In 1773 the British government took over some responsibility for ruling British
India. The "Regulating Act" set up a governor-general and council nominated
partly by the East India Company and partly by the government.
An Act For Establishing Certain Regulations For The Better Management Of The
Affairs Of The East India Company, As Well In India As In Europe
Whereas the several powers and authorities granted by charters to the united
company of merchants in England trading to the East Indies have been found, by experience,
not to have sufficient force and efficacy to prevent various abuses which have prevailed
in the government and administration of the affairs of the said united company, as well at
home as in India, to the manifest injury of the public credit, and of the commercial
interests of the said company; and it is therefore become highly expedient that certain
further regulations, better adapted to their present circumstances and condition, should
be provided and established: ...
[The Act then lays down provisions governing the election of Directors.]
... And, for the better management of the said united company's affairs in India,
be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That, for the government of the
presidency of Fort William in Bengal, there shall be appointed a governor-general, and
four counsellors; and that the whole civil and military government of the said presidency,
and also the ordering, management and government of all the territorial acquisitions and
revenues in the kingdoms of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, shall, during such
time as the territorial acquisitions and revenues shall remain in the possession of the
said united company, be, and are hereby vested in the said governor-general and council of
the said presidency of Fort William in Bengal, in like manner, to all intents and purposes
whatsoever; as the same now are, or at any time heretofore might have been exercised by
the president and council, or select committee, in the said kingdoms.
And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in all cases whatsoever wherein any
difference of opinion shall arise upon any question proposed in any consultation, the said
governor-general and council shall be bound and concluded by the opinion and decision of
the major part of those present: and if it shall happen that, by the death or removal, or
by the absence, of any of the members of the said council, such governor-general and
council shall happen to be equally divided; then, and in every such case, the said
governor-general, or in his absence, the eldest counsellor present, shall have a casting
voice, and his opinion shall be decisive and conclusive.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the said governor- general
and council, or the major part of them, shall have, and they are hereby authorised to
have, power of superintending and countroling the government and management of the
presidencies of Madras, Bombay, and Bencoolen respectively.