Famous Acts: Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919

The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919 was introduced after 10 years of the Indian Council Act 1909. After the time period of 10 years, Viceroy Lord Chelmsford and Secretary of State for India Edwin Montagu constituted this new act known as the Government of India Act, 1919. This act was also known as Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms in 1919. This act was also supposed to increase the number of Indians in the governance of the British Indian government. This act was, however, opposed by Indians and they asked for reviewing the act.

Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919, Iascurrent.com,

This act was set for review by the Simon Commission. However, the establishment of the Simon Commission draws huge protests as this commission was supposed to work in the favor of Indians without the involvement of any Indian in the commission.

Provisions of Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919

This act was also known as Montagu–Chelmsford reforms 1919. It provided that a minimum of 3 out of 8 members of the Governor General’s executive council shall be Indian. It established a bi-cameral legislature at the center of comprising the Central Legislative Assembly (CLA) & council of state. The subject of admin was divided into a central list & a provincial list. Office of Indian high commissioner created to represent the government of India in London.

Till 1919, the secretary for the state of India was representing the Government of India in London. Act provided that expenditure of India house (office of the secretary of state of India) shall be charged on British exchanger till time tears paid from the Indian revolution. Provided for the establishment of public service commissioner. The ordinance making power is given to Viceroy (Governor-General). A system of direct election was introduced.

Diarchy introduced in Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919

Diarchy was introduced at the provincial level under the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919. All subjugate of provincial administration were divided into two categories i.e. reserved category & transferred category. Subjugate comparatively greater admin significance such as law & order, police, revenue, budget, prison, irrigation & education of Anglo Indians were placed in the reserved category. Subjugate of company lesser admin significance such as local self-governance, healthy sanitation, agriculture & education of Indians was placed in the transferred category.

Subjugate of the reserved category was to be administered by Government with the help of the council of minister. Ministers were to be appointed Government from among the elected members of the provincial legislative council.

Merits of Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919

Diarchy was a major step forward in direction of greater association of Indians with affairs of administration. This was definitely a significant step towards a grant to dominion status to India. The number of administrator matters of immediate local significance was put under the control of Indian ministers. This provision gave the opportunity to ministers to formulate policies & measures for the betterment of people.

The system of responsible government came into India for 1st time because the minister was accountable to the legislative. For the 1st time, the ministerial system introduced in India. It was an early stage of the parliamentary form of government. In the system of diarchy, elections were held along the party line. This paved way for the emergence of modern political parties in India. The system of diarchy imparted crucial expansion to Indian legislation in the fun of the parliamentary form of government. This expansion enabled Indian legislation to handle more serious challenges in future success. Diarchy paved way for the introduction to provincial autonomy in the future (1935).

Demerits of Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919

The structure of diarchy was faulty because the division of subjugating was unscientific & irrational. Irrigation placed in the reserved category where agriculture subjugates was of transferred category. Education of Anglo-Indian was in the reserved category & the education of Indians was in the transferred category. Subjugate like irrigation & agriculture required co-ordination which was impossible in this scheme of diarchy.

All the imparted subjugate were placed in the reserved category & only less imparted subjugate were placed in the transferred category. All the income-generating subjugate were in the reserved category proper finance was not provided for admin of subjugating of transferred category. The bureaucracy was placed under the executive council & because of this officials didn’t take the instruction of ministers seriously. The system of collective responsibility was absent. Any minister could be removed individually.

The position of ministers was too weak to be effective because they were individually accountable to the legislature as well as the governor. Governor could dismiss any minister any time without giving any cause. Governor still enjoying veto power any resolution of Indian ministers could be mollified by the governor easily.

Congress & Diarchy

Congress refused to welcome diarchy under the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms 1919, far below the Indian expectation. Diarchy was like a train with all breaks no engine. The election system was still based on a very narrow franchise because the voting rights were given on basis of property qualification. Congress strongly condemned the continuation of the veto power of the Governor.

The diarchy was just a shame because all real power was still in the British hand. The announcement of diarchy created suspicion on the rank of India because liberals welcomed it but followers of Gandhiji strongly rejected it. When Swarajist decided to participate in diarchy they were looked upon by others by suspicion.