Government of India Act/Montague Chelmsford Reforms, 1919

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Government of India Act/Montague Chelmsford Reforms, 1919

On 20th August 1917, Mr. Montague, the then Secretary of State for India, made a historic statement in the House of Commons. The statement, for the first time in India’s history under British rule, promised the establishment of “responsible government” in India.

The Montague declaration is titled: “Increasing association of Indians in every branch of administration, and the Gradual development of self governing Institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible governments in India as an Integral part of the British Empire”

Under this system some subjects, such as finance and law and order, were called ‘reserved’ subjects and remained under the direct control of the Governor; others such as education, public health, and local self-government, were called ‘transferred’ subjects and were to be controlled by ministers responsible to the legislature.

This also meant that while some of the spending departments were transferred, the Governor retained complete Control over the financiers. The Governor could, moreover, overrule the ministers on any grounds that he considered special. At the centre, there were to be two houses of legislature.

The lower house, the Legislative Assembly, was to have 41 nominated members in a total strength of 144. The upper house, the council of State, was to have 26 nominated and 34 elected members.

The legislature had virtually no control over the Governor-General and his Executive Council. On the other hand, the Central Government had unrestricted Control over the provincial governments. Moreover the right to vote was severely restricted.

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