1858: 21 & 22 Victoria c.106: Government of India Act

1858: 21 & 22 Victoria c.106: Government of India Act

Note: Extracts only, with some annotations.

I. THE Government of the territories now in the possession or under the Government of the East India Company, and all powers in relation to Government vested in or exercised by the said Company in trust for Her Majesty, shall cease to be vested in or exercised by the said Company; and all territories in the possession or under the government of the said Company, and all rights vested in or which if this Act had not been passed might have been exercised by the said Company in relation to any territories, shall become vested in Her Majesty, and be exercised in her name; and for the purposes of this Act India shall mean the territories vested in Her Majesty as aforesaid, and all territories which may become vested in Her Majesty by virtue of any such rights as aforesaid.

II. India shall be governed by and in the name of Her Majesty; and all rights in relation to any territories which might have been exercised by the said Company if this Act had not been passed shall and may be exercised by and in the name of Her Majesty as rights incidental to the Government of India; and all the territorial and other revenues of or arising in India, and all tributes and other payments in respect of any territories which would have been receivable by or in the name of the said Company if this act had not been passed, shall be
received for and in the name of Her Majesty, and shall be applied and disposed of for the purposes of the Government of India alone, subject to the provisions of this Act.

III. Save as herein otherwise provided, one of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State shall have and perform all such or the like powers and duties over all officers appointed or continued under this Act, as might or should have been exercised or performed by the East India Company, or by the Court of Directors or Court of Proprietors of the said Company, either alone or by the direction or with the sanction or approbation of the Commissioners for the affairs of India in relation to such government or revenues, and the officers and servants of the said Company respectively, and also all such powers as might have been exercised by the said Commissioners alone; and any warrant or writing under Her Majesty’s Royal Sign Manual, which by the Act of the session holders in the seventeenth and eighteenth years of Her Majesty, chapter seventy-seven, or otherwise, is required to be countersigned by the President of the Commissioner for the affairs of India, shall in lieu of being so countersigned be countersigned by one of Her Majesty’s principal secretaries of State.

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VI. In case Her Majesty be pleased to appoint a fifth Principal Secretary of State, there shall be paid out of the revenues of India to such Principal Secretary of State and to his Under Secretaries respectively the like yearly salaries as may for the time being be paid to any other of such Secretaries of State and his Under Secretaries respectively.

VII. For the purposes of this Act a council shall be established; to consist of fifteen members, and to be styled the Council of India; and henceforth the Council in India now bearing that name shall be styled the Council of the Governor-General of India.

VIII. Within fourteen days after the passing of this Act the Court of Directors of the East India Company shall, from among the persons then being Directors of the said Company or having been theretofore such Directors, elect seven persons to be with the persons to be appointed by her Majesty as herein-after mentioned the first members of the Council under this Act, and the names of the persons so elected by the Court of Directors shall be forthwith, after such election, certified to the Board of Commissioners for the affairs of India, under the seal of the said Company, and it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, by Warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual, within thirty days after the passing of this Act, to appoint to be members of such Council eight persons: provided always that, if the Court of Directors of the East India Company shall refuse or shall for such fourteen days neglect to make such election of such seven persons, and to certify the names of such persons as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, by warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual, within thirty days after the expiration of such fourteen days, to appoint from among the said Directors seven persons to make up the full number of the said Council: provided also that, if any person being or having been such Director, and elected or appointed as aforesaid, shall refuse to accept the office, it shall be lawful for Her Majesty, by warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual, to appoint in the place of every person so refusing some other person to be a member of the Council, but so that nine members of the Council at the least shall be persons qualified as herein-after mentioned.

IX. Every vacancy happening from time to time among the members of the Council appointed by Her Majesty, not being members so appointed by reason of the refusal or neglect of the Court of Directors or the refusal to accept office hereinbefore mentioned, shall be filled up by Her Majesty, by warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual, and every other vacancy shall be filled up by the Council by election made at a meeting to be held for that purpose [The power of appointment was given to the Secretary of State by 32 & 33 Vict. c. 97, and the term reduced to ten years].

X. The major part of the persons to be elected by the Court of Directors, and the major part of the persons to be first appointed by Her Majesty after the passing of this Act, to be members of the Council, shall be persons who shall have served or resided in India for ten years at the least, and (excepting in the case of late and present Directors and officers on the Home establishment of the Fast India Company who shall have so served or resided) shall not have last left India more than ten years next preceding the date of their appointment: and no person other than a person so qualified shall be appointed or elected to fill any vacancy in the Council unless at the time of the appointment or election nine at the least of the continuing members of the Council be persons qualified as aforesaid.

XI. Every member of the Council appointed or elected under this Act shall hold. his office during good behaviour: provided that it shall be lawful for Her Majesty to remove any such member from his office upon an address of both Houses of Parliament.

XII. No member of the Council appointed or elected under this Act shall be capable of sitting or voting in Parliament.

XIII. There shall be paid to each member of the Council the yearly salary of one thousand two hundred pounds, out of the revenues of India.

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XIX. The Council shall, under the direction of the Secretary of State, and subject to the provisions of this Act, conduct the business transacted in the United Kingdom in relation to the Government of India and the correspondence with India, but every order or communication sent to India shall be signed by one of the Principal Secretaries of State; and, save as expressly provided by this Act, every order in the United Kingdom in relation to the Government of India under this Act shall be signed by such Secretary of State send all dispatches from Governments and Presidencies in India, and other dispatches from India, which if this Act had not been passed should have been addressed to the Court of Directors or to their Secret Committee, shall be addressed to such Secretary of State.

XX. It shall be lawful for the Secretary of State to divide the Council into committees for the more convenient transaction of business, and from time to time to rearrange such committees, and to direct what departments of the business in relation to the Government of India under this Act shall be under such committees respectively, and generally to direct the manner in which all such business shall be transacted.

XXI. The Secretary of State shall be the President of the Council, with power to vote, and it shall be lawful for such Secretary of State in Council to appoint from time to time any member of such Council to be Vice-President thereof, and any such Vice-President may at any time be removed by the Secretary of State.

XXII. All powers by this Act required to be exercised by the Secretary of State in Council, and all powers of the Council, shall and may be exercised at meetings of such Council, at which not less than five members shall be present, and at every meeting the Secretary of State, or in his absence the Vice-President, if present, shall preside, and in the absence of the Secretary of State and Vice-President, one of the members of the Council present shall be chosen by the members present to preside at the meeting; and such Council may act notwithstanding any vacancy therein: meetings of the Council shall be so convened and held when and as the Secretary of State shall from time to time direct; provided that one such meeting at least be held in every week.

XXIII. At any meeting of the Council at which the Secretary of State is present, if there be a difference of opinion on any question other than the question of the election of a member of Council, or other than any question with regard to which a majority of the votes at a meeting is hereinafter declared to be necessary, the determination of the Secretary of State shall be final; and in case of an equality of votes at any meeting of the Council, the Secretary of State, if present, and in his absence the Vice-President, or
presiding member, shall have a casting vote; and all acts done at any meeting of the Council in the absence of the Secretary of State, except the election of a member of the Council, shall require the sanction or approval in writing of the Secretary of State; and in case of difference of opinion on any question decided at any meeting, the Secretary of State may require that his opinion, and the reasons for the same, be entered in the minutes of the proceedings, and any member of the Council who may have been present at the meeting may require that his opinion, and any reason for the same that he may have stated at the meeting, be entered in like manner.

XXIV. Every order or communication proposed to be sent to India, and every order proposed to be made in the United Kingdom, by the Secretary of State under this Act, shall, unless the same has been submitted to a meeting of the Council, be placed in the Council room for the perusal of all members of the Council during seven days before the sending or making thereof, except in the cases hereinafter provided; and it shall be lawful for any member of the Council to record in a minute book, to be kept for that purpose, his opinion with respect to each such order or communication, and a copy of every opinion so recorded shall be sent forthwith to the Secretary of State.

XXV. If a majority of the Council record as aforesaid their opinions against any act proposed to be done, the Secretary of State shall, if he do not defer to the opinions of the majority, record his reasons for acting in opposition thereto.

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XXIX. The appointments of Governor-General of India, fourth ordinary member of the Council of the Governor-General of India; and Governors of Presidencies in India, now made by the Court of Directors with the approbation of Her Majesty, and the appointments of Advocate-General for the several Presidencies now made with the approbation of the Commissioners for the affairs of India, shall be made by Her Majesty by warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual; the appointments of the ordinary members of the Council of the Governor-General of India; except the fourth ordinary member, and the appointments of the Members of Council of the several Presidencies, shall be made by the Secretary of State in Council, with the concurrence of a majority of members present at a meeting [This power was transferred to the Crown by 32 & 33 Vict. c. 97.]; the appointments of the Lieutenant-Governors of provinces or territories shall be made by the Governor-General of India, subject to the approbation of Her Majesty; and all such appointments shall be subject to the qualifications now by law affecting such offices respectively.

XXX. All appointments to offices, commands, and employments in India, and all promotions, which by law or under any regulations, usage, or custom, are now made by any authority in India, shall continue to be made in India by the like authority, and subject to the qualifications, conditions, and restrictions now affecting such appointments respectively; but the Secretary of State in Council, with the concurrence of a majority of members present at a meeting, shall have the like power to make regulations for the division and distribution of patronage and power of nomination among the several authorities in India, and the like power of restoring to their stations, offices, or employments, officers and servants suspended or removed by any authority in India as might have been exercised by the said Court of Directors, with the approbation of the Commissioners for the affairs of India, if this Act had not been passed.

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XL. The Secretary of State in Council, with the concurrence of a majority of votes at a meeting, shall have full power to sell and dispose of all real and personal estate whatsoever for the time being vented in Her Majesty under this Act, as may be thought fit, or to raise money on any such real estate by way of mortgage, and make the proper assurances for that purpose, and to purchase and acquire any land or hereditaments, or any interests therein, stores, goods, chattel, and other property, and to enter into any contracts whatsoever, as may be thought fit, far the purposes of this Act; and all property so acquired shall vest in Her Majesty for the service of the Government of India; and any conveyance or assurance of or concerning any real estate to be made by the authority of the Secretary of State in Council may be made under the hands and seals of three members of the Council.

XLI. The expenditure of the revenues of India, both in India and elsewhere, shall be subject to the control of the Secretary of State in Council, and no grant or appropriation of any part of such revenues, or of any other property coming into the possession of the Secretary of State in Council by virtue of this Act, shall be made without the concurrence of a majority of votes at a meeting of the Council.

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LIII. The Secretary of State in Council shall, within the first fourteen days during which Parliament may be sitting next after the first day of May in every year, lay before both Houses of Parliament an account for the financial year preceding that last completed of the annual produce of the revenues of India, distinguishing the same under the respective heads thereof, at each of the several Presidencies or Governments, and of all the annual receipts and disbursements at home and abroad on account of the Government of India, distinguishing the same under the respective heads thereof, together with the latest estimate of the same for the last financial year, and also the amount of the debts chargeable on the revenues of India, with the rates of interest they respectively Barry, and the annual amount of such interest, the state of the effects and credits at each Presidency or Government, and in England or elsewhere, applicable to the purposes of the government of India, according to the latest advices which have been received thereof, and also a list of the establishment of the Secretary of State in Council, and the salaries and allowances payable in respect thereof; and if any new or increased salaries or pensions of fifty pounds a year or upwards have been granted or created within any year, the particulars thereof shall be specially stated and explained at the foot of the account of such year; and such account shall be accompanied by a statement prepared from detailed reports from each Presidency and district in India in such form as shall best exhibit the moral and material progress and condition of India in each such Presidency.

LIV. When any order is sent to India directing the actual commencement of hostilities by Her Majesty’s forces in India, the fact of such order having been sent shall be communicated to both Houses of Parliament within three months after the sending of such order, if Parliament be sitting, unless such order shall have been in the meantime revoked or suspended, and if Parliament be not sitting at the end of such three months, then within one month after the next meeting of Parliament.

LV. Except for preventing or repelling actual invasion of Her Majesty’s Indian possessions, or under other sudden and urgent necessity, the revenues of India shall not, without the consent of both Houses of Parliament, be applicable to defray the expenses of any military operation carried on beyond the external frontiers of such possessions by Her Majesty’s forces charged upon such revenues.

LVI. The military and naval forces of the East India Company shall be deemed to be the Indian military and naval forces of Her Majesty, and shall be under the same obligations to serve Her Majesty as they would have been under to serve the said Company, and shall be liable to serve within the same territorial limits only, for the same terms only, and be entitled to the like pay, pensions, allowances, and privileges, and the like advantages as regards promotion and otherwise, as if they had continued in the service of the said Company: such forces, and all persons hereafter enlisting in or entering the same, shall continue and be subject to all Acts of Parliament, laws of the Governor-General of India in Council, and articles of war, and all other laws, regulations, and provisions relating to the East India Company’s military and naval forces respectively, as if Her Majesty’s Indian military and naval forces respectively had throughout such acts, laws, articles, regulations; and provisions been mentioned or referred to, instead of such forces of the said Company; and the pay and expenses of and incident to Her Majesty’s Indian military and naval forces shall be defrayed out of the revenues of India.

LVII. Provided that it shall be lawful for Her Majesty from time to time by order in Council to alter or regulate the terms and conditions of service under which persons hereafter entering Her Majesty’s Indian forces shall be commissioned, enlisted, or entered to serve, and the forms of attestation and of the oath or declaration to be used and taken or made respectively on attesting persons to serve in Her Majesty’s Indian forces shall be such as Her Majesty with regard to the European forces, and the Governor-General of India in Council with regard to the native forces, shall from time to time direct: provided, that every such order in Council shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament within fourteen days after the making thereof, if Parliament be sitting, and, if Parliament be not sitting, then within fourteen days after the next meeting thereof.

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LXV. The Secretary of State in Council shall and may sue and be sued as well in India as in England by the name of the Secretary of State in Council as a body corporate ; and all persons and bodies politic shall and may have and take the same suits, remedies, and proceedings, legal and equitable, against the Secretary of State in Council of India as they could have done against the said Company; and the property and effects hereby vested in
Her Majesty for the purposes of the Government of India, or acquired for the said – purposes, shall be subject and liable to the same judgements and executions as they would while vested in the said Company have been liable to in respect of debts and liabilities lawfully contracted and incurred by the said Company.

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LXVII. All treaties made by the said Company shall be binding on Her Majesty, and all contracts, covenants, liabilities, and engagements of the said Company made, incurred, or entered into before the commencement of this Act may be enforced by and against the Secretary of State in Council in like manner and in the same Courts as they might have been by and against the said Company if this Act had not been passed.

Source: Project South Asia via: A. Berriedale Keith, ed. Speeches and Documents on Indian Policy, 1750-1921. Vol. I. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1922, 370-382.

See also: Public General Statutes 1858.

Further Reading: Wikipedia