Government of India Act of 1919

On August 20, 1917, the British Government declared, for the first time, that its objective was the gradual introduction of responsible government in India . The Government of India Act of 1919 was thus enacted, which came into force in 1921. This Act is also known as Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (Montagu was the Secretary of State for India and Lord Chelmsford was the Viceroy of India).

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Features of the Act:-


1. It relaxed the central control over the provinces by demarcating and
separating the central and provincial subjects. The central and provincial
legislatures were authorised to make laws on their respective list of
subjects. However, the structure of government continued to be
centralised and unitary.

2. It further divided the provincial subjects into two parts—transferred and
reserved. The transferred subjects were to be administered by the
governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the legislative Council.
The reserved subjects, on the other hand, were to be administered by the
governor and his executive council without being responsible to the
legislative Council. This dual scheme of governance was known as
‘dyarchy’—a term derived from the Greek word di-arche which means
double rule. However, this experiment was largely unsuccessful.

3. It introduced, for the first time, bicameralism and direct elections in the
country. Thus, the Indian Legislative Council was replaced by a
bicameral legislature consisting of an Upper House (Council of State) and
a Lower House (Legislative Assembly). The majority of members of both
the Houses were chosen by direct election.

4. It required that the three of the six members of the Viceroy’s executive
Council (other than the commander-in-chief) were to be Indian.

5. It extended the principle of communal representation by providing
separate electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and

6. It granted franchise to a limited number of people on the basis of
property, tax or education.

7. It created a new office of the High Commissioner for India in London and
transferred to him some of the functions hitherto performed by the
Secretary of State for India.

8. It provided for the establishment of a public service commission. Hence, a Central Public Service Commission was set up in 1926 for recruiting civil

9. It separated, for the first time, provincial budgets from the Central budget
and authorised the provincial legislatures to enact their budgets.

10. It provided for the appointment of a statutory commission to inquire into
and report on its working after ten years of its coming into force.



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