were to be approved by the board.

  4. Court of Directors controlled the commercial Functions. The court of directors represented the East India Company while Board of Control represented British Government( ie. The Crown).

  5. Hence this act separated East India company's political and commercial functions by giving control of Political functions to British Government and Commercial functions still being with the company.

  6. The act required all civil and military officers to declare their assets in India and the United Kingdom within two months of joining.

  7. In India, the governor general council members were decreased form 4 to 3. The three members also included the commander in chief.

  8. Presidencies of Bombay and Madras were made subordinate to each other.

  9. A general prohibition was placed on aggressive wars and treaties

Features :

  1. For the 1st time the company's territories were now termed as 'British Possessions' giving a clear indication that company is under British Government.

  2. This act gave the British government direct control over Indian administration.

  3. Since the governor-general council was reduced to 3 it became easy for the governor general to act on his own as now it required him to get the support of only one member in his favour to pass a resolution. Note : If a resolution ended with 2-2 votes then the governor general had the veto power to take a decision on the matter.

Drawback: One of the major drawbacks was the unclear boundaries of responsibility of both the board of control and court of directors. The functions were not clearly defined and hence there was possibility of conflicts and overlapping of functions.


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