The Indian Council Act and Government of India Act

During 1858 – 1947, the British Parliament passed and enacted numerous legislations for India. The chief features of these acts can be stated, briefly, as under :

The Indian Council Act, 1861:

(i) The member was inducted in the Viceroy’s Executive Council;

(ii) As the Viceroy was empowered to make rules for the convenient transaction of business in the Council, the portfolio system came to be introduced;

(iii) For the purpose of legislation, the Viceroy’s Executive Council was expanded with additional members, not less than six but not more than twelve, half of them to be non-social;

(iv) the expanded council, called the legislative council was only for the purpose of legislation, and not for controlling the administration;

(v) The legislative councils likewise, for each of the presidencies of Bombay and Madras, had not less than 4 and not more than 8 (half of them to the non-social) additional members;

(vi) On provincial legislations, the assent of the Governor-General (i.e.; the Viceroy) was made essential;

(vii) Additional members held once for two years.

The Indian Council Act, 1892

(i) Additional members in the central legislative council were increased to a maximum of 16;

(ii) Additional members in the provincial legislative councils were increased to a maximum of 20;

(iii) the additional members could express their views on financial statements; and could put questions within certain limits to the government.

The Indian Councils, Act 1909:

(i) The central legislative council was enlarged, the strength of the additional members was to have a maximum of 60 members, with some officials, some non-officials, some non-officials were to be nominated while, some others elected;

(ii) The additional members in each provincial legislative council was increased, to a maximum of 50—some officials, some non-officials; some non-officials to be nominated and some others to be elected;

(iii) Separate communal representation system came to be introduced;

(iv) The powers of the provincial legislative councils were increased: members could move resolutions on budget and could ask supplementary questions;

(v) Two Indians were appointed on the Viceroy’s executive Council.

The Government of India Act 1919:

(i) The Indians came to be associated in administration;

(ii) In provinces, some Indians were made ministers and given charge of transferred subjects, i.e. dyarchy was introduced;

(iii) The powers were distributed between the center and the provinces;

(iv) The elected members of the legislative councils were to be 70%; nominated officials to be 10% and nominated non-officials to be 20% of the total strength of the legislative council;

(v) Separate communal representation system was kept as before; The Central legislature was to be bicameral —the Council of States, 60 members and Central Legislative Assembly, 145 members;

(vii) The provincial legislative councils were to have now increased members;

(viii) The powers of the legislative council members, both at the center and in the provinces were increased: legislations could be considered, passed or rejected, though the Governor-General and Governors had been given powers to override the decisions of the legislative councils.

The Government of India Act, 1935:

(i) An all-India federation was proposed, though it did not come into effect;

(ii) Dyarchy in the provinces was abolished, and provincial autonomy was granted, i.e.; all ministers were to be Indians in the provinces;

(iii) The Governors and the Governors-General were given discretionary powers in the name of safeguards and reservations;

(iv) The membership (at both center and the provinces) of the legislative councils was increased: the central legislature had the Council of States with 260 members, and the Central Legislative Assembly, with 375 members;

(v) The membership of the provincial legislative councils was also increased;

(vi) The communal representation system was extended to include the other religious communities;

(vii) The elected, nominated officials and the nominated non-officials system was kept as before;

(viii) The franchise was restrictive and discriminatory;

(ix) In some provinces, the bicameral ligature was introduced


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