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Which of the following is/are the principal feature(s) of the Government of India Act, 1919?

Which of the following is/are the principal feature(s) of the Government of India Act, 1919?(2012)

1. Introduction of dyarchy in the executive government of the provinces

2. Introduction of separate communal electorates for Muslims

3. Devolution of legislative authority by the centre to the provinces

Select the correct answer using the codes given below :

a) 1 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: C

Introduction of separate communal electorates for Muslims happened through the Morley-Minto Reforms 1909.

GOI Act, 1919

Central Level Government:

Subjects:

  • The matters, which were of National importance or related to more than one province were governed at the central level, such as:
  • Foreign Affairs, Defence, Political Relations, Communication, Public Debt, Civil and Criminal Laws, Wire services etc.
  • The Central Legislature was made more powerful and more representative by this Act.

Executive:

  • The Act made the Governor-General the chief executive authority.
  • There had to be the Executive Council of the Viceroy of eight members, out of which three were to be Indians.
  • The governor-general could restore cuts in grants, certify bills rejected by the central legislature and issue ordinances.

Reforms in Legislature:

  • Bicameral Legislature: The Act introduced bicameral legislature; the Lower House or Central Legislative Assembly and the Upper House or Council of State.
  • The legislators, under the new reforms, could now ask questions and supplementaries, pass adjournment motions and vote a part of the budget, but 75% of the budget was still not votable.
  • The legislature had virtually no control over the Governor-General and his Executive Council.
  • Composition of Lower House: The Lower House would consist of 145 members, who were either nominated or indirectly elected from the provinces. It had a tenure of 3 years.
  • 41 nominated (26 official and 15 non-official members)
  • 104 elected (52 General, 30 Muslims, 2 Sikhs, 20 Special).
  • Composition Upper House: The Upper House would have 60 members. It had a tenure of 5 years and had only male members.
  • 26 nominated
  • 34 elected (20 General, 10 Muslims, 3 Europeans and 1 Sikh).
  • Powers of Viceroy:
  • The Legislature was addressed by the Viceroy.
  • He could call for the meetings, or adjourn the meetings or even repeal the Legislature.
  • The tenure of the Legislature was 3 years, which could be extended by the Viceroy, as he saw fit.

Powers of Central Legislature:

  • The central government enjoyed unrestricted control over the provincial governments.
  • The Central Legislature was authorised to make laws for all of India, for all Officers and common people, whether they were in India or not.
  • Restrictions on Central Legislature:
  • Certain restrictions were imposed on the legislature:
  • It was necessary to get the permission of the Governor General to introduce a bill, such as amendment of existing law or amendment of ordinance of Governor General, foreign relations and relations with Indian states, armed forces.
  • The legislature of India could not change or reverse any law passed by the British Parliament in relation to India.

Provincial Level Government:

Subjects:

  • It included the matters which were related to a specific Province such as: Public Health, Local Self-government, Education, General administration, Medical facilities, Land-revenue, Water supply, Famine relief, Law and Order, Agriculture etc.

Introduction to Diarchy:

  • The Act introduced diarchy (rule of two individuals/parties) for the executive at the level of the provincial government.
  • The diarchy was implemented in eight provinces:
  • Assam, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Central Provinces, United Provinces, Bombay, Madras and Punjab.
  • The provincial governments were given more powers under the system of Dyarchy.
  • The governor was to be the executive head in the province.

Division of Subjects:

  • Subjects were divided into two lists: ‘reserved’ and ‘transferred’.
  • The reserved list, under which the subjects were to be administered by the governor through his executive council of bureaucrats.
  • It included subjects such as law and order, finance, land revenue, irrigation etc.
  • All important subjects were kept in the reserved subjects of the Provincial Executive.
  • The transferred subjects were to be administered by ministers nominated from among the elected members of the legislative council.
  • It included subjects such as education, health, local government, industry, agriculture, excise, etc.
  • In case of failure of constitutional machinery in the province the governor could take over the administration of transferred subjects also.

Restriction in Interference:

  • The Secretary Of State for India and the Governor General could interfere in respect of reserved subjects while in respect of the transferred subjects, the scope for their interference was restricted.

Reforms in Legislature:

  • Provincial legislative councils were further expanded and 70% of the members were to be elected.
  • The system of communal and class electorates was further consolidated.
  • Women were also given the right to vote.
  • The legislative councils could reject the budget but the governor could restore it, if necessary.
  • The legislators enjoyed freedom of speech.

Powers of the Governor:

  • The Governor could overrule the ministers on any grounds that he considered special. Also, he retained complete control over the finances.
  • The legislative councils could initiate legislation but the governor’s assent was required.
  • The governor could veto bills and issue ordinances.

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