Critical Examination of the features of Minto-Morley reforms (Indian Councils Act of 1909)

The Indian Councils Act, 1909 was named after the renowned viceroy Lord Minto as well as the secretary of state Lord Morely. This act was considered to be the success of the INC led by the moderates. The act aimed at increasing the number of non official members as well as enlarged legislative councils.
Some of the features of the Indian Councils Act, 1909 are as follows; 

  • It increased the size of the central and provincial legislative council to a considerable amount.
  • The Viceroy’s Council’s membership was fixed at sixty members
  • Separate Electorates were accepted for minorities and the preparation of separate electoral rolls was ordered.
  • The local bodies, businesses, trade unions and universities were allowed to elect their members for the council. It allowed the Indians to be a part of the legislative council for the first time.

While the minto-morley reforms had a few merits, it was consistently blamed for its variety of demerits which led to its demise of the Minto-Morely scheme. They are as follows;

  • The authority given to the elected members of raising questions and criticizing the policies proved useless as the real legislative authority rested with the Government and its nominated persons. 
  • The Minto-Morley Reforms did not provide for mode of electing the representatives.
  • The separate electorates caused communal disharmony and caused communal fights in the society. Thus the act legalised communalism in India. 
  • The voting rights were squeezed which made the electorate too narrow and restricted.

It is imperative to note that the demerits of the Minto Morley reforms should not be used to set aside the significance of the reforms, it endorsed the Muslims demand for a separate electorate where the legislative councils were present. The separate electorate also helped set the course of Muslim freedom movement which eventually led to the development/creation of Pakistan. It also gave the much required boost for the formation of the constitution of India. 

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