GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT 1935: BACKGROUND, OBJECTIVES, PROVISIONS AND FAILURE
Indian Council Act 1935 was introduced by the British Government that had monumental importance in the history of India because it is one of the fundamental sources of the present-day constitution of India. The present article attempts to analyze the background, objectives, provisions, and the reasons for the failure of the Indian Council Act 1935.
Background of Government of India Act 1935:
Provisions of Government of India Act 1935:
The Government of India Act 1935 highlighted the following changes in Indian administration:
- Establishment of All India Federation: The act prescribed the establishment of the All India Federation, considering the consent of provinces and princely states. Three lists were formulated for the division of power- Federal List (for Centre consisting 49 subjects), Provincial List (for provinces consisting 54 subjects) and Concurrent List (for both centre and provinces consisting 36 subjects). Residuary legislative powers vested in the hands of Governor-General. Since princely states rejected the provision, the Federation couldn’t be ascertained.
- Provincial Autonomy reclaimed: The Dyarchy system at provinces was abolished under this enactment and the provinces were empowered to act as autonomous administrative entities that could take their independent decisions subject to certain safeguards and limitations. The Governor was proclaimed as the head of the province who will be assisted by Ministers. However, this provision came into effect in 1937.
- Introduction of Dyarchy at Centre: Under this provision, the British Parliamentary Government divided the subjects of the federal list into two categories- Reserved Subjects and Transferred Subjects. Reserved subjects were controlled by Governor-General with the advice of three counsellors and it included issues like defence, justice, external and tribal affairs. Transferred Subjects were controlled by Governor-General with the assistance of the Council of Ministers and it included education, health and forest-related subjects.
- Establishment of Federal Court: It provisioned to create a Federal Court for interpretation of controversial clauses of this act which was finally constructed in 1937. It also functioned to sort out the disputes between the Federal Government and the provinces and amongst the provinces.
- Introduction of Bicameralism: Bicameralism (provisioned in GOI 1919) was now properly introduced in six out of eleven provinces. It included Bengal, Bombay, Madras, Assam, Bihar and United Provinces.
- Extension of Franchise: Almost 10% of the British Indian Population was empowered to vote in elections.
- Extension of Separate Electorates: The concept of separate electorates was now extended to depressed sections, women and minorities.
- Abolition of Indian Council: Indian Council (structured under GOI 1858) was abolished under this provision and instead Secretary of State was provided with a team of advisors.
- Re-organization of States: Burma (now Myanmar) was separated from British India and two new provinces catalogued- Orissa and Sind were created.