The Government of India Act 1919 (9 & 10 Geo. 5 c. 101) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was passed to expand participation of Indians in the government of India. The Act embodied the reforms recommended in the report of the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, and the Viceroy, Chelmsford. The Act covered ten years, from 1919 to 1929. This Act represented the end of benevolent despotism (the act of authorities enhancing themselves) and began the genesis of responsible government in India. It was set to be reviewed by the Simon Commission in 10 years.
|Long title||An Act to make further provision with respect to the Government of India.|
|Citation||9 & 10 Geo. 5 c. 101|
|Royal assent||23 December 1919|
|Repealed by||Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1976|
The Act received royal assent on 23 December 1919. On the same day the King-Emperor issued a proclamation which reviewed the course of parliamentary legislation for India and the intent of the act:
"The Acts of 1773 and 1784 were designed to establish a regular system of administration and justice under the East India Company. The Act of 1833 opened the door for Indians to public office and employment. The Act of 1858 transferred the administration from the Company to the Crown and laid the foundations of public life which exist in India today. The Act of 1861 sowed the seed of representative institutions, and the seed was quickened into life by the Act of 1909. The Act which has now become law entrusts the elected representative of the people with a definite share in the Government and points the way to full responsible Government hereafter".
The Act provided a dual form of government (a "diarchy") for the major provinces. In each such province, control of some areas of government, the "transferred list", were given to a Government of ministers answerable to the Provincial Council. The 'transferred list ' included agriculture, supervision of local government, health, and education. The Provincial Councils were enlarged.
At the same time, all other areas of government (the 'reserved list') remained under the control of the Viceroy. The 'reserved list' included defence (the military), foreign affairs, and communications.
The Imperial Legislative Council was enlarged and reformed. It became a bicameral legislature for all India. The lower house was the Legislative Assembly of 145 members, of which 104 were elected and 41 were nominated, with a tenure of three years. The upper house was the Council of State, consisting of 34 elected and 26 nominated members, with a tenure of five years.
Salient features of the Act were as follows:
The Indian National Congress rejected the Act, however some leaders such as Annie Besant, G. S. Khaparde, Bipin Chandra Pal, Surendranath Banerjee, and Tej Bahadur Sapru accepted the Act and were ready to cooperate with the government. They left the Congress. Surendranath Banerjee and Tej Bahadur Sapru formed Indian Liberal Federation and were normally referred as "Liberals". Madan Mohan Malaviya supported the reforms and Muhammad Ali Jinnah resigned from Indian National Congress.