Government of India Act 1858


Government of India Act 1858 : : Constitutional Development in India | Montague Chelmsford Reforms

  • Rule of Company in India ended and that of the Crown began.
  • System of Dual government ended. Court of Directors and Board of Control abolished and substituted them with a post of Secretary of State ( a member of the British cabinet ).
  • He was assisted by a 15 member council ( called Indian Council ).
  • He was to exercise the powers of the Crown.
  • Secretary of State governed India through the Governor General.
  • Governor General received the title of Viceroy.
  • He represented Secretary of State and was assisted by an Executive Council, which consisted of high officials of the Government.
  • A unitary and highly centralized administrative structure was created.

Indian Council Act 1861

  • A fifth member, who was to be a jurist, was added to the Viceroys Executive Council.
  • 6 – 12 additional members to be added to the Executive Council for legislation purpose.
  • This implied that Viceroys Executive Council, which was so long composed of officials, would now include certain additional non-official members.
  • Some of Non – Official seats were offered to natives of high ranks.
  • Thus, a minute element of ‘popular’ participation was introduced in the legislative process.
  • The additional members, though, had little powers.
  • The Executive Council was now to be called Central Legislative Council.
  • Viceroy could issue ordinances in case of emergency.

Indian Council Act 1892

  • Two improvements in both the Central and the Provincial Legislative Councils were suggested to the following :
    • Though the majority of the official members was retained, the Non – Official members were to be nominated by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Provincial Legislative Councils ( The Non – Official members of the Provincial Councils were to be nominated by certain local bodies such as Universities, District Boards, Municipalities]. Indian leaders like G.K.Gokhale, Ashutosh Mukherjee, Ras Bihari Ghosh and S.N.Banerjee found their way in the Legislative Council.
    • The Councils were to have the powers to discuss the annual statement of revenue and expenditure ( i.e. the budget and of addressing questions to the Executive ). They could also put questions, within certain limits, to the Government on matters of public interest after giving six days’ notice.

Indian Council Act 1909 or Morley – Minto Reforms

  • Morley was the Secretary of State, while Minto was the Indian Viceroy.
  • Legislative Councils, both at the Centre and in the Provinces, were expanded.
  • With regard to Central Government, an Indian member was taken in the Executive Council of the Governor General.
  • The size of the Provincial Legislative Councils were enlarged by including elected Non – Official members so that the official majority was gone. Their functions were also increased.
  • Now, they could move resolutions on Budget and on some matters of public matters.
  • An element of election was also introduced in the Central Legislative Council, but the official majority was maintained.
  • The most notable and retrograde change introduced was that Muslims were given separate representation.
  • Thus, communal representation was introduced.

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