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Updated: Aug 11, 2021


The sequel to the Round Table Conferences was the introduction of a bill in the British Parliament which later became the Government of India Act 1935. The provisions of the Act had been drafted on the report of a joint select committee. The bill was assented to by the

Crown and this became the Constitution of India to operate from 2-8-1935.

The Salient features of the Act are briefly as follows:

Federal structure. The Act had provided for the creation of a federation and the federal frame work had to be drawn up. The units were :

1. Provinces (Governors as Executive Heads e.g.: Madras, Bombay, Calcutta etc. Eleven Provinces).

2. States (called princely States e.g. Mysore, Hyderabad etc.)

3. Chief Commissioner's Provinces. Delhi, Coorg, Andaman and Nicobar etc.

Here the provinces under (1) and (3) were brought under the Federal Structure.

But there was no binding force to the princes. In other words, the princes at their violation could join the federation. An instrument of accession had been devised for this purpose with varied conditions.

Federal Executive. The Governor-General was the Executive Head. He was appointed for five years by her Majesty. He was responsible to the Crown and to no other authority in India. His salary was charged on the consolidated Fund of India. Dyarchy which had suffered at the Provinces now got recognition atn the Centre under the Act of 1935. The Governor-General, his counselors and the Ministers formed the Federal Executive. Some of the items of legislation like defence, external affairs were given to the Governor-General. The Counsellors advised him on these subjects. The Central Cabinet Ministers were responsible to the federallegislature.

The Governor General was almost a virtual dictator under the chair of the crown. The Governor-General played a dual role.He was the Governor General of India with reference to British India but, was the Crown's representative as regards Indian States.

Federal Legislature : Consisted of the Council of States and Federal House (Upper and Lower houses).

Distribution of Legislative powers : The Federal Legislature itself had a peculiar foundation,

democratic and autocratic.The Legislative powers were divided into three lists-Central Provincial and Concurrent.

(a) The Central (Federal) list had 49 subjects of legislation:Defence, external affairs, coinage, posts and telegraphs etc.

(b) The Provincial list had 54 subjects : Police, Public Order, Agriculture Land Tenure etc.

(c) The concurrent list had 36 subjects : Criminal law, marriage,testamentary Succession etc.

(d) The Residuary was with the Governor-General. Many restrictions had been imposed.

(1) Some subjects required the prior sanction of the Governor-General e.g. matters relating to police,matters touching European British subjects etc.

(2)Some matters e.g. touching sovereign or royal family, could not be discussed even:

(3) In respect of Bills passed, the Governor-General could with-hold his assent or send for reconsideration to the Federal legislature.

Federal Court: The Act provided for the formation of a Federal Court at Delhi consisting of Chief Justice and two other judges .The Act provided that judges should be appointed by the Crown and that they were to hold their office until 65 years of age. It provided for

the qualifications of and for the mode of appointments of judges. The court had independence and the conduct of judges could not be questioned in the legislature.

The court had original appellate and advisory jurisdictions. Jurisdiction :

(1) Original Jurisdiction : Disputes between the Provinces and States or Provinces inter se, or States inter se.

(2) Appellate Jurisdiction Constitutional matters i.e., Interpretation of the Government of India Act or Orders in Council. Criminal and Civil appellate jurisdiction from the High Courts.

(3) Appeals from the Princely States on the interpretation of the Act or Orders in Council.

(4) Advisory Jurisdiction: The Governor-General could consult the Federal Court on matters of Law or of fact. The Federal Court was not the final court of authority. Appeals were allowed from the Federal Court to the Privy Council in England. It goes to the credit of the judges that the federal court delivered admirable and impartial decisions in an atmosphere of independence. The judges were honest, straight-forward, impartial and sober in their attitude. Of all the institutions, established under the Act, the federal court was the most successful institution. This court was abolished and the Supreme Court of India was established under the Constitutionof India 1950. Appeals to the Privy Council were also abolished.


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