Government of India Act 1935 in Detail
Third Round Table Conference - 1932
The Third Round Table Conference came to an end in 1932.
The Congress once more did not take part in it.
In March 1933, the British Government issued a White Paper, which became the basis for the enactment of the Government of India Act, 1935.
Except for the National Liberal Federation, most political parties in India took a negative view of the Act.
The Indian National Congress called it a ‘slave constitution that attempted to strengthen and perpetuate the economic bondage of India’.
However, the Congress encouraged its members to fight in the elections under the Act
Government of India Act - 1935
The Government of India Act was passed in 1935.
It was based on the Simon Commission report and the proposals of the three Round Table Conferences.
It introduced the following changes. This act
Introduced provincial autonomy,
Abolished diarchy in the provinces, Introduced in Centre
Established federal Government at the Centre,
Provided for the establishment of a federal court to decide the conflicts between the provinces and the Centre
Provided for the establishment of a Federal Reserve Bank.
On August 2, 1935, The Government of India Act, 1935 was passed. Came to force in 1937.
It laid down the constitutional framework for the governance of British India at the federal and provincial levels.
This Act was not up to the expectation of the Congress. Hence, the Congress continued its agitation.
Congress contested the elections conducted under the Act in 1937.
It formed ministries in eight provinces out of 11.
- Creation of an All India Federation
- This federation was to consist of British India and the princely states.
The provinces in British India would have to join the federation but this was not compulsory for the princely states
- The Act gave more autonomy to the provinces.
- Diarchy was abolished at the provincial levels.
- The Governor was the head of the executive.
- There was a Council of Ministers to advise him. The ministers were responsible to the provincial legislatures who controlled them. The legislature could also remove the ministers.
- However, the governors still retained special reserve powers.
- The British authorities could still suspend a provincial government.
Diarchy at the Centre
- The subjects under the Federal List were divided into two: Reserved and Transferred.
- The reserved subjects were controlled by the Governor-General who administered them with the help of three counsellors appointed by him. They were not responsible to the legislature.
- The transferred subjects were administered by the Governor-General with his Council of Ministers (not more than 10). The Council had to act in confidence with the legislature. The subjects in this list included local government, forests, education, health, etc.
- However, the Governor-General had ‘special powers’ to interfere in the transferred subjects also.
- The two houses were the Federal Assembly (lower house) and the Council of States (upper house).
- The federal assembly had a term of five years.
- Both houses had representatives from the princely states also. The representatives of the princely states were to be nominated by the rulers and not elected. The representatives of British India were to be elected. Some were to be nominated by the Governor-General.
- There were separate electorates for the Muslims, Sikhs and others, but not to Depressed Classes.
- Bicameral legislatures were introduced in some provinces also like Bengal, Madras, Bombay, Bihar, Assam and the United Provinces.
About 10% of the whole population acquired voting rights.
The British Parliament retained its supremacy over the Indian legislatures both provincial and federal.
A Federal Railway Authority was set up to control Indian railways.
The Reserve Bank of India was established as per this Act.
The Act also provided for the establishment of federal, provincial and joint Public Service Commissions.
The Act was a milestone in the development of a responsible constitutional government in India.
The Government of India Act 1935 was replaced by the Constitution of India after independence.
The Indian leaders were not enthusiastic about the Act since despite granting provincial autonomy the governors and the viceroy had considerable ‘special powers’.
Separate communal electorates were a measure through which the British wanted to ensure the Congress Party could never rule on its own. It was also a way to keep the people divided