Indian Council Act of 1909 – Government of India Act, 1919 – The Government of India Act, 1935

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Indian Council Act of 1909

The Indian Councils Act 1909, commonly known as the Morley-Minto Reforms, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that brought about a limited increase in the involvement of Indians in the governance of British India.

A committee was appointed by the Government of India to propose a scheme of reforms. The committee submitted its report, and after the approval of Lord Minto and Lord Morley, the Act of 1909 was passed by the British Parliament.

The member of the Legislative Councils, both at the Center and in the provinces, were to be of four categories i.e. ex officio members (Governor General and the members of their Executive Councils), nominated official members (those nominated by the Governor General and were government officials), nominated non-official members (nominated by the Governor General but were not government officials) and elected members (elected by different categories of Indian people). The maximum number of nominated and elected members of the Legislative Council at the Center was increased from 16 to 60. The number did not include ex-officio members.

The right of separate electorate was given to the Muslims. Official members were to form the majority but in provinces non-official members would be in majority.

The members of the Legislative Councils were permitted to discuss the budgets, suggest the amendments and even to vote on them; excluding those items that were included as non-vote items. They were also entitled to ask supplementary questions during the legislative proceedings. The Secretary of State for India was empowered to increase the number of the Executive Councils of Madras and Bombay from two to four. Two Indians were nominated to the Council of the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs.

 

Government of India Act, 1919

The Government of India Act was passed to expand the participation of Indians in the government of India.  The Act embodied the reforms recommended in the report of the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, and the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford. The Act covered ten years, from 1919 to 1929.

The Imperial Legislative Council was enlarged and reformed. It became a bicameral legislature for all India. The lower house was the Legislative Assembly of 144 members, of which 104 were elected and 40 were nominated and tenure of three years. The upper house was the Council of States consisting of 34 elected and 26 nominated members and tenure of five years.

 

The Government of India Act, 1935

The Government of India Act of 1935 was originally passed in August 1935, and is said to have been the longest (British) Act of Parliament ever enacted by that time. Because of its length, the Act was retroactively split by the Government of India (Reprinting) Act 1935 into two separate Acts.

The Act did not include a “bill of rights” within the new system that it aimed to establish. However, in the case of the proposed Federation of India there was a further complication in incorporating such a set of rights, as the new entity would have included nominally sovereign (and generally autocratic) princely states.

Under the Act, British citizens resident in the UK and British companies registered in the UK must be treated on the same basis as Indian citizens and Indian registered companies unless UK law denies reciprocal treatment.  There were very detailed provisions requiring the Viceroy to intervene if, in his unappealable view, any India law or regulation is intended to, or will in fact, discriminate against UK resident British subjects, British registered companies and, particularly, British shipping interests.

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