Charter Act 1853

Introduction to Charter Act 1853

The Charter Act 1853, also known as the East India Company Act 1853, was the last of Charter Acts. It was an Act of the British Parliament that aimed to further  reform and regulate the administration of British India. The Charter Act 1853 had one key difference as compared to other Charter Acts of 1793, 1813 and 1833 and that was in terms of tenure. All previous Charter Acts renewed the East India Company’s tenure for next 20 years but Charter Act 1853 had no such provision i.e. it was for an unspecified period. This paved the way for the ultimate takeover of East India Company’s administration by the Crown after the Revolt of 1857.  It was passed during the governorship of Lord Dalhousie. Changes were introduced with respect to Governor General’s office, Civil Services, Creation of new provinces and Board of Directors. 

Charter Act 1853
Charter Act 1853

Salient Features of Charter Act 1853

  • For the first time the executive and legislative powers of the Governor General were separated.
  • Based on the recommendations of the Macaulay committee in 1854, a Civil Service was to be created whose recruitment would be through a competitive exam. Thus the patronage of the court of Directors for appointing Civil Servants was removed.
  • The Governor General’s executive council was provided with a 4th member (Law Member) who would have the right to vote.
  • Governor General’s legislative council was expanded from 6 to 12 members.Thus the new council had:
    • 1 Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Calcutta, 
    • 1 Governor-General, 1 Commander-in-Chief, 
    • 1 regular judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta,
    •  4 members of the Governor-General’s Council and
    •  4 representative members drawn from among the company’s servants with at least 10 years tenure, appointed by the local governments of Bengal, Bombay, Madras and North Western Provinces.
  • After 1833 the British empire had expanded further in the north and north-west with the end of the Sikh Empire (the Mughals and the Marathas were already finished). Thus the Court Of Directors was empowered to create new provinces for an efficient management of the empire. In this regard Sindh and Punjab provinces were created.
  • The act provided for appointment of Lt. Governors for the newly created provinces. In this regard in 1859 a Lt. Governor was appointed for Punjab.
  • A post of Governor of Bengal was created. Before this the Governor General of India was also the Governor of Bengal.
  • 3 new provinces were created by this act namely – Assam, Burma and Central Provinces.
  • British parliamentary practices were to be followed for the Governor General’s executive councils i.e. the members of the legislative council could discuss matters and ask questions on policies of the executive council.
  • The Governor General could veto a bill passed by the executive council.
  • The strength of the Board of Directors was reduced from 24 to 18. In this 6 members were to be appointed by the Crown.
  • For the first time representatives from local governments of Bombay, Madras, Bengal and North West frontier provinces were added to the Governor General’s Legislative Council.
  • The Charter Act 1853 also provided for fixed salaries of the members of the Board of Control. This salary was to be paid by the company. 


The Charter Act of 1853 was a significant step in the process of the British government’s control over India and marked the beginning of an end of the East India Company’s rule in India. The act set the foundation of the modern Parliamentary system in India. For the first time Governor General’s legislative and executive powers were separated. The creation of new provinces and appointment of Lt. Governors to them streamlined the revenue collection process (Read Permanent Settlement, Mahalwari System and Ryotwari System). The rule of the East India Company ended after the Revolt of 1857. The Government of India Act 1858 transferred the Indian administration under the Crown.


Who introduced Charter Act of 1853?

Charter Act of 1853 was introduced on the basis of recommendations of the Select Committee established in 1852. It was introduced in India during the Governor Generalship of Lord Dalhousie.

Who introduced First Charter Act in India?

The British Parliament introduced the first Charter Act in 1813. It was part of the long term goal of eliminating the role of East India Company in Indian administration.

See Also

Pitt’s India Act 1784

The Regulating Act 1773

Tipu Sultan – History, Wars, Palace, Sword, Fort and Mosque

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *