The Government of India Act 1935, in its own way, was a distinct milestone on the road to constitutional development, in this context, Critically analyze the Government of India Act of 1935?
- First, introduce with the Government of India Act 1935
- Then critically analyze its various provisions like-proposed federal scheme, dyarchy, voting qualification, provincial autonomy etc.
- Conclude with its influence on the founding father of our Constitution.
The Government of India Act 1935, was a comprehensive document consisting of 321 sections and 10 schedules. It provided for a new constitutional arrangement both at the central and the provincial levels. Under this Act, responsible governments were introduced at the provincial levels and a promise of an Indian federation, comprising both the British Indian provinces and Princely India was conceived and concretised in a constitutional document, however the proposed Federation never came up. The Central Government was carried up-to 1946, as per the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1919.
Despite having a new constitutional arrangement both at the central and the provincial levels, it had certain limitations:
- Setting up an all India Federation: The most important part of the Government of India Act of 1935 relating to the setting of an all India Federation remained like a lost ideal or a paper Federation, since it failed to come into force. The proposed Federal scheme was killed by the Indians Princes.
- Dyarchy at the centre: Another serious drawback of the Act 1935 should be traced in is mischievous attempt to shift the notorious dyarchical form of government from the Provinces (as provided in the Act of 1919) to the Centre. Despitethe experiment of dyarchy could not succeed in the provinces, they implemented it in the Centre.
- The voting qualifications: The franchise rights varied from one province to another, but the main franchise was restricted to the wealthy and educated sections of the society. Thus about 14% of the Indian population was given franchise rights. The constituencies were also made on territorial-cum-communal basis along with the seats for various classes and interests.
- Provincial autonomy: The powers of the provincial legislatures made very limited by the “special responsibilities and special safeguards” given to the Governors, who enjoyed a virtual veto power to freely interfere in the provincial administration and veto any decision taken by Indian Ministers. Innumerable powers given to Governors were clearly inconsistent with the spirit of, what was termed, provincial autonomy.
- Reactions of the Indian leaders:As a matter of fact, the Act of 1935 failed to satisfy any section of Indian leaders, whether they belonged to the Congress or to the Muslim League, or they represented the reactionary community of the Indian Princes. Nehru criticized the Act as “a charter of slavery”. Madan Mohan Malaviya said that the Act “has somewhat democratic appearance outwardly, but it is absolutely hollow from inside.” Jinnah condemned the Federal scheme as “thoroughly rotten, fundamentally bad and totally unacceptable”,
However, there were some good features in the Act, they were: the ideas of the federation, covering the entire country and the introduction of the responsible government at the provincial level. Hence the Constitutional Assembly engaged itself in the task of Constitution-making for independent India, the Act of 1935 came as a very handy and helpful document for the founding fathers of our Constitution. So several features like the Federal Scheme, Office of governor, Judiciary, Public Service Commissions, Emergency provisions and Administrative details were borrowed from the Government of India Act 1935.
Subjects : History Modern