Government of India Act 1919

The Government of India Act 1919 (9 & 10 Geo. 5 c. 101) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was passed to expand participation of Indians in the government of India. The Act embodied the reforms recommended in the report of the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, and the Viceroy, Lord Chemlsford. The Act covered ten years, from 1919 to 1929. This Act represented the end of benevolent despotism and began genesis of responsible government in India.

The Act received royal assent on 23 December 1919. On the same day the King-Emperor issued a proclamation which reviewed the course of parliamentary legislation for India and the intent of the act:

"The Acts of 1773 and 1784 were designed to establish a regular system of administration and justice under the Honourable East India Company. The Act of 1833 opened the door for Indians to public office and employment. The Act of 1858 transferred the administration from the Company to the Crown and laid the foundations of public life which exist in India to-day. The Act of 1861 sowed the seed of representative institutions, and the seed was quickened into life by the Act of 1909. The Act which has now become law entrusts the elected representative of the people with a definite share in the Government and points the way to full responsible Government hereafter".[1]

The Act provided a dual form of government (a "diarchy") for the major provinces. In each such province, control of some areas of government, the "transferred list", were given to a Government of ministers answerable to the Provincial Council. The 'transferred list' included agriculture, supervision of local government, health, and education. The Provincial Councils were enlarged.

At the same time, all other areas of government (the 'reserved list') remained under the control of the Viceroy. The 'reserved list' included defence (the military), foreign affairs, and communications.

The Imperial Legislative Council was enlarged and reformed. It became a bicameral legislature for all India. The lower house was the Legislative Assembly of 145 members, of which 104 were elected and 41 were nominated, with a tenure of three years. The upper house was the Rajya Sabha ("Council of States"), consisting of 34 elected and 26 nominated members, with a tenure of five years.[2]

Salient features of the Act were as follows:

  1. This Act had a separate Preamble which declared that the objective of the British Government was the gradual introduction of responsible government in India.
  2. Diarchy was introduced at the Provincial Level. Diarchy means a dual set of governments; one is accountable, the other is not accountable. Subjects of provincial government were divided into two groups. One group was reserved, and the other group was transferred. The reserved subjects were controlled by the British Governor of the province; the transferred subjects were given to the Indian ministers of the province.[3]
  3. The Government of India Act of 1919, made a provision for classification of the central and provincial subjects. The Act kept the Income Tax as source of revenue to the Central Government. However, for Bengal and Bombay, to meet their objections, a provision to assign them 25% of the income tax was made.
  4. No bill of the legislature could be deemed to have been passed unless assented to by the governor general. The latter could however enact a bill without the assent of the legislature.
  5. This Act made the central legislature bicameral. The lower house was the Legislative Assembly, with 145 members serving three year terms (the model for today's Lok Sabha); the upper house was the Council of States with 60 members serving five year terms (the model for today's Rajya Sabha)
  6. The Act provided for the establishment of a Public Service Commission in India for the first time.
  7. This act also made a provision that a statutory commission would be set up at the end of 10 years after the act was passed which shall inquire into the working system of the government. The Simon commission of 1927 was an outcome of this provision.
  8. The communal representation was extended and Sikhs, Europeans and Anglo Indians were included. The Franchise (Right of voting) was granted to the limited number of only those who paid certain minimum "Tax" to the government.
  9. The seats were distributed among the provinces not upon the basis of the population but upon the basis of their importance in the eyes of the government, on the basis of communities, and property was one of the main basis to determine a franchisee. Those people who had a property, taxable income & paid land revenue of Rs. 3000 were entitled to vote.
  10. The financial powers of the central legislature were also very much limited. The budget was to be divided into two categories, votable and non-votable. The votable items covered only one third of the total expenditure. Even in this sphere the Governor-General was empowered to restore any grant refused or reduced by the legislature, if in his opinion the demand was essential for the discharge of his responsibilities. Thus the Government of India Act provided for partial transfer of power to the electorate through the system of diarchy. It also prepared the ground for Indian federalism, as it identified the provinces as units of fiscal and general administration.
Government of India Act 1919
Long titleAn Act to make further provision with respect to the Government of India.
Citation9 & 10 Geo. 5 c. 101
Royal assent23 December 1919
Other legislation
Repealed byStatute Law (Repeals) Act 1976
Status: Repealed

See also


  1. ^ Ilbert, Sir Courtenay Peregrine. The Government of India. Clarendon Press, 1922. p. 125
  2. ^ Uttamabahādura Siṃha, Administrative system in India: Vedic age to 1947, p. 204
  3. ^ Government of India Act 1919

External links

  • Curtis, Lionel (1920). Papers Relating to the Application of the Principle of Dyarchy to the Government of India. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. lxi, 606 pp.:folded map, 23 cm. Bib ID 2514830.
  • "India: World War I and its aftermath". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. United Kingdom: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
1919 in India

Events in the year 1919 in India.

1920 Madras Presidency Legislative Council election

The first legislative council election to Madras Presidency after the establishment of dyarchical system of government by the Government of India Act, 1935, was held in November 1920. Indian National Congress boycotted the election due to its participation in the Non-cooperation movement. The election occurred during the early stages of non-Brahmin movement and the major issue of the election was anti-Brahminism. Justice party won the election with no significant opposition and A. Subbarayalu Reddiar became the first Chief Minister of the presidency.

1923 Madras Presidency Legislative Council election

The second legislative council election to Madras Presidency after the establishment of dyarchical system of government by the Government of India Act, 1919 was held in 1923. Voter turnout was higher than the previous election. Swarajists, a breakaway group from Indian National Congress participated in the election. The ruling Justice Party had suffered a split, when a splinter group calling themselves anti-Ministerialists left the party. It won the highest number of seats but fell short of a majority. Nevertheless, Madras Governor Willington invited it to form the government. Incumbent Justice chief minister Panagal Raja was nominated by party leader Theagaraya Chetty to continue as chief minister for a second term. The government survived a no-confidence motion (with the support of non-elected members), brought against it on the very first day of its tenure by the opposition headed by C. R. Reddy.

1926 Madras Presidency Legislative Council election

The third legislative council election to Madras Presidency after the establishment of dyarchical system of government by the Government of India Act, 1919, was held in November 1926. Justice party lost the election to Swaraj Party. However, as the Swaraja Party refused to form the Government, the Governor of Madras set up an independent government under the leadership of P. Subbarayan and with the support of nominated members.

1930 Madras Presidency Legislative Council election

The fourth legislative council election to Madras Presidency after the establishment of dyarchical system of government by the Government of India Act, 1919 in September 1930. Justice party won the election and P. Munuswamy Naidu became the first Chief Minister. The main opposition party - Swaraj Party did not contest the elections due to its participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

1934 Madras Presidency Legislative Council election

In the fifth legislative council election to Madras Presidency after the establishment of dyarchical system of government by the Government of India Act, 1919 the ruling Justice party lost the election and the opposition Swaraj Party emerged as the single largest party. However, it refused to form the government, due to its opposition to dyarchy. The incumbent chief minister, Raja of Bobbili retained power and formed a minority government.

Bombay Legislative Council

Bombay Legislative Council was the legislature of the Bombay Province and later the upper house of the bicameral legislature of Bombay Province in British India and the Indian state of Bombay.

C. Y. Chintamani

Sir Chirravoori Yajneswara Chintamani (10 April 1880 – 1 July 1941) was an Indian editor, journalist, liberal politician and parliamentarian of the early 20th century. He was born on the Telugu New Year's Day (ugadi) at Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, India. He was called the "Pope of Indian Journalism" by noted Indian statesman Sri V. S. Srinivasa Sastri.

He made history at the age of 18 by becoming the editor of the newspaper Vizag Spectator. He also organized Indian Herald and Standard.He made a great impact as Chief editor of the Allahabad-based, The Leader between 1909 and 1934. His clash with Motilal Nehru, Chairman of the Board of Directors over issue of his freedom as editor, meant that Motilal left within a year, thereafter between 1927 and 1936, Chintamani was not only the Chief Editor of the newspaper, but also the leader of the opposition in the U. P. Legislative Council.'The liberals' are those people who broke away from the Indian National Congress for they were not prepared to participate in the Non-Cooperation Movement. This core value guided him and his comrades who formed the Liberal Party.Chintamani was appointed as the Education Minister of the United Provinces of British India as a part of the Dyarchy scheme of the Government of India Act 1919. He was invited as a delegate to the First Round Table Conference at London in 1930-1931.Mahatma Gandhi and the British administrators and the Indian People were greatly inspired by his editorials. He was knighted in the 1939 Birthday Honours list; his knighthood was formally conferred by George VI on 20 September.

Central Legislative Assembly

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.

As a result of Indian independence, the Legislative Assembly was dissolved on 14 August 1947 and its place taken by the Constituent Assembly of India and the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

Council of State (India)

The Council of State was the upper house of the legislature for British India (the Imperial Legislative Council) created by the Government of India Act 1919 from the old Imperial Legislative Council, implementing the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms. The Central Legislative Assembly was the lower house.

As a result of Indian independence, the Council of State was dissolved on 14 August 1947 and its place taken by the Constituent Assembly of India and the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan.

The Council of State used to meet at the Metcalfe House. The Viceroy or Governor-General was its ex officio President.

Gandhi–Irwin Pact

The Gandhi-Irwin Pact was a political agreement signed by Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India, on 5 March 1931 before the second Round Table Conference in London. Before this, Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, had announced in October 1929 a vague offer of 'dominion status' for British India in an unspecified future and a Round Table Conference to discuss a future constitution. The second Round Table Conference was held from September to December 1931 in London.

"The Two Mahatmas"—as Pandit Nehru described Gandhi and Lord Irwin—had eight meetings that totaled 24 hours. Gandhi was impressed by Irwin’s sincerity. The terms of the "Gandhi-Irwin Pact" fell manifestly short of those Gandhi prescribed as the minimum for a truce.Below are the proposed conditions:-

Discontinuation of the Civil disobedience movement by the Indian National Congress

Participation by the Indian National Congress in the Second Round Table Conference

Withdrawal of all ordinances issued by the Government of India imposing curbs on the activities of the Indian National Congress

Withdrawal of all prosecutions relating to several types of offenses except those involving violence

Release of prisoners arrested for participating in the Civil disobedience movement.

Removal of the tax on salt, which allowed the Indians to produce, trade, and sell salt legally and for their own private useMany British officials in India, and in Great Britain, were outraged by the idea of a pact with a party whose avowed purpose was the destruction of the British Raj. Winston Churchill publicly expressed his disgust " the nauseating and humiliating spectacle of this one-time Inner Temple lawyer, now seditious fakir, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceroy’s palace, there to negotiate and parley on equal terms with the representative of the King Emperor."

In reply, His Majesty's Government agreed to:-

Withdraw all ordinances and end prosecutions

Release all political prisoners, except those guilty of violence

Permit peaceful picketing of liquor and foreign cloth shops

Restore confiscated properties of the satyagrahis

Permit free collection or manufacture of salt by persons near the sea-coast

Lift the ban over the congress.The Viceroy, Lord Irwin, was at this time directing the sternest repression Indian nationalism had known, but did not relish the role. The British-run Indian Civil Service and the commercial community favoured even harsher measures. But Ramsay MacDonald, the British Prime Minister, and William Benn, His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for India, were eager for peace, if they could secure it without weakening the position of the Labour government in Whitehall. They wanted to make a success of the Round Table Conference and knew that this body, without the presence of Gandhi and the Congress, could not carry much weight. In January 1931, at the closing session of the Round Table Conference, Ramsay MacDonald went so far as to express the hope that the Congress would be represented at the next session. The Viceroy took the hint and promptly ordered the unconditional release of Gandhi and all members of the Congress Working Committee. To this gesture Gandhi responded by agreeing to meet the Viceroy.

Gandhi’s motives in concluding a pact with Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, can be best understood in terms of his technique. The satyagraha movements were commonly described as "struggles", "rebellions" and "wars without violence". Owing, however, to the common connotation of these words, they seemed to lay a disproportionate emphasis on the negative aspect of the movements, namely, opposition and conflict. The object of satyagraha was, however, not to achieve the physical elimination or moral breakdown of an adversary—but, through suffering at his hands, to initiate a psychological processes that could make it possible for minds and hearts to meet. In such a struggle, a compromise with an opponent was neither heresy nor treason, but a natural and necessary step. If it turned out that the compromise was premature and the adversary was unrepentant, nothing prevented the satyagrahi from returning to non-violent battle.

This was the second high-level meeting between Gandhi and a Viceroy in 13 years and should be read in the context of the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms that were the basis of the Government of India Act, 1919.

Government of India Act

The term Government of India Act refers to any one of a series of Acts passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom to regulate the government of British India, in particular:

Government of India Act 1833 or Saint Helena Act, created the post of Governor-General of India

Government of India Act 1858, established India as a nation consisting of British India and princely states

Government of India Act 1909 or Indian Councils Act 1909, brought about a limited increase in the involvement of Indians in the governance of British India

Government of India Act, 1912, modified the Indian Councils Act 1909 and undid the Partition of Bengal (1905)

Government of India Act, 1915, a consolidation into a single Act of most of the existing Acts of Parliament concerning Indian government

Government of India Act 1919, passed to expand participation of Indians in the government of India

Government of India Act 1921 or Round Table Conferences, a series of conferences to discuss constitutional reforms in India

Government of India Act 1935, never fully implemented, served as part of the constitutional basis of India and Pakistan

Government of India Act, 1915

The Government of India Act 1915 was an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which consolidated prior Acts of Parliament concerning British India into a single act. It was passed in July 1915 and went into effect on 1 January 1916 (5 & 6 Geo. V, c. 61).The act repealed 47 prior acts of Parliament, starting with an act of 1770, and replaced them with a single act containing 135 sections and five schedules. It was introduced first to the House of Lords, where it was referred to a joint committee of Parliament chaired by Lord Loreburn. The committee removed several provisions which went beyond the simple consolidation of existing law.

A supplemental act, mostly technical in nature and including several of the provisions struck out of the consolidation act, was introduced and passed in 1916, becoming the "Government of India (Amendment) Act, 1916" (6 & 7 Geo. V, c. 37).

The Government of India Act 1915 and its supplemental act the following year "made the English statute law relating to India easier to understand, and therefore easier to amend." The Government of India Act, 1919 made substantial changes to the law.

Lionel George Curtis

Lionel George Curtis CH (1872–1955) was a British official and author. He advocated British Empire Federalism and, late in life, a world state. His ideas concerning dyarchy were important in the development of the Government of India Act 1919 and more generally, his writings influenced the evolution of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms

The Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms or more briefly known as Mont-Ford Reforms were reforms introduced by the colonial government in British India to introduce self-governing institutions gradually to India. The reforms take their name from Edwin Samuel Montagu, the Secretary of State for India during the latter parts of World War I and Lord Chelmsford, Viceroy of India between 1916 and 1921. The reforms were outlined in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report prepared in 1918 and formed the basis of the Government of India Act 1919.These are related to constitutional reforms. Indian nationalists considered that the reforms did not go far enough while British conservatives were critical of them.The important features of this act were as follows:

1.The Central Legislative Council was now to consist of two houses- The Imperial Legislative and the Council of States.

2.The provinces were to follow the Dual Government System or Dyarchy.

Moropant Vishvanath Joshi

Sir Moropant Vishvanath Joshi (1861–1962) was a leading barrister, social reformer and politician from Amravati, Central Provinces and Berar.Joshi was born in an eminent Chitpavan Brahmin family. A Moderate leader, he joined the Indian Liberal Party when the Indian National Congress came under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

Joshi was a member of the Central Provinces Legislative Council. When diarchy was introduced by the Government of India Act 1919, Joshi was made the Home Member in the Governor's Executive Council. He was knighted in the 1923 Birthday Honours, and appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE) in the 1926 New Year Honours.In 1925, the tenure of Moropant Joshi as Home Member from the Central Province was about to end. The Governor of the Province, Sir Montagu Butler offered Seth Govind Das the post, but he refused the offer and Mr S. B. Tambe from the Berar region was appointed.Joshi was the chairman of the committee of ten, to which the Hindu Child Marriage Bill was referred and was passed as Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 on 28 September 1929.

His daughter Sarwasati (b. 3 June 1929) married Sir Chintamanrao Dhundirajrao Patwardhan "Appa Sahib", Raja of Sangli, .

Joshi retired in 1933 and died aged 101 in 1962.

Nehru Report

The Nehru Report of 28-30 August, 1928 was a memorandum outlining a proposed new dominion status constitution for India. It was prepared by a committee of the All Parties Conference chaired by Motilal Nehru with his son Jawaharlal Nehru acting as secretary. There were nine other members in this committee. The final report was signed by Motilal Nehru, Ali Imam, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Madhav Shrihari Aney, Mangal Singh, Shuaib Qureshi, Subhas Chandra Bose, and G. R. Pradhan. Shuaib Qureshi

disagreed with some of the recommendations.

Simon Commission

The Indian Statutory Commission, commonly referred to as the Simon Commission, was a group of seven British Members of Parliament under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon. The commission arrived in British India in 1928 to study constitutional reform in Britain's most important colony. One of its members was Clement Attlee, who became committed to Indian independence by 1934 and achieved that goal as Prime Minister in 1947 in the granting of independence to India and Pakistan.At the time of introducing the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms in 1919, the British Government declared that a commission would be sent to India after ten years to examine the effects and operations of the constitutional reforms and to suggest more reforms for India. In November 1927, the British government appointed the Simon Commission to report on India's constitutional progress for introducing constitutional reforms, as promised.

The Commission was strongly opposed by many in India. The commission was opposed since it had seven British members of British Parliament and no Indian. Indians saw it as a violation to their right of self determination and insult to their self respect. Prominent Indian nationalist Lala Lajpat Rai led a protest in Lahore. He suffered a police beating during the protest, and died of his injuries on 17th November,1928.

United Provinces of British India

The United Provinces of British India, more commonly known as the United Provinces, was a province of British India, which came into existence on 3 January 1921 as a result of the renaming of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. It corresponded approximately to the combined regions of the present-day Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It ceased to exist on 1 April 1937 when it was renamed as the United Provinces. Lucknow became its capital some time after 1921.

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