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GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT- 1935

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT- 1935

  • In 1932, the 3rd RTC was held, again without congress participation. The decisions formulated into the Government of India Act 1935. All India federation comprising of British Indian Provinces, all Chief Commissioner’s Provinces and Indian States the proposed Federation never came up.
  • The Central Government was carried up to 1946, as per the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1919. At the federal level, the governor was the pivot of the entire constitutional structure.
  • Subjects were divided into transferred and reserved. The reserved subjects were to be administered by the Governor-General on the advice of executive councilors, while transferred subjects were to be administered on the advice of the ministers.
  • The Governor-General could act in his individual judgment in discharging his special responsibilities. The upper house of the legislature was made to be a permanent body with one-third of the members retiring every three years but the federal assembly was to have a term of five years.
  • The three lists for the purpose of legislation were to be federal, provincial and concurrent. At the provincial level, autonomy was sought to be provided by the Act. The provinces would henceforth derive their legal authority directly from the British Crown.
  • They were given independent financial powers and could borrow money on their own security. The Governor of the province was to exercise directly on behalf of the crown.
  • The Governor had special powers regarding minorities, rights of civil servants; law and order etc. members were to be directly elected, so were answerable and were removable by the adverse vote in the legislature.
  • They could legislate on subjects in provincial and concurrent lists. The governor could refuse assent to a bill, promulgate ordinances and enact governor’s Acts. Beside these changes, a federal court was established at the centre and the Reserve Bank of India was established.
  • The basic conception of the act of 1935 was that the government of India was the government of the crown, conducted by authorities deriving functions directly from the crown, in so far as the crown did not itself retain executive functions.
  • His conception, familiar in dominion constitutions, was absent in earlier Acts passed for India. The experiment of provincial autonomy under the act of 1935, definitely served some useful purposes, thus we can say that the Government of India Act 1935 marks a point of no return in the history of constitutional development in India

EVALUATION OF THE ACT 

  • Numerous safeguards and special responsibilities of the Governor-General worked as brakes in proper functioning of the Act.
  • In provinces, governors had extensive powers
  • Act enfranchised 14% British Indian population
  • The extensive system of communal electorates and representation of various interests promoted separatist tendencies which culminated the partition of India
  • Act provided a rigid constitution with no possibility of internal growth. Right of amendment was reserved with British Parliament.
  • Long term British strategy.
  • Suppression could only be a short term tactic. Long term strategy was to weaken the movement and integrate large portions of the movement into colonial, constitutional, and administrative structure.
  • Reforms would revive political standing of constitutionalist liberals and moderates who lost public support during CDM
  • Repression earlier and reforms now would convince a large section of congress of the ineffectiveness of an extra legal struggle
  • Once congress tasted power, they would be reluctant to go back to politics of sacrifice
  • Reforms could be used to disintegrate the congress: right wing to be pleased with constitutionalism and left wing to be suppressed through police measures.
  • Provincial autonomy would create powerful provincial leaders who would gradually become autonomous centres of power and central leadership of congress would get weakened.

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