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The Pitts India Act (1784)

Let us Learn about the very important Pitts India Act which holds immense importance for students of UPSC and other State Civil Services Examinations.


Need and Importance:

  • To correct the problems associated with the Regulating Act (which we have studied earlier)

  • It ushered in the system of Dual Control where authority was shared by both the Company and the Government.

The Various Provisions of the Act:

  • For political matters, The Board of Control and for Commercial Matters the Court of Directors was appointed

  • Board of Control took care of Civil and Military affairs. It had six members:

    1. Secretary of State (Board President)

    2. Chancellor of the Exchequer

    3. Four Privy Counselors

  • In this Dual System, Company was represented by the Court of Directors and the Government was represented by the Board of Control

  • All Civil and Military Personnel had to declare their properties in both India and Britain within two months of joining.

  • Governor general's council strength was reduced to three members. One of them was the Commander in chief of British Crown's army in India.

  • Governor General was provided with Veto powers now.

  • The Presidencies of Madras and Bombay became Subordinate to Bengal. This meant Calcutta became the Capital of the British Raj in effect.

Outstanding Features of The Act:

  • It made a clear distinction between the Political and Commercial Activities of the East India Company

  • For the first time "British possessions in India" term was used.

  • British Government took direct control over Indian Administration.

  • The East India Company became subordinate to the Government unlike in the Regulating Act

  • This Act established the British Crown's monopoly in Civil and Military administration. (The Company still had monopoly over Commercial Activities)

Drawbacks of the Act:

  • The Governor General had in effect two Bosses to report to the East India Company and the British Crown

  • There was no definite and clear distinctions between activities of the Court of Directors and the Board of Control.

{Amendment Act of 1786}

  • Allowed the Governor General to override the Council's Decision

  • Gave Cornwallis the power to act as both the Governor General and the Commander in Chief


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