Indian Constitution Development: Government Of India Act 1935

Government of India act 1935

The British Government came up with the Government of India Act of 1935, after series of efforts in the form of white papers and round table Conferences. The act was a significant step towards establishing a completely responsible Government in India. It was a lengthy document with 321 Sections and 10 schedules.

Features of the Act 1935

At Pan-India Level

This Act made a provision for the establishment of an all India federation consisting of provinces and princely states as units.
This Act divided the powers between the centre and units in terms of three lists

1. Federal List
2. Provincial list
3. Concurrent List

It provided for the adoption of dyarchy at the centre. There for, the federal subjects were divided into reserved subjects and transferred Subjects. Nonetheless, this provision of the act did not come into operation at all.

This act did away with the council of India (established by the Government of India Act of 1858).
This Act provided for the establishment of a federal court, which was set-up in 1937.

In Provinces 

  • This act introduced Provincial Autonomy and abolished dyarchy in the provinces (introduced in 1919)
  • This Act introduced responsible governments in Provinces, as per this arrangement, the Governor was required to act with the advice of ministers responsible to the Provincial Legislature.
  • This Provision came into effect in 1937, though it was discontinued in 1939.
  • This act introduced bicameralism with a legislative Council (Upper House) and a legislative Assembly (Lower House) in 6 out of 11 provinces.
  • It extends communal representation to the depressed classes, women and labour.
  • It extended franchise and about 10% of the total population got the voting right.
  • It provide for the establishment a Federal Public Service Commission, and joint public Service Commission for two or more Provinces.

The proposed All India Federation did not Materialise. It was conceptually inadequate and structurally defective. It could not convince anyone, the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabh or the Princely states. Muslims opposed the majority rule. Princes opposed the forces of democracy and congress opposed federation by courtesy. Government of India act of 1935 thus, remained a lost ideal.

The act of 1935 as a whole, however, was important. It not only acted as an Interim Constitution, but also provided a basis for the Constitution of Free India. The acts along with earlier constitutional reforms gave direction to the process of change as well as influenced its contents.

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