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The Government of India Act


The Government of India Act 1935 was the last pre-independence constitution of the British Raj. The significant aspects of the act were:

1) It granted Indian provinces autonomy and ended the dyarchy introduced by the Government of India Act 1919. 

2) It provided for establishment of an All India Federation. 

3) Direct elections are introduced for the first time. The right to vote was increased from seven million to thirty-five million. 

4) Sind is separated from Bombay. Orissa is separated from Bihar. Burma is separated from India. 

5) Provincial assemblies were to include more elected Indian representatives, who in turn could lead majorities and form governments. But Governors retained discretionary powers regarding summoning of legislatures, giving assent to bills and administering certain special regions (mostly tribal). 

The federal part of the Act was never introduced due to strong opposition from the princely state rulers. In 1937 the first set of elections under this act were held.


The Government of India Act 1858 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed on August 2, 1858. Its provisions called for the liquidation of the British East India Company (who had up to this point been ruling India under the auspices of Parliament) and the transference of its functions to the British Crown. Lord Palmerston, then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, introduced a bill for the transfer of control of the Government of India from the East India Company to the Crown, referring to the grave defects in the existing system of the government of India.

Main provisions of the bill: 

(a) The Act declared that the Company's territories in India shall vest in Her Majesty, and the Company shall cease to exercise its power and control over all these territories. India will be governed in the name of the Queen.

(b) The Queen's Principal Secretary of State shall have all such powers and perform all such duties as were exercised by the court of Directors. A council of fifteen members were apponted to assist the Secretary of State for India. The council became an advisory body in India affairs. For all the communications between England and India, the Secretary of State became the real channel.

(c) The Secretary of State for India was empowered to send some secret despatches to India directly without consulting the Council. He was also authorised to constitute special committees of his Council.
(d) The Crown was empowered to appoint the Governor General of India and the Governors of the Presidencies.

(e) It also provided for the creation of the Indian Civil Service under the control of the Secretary of State.

(f) All the property of the East India Company was transferred to the Crown. All treaties, contracts, etc. made by the Company remained binding on the Crown.
Thus, the passing of the Government of India Act 1858 ushered in a new period of Indian history – that of direct rule by the British Crown, known as the British Raj.


Government of India Act of 1919 The Secretary of State for India, Mr. Montagu, and the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, had prepared the report which served as the basis for the creation of the legislation.
The Act incorporated the idea of a dual form of government (referred to as a "dyarchy") for the major provinces. The rules were a complex set of instructions. For example, the provincial legislative council of each major province acted to monitor the activities of the provincial ministers.

The Act of 1919 also provided for a high commissioner to reside in London, who would represent India their in Great Britain. The Act covered ten years, from 1919 to 1929.

The reforms were the brainchild of Sir Edwin Montagu and Lord Chelmsford

As per the set of reforms, the Imperial and Provincial Councils were to be enlarged and a new system of dyarchy was to be introduced. As per the system, the Viceroy would retain control of areas such as Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications and the Government responsible to the Provincial Council would control Health and Education

The former were the 'reserved list' whereas the latter 'transfered lists'

Also there was to be a bi-cameral legislature at the centre consisting of the Legislstive Assembly, consisting of 144 members out of which 41 were nominated. There would also be a Council of States consisting of 34 elected and 26 nominated members. Once again the Princely States were used to check the political parties. 

The Indian National Congress was unhappy at these reforms and termed them as 'disappointing.' A special session was held in Mumbai under Hasan Imam and the reforms were condemned. However, leaders such as Surendranath Banerjea were inclined to accept the reforms, so they left the Congress and formed the Indian Liberal Federation, which played a minor role in subsequent affairs.


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