Development of Indian constitution since 1919

The Government of India Act of 1919

Under the Government of India Act of 1919, the dual government system was started for the establishment of responsible government in the provinces.

Indian constitution
Indian constitution

Under this system, the provincial subjects were divided into two classes – Indian constitution

Meaning and Nature of Dyarchical System –

In the background of the Act of 1919, the meaning of Dyarchy was that “the provincial government should be divided into two areas and the administration of these two areas should be done by two such officials, who differ in their nature and responsibility.

1.Secure subjects Indian constitutionSecure subjects were those subjects from which British interests could be protected. The main among them were – finance, land revenue, famine victim assistance, forest, peace law and order, administration of justice etc. Reserved subjects were subordinate to the members of the executive council responsible to the governor and there was no control of the legislature (legislative council).

2.Transferred subjects Indian constitution The transferred subjects were mainly those subjects which were not likely to harm British interests. The main ones were – education etc., local self-government, public health, sanitation, agriculture etc. The transferred subjects were entrusted to the popular ministers, who were elected from the elected majority of the legislature and were responsible to the legislature.

Dependency of the transferred area on the protected area- It is clear from this division of subjects that all the important subjects of the province were kept in the protected area and public welfare subjects in the transferred area. Not only this, the transferred area was made dependent on the protected area, he was made an object of his mercy.

Main features of the Act of 1919 Indian constitution


Written indian Constitution – The constitution implemented from the Act of 1919 was written and documentary and it was made by the British Parliament. Everything in the constitution was clearly and elaborately written.

Rigid indian Constitution – The Constitution of 1919 was rigid in the sense that except for some unimportant matters, the Central or Provincial Legislatures could not make any changes in it. Only the British Parliament had the right to change or cancel it.

Indian Legislature is not supreme – India’s central and provincial legislatures were non-sovereign i.e. they were not supreme bodies of law making. She could not pass any law against any section of the Act of 1919. Apart from this, their powers were also limited by the discretionary powers, special responsibilities and personal decision of the Governor General and Governors.

Provisional indian Constitution – The Act of 1919 was in the form of a provisional constitution. Montagu himself had said, “It is an interim measure. It is a kind of bridge between the governance conducted by the British Parliament on India.”

Unitary indian Constitution – The basis of the constitution of 1919 was unitary, not federal. The administrative powers and financial resources of the center and the provinces were separated, but their basis was not federal. The Governor-General in Council could take any provincial matter under his control.

Division of Powers between the Center and the Provinces – Under the Constitution of 1919, there was a clear division of powers between the Center and the Provinces. Those subjects which were related to the interests of almost the whole of India, were placed under the center and those subjects were given to the provinces, which were mainly related to the provinces.

Diarchy in the provinces Indian constitutionBy this act, the system of dyarchy was implemented in the provinces. By this system the provincial executive council was divided into two parts. In the first part the Governor and the members of his executive council and in the second part the Chief Minister and his ministers.

Provincial subjects were divided into two parts – by this act the provincial subjects were divided into two parts (1) protected subjects and (2) transferred subjects were all important subjects in protected subjects, such as home, finance etc. While in transferred subjects Subjects like education and agriculture were included.

Organizational Reforms in the Provincial Legislature – The number of members of the provincial legislature was increased. Provision was made to have a maximum of 140 members in the Legislative Councils of the big provinces and at least 60 members in the smaller provinces. Elections began to be direct rather than indirect .

Appointment of more Indians in the Provincial Executive Council – By this act, the number of Indian members in the Executive Council of the provinces was already increased. In Madras, Bombay and Bengal, arrangements were made to take 2 Indians out of the 4 members of the Protected Part, and in the remaining provinces, arrangements were made to take 1 Indian from the two members of the Protected Part.

Autocratic or irresponsible governance at the center – This act did not bring any progressive change in the center and it remained as monocratic, autocratic and unresponsive as before.

Bi-cameral system in the Central Legislature – under the Act of 1919, a bicameral system was implemented in the center. The upper house is called the Council of States and The lower house was called the Legislative Assembly.

Privileges of Governor General and Governors – Under this Act, privileges were given to the Governor General and Governors, by the use of which partial responsibility could be destroyed.

Expansion of Communal Electoral System – This Act not only allowed the Communal Electoral System to remain in force, but also expanded it. Apart from Muslims, this corrupt and divisive electoral system was imposed on Sikhs and Europeans also.

Governor General supreme authority in the center – By this act the Governor General was made the chief executive officer at the center. He could issue ordinances by passing resolutions rejected by the central legislature.

Public Service Commission – Public Service Commission was constituted for recruitment to public services. Initially, its scope was restricted to recruitment to the Central Public Services.

Auditor General Indian constitutionBy the Act of 1919, a separate Auditor General was appointed to examine the accounts of the Central and Provincial Governments.

Designation of High Commissioner – The Act of 1919 created the post of High Commissioner of India to separate the political and business functions of the Secretary of India.

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