Government of India Act 1858

IAS Prelims 2023

The Revolt Of 1857 gave a severe jolt to the British administration in India and compelled it to reorganise its structure. This act is coterminous with Queen Victoria’s Declaration, 1858.

The British prime Minister, Palmerstone had introduced a Bill in 1858 in the parliament for the transfer of Government of India to The crown. However, before this bill was to be passed, Palmerstone was forced to resign on another issue.

Later Lord Stanley introduced another bill which was originally titled as “An Act for the Better Government of India” and it was passed on August 2, 1858. This act provided that India was to be governed directly and in the name of the crown.

Following changes were introduced by this Act:

It transferred powers from the East India Company to the Crown. The Company’s territories in India were to be vested in the Queen. India was to be governed in the Queen’s name.

All the property of the East India Company was transferred to the Crown. The Crown also assumed the responsibilities of the Company as they related to treaties, contracts, and so forth.

A member of British Parliament was made Secretary of State of India to exercise powers on behalf of the Crown and was responsible to the British Parliament.

The Crown was empowered to appoint a Governor-General and the Governors of the Presidencies.

Provision for the creation of an Indian Civil Service under the control of the Secretary of State.

The Governor General for India was provided with an Executive Council, whose decision he was empowered to override.

The Act ushered in a new period of Indian history, bringing about the end of Company rule in India.

The era of the new British Raj would last until Partition of India in August 1947, at which time all of the territory of the Raj was granted dominion status within the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India.