Constitutional developments from 1900 to 1950

Constitutional Developments between 1900 to 1950Indian Councils Act of 1909

  • Also known as Minto-Morley Reforms.
  • Lord Morley, the Secretary of State for India & Lord Minto, the Governor-General of India were responsible for passing this act.
  • No. of “additional members” of the Central Legislative Council was increased to a maximum of 60.
  • Elected members were to be 27 & among the remaining 33 nominated members not > 28 were to be officials.
  • Election to the councils was legally recognized.
  • But communal representation was for the first time introduced in the interests of Muslims &Separate electorates were provided for the Muslims.
  • No. of members in provincial legislative councils of major provinces was raised to 50.
  • Councils were given right to discuss & pass resolutions on the Budget & on all matters of public interest.
  • However, the Viceroy had the power to disallow discussion on the budget.
  • An Indian member was appointed for the first time to the Governor-General’s Executive Council. Sir S. P. Sinha was the first Indian to be appointed.
  • In Bombay & Madras, the number of members of the Executive Councils was raised from 2 to 4.
  • 2 Indians were also appointed to the India Council in England.

Government of India Act of 1919

  • On 20th August, 1917 Montague, the Secretary of State for India made a momentous declaration in the House of Commons.
  • His declaration assured the introduction of responsible government in India in different stages.
  • As a first measure the Government of India Act of 1919 was passed by the Parliament of England.
  • This Act is popularly known as Montague-Chelmsford Reforms act 1919. At that time Lord Chelmsford was the Viceroy of India.

Main features:

  • Dyarchy was introduced in the provinces.
  • Provincial subjects were divided into “Reserved Subjects” & “Transferred Subjects”.
  • Reserved subjects administered by the Governor & his Executive Council while Transferred subjects by the Governor & his ministers.
  • Two Chambers legislature was set up & consists of the Council of States & the Legislative Assembly.
  • Total member in the Legislative Assembly was to be a maximum of 145, out of which 105 were to be elected & 40 nominated.
  • In the Council of States there would be a maximum of 60 members out of which 34 were elected & the 26 nominated.
  • Salaries of the Secretary of State for India & his assistants were to be paid out of the British revenues.
  • A High Commissioner for India at London was also appointed.
  • Most imp defect was the division of powers under the system of Dyarchy in the provinces.

The Government of India Act of 1935

  • Passed on the basis of the report of the Simon Commission, the outcome of the Round Table Conferences & the White Paper issued by the British Government in 1933.

Salient features:

  • Provision for the establishment of an All India Federation at the Centre, consisting of the Provinces of British India and the Princely States. (Did not come into existence since the Princely States refused.)
  • Division of powers into 3 lists: Federal, Provincial & Concurrent.
  • Introduction of Dyarchy at the Centre. The Governor-General & his councillors administered the “Reserved subjects” & the Council of Ministers were responsible for the “Transferred” subjects.
  • Abolition of Dyarchy & the introduction of Provincial Autonomy in the provinces.
  • The Governor was made the head of the Provincial Executive but he was expected to run the administration on the advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • Provincial government was entursted to the elected Ministers & responsible to the elected Legislative Assemblies.
  • Provincial Legilatures of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, United Provinces, Bihar and Assam were & two-chambered.
  • Extension of the principle of Separate Electorates to Sikhs, Europeans, Indian Christians & Anglo Indians.
  • Esatblishment of a Federal Court at Delhi with a Chief Justice & 6 judges.
  • Working of the provincial autonomy was not successful.
  • The Governors were not bound to accept the advice of the ministers.
  • In reality, the real power in the Provincial Government was with the Governor.india

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