The Government of India Act of 1935, was passed in August 1935 by the British Parliament. In British rule, it was the longest Act enacted by the British Parliament. Therefore, it was introduced into two separate Acts that include, the Government of India Act 1935 and the Government of Burma Act 1935. The government of India Act of 1935 marked the second milestone towards a completely responsible government in India. It abolished Dyarchy and prescribed a federation, consisting of provinces and princely states as units. It introduced provincial autonomy. The Governor was required to act with the advice of ministers responsible to the legislature. The powers of the legislature were increased. However, in certain matters like the Police, the government had the authority. After Introducing the Act, about 10 percent of the total population got the voting right. 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.
Provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935
(a) The Act of 1935 prescribed a federation, consisting of provinces and princely states as units.
(b) This Act divided the Legislative powers between the center and the provinces. And, there were three lists which gave the subjects under each government. Federal List (for Centre, with 59 items), Provincial List (for provinces, with 54 items), and the Concurrent List (for both, with 36 items).
(c) The items which were not falling in three lists were given to the Viceroy. It means, Viceroy was given Residuary powers.
(d) The federation never came into being as the Indian States never joined.
(e) The Government of India Act of 1935 abolished dyarchy in the provinces and introduced ‘provincial autonomy’ instead of dyarchy. The provinces were allowed to function as autonomous units of administration in their defined territories.
(f) The Governor was required to act with the advice of ministers responsible to the legislature.
(g) The executive authority of a province was also exercised by a governor on behalf of the crown and not as a subordinate of the Governor-General.
(h) In six out of eleven provinces, the legislature was bi-cameral, comprising a legislative Assembly (lower house) and a legislative council (upper house). In other provinces, the legislature was unicameral.
(i) The Central Legislature was bi-cameral, consisting Federal Assembly and the Council of State.
(j) Dyarchy was introduced at the center. Consequently, the federal subjects were divided into reserved subjects and transferred subjects. However, this provision of the Act did not come into operation at all.
(k) It further spread the principle of communal representation by providing separate electorates for depressed scheduled castes, women, and labor.
(l) The government of India Act 1935, terminated the Council of India. Which, was established by the India Act of 1858. The secretary of state for India was provided with a team of advisors.
(m) It provided for the establishment of a Federal Court in 1937. And, the Reserve Bank of India to control the currency and credit of the country.
(n) After Introducing the Act, about 10 percent of the total population got the voting right.
(o) Dominion Status, which was promised by the Simon Commission in 1929, was not conferred by the Government of India Act, 1935.
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