The Government of
India Act of 1935
The Government of India Act of 1935 was passed on the basis of the
report of the Simon Commission, the outcome of the Round Table Conferences and
the White Paper issued by the British Government in 1933. This Act contained
many important changes over the previous Act of 1919.
Following were the salient features of this Act.
Provision for the establishment of an All India Federation at the
Centre, consisting of the Provinces of British India and the Princely States.
(It did not come into existence since the Princely States refused to give their
consent for the union.)
Division of powers into three lists: Federal, Provincial and Concurrent.
Introduction of Dyarchy at the Centre. The Governor-General and his
councillors administered the 'Reserved subjects'. The Council of Ministers were
responsible for the 'Transferred' subjects.
Abolition of Dyarchy and the introduction of Provincial Autonomy in the
provinces. The Governor was made the head of the Provincial Executive but he
was expected to run the administration on the advice of the Council of
Ministers. Thus provincial government was entursted to the elected Ministers.
They were responsible to the popularly elected Legislative Assemblies.
Provincial Legilatures of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, United Provinces,
Bihar and Assam were made bicameral.
Extension of the principle of Separate Electorates to Sikhs, Europeans,
Indian Christians and Anglo Indians.
Esatblishment of a Federal Court at Delhi with a Chief Justice and 6 judges.
The working of the provincial autonomy was not successful. The Governors
were not bound to accept the advice of the ministers. In reality, the real
power in the Provincial Government was with the Governor. But, despite these
drawbacks in the scheme, the Congress decided to take part in the elections to
the Provincial Legislatures with the consideration that it was an improvement
over the previous Acts.
In accordance with the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1935
elections to the Provincial Legislatures were held in February 1937. The
Congress had virtually swept the polls. On 7 July 1937, after the Viceroy Lord
Linlithgow, assured the Congress of his cooperation, the party formed its
ministries in seven provinces.