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Indian Councils Act of 1892

Indian Councils Act of 1892

Introduction

  • Indian Councils Act 1892 was passed by the British Parliament to increase in the size of the legislative councils. This act marks the beginning of representative form of Government in India.

Background

  • The Indian National Congress (INC) was formed in 1885. There was a growing feeling of nationalism and this led the INC to put forth some demands to the British authorities.
  • One of their demands was the reform of the legislative councils.
  • They also wanted the principle of the election instead of nominat
  • The INC also wanted the right to hold discussions on financial matters which was hitherto not allowed.
  • The Viceroy at the time Lord Dufferin set up a committee to look into the matter. But the Secretary of State did not agree to the plan of direct elections. He, however, agreed to representation by way of indirect election.

Features of the Act

  • It increased the number of additional (non-official) members in the Central and provincial legislative councils, but maintained the official majority in them.
  • It increased the functions of legislative councils and gave them the power of discussing the budget and addressing questions to the executive.
  • It provided for the nomination of some non-official members of the (a) Central Legislative Council by the viceroy on the recommendation of the provincial legislative councils and the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, and (b) that of the provincial legislative councils by the Governors on the
  • recommendation of the district boards, municipalities, universities, trade associations, zamindars and chambers.
  • ‘The act made a limited and indirect provision for the use of election in filling up some of the non-official seats both in the Central and provincial legislative councils. The word “election” was, however, not used in the Act. The process was described as nomination made on the recommendation of certain bodies.’

Significance

  • The Indian Councils Act of 1892 was an advance on the Act of 1861.
  • The act of 1892 can be said to be a First step towards the beginning of the parliamentary system in
  • The principle of election, veiled though it was in the Act of 1892, was a measure of considerable constitutional significance.
  • The Act of 1892 widened the functions of the legislatures. ;
  • The members could ask questions and thus obtain information which they desired from the executive.
  • The financial accounts of the current year and the budget for the following year were presented to the legislatures, and the members were permitted to make general observations on the budget and ‘make suggestions for increasing or decreasing revenue or expenditure.
  • Atleast, they were enabled to indulge in a criticism of the Financial Policy of the Government.
  • As the functions of the legislatures were widened they attracted the country’s best talent, Eminent Indian leaders like Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Asutosh Mookerjee, Rash Behari Ghosh and Surendra Nath Banerjee found their way in the Legislatures.
  • Their eloquence and political wisdom amply demonstrated the parliamentary capacity and patriotism of the educated Indians.
  • The size of the Legislatures hoth at the Centre and in the Provinces was enlarged.
  • In case of the Centre the maximum and minimum of additional members and the element of non officials therein were raised by four in each case as compared to the Act Of 1861.

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