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Charter Act of 1853 | Indian Polity | UPSC CSE

Charter Act of 1853 | Indian Polity | UPSC CSE

Lord Dalhousie and Sikh Gurus - Lord Dalhousie %

- Lord Dalhousie {1848-1856}


  • The Charter Act of 1853 empowered the British East India Company to retain the territories and the revenues in India in trust for the crown not for any specified period, Unlike the previous charter acts of 1793, 1813 and 1833 which renewed the charter for 20 years.
  • This Act was passed when Lord Dalhousie was the Governor-General of India.

Governor-General’s office :

  • It separated, for the first time, the legislative and executive functions of the Governor- General’s council.
  • It provided for addition of six new members called legislative councillors to the council {12 in total}. The Governor-General could nominate a vice president to the council and his assent is required for all legislative actions. It established a separate Governor-General’s legislative council which came to be known as the Indian (Central) Legislative Council. This legislative wing of the council functioned as a mini-Parliament, adopting the same procedures as the British Parliament.
  • The Law member (fourth member) became a full member with the right to vote.
  • The 12 members were - 1 Governor-General, 1 Commander-in-Chief, 4 members of the Governor-General’s Council, 1 Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at Calcutta, 1 regular judge of the Supreme Court at Calcutta, and 4 representative members drawn from company’s servants with at least 10 years tenure, appointed by the local governments of Bengal, Bombay, Madras and North Western Provinces.
  • It introduced an open competition system of selection and recruitment of civil servants. The covenanted civil service was thus thrown open to the Indians also. Accordingly, the Macaulay Committee (the Committee on the Indian Civil Service) was appointed in 1854.
  • The number of Board of Directors was reduced from 24 to 18 out of which 6 people were to be nominated by the British Crown.


This act served as the foundation of the modern parliamentary form of government. The legislative wing of the Governor-General’s Council acted as a parliament on the model of the British Parliament.