The Pitt’s India Act, 1784/East India Company Act was passed to place the company under the direct control of a body representing the British Govt. The main provisions of Pitt’s India Act were as follows –
1. Establishment of Board of Control
The Act established a Board of control which consisted of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and one of the Secretaries of State and four other members of the Privy Council. They were appointed by the King and held office during his pleasure. The quorum of the Board was fixed-at three. The presiding officer had a casting vote. They had power to superintend, direct and control all acts and operations which in any way related to the civil or military Government or revenues of the British territorial possession in the East India. The Directors of the company were bound to obey all orders and directions of the Board.
2. Establishment of a Secret Committee
A secret committee consisting of three Directors was formed. The Board of Control was also empowered to send secret directions to such secret committee to transmit them to India without disclosing their contents to other Directors.
3. Reduction of the strength of the Governor’s-General-in-Council
The number of members of the Governor-General-in-Council was reduced to three. The Commander-in-Chief of the Company’s forces in India was to be one of the members. The Government of the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay were to consist of a Governor and three councillors. The Commander-in-Chief of the Presidency was to be one of the councillors except in a case where the Commander-in-Chief of the Company’s forces in India happened to be in the Presidency, and in such a case he was to be a member in place of the local Commander-in-Chief. The Governor-General had a casting vote.
4. Acceptance of Gifts etc. were prohibited
Acceptance of presents by any person in the employment of the Company or the Crown was made punishable. The servants of the Company were required to declare on oath the amount of property, they had brought from India. All the British subjects were made subject to the jurisdiction of the courts in India.
5. Establishment of a Special Court
A special court consisting of three judges, four peers and six members of the House of Commons was constituted to try in England any offence committed in India. This act continued to be in force upto 1858 but in 1786, some of its provisions were amended.
The above steps were taken for neutralising the opposition from the Company. Pitt claimed that the bill came forward fortified and recommended by the consent of the Company. This Act aimed that the rule by the private person of the State should not be without control.