The Central Legislative Assembly was the lower house of the Imperial Legislative Council, the legislature of British India. It was created by the Government of India Act 1919, implementing the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms. It was also sometimes called the Indian Legislative Assembly and the Imperial Legislative Assembly. The Council of States was the upper house of the legislature for India.
The new Assembly was the lower house of a bicameral parliament, with a new Council of State as the upper house, reviewing legislation passed by the Assembly. However, both its powers and its electorate were limited.
The Assembly had 145 members who were either nominated or indirectly elected from the provinces.
The nominated members were officials or non-officials and nominated by the Government of India and the provinces
There were a total of 26 nominated officials out of which 14 were nominated by the Government of India from the Viceroy's Executive Council, Council of State and from the Secretariat. The other 12 came from the provinces. Madras, Bombay and Bengal nominated two officials while United Provinces, Punjab, Bihar & Orissa, Central Provinces, Assam and Burma nominated one each.
There were a total of 15 nominated non-officials out of which 5 were nominated by the Government of India representing five special interests namely Associated Chambers of Commerce, Indian Christians, Labour interests, Anglo-Indians and the Depressed Classes. The other 10 non-officials were nominated from the provinces namely two from Bengal, United Provinces and Punjab and one each from Bombay, Bihar & Orissa, Berar and the North West Frontier Province.
Initially, of its 142 members, 101 were elected and 41 were nominated. Of the 101 elected members, 52 came from general constituencies, 29 were elected by Muslims, 2 by Sikhs, 7 by Europeans, 7 by landlords, and 4 by business men. Later, one seat each was added for Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara and the North West Frontier Province.
The constituencies were divided as follows:
|Province||Seats||Names of Constituencies|
|Assam||4||General (2): Assam Valley, Surma Valley with Shillong|
Muslim: Assam Muhammadan
|Bengal||16||General (6): Calcutta Urban (1), Calcutta suburbs (Hoogly, Haorah, 24 Pargana Dist Municipal) (1), Calcutta Rural, Presidency Division (1), Burdwan Division (excluding Hoogly and Howrah Dist) (1), Dacca Division (1), Chittagong Rajshahi Division (1)|
Muslim (5): Calcutta and suburbs (Hoogly, Haorah, 24 Pargana Dist) (1), Burdwan and Calcutta Presidency Division (1), Dacca Division (1), Chittagong Division (1), Rajshahi Division (1)
Europeans in Bengal Presidency (2)
Landholders Bengal (1)
Commerce (2): Indian Chambers of Commerce (1), Rotation: Bengal Chambers of Commerce or Marwari Association or Bengal Mahajan Sabha (1)
|Bihar and Orissa||12||General (8): Tirhut Division (2), Orissa (2), Patna with Shahabad (1), Gaya with Monghyr (1), Bhagalpur Purnea and the Santhal Parganas (1), Chota Nagpur Division (1)|
Muslim (3): Patna and Chota Nagpur cum Orissa (1), Bhagalpur Division (1), Tirhut Division (1)
Bihar and Orissa Landholders (1)
|Bombay||16||General (8): Bombay City Urban (2), Sind (1), Northern Division (2), Southern Division (1), Central (2) |
Muslim (4): Bombay City Urban (1), Sind Urban (1), Sind Rural in rotation with Northern Division (1), Central Division in rotation with Southern Division (1)
Europeans in Presidency (1)
Commerce (2) Indian Merchants Chamber (1), The Bombay Millowners' Association or The Ahmedabad Millowners' Association (1)
Landholders Rotation (1): Sind Jagirdars & Zamindars or Gujarat & Deccan Sardars & Inamdars
|Burma||4||General (3) |
|Central Provinces||5||General (3): Nagpur Division (1), Central Provinces Hindi Division (The Narmada, Jabalpur and Chhattisgarh Divisions) (2) |
|Madras||16||General (11): Madras City Urban (1), Madras Districts Rural (1), Ganjam cum Vizagapatnam (1), Godavari cum Krishna (1), Guntur cum Nellore (1), Chittoor cum Ceded Dists (Anantpur, Bellary, Cuddapah, Kurnool) (1), Salem, Coimbatore cum North Arcot (1), Chingleput cum South Arcot (1), Tanjore cum Trichinopoly (1), Madurai, Ramnad cum Tinnevelly (1), Nilgiris and West Coast (Malabar, Anjengo, S. Canara) (1)|
Muslim (3): North Madras (Ganjam, Vizgapatam, Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Nellore, Anantapur, Bellary, Cuddapah, Kurnool and Chittoor) (1), South Madras (Chingleput, Madras, Arcot, North & South Coimbatore, Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Madurai) (1), Nilgiris and W. Coast (Malabar, S. Canara) (1)
Europeans in Presidency (1)
Landholders in Presidency (1)
|Punjab||12||General (3): Ambala Division (1), Jullundur Division (1), West Punjab (Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan) Division (1) |
Muslim (6): East Punjab (Ambala, Kangra, Hoshiarpur, Jullunder, Ludhiana) (1), East Central Punjab (Ferozepur, Lahore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur) (1), West Central Punjab (Sialkot, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura and Lyallpur) (1), North Punjab (Gujrat, Jhelum and Rawalpindi) (1), North- West Punjab (Attock, Mianwali, Shahpur and Jhang) (1), South-West Punjab (Multan, Montgomery, Muzaffargarh and Dera Ghazi Khan) (1)
Sikh (2): East Punjab (Ambala and Jullundur Division) (1), West Punjab (Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan) (1)
Punjab Landholders (1)
|United Provinces||16||General (8) Cities of UP (Agra, Meerut, Cawnpore, Benares, Allahabad, Bareilly, Lucknow) (1), Meerut Division (excluding Municipality and Cantonment) (1), Agra Division (1), Rohilkhand and Kumaon Division (1), Allahabad Jhansi Division (1), Benares Gorakhpur Division (1), Lucknow Division (1), Faizabad Division (1)|
Muslim (6): Cities of U.P (1), Meerut Division (1), Agra (1), Rohilkhand and Kumaon Division (1), Lucknow and Faizabad (1), Southern Division (Allahabad, Benares, Gorakhpur) (1)
European U. P. (1)
Landholders U P (1)
The Government of India Act 1935 introduced further reforms. The Assembly continued as the lower chamber of a central Indian parliament based in Delhi, with two chambers, both containing elected and appointed members. The Assembly increased in size to 250 seats for members elected by the constituencies of British India, plus a further 125 seats for the Indian Princely states. However, elections for the reformed legislature never took place.
The Central Legislative Assembly met in the Council Hall and later to the Viceregal Lodge in Old Delhi both of which are now located in Delhi University. A new "Council House" was conceived in 1919 as the seat of the future Legislative Assembly, the Council of State, and the Chamber of Princes. The foundation stone was laid on 12 February 1921 and the building was opened on 18 January 1927 by Lord Irwin, the Viceroy and Governor-General. The Council House later changed its name to Parliament House, or Sansad Bhavan, and is the present-day home of the Parliament of India.
The first elections to the new legislatures took place in November 1920 and proved to be the first significant contest between the Moderates and the Non-cooperation movement, whose aim was for the elections to fail. The Non-cooperators were at least partly successful in this, as out of almost a million electors for the Assembly, only some 182,000 voted.
After the withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement, a group within the Indian National Congress formed the Swaraj Party and contested the elections in 1923 and 1926. The Swaraj Party led by Motilal Nehru as the leader of the Opposition was able to secure the defeat, or at least the delay, of finance bills and other legislation. However, after 1926, the members of the Swaraj Party either joined the government or returned to the Congress which continued its boycott of the legislature during the Civil Disobedience Movement.
The last elections to the assembly were held in 1945.
The electorate of the Assembly was never more than a very small fraction of the population of India. In the British House of Commons on 10 November 1942, the Labour MP Seymour Cocks asked the Secretary of State for India Leo Amery "What is the electorate for the present Central Legislative Assembly?" and received the written answer "The total electorate for the last General Election (1934) for the Central Legislative Assembly was 1,415,892."
The presiding officer (or speaker) of the Assembly was called the President. While the Government of India Act 1919 provided for the President to be elected, it made an exception in the case of the first President, who was to be appointed by the Government. The Governor-General appointed Frederick Whyte, a former Liberal member of the British House of Commons who had been a parliamentary private secretary to Winston Churchill. Sachchidananda Sinha was the Deputy President of Assembly in 1921.
Ganesh Vasudev Mavlankar was the last President of the Assembly till the Assembly came to an end on 14 August 1947. He became the first Speaker of the Constituent Assembly of India, and in 1952 the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India.
|1||Frederick Whyte||3 February 1921 – 23 August 1925|
|2||Vithalbhai Patel||24 August 1925 – April 1930|
|3||Sir Muhammad Yakub||9 July 1930 – 31 July 1931|
|4||Ibrahim Rahimtoola||17 January 1931 – 7 March 1933|
|5||R. K. Shanmukham Chetty||14 March 1933 – 31 December 1934|
|6||Sir Abdur Rahim||24 January 1935 – 1 October 1945|
|7||Ganesh Vasudev Mavlankar||24 January 1946 – 14 August 1947|
|1||Sachchidananda Sinha||February 1921 – September 1921|
|2||Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy||September 1921 – 1923|
|3||T. Rangachari||February 1924 – 1926|
|4||Sir Muhammad Yakub||January 1927 – 1930|
|5||Hari Singh Gour||July 1930|
|6||R. K. Shanmukham Chetty||January 1931 – March 1933|
|7||Abdul Matin Chaudhury||March 1933 – 1934|
|8||Akhil Chandra Datta||February 1934 – 1945|
|9||Muhammad Yamin Khan||February 1946 – 1947|
The introduction of a 'two-house' parliamentary system, with a Council of State and a Central Legislative Assembly.
General elections were held in British India in 1920 to elect members to the Imperial Legislative Council and the Provincial Councils. They were the first elections in the country's modern history.The new Central Legislative Assembly which was the lower chamber of the Imperial Legislative Council was based in Delhi had 104 elected seats, of which 66 were contested and eight were reserved for Europeans elected through the Chambers of Commerce. For the upper chamber, the Council of State, 24 of the 34 seats were contested, whilst five were reserved for Muslims, three for Whites, one for Sikhs and one for the United Provinces. The Parliament was opened by the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn on 9 February 1921.Alongside the national elections there were also elections to 637 seats in Provincial Assemblies. Of these, 440 were contested, 188 had a single candidate elected unopposed. Despite the calls by Mahatma Gandhi for a boycott of the elections, only six had no candidate. Within the Provincial Assemblies 38 were reserved for White voters.1923 Indian general election
General elections were held in British India in November 1923 for both the Central Legislative Assembly and Provincial Assemblies. The Central Legislative Assembly had 145 seats, of which 105 were elected by the public.The Assembly was opened on 21 January 1924 by Viceroy Lord Reading.1926 Indian general election
General elections were held in British India between 28 October and late November 1926 to elect members of the Imperial Legislative Council and the Provincial Legislative Councils.The Swaraj Party were victorious in Provincial Council elections in Bengal and Madras, and also made gains in Bihar and Orissa. However, at the national level the party saw their number of seats reduced.1930 Indian general election
General elections were held in British India in September 1930. They were boycotted by the Indian National Congress and marked by public apathy. The newly elected Central Legislative Assembly met for the first time on 14 January 1931.1934 Indian general election
General elections were held in British India in 1934. The Indian National Congress emerged as the largest party in the Central Legislative Assembly.The total electorate for the 1934 elections was 1,415,892, of which 1,135,899 were in contested constituencies. The total number of votes polled was 608,198. The election marked the first year in which Indian women were eligible to vote in any but a local election. Of the 81,602 enrolled women voters, 62,757 of whom were in contested constituencies, only 14,505 actually used the ballot.1945 Indian general election
General elections were held in British India in December 1945 to elect members of the Central Legislative Assembly and the Council of State. The Indian National Congress emerged as the largest party, winning 59 of the 102 elected seats. The Muslim League won all Muslim constituencies, but failed to win any other seats. Of the 13 remaining seats, 8 went to Europeans, 3 to independents, and 2 to Akali candidates in the Sikh constituencies of Punjab. This election coupled with the provincial one in 1946 proved to be a strategic victory for Jinnah and the partitionists. Even though Congress won, the League had united the Muslim vote and as such it gained the negotiating power to seek a separate Muslim homeland as it became clear that a united India would prove highly unstable. The elected members later formed the Constituent Assembly of India.
These were the last general elections in British India; consequent elections were held in 1951 in India and 1970 in Pakistan.Abdullah Haroon
Sir Abdullah Haroon (1872–1942) (Urdu: عبداللہ ہارون) was a British Indian politician who contributed a lot towards developing and defining the role of Muslims in economic, educational, social and political fields in the Indian subcontinent.Asaf Ali
Asaf Ali (11 May 1888 – 2 April 1953) was an Indian independence fighter and noted Indian lawyer. He was the first ambassador from India to the United States. He also worked as the Governor of Odisha.Bhagwan Das
Bhagwan Das (12 January 1869 – 18 September 1958) was an Indian Theosophist and public figure. For a time he served in the Central Legislative Assembly of British India. He became allied with the Hindustani Culture Society and was active in opposing rioting as a form of protest. As an advocate for national freedom from the British rule, he was often in danger of reprisals from the Colonial government. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1955.Bipin Chandra Pal
Bipin Chandra Pal (pronunciation ; 7 November 1858 – 20 May 1932) was an Indian nationalist, a freedom fighter, writer, orator and social reformer of Sylheti origin. He was one of the main architects of the Swadeshi movement. He stood against the partition of West Bengal.G. D. Birla
Ghanshyam Das Birla (10 April 1894 – 1983) was an Indian businessman and member of the Birla Family.Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar
Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar (27 November 1888 – 27 February 1956) popularly known as Dadasaheb was an independence activist, the President (from 1946 to 1947) of the Central Legislative Assembly, then Speaker of the Constituent Assembly of India, and later the first Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India. His son Purushottam Mavalankar was later elected to the Lok Sabha twice from Gujarat.Ghazanfar Ali Khan
Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan (16 August 1895 – 1963) was born in Pind Dadan Khan, a town in Jhelum district, British India. He was a leading member of the All India Muslim League and a trusted lieutenant of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, serving in the Interim Government of India of 1946 as a Member of the Central Legislative Assembly of India.After independence of Pakistan in 1947, he became the minister of Food, Agriculture and Health in the Government of Pakistan and finally a diplomat for Pakistan in many countries from 1948 to 1957.Ghulam Bhik Nairang
Syed Ghulam Bhik Nairang (26 September 1876 – 16 October 1952), also known as Mir Nairang, was a distinguished lawyer, a poet and a prominent Pakistan Movement leader. He held the office of Deputy Leader, from 1938 to 1942, with the All-India Muslim League in the pre-partition India.Imperial Legislative Council
The Imperial Legislative Council was a legislature for British India from 1861 to 1947. It succeeded the Council of the Governor-General of India, and was succeeded by the Constituent Assembly of India and after 1950 it succeeded by Parliament of India.
During the rule of the East India Company, the council of the Governor-General of India had both executive and legislative responsibilities. The council had four members of the Council elected by the Court of Directors. The first three members were permitted to participate on all occasions, but the fourth member was only allowed to sit and vote when legislation was being debated. In 1858, the British Crown took over the administration from the East India Company. The council was transformed into the Imperial Legislative Council, and the Court of Directors of the Company, which had had the power to elect members of the Governor-General's Council, ceased to have this power. Instead, the one member who had a vote only on legislative questions came to be appointed by the Sovereign, and the other three members by the Secretary of State for India.Madhav Shrihari Aney
Dr. Madhav Shrihari Aney (29 August 1880 – 26 January 1968) (alias Loknayak Bapuji Aney) was an Indian politician. He passed his B.A. examination from Morris College in Nagpur in 1902 and passed his B.L. examination from Calcutta University in 1907. He was one of the founder of the Congress Nationalist Party. He was one of the eminent disciples of Lokmanya Tilak apart from N C Kelkar, Kakasaheb Khadilkar, Gangadhar Deshpande, Dr B S Munje, Abhyankar, T B Paranjpe and Vaman Malhar Joshi.
In 1923, he was nominated to the Central Legislative Assembly as the representative of Berar Province. During 1941–1943, he was a member of the Viceroy's Executive Council responsible for Indians Overseas and Commonwealth Relations. He resigned in 1943, when the British Indian government refused to release Mahatma Gandhi, while he was on fast. He was the High Commissioner to Ceylon from 1943 to July 1947. He joined the Constituent Assembly in 1947.After Indian independence, Dr. Aney was the Governor of Bihar from 12 January 1948 to 14 June 1952. Aney Marg, the street on which the chief minister of Bihar's residence is located, is named after him.He was also a member of the 3rd Lok Sabha from 1962 to 1967, representing Nagpur constituency. He died on 26 January 1968 evening, the very day he was honored with Padma Vibhushan. In 1973, he was posthumously honored with the Sahitya Akademi Award for Sanskrit for his Shritilakayashornava (1971), a Sanskrit biography of Bal Gangadhar Tilak.Motilal Nehru
Motilal Nehru (6 May 1861 – 6 February 1931) was an Indian lawyer, an activist of the Indian Independence Movement and an important leader of the Indian National Congress, who also served as the Congress President twice, 1919–1920 and 1928–1929. He was the founder patriarch of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Father of Pandit Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.R. K. Shanmukham Chetty
Sir Ramasamy Chetty Kandasamy Shanmukham Chetty KCIE (17 October 1892 – 5 May 1953) was an Indian lawyer, economist and politician who served as independent India's first finance minister from 1947 to 1949. He also served as President of India's Central Legislative Assembly from 1933 to 1935 and Diwan of Cochin kingdom from 1935 to 1941.
Shanmukham Chetty was born in Coimbatore in 1892 and studied at Madras Christian College and Madras Law College. On completion of his education, Shanmukham Chetty joined politics and served both in the Indian nationalist Swaraj Party as well as the Justice Party. Shanmukham Chetty was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly of India and served as its Deputy President from 1931 to 1935. On losing the 1935 elections, Chetty returned to South India where he served as Diwan of Cochin kingdom from 1935 to 1941. On India's independence in 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India controversially chose Chetty as his Finance Minister despite the latter's well known pro-British leanings. Shanmukham Chetty died on 3 March 1953.
During his public life, Chetty also identified with a number of social causes. He was a strong supporter of the Tamil Isai Movement. Shanmukham Chetty was the Finance Minister of India when the country's first budget was tabled in Parliament on 26 November 1947.Renuka Ray
Renuka Ray (1904–1997) was a noted freedom-fighter, social activist and politician of India.She was a descendant of Brahmo reformer, Nibaran Chandra Mukherjee, and daughter of Satish Chandra Mukherjee, an ICS officer, and Charulata Mukherjee, a social worker and member of the All India Women’s Conference. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1988.