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Updated: Aug 11, 2021


Montague-Chelmsford Report :

(i) The Minto-Morely Reforms were a failure as they did not satisfy the moderates and the extremists. Gopal Krishna Gokhale strongly demanded the introduction of western values like liberalism and freedom.

(ii) The separate Muslim representation, introduced by the Reforms, was resented to and a resolution was moved in 1911 against the reform in the imperial Legislature.

(iii) The muslims had been much perturbed by the Balkan wars, and also by the partition of Bengal.

(iv) The Irish movement for independence was an encouraging factor for Indian people to demand self-government in India.

(v) Various measures introduced to associate the Indian people in the administration were in general theoretical and inadequate. The Indian National Congress and the Muslim League suggested a scheme for direct elections to provincial council and for increased membership

of Indians to the Central Legislature.

(vi) As a gesture to these developments the British Government declared its policy (1917) that it was for increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and for the gradual development of a self-government in India as part of the British Empire.

(vii) Indian army had been sent to the middle east and Africa during the First World War. There was support by the Indians for the British War measures. As a result of these the British Government sent Montague to India. He toured with the Viceroy Chelmsford and prepared a report containing certain proposals. This is the Montford Report. It is on the

basis of this that a bill was introduced in the British Parliament which later became the Government of India Act 1919. The Report had taken the following basic principles into


(i) The provincial government should have independence and be free from the control of the government of India. There should be the popular representation. Hence in local government, popular control was to be introduced.

(ii) The Government of India was to remain responsible to the Parliament. The councils were to be enlarged. The general control over the provinces by the Secretary of State and the Parliament and the Government of India should be minimised.

Salient features of the Government of India Act 1919 :

(i) The basic principles were as follows : Lin order to standardise the provinces they were grouped and the Governors were to head the executives.

2. Decentralisation was introduced with a view to bringing about provincial autonomy.

3. Some changes were made in respect of the revenues.

4. In the legislative field there was division on the items of legislation.

5. Dyarchy was introduced at the provinces,

(ii) Details of Government India Act 1919.

Three broad heads may be made :

1. Devolution (division)of Legislative powers between the Centre and the Provinces.

2. Provinces: (a) Legislature (b) Provincial Executive : Governor and his Powers, Dyarchy.

3. Centre: (a) Central Legislature (b) Government of India.(Central Executive)

1. Devolution :

(i) Basic rules were made to classify the subjects into Central and Provincial.

(ii) The Provinces had powers to Legislate for peace and good Government of the provincial territories, in those subjects.

(iii) The Provinces could act or repeal any law made before 1919, in the Provinces, (previous sanction of the Governor General was required in some matters).

(iv) Some financial powers were also given to impose taxes and appropriate the proceeds.

(v) Many administrative powers were also given to Provinces under Regulations. Thus the Provinces gained a distinct position.

Provinces :

(a) Provincial Legislature (unicameral) was called as "Legislature Council". It consisted of officials (20%) and, others were elected members. The membership varied from Province to Province. The duration of the Council was 3 years. The Governor had the power to dissolve the Council. The Council was presided over by the President elected by the Council.

(b) Provincial Executive (Dyarchy). The Governor was the Head of the Executive. Dyarchy was introduced. Under this there were British Ministers in charge of Reserved subjects ;

and also the Indian Ministers in charge of transferred subjects.

Centre :

(a) Central Legislature had two Houses: The Council of States and Legislative Assembly. The Council had 19 offiials, 6 non-officials and 34 elected members (Total 59). The

duration was 5 years. The president of the Council was nominated by the Governor-General.

Legislative Assembly : This had 143 members, officials 25,nonofficials 15 and elected 103.

There was a provision for joint sitting to resolve the differencesbetween the Houses.

(b) Central Executive : The Governor-General was the Head of the Central Executive (Govt. of India) the British Parliament controlled the Government of India through the Secretary of State, with a council consisting of Experts. The GovernorGeneral had wide powers

under the concept of safety and tranquility of British India. He could with hold his assent to Bills in the financial field, he could make the demand as essential to discharge his

responsibilities. His sanction was required in introducing financial bills etc.


Dyarchy was introduced at the Provinces by the Government of India Act 1919. Lionel Curtis had written a book by nameThe Round Table', in which he had recommended dyarchy as the

solution for the executive problems.On the basis of this, the Montford Report recommended dyarchy.

Essential features:

The various items of legislation were classified into : (i) Reserved Subjects (ii) Transferred Subjects. The first was reserved by the British Ministers but the second was handed over to the Indian Ministers. It was therefore intended to be co-operative team of the British and the Indian Ministers with specified port-folios.The Governor was the head of the executive.

The British Ministers were responsible to the Governors. But the Indian Ministers were responsible to the elected representatives. This was therefore a peculiar combination leading to the peculiar cabinet responsibility. In consequence thereof instead of a team-spirit, there

were differences of opinion and quarrels in respect of powers concerning reserved and transferred subjects. Dyarchy died a natural death. It was an unfortunate experiment at

the Provincial levels in India. Some of the reasons for the failure were as follows :

(ii) There could hardly be any joint deliberation of the cabinet, and the differences were dominant than the meeting points. In respect of cabinet responsibility there was a split. The reserved group was responsible to the Governor but the transferred group was responsible to the legislature.Hence Joint responsibility was impossible if not a misnomer.

(iii) The civil servants hardly co-operated with the Indiann Ministers as the latter had hardly any control over them.

(iv) Finance was in the reserved half. Hence Government could completely control and water down the aspirations and enthusiasm of the Indian Ministers who toiled to prepare big plans for development. The net result was that Dyarchy miserably failed. This createdmore disgust than confidence in the minds of the Indian people. Further Dyarchy was a mistaken misconception within itself.


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