This article examines the corporate conduct of the British East India Company (1600–1874). The EIC was a state corporation that required the participation of private actors in England and British colonies. In India the EIC established a fi rm presence for the British Empire. British rule was profi table for the Crown but had pros and cons for the people of India. This article asks: Is a state corporation accountable for unethical and illegal profi t making in another country? Or can it be excused on the grounds that a company is a mere artifi cial personality and incapable of human behavior?
East India Company, Frederick Charles Danvers (1833–1906) and Sir William Foster (1863–1951), Letters received by the East India Company from its servants in the East (London, 1896), xxiii.
Case of Sutton’s Hospital (1612) 77 ER 960, 973.
The Trustees of Dartmouth College v Woodward, 17 U.S. 518, 636 (1819).
Machen, A.: Corporate Personality. Harvard Law Review, 24 (1911) 4–5 at 6.
Machen A., 'Corporate Personality' (1911) 24Harvard Law Review: 4-5.
Machen A.Corporate PersonalityHarvard Law Review19112445)| false
Koessler, M.: The Person in Imagination or Persona Ficta of the Corporation 9(4) Louisiana Law Review (May 1949) at 447: “There is nevertheless a fundamental mistake involved in the theories which deny the reality, even as a matter of law, of a juristic person.”
Charter Granted By Queen Elizabeth, To The Governor And Company Of Merchants Of London, Trading Into The East-Indies, Dated the 31st December, in the 43rd Year of Her Reign, Anno Domini, 1600. [Hereafter Charter of 1600].
“Raising Soldiers for India,” The Memorial and Petition of the Court of Directors of the United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East-Indies, 21st. May 1789, CO 77/26, ff. 104–5.
Charter of 1600. The Law Relating To India And The East India Company (London, 1841).
These criteria were modified by the Regulating Act of 1773. 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, 13 Geo. 3 c. 63.
The Case of Thomas Skinner, Merchant v The East India Company (1666) 6 State Trials 710 (H.L.).
Rafael v Verelst (1775) 96 ER 579 (KB).
'', in 96 ER 579 (KB), (1775) -.
96 ER 579 (KB)1775)| false
The Case of Thomas Skinner, Merchant v The East India Company, 711.
Rafael v Verelst, 623.
Marx, K.: The East India Company—Its History and Results. New-York Daily Tribune, July 11, 1853. Also see Macaulay, Th. B.: Warren Hastings. London, October 1841 at paras 7 and 16.
Marx K., '', in The East India Company—Its History and Results, (1853) -.
Marx K.The East India Company—Its History and Results1853)| false
Smith, A.: An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Vol. II. Chicago, 1976, 265.
Smith A., '', in An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, (1976) -.
Smith A.An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations1976)| false
“Government of India-Adjourned Debate”, HC Deb 09 June 1853 vol 127 cc1300-52 at 1300.
“East India Company’s Revenue Accounts”, HC Deb 08 August 1854 vol 135 cc1436-77 at 1436. Statement of Sir Charles Wood, President of the Board of Control of the East India Company. The President of the Board of Control was a Cabinet position and later was known as the Secretary of State for India.
Macaulay, Th. B.: Government of India. A Speech Delivered in the House of Commons on the 10th of July 1833 at para. 2A.
Macaulay T.h. B., '', in Government of India, (1833) -.
Macaulay T.h. B.Government of India1833)| false
Torture in India. HL Deb 29 February 1856 vol 140 cc 1563—73 at 1565. Statement of The Earl of Ablemarle.
See Report of the Commission for the Investigation of Alleged Cases of Torture in the Madras Presidency (1855) Chennai: Tamil Nadu State Archives.
'', in Chennai: Tamil Nadu State Archives, (1855) -.
Chennai: Tamil Nadu State Archives1855)| false
Torture in India. op. cit. cc 1563—73.
Ibid. cc 1568.
Revenues of India. HC Deb 18 April 1856 vol 141 cc 1189—237 at 1208—1209. Statement of Mr. Murrough.
The thirteen colonies were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The Declaration of Independence, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America, In Congress July 4, 1776.
The Tea Act 1733, 13 Geo. 3 c. 44. An act to allow a drawback of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the India Company’s sales; and to impower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licenses to the East India Company to export tea duty-free.
“Poplicola”, Rivington’s New York-Gazeteer, 12 Nov. 1773.
The Tea Act, para. IV.
Ramsay, D.: The History of the American Revolution. 1789.
Ramsay D., '', in The History of the American Revolution, (1789) -.
Ramsay D.The History of the American Revolution1789)| false
From a letter to the Boston Gazette, August 15, 1768: “The duty that was before paid upon Tea, in Great-Britain, was one shilling a pound. This duty is now taken off by a drawback, and three pence sterling only a pound is imposed on the importation of it into the colonies. In this manner nine pence a pound sterling is saved to the consumer, which, considering the quantity used upon the continent, is a great thing.”
Revenue Act of 1767, 7 Geo. III ch. 46.
Citizens of Plymouth, Massachusetts, 7&13, resolutions for and against supporting the Philadelphia resolves, Boston News-Letter, 23 December 1773.
Citizens of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, assembled at the State House, 18 October 1773, resolutions for the boycott of East India Company tea, Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 October 1773 at para. 6.
Ibid. para. 7.
Committees of Correspondence.
John Adams, Diary, Braintree, Massachusetts, 17 December 1773.
The Boston Gazette, 20 December 1773.
Ramsay: op. cit.
An Act to discontinue, in such manner, and for such time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading or shipping, of goods, wares, and merchandise, at the town, and within the harbour, of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America, 14 Geo. III c. 19.
Ibid. WHEREAS dangerous commotions and insurrections have been fomented and raised in the town of Boston, in the province of Massachuset’s Bay, in New England, by divers ill affected persons, to the subversion of his Majesty’s government, and to the utter destruction of the publick peace, and good order of the said town; in which commotions and insurrections certain valuable cargoes of teas, being the property of the East India Company, and on board certain’ vessels Iying within the bay or harbour of Boston, were seized and destroyed: And whereas, in the present condition of the said town and harbour, the commerce of his Majesty’s subjects cannot be safely carried on there, nor the customs payable to his Majesty duly collected; and it is therefore expedient that the officers of his Majesty’s customs should be forthwith removed from the said town.
Ibid. para. X. Provided also, and it is hereby declared and enacted, That nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed, to enable his Majesty to appoint such port, harbour, creeks, quays, wharfs, places, or officers, in the said town of Boston, or in the said bay or islands, until it shall sufficiently appear to his Majesty that full satisfaction hath been made by or on behalf of the inhabitants of the said town of Boston to the united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies, for the damage sustained by the said company by the destruction of their goods sent to the said town of Boston, on board certain ships or vessels as aforesaid; and until it shall be certifi ed to his Majesty, in council, by the governor, or lieutenant governor, of the said province, that reasonable satisfaction hath been made to the officers of his Majesty’s revenue, and others, who suffered by the riots and insurrections above-mentioned, in the months of November and December, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy three, and in the month of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy four.
Circular Letter of the Boston Committee of Correspondence, May 13, 1774.
See the Coercive Acts.
“An Act to enable Her most Gracious Majesty to make an addition to the Royal Style and Titles appertaining to the Imperial Crown of the United Kingdom and its Dependencies” (Royal Titles Act of 1876), 39 & 40 Vict., c. 10.
Hazewell, Ch. C.: The Indian Revolt. The Atlantic Monthly, 1 (1857) 2, 217.
Hazewell Ch. C., 'The Indian Revolt' (1857) 1The Atlantic Monthly: 217-.
Hazewell Ch. C.The Indian RevoltThe Atlantic Monthly18571217)| false
The Mutiny of the Bengal Army: An Historical Narrative By One Who Has Served Under Sir Charles Napier. London, 1857, 34.
Hazewell: op. cit. 217.
Major Fred J. Harriot, Deputy Judge Advocate General & Government Prosecutor, “List of Charges Against Bahadur Shah (1858)”, Proceedings of a European Military Commission assembled at Delhi at on 27th day of January 1858: Charges against the Prisoner Muhammed Bahadur Shah, ExKing of Delhi.
Particularly true of the reign of Aurangzeb (1658-1707).
Thanks To The Government And Army In India. HC Deb 14 April 1859 vol 153 cc1729-65.
An Act for the better Government of India (Government of India Act 1958), 21 & 22 Vict. c. 106.
East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act 1873 (36 & 37 Vict c 17).
The Petition of the East India Company to the two Houses of Parliament against the intended measure for depriving them of the Administration of India; originally acquired for this country its magnifi cent empire in the East.
Treaty between the British Government and the State of Lahore—1846, Signed on the 9th day of March, 1846.
ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT concluded between the BRITISH GOVERNMENT and the LAHORE DURBAR on 11 March 1846. (Hereafter First Lahore Treaty)
ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT concluded between the BRITISH GOVERNMENT and the LAHORE DURBAR on 16 December 1846.
First Lahore Treaty. (Hereafter Second Lahore Treaty)
Bhaee Ram Sing, Rajah Lal Sing, Sirdar Tej Sing, Sirdar Chuttur Sing Attareewalla, Sirdar Runjore Sing Majeethia, Dewan Deena Nath and Fakeer Nooroodden.
“Punjab”, Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 20, 272 at 274.
First Lahore Treaty, Article 6: The Maharajah engages to disband the mutinous troops of the Lahore Army, taking from them their arms—and His Highness agrees to reorganize the Regular or Aeen Regiments of Infantry, upon the system, and according to the Regulations as to pay and allowances, observed in the time of the late Maharajah Runjeet Sing. The Maharajah further engages to pay up all arrears to the soldiers that are discharged, under the provisions of this Article. Article 7: The Regular Army of the Lahore State shall henceforth be limited to 25 Battalions of Infantry, consisting of 800 bayonets each with twelve thousand Cavalry—this number at no time to be exceeded without the concurrence of the British Government. Should it be necessary at any time—for any special cause—that this force should be increased, the cause shall be fully explained to the British Government, and when the special necessity shall have passed, the regular troops shall be again reduced to the standard specified in the former Clause of this Article.
ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT concluded between the BRITISH GOVERNMENT and the LAHORE DURBAR on 11 March 1846.
Ibid. Article 1: The British Government shall leave at Lahore, till the close of the current year, AD 1846, such force as shall seem to the Governor-General adequate for the purpose of protecting the person of the Maharajah and the inhabitants of the City of Lahore, during the reorganization of the Sikh Army, in accordance with the provisions of Article 6 of the Treaty of Lahore. That force to be withdrawn at any convenient time before the expiration of the year, if the object to be fulfilled shall, in the opinion of the Durbar, have been attained-but the force shall not be detained at Lahore beyond the expiration of the current year.
Ibid. Article 2: The Lahore Government agrees that the force left at Lahore for the purpose specified in the foregoing Article shall be placed in full possession of the Fort and the City of Lahore, and that the Lahore troops shall be removed from within the City. The Lahore Government engages to furnish convenient quarters for the officers and men of the said force, and to pay to the British Government all the extra expenses, in regard to the said force, which may be incurred by the British Government, in consequence of the troops being employed away from their own Cantonments and in a Foreign Territory.
Second Lahore Treaty, Article 9: The Lahore State shall pay to the British Government twenty-two lakhs of new Nanuck Shahee Rupees of full tale and weight per annum for the maintenance of this force, and to meet the expenses incurred by the British Government. Such sum to be paid by two instalments, or 13, 20, 000 in May or June, and 8, 80, 000 in November or December of each year.
Ibid. Article 16. The provisions of this Engagement shall have effect during the minority of His Highness Maharajah Dulleep Sing, and shall cease and terminate on His Highness attaining the full age of sixteen years or, on the 4th September of the year 1854, but it shall be competent to the Governor-General to cause the arrangement to cease at any period prior to the coming of age of His Highness, at which the Governor-General and the Lahore Durbar may be satisfied that the interposition of the British Government is no longer necessary for maintaining the Government of His Highness the Maharajah.