The Act marked a second milestone towards a completely responsible
government in India. It was a lengthy and detailed document having 321
Sections and 10 Schedules.

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Features of the Act

1. It provided for the establishment of an All-India Federation consisting of
provinces and princely states as units. The Act divided the powers
between the Centre and units in terms of three lists—Federal List (for
Centre, with 59 items), Provincial List (for provinces, with 54 items) and
the Concurrent List (for both, with 36 items). Residuary powers were
given to the Viceroy. However, the federation never came into being as
the princely states did not join it.

2. It abolished dyarchy in the provinces and introduced ‘provincial
autonomy’ in its place. The provinces were allowed to act as autonomous
units of administration in their defined spheres. Moreover, the Act
introduced responsible governments in provinces, that is, the governor
was required to act with the advice of ministers responsible to the
provincial legislature. This came into effect in 1937 and was discontinued
in 1939.

3. It provided for the adoption of dyarchy at the Centre. Consequently, the
federal subjects were divided into reserved subjects and transferred
subjects. However, this provision of the Act did not come into operation
at all.

4. It introduced bicameralism in six out of eleven provinces. Thus, the
legislatures of Bengal, Bombay, Madras, Bihar, Assam and the United
Provinces were made bicameral consisting of a legislative council (upper
house) and a legislative assembly (lower house). However, many
restrictions were placed on them.

5. It further extended the principle of communal representation by providing
separate electorates for depressed classes (scheduled castes), women and
labour (workers).

6. It abolished the Council of India, established by the Government of India
Act of 1858. The secretary of state for India was provided with a team of
advisors.

7. It extended franchise. About 10 per cent of the total population got the
voting right.

8. It provided for the establishment of a Reserve Bank of India to control the
currency and credit of the country.

9. It provided for the establishment of not only a Federal Public Service
Commission but also a Provincial Public Service Commission and Joint
Public Service Commission for two or more provinces.

10. It provided for the establishment of a Federal Court, which was set up in
1937.

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