The Indian Legislature made more Representative.
- No responsibility was, however, introduced at the Centre and the Governor-General in Council continued to remain responsible only to the British Parliament through the Secretary of State for India. Nevertheless, the Indian Legislature was made more representative and, for the first time, bicameral. It was to consist of an Upper House, named the Council of State, composed of 60 members of whom 34 were elected, and a Lower House, named the Legislative Assembly, composed of about 144 members of whom 104 were elected. The powers of both the Houses were equal except that the power to vote supply was given exclusively to the Legislative Assembly. The electorates were, however, arranged on a communal and sectional basis, developing the Morley-Minto device further.
- The Governor-General’s overriding powers in respect of Central legislation were retained in the following forms—
- (i) his prior sanction was required to introduce Bills relating to certain matters;
- (ii) he had the power to veto or reserve for consideration of the Crown any Bill passed by the Indian Legislature;
- (iii) he had the converse power of certifying any Bill or any grant refused to be passed or made by the Legislature, in which case it would have the same effect as if it was passed or made by the Legislature;
- (iv) he could make Ordinances, having the force of law for a temporary period, in case of emergency.
- The Reforms of 1919, however, failed to fulfil the aspiration of the people in India, and led to an agitation by the Congress for ‘Swaraj’ or ‘self-government’, independent of the British empire, to be attained through ‘Non-cooperation’. The shortcomings of the Reform of 1919, mainly, were—
- (i) Notwithstanding a substantial measure of devolution of power to the Provinces the structure still remained unitary and centralised “with the Governor-General in Council as the keystone of the whole constitutioal edifice; and it is through the Governor-General in Council that the Secretary of State and, ultimately, Parliament discharged their responsibilities for the peace, order and good governance of India”. It was the Governor-General and not the courts who had the authority to decide whether a particular subject was Central or Provincial. The Provincial Legislature could not, without the previous sanction of the Governor-General, take up for consideration any bill relating to a number of subjects.
- (ii) The greatest dissatisfaction came from the working of Dyarchy in the Provincial sphere. In a large measure, the Governor came to dominate ministerial policy by means of his overriding financial powers and control over the official block in the Legislature. In practice, scarcely any question of importance could arise without affecting one or more of the reserved departments. The impracticability of a division of the administration into two water-tight compartments was manifested beyond doubt. The main defect of the system from the Indian standpoint was the control of the purse. Finance being a reserved subject, was placed in charge of a member of the Executive Council and not a Minister. It was impossible for any Minister to implement any progressive measure for want of funds and together with this was the further fact that the members of the Indian Civil Service, through whom the Ministers were to implement their policies, were recruited by the Secretary of State and were responsible to him and not the Ministers. Above all was the overriding power of the Governor who did not act as a constitutional head even with respect to the transferred subjects. There was no provision for collective responsibility of the Ministers to the Provincial Legislature. The Ministers were appointed individually, acted as advisers of the Governor, and differed from members of the Executive Council only in the fact that they were non-officials. The Governor had the discretion to act otherwise than in accordance with the advice of his Ministers; he could certify a grant refused by the Legislature or a Bill rejected by it if it was reg-arded by him as essential for the due discharge of his responsibilities relating to a reserved subject.
- It is no wonder, therefore, that the introduction of ministerial government over a part of the Provincial sphere proved ineffective and failed to satisfy Indian aspirations.
|Congress Presidents |
|1885—Bombay—W.C. Bannerji. |
1887—Madras—Syed Badruddin Tyabji.
1889—Bombay—Sir William Wedderburn.
1890—Calcutta—Sir Phirozeshah Mehta.
1897—Amraoti—G. Sankaran Nair.
1898—Madras—Ananda Mohan Bose.
1904—Bombay—Sir Henry Cotton.
1907—Surat—Rashbehari Ghose. (broken up)
1909—Lahore—Madan Mohan Malviya.
1910—Allahabad—Sir William Wedderburn.
1911—Calcutta—Bishan Narayan Dhar.
1913—Karachi—Nawab Syed Mahammed Bahadur.
1915—Bombay—Sir S.P. Sinha.
1917—Calcutta—Mrs. Annie Besant.
1918—Delhi—Madan Mohan Malviya.
1919—Amritsar—Pt. Matilal Nehru.
1920—Calcutta (Special)—Lala Lajpat Rai.
1921—Ahmedabad—Hakim Ajmal Khan.
1923—Coconada—Maulana Mahammad Ali.
1925—Kanpur—Mrs Sarojini Naidu.
1928—Calcutta—Pt. Motilal Nehru.
1929—Lahore—Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
1932—Delhi—Seth Ranchhorlal Dass Amritlal.
1933—Calcutta—Mrs Nellie Sengupta.
1936—Lucknow—Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
1937—Faizpur—Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
1940—Ramgarh—Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
1946—........—Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
After independence the Congress met in 1948 at Jaipur under the Presidentship of P. Sitaramaiya, in 1950 at Nasik under P.D. Tandon, in 1951 at New Delhi under Pt. J. Nehru who also presided over the Hyderabad (1953) and Kalyani (1954) sessions, in 1955 at Avadi under U.N. Dhebar who also presided over the Amritsar (1956) and Gauhati (1958) sessions, in 1959 at Nagpur under Srimati Indira Gandhi, in 1960 at Bangalore and in 1961 at Gujarat under N. Sanjiva Reddy, in 1962 at Bhubaneswar and in 1963 at Patna under D. Sanjivaya and in 1964 at Bhubaneswar and in 1965 the Congress adopted the policy of establishing in India a socialistic state on a democratic basis which it reiterated at the Bhubaneswar session. (1956).
Defects of Dyarchy
- The system of Dyarchy introduced in the provinces by the Act of 1919 suffered from serious defects.
- The division of administration into two independent parts was opposed to political theory and, in practice, it was impossible to work on it because, primarily, the councillors in charge of Reserved subjects and the ministers in charge of Transferred subjects could not work in cooperation.
- The division of the subjects between the Reserved and the Transferred was made without forethought and principle.
- The Indian ministers were always short of finance.
- The ministers had no control over the members of the Civil Services who, virtually carried on the administration.
- The ministers had to depend on the governor for several things, particularly, for finance.
- The ministers did not work on the basis of joint responsibility but, on the contrary, they came in conflict with one another which reduced their honour and power further in relation to the governor and his councillors.
- Besides, the passing of the Rowlatt Act, the beginning of the Non-Cooperation and the Civil Disobedience movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and the non-cooperative functioning of the `Swaraj Party' in the Legislative Councils put obstructions in the working of the Dyarchy and, therefore, it failed to achieve its object.
- Yet, the Act of 1919 was a step towards responsible government and provided useful experience of administration to the Indians.