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INDIAN COUNCIL ACT 1892: BACKGROUND, OBJECTIVES, PROVISIONS & FAILURE
Indian Council Act 1892 was introduced by the British Government during the colonial period in India that had a monumental implication in the constitutional history of India because it installed the principle of “indirect election” for the composition of Central and Provincial Legislative Councils in the country and empowered the Indians representatives in the sphere of legislation. The present article attempts to analyze the background, objectives, provisions of the Indian Council Act 1892, and subsequently the reasons for its failure.
Background of Indian Council Act 1892:
Since the failure of the Revolt of 1857, the discontentment amongst the countrymen was escalating against the colonial regime due to excruciating sociopolitical paralysis of the nation caused by the tyrannical colonial policies, like the Indian Arms Act, Vernacular Press Act and Ilbert Bill Controversy. However, the countrymen were not openly revolting against it but the resistance was obvious.
To answer these colonial politics, numerous nationalist associations like Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Madras Mahajan Sabha, and Indian Association, etc came to the forefront which instigated the sense of nationalism amongst people and politically awakened them about their rights and duties towards their country. Meanwhile, the socio-religious movements were also flourishing in certain developing territories of India.
By 1885, an All-India-based organization, namely Indian National Congress was founded by A.O Hume and others who were resolved to demand “the reforms and expansion of Central and Provincial Legislative Council by-elections of a considerable proportion of members.” Remaining in the moderate phase, the INC constantly urged for the expansion of legislative powers in India that was somewhat accepted by the Indian Council Act, 1892.
Provisions of Indian Council Act 1892:
The act underlined the following provisions:
- Enlargement of Central and Provincial Legislative Council: The numeric strength of non-official members was expanded in Central Legislative Council ( between 10 to 16) and variably in Provincial Legislative Council.
- Members of the Legislative Council were validated to discuss budget and public interests and articulate the questions to the executives.
- The nomination of Members of Central and Provincial Council: Under this enactment, Viceroy was designated to nominate Indians as non-official members of the Central Legislative Council with the recommendation of Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Provincial Legislative Council while Governor-General was instructed to nominate non-official members of Provincial Legislature by recommendation of certain local bodies like Universities, District Board and Municipalities, etc.
Failure of Indian Council Act 1892
Although this enactment implicitly accepted the principle of “indirect election” in Indian governance and allowed nomination procedure in the Central and Provincial Legislative Council, it was incapable of fulfilling the substantial national demands. Within no time, the emerging dissatisfaction from the failures of the Indian Council Act 1892 was reflected in the radical representation of Indians against British rule in the early 20th century. The British defined the widespread political condition in the country as “Indian Unrest.”
In short, the Indian Council Act 1892 can only satisfy the moderates of the Indian National Congress but not India at large.
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