Government of India Act 1919: The Government of India Act of 1919, also known as the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, was an important piece of legislation that marked a significant step in the constitutional evolution of British India. This act introduced significant changes to the governance of India and was a response to growing demands for self-governance and greater Indian participation in the administration. Here are the key provisions and features of the Government of India Act 1919:
Government of India Act 1919
1. Introduction of Diarchy:
- One of the most significant features of the 1919 Act was the introduction of diarchy, a dual form of government. This system divided the subjects of administration into two categories: “transferred” and “reserved.”
- Transferred subjects were to be administered by Indian ministers responsible to the legislatures, while reserved subjects remained under the control of British authorities.
2. Legislative Councils:
- The act expanded the powers and functions of the central and provincial legislative councils, making them more representative. The central legislative council was expanded to include more elected members.
- The provincial legislative councils were also enlarged, and separate electorates for religious and racial communities were retained.
3. Separation of Powers:
- The act attempted to create a separation of powers between the executive and the legislative branches, with the legislative councils gaining more authority in the governance of India.
4. Provincial Autonomy:
- Provinces were granted a degree of autonomy in the administration of transferred subjects. They had the power to make laws on a range of issues, including education, health, and public works.
- The governor was responsible for the reserved subjects, while the elected ministers were responsible for the transferred subjects.
5. Expansion of Electorate:
- The act extended voting rights, albeit with certain restrictions, to a larger portion of the Indian population, including some rural and urban male voters.
6. Reservation of Seats:
- The act provided for the reservation of seats in legislative councils for various communities, including religious minorities and other special interests.
7. Public Service Commission:
- The establishment of public service commissions for recruitment to the Indian Civil Services (ICS) and other civil services was authorized by the 1919 Act.
8. Reforms for Princely States:
- The act also provided for the establishment of a statutory commission to inquire into the working of the system of governance in the princely states.
9. Minority Safeguards:
- The act included safeguards for the rights of religious and minority communities.
10. Provincial Councils:
- The act allowed for the establishment of provincial councils in certain provinces.
While the Government of India Act of 1919 represented a significant step toward self-governance, it fell short of the full demand for “Swaraj” or complete independence, which was a central goal of the Indian National Congress. The act was followed by the Government of India Act of 1935, which introduced further reforms and provided for a more federal structure of governance. These acts collectively laid the groundwork for the eventual attainment of Indian independence in 1947.
By Team Learning Mantras