The Government of India Act, 2935 was one of the most significant acts passed by the British government. The genesis of the federal system in India is present in the Simon report of May 1930. They supported the idea of federalism in India. The support for the federalism form of government for India in future is further affirmed in the first round table conference of 1930. Then at the second round table also, the Prime minister of Great Britain and Mr. Ramsay Mac Donald was unable to effectively discuss the nature of the federal executive and its relationship with the legislature. After two rounds of conference the third round was also flopped.The Constitution of India is neither purely federal nor it is purely unitary it is a combination of both. It is a union of composite states of a novel type. It enshrines the principle that in spite of federalism, the national interest ought to be paramount.
Government of India Act 1935 was passed by British Parliament in August 1935.It had 321 sections and 10 schedules, this was the longest act passed by British Parliament so far and was later split into two parts that was Government of India Act 1935 and Government of Burma Act 1935.
The Government of India Act 1935 derived material from four key sources that was Report of the Simon Commission, discussions at the Third Round Table Conference, the White Paper of 1933 and the reports of the Joint select committees. This act ended the system of dyarchy introduced by Government of India Act 1919 and provided for establishment of a Federation of India to be made up of provinces of British India and some or all of the Princely states. However, the federation never came into being as the required number of princely states did not join it.
This act abolished the system of provincial dyarchy and suggested the establishment of a dyarchy at the center and a ‘Federation of India’ consisting of the provinces of British India and most of the princely states. Most importantly, the act established the office of the Governor; all the executive powers and authority of the center was vested in the Governor.
MAIN PROVISIONS OF GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT, 1935
To make the Governor General Pivot of the constitution to settle if there were any disputes among the people, • An important provision of the act was the protection of minorities such as women etc. and safeguarding their rights. These provisions of Government of India Act, 1935 are as follows :
1. It further extended the principle of communal representation by providing separate electorates for depressed classes (scheduled castes), women and labor (workers).
2. It introduced bicameralism in six out of eleven provinces. Thus, the legislatures of Bengal, Bombay, Madras, Bihar, Assam and the United Provinces were made bicameral consisting of a legislative council (upper house) and a legislative assembly (lower house). However, many restrictions were placed on them.
3. It provided for the adoption of dyarchy at the Center. Consequently, the federal subjects were divided into reserved subjects and transferred subjects. However, this provision of the Act did not come into operation at all.
4.It abolished dyarchy in the provinces and introduced ‘provincial autonomy’ in its place. The provinces were allowed to act as autonomous units of administration in their defined spheres. Moreover, the Act introduced responsible governments in provinces, that is, the governor was required to act with the advice of ministers responsible to the provincial legislature. This came into effect in 1937 and was discontinued in 1939.
5.It provided for the establishment of an All-India Federation consisting of provinces and princely states as units. The Act divided the powers between the Center and units in terms of three lists—Federal List (for Center, with 59 items), Provincial List (for provinces, with 54 items) and the Concurrent List (for both, with 36 items). Residuary powers were given to the Viceroy. However, the federation never came into being as the princely states did not join it.
6. It is an essential feature of federalism. The basis of such distribution of power is that it should be acted in favor of national interest.
7.There is division of power between the center or state government. It establishes dual polity; a system of double government and the constitution of India is supreme and in written form.
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT, 1935 AS AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF INDIAN CONSTRUCTION
Government of India Act 1935 curtailed the power concentrated in the hands of the Central Government and distributed it among the decentralized form of government. Separate electorates for women, although they had not asked for it, was quite good for the advancement of women in the decision making process. Even the workers had their separate representation which helped in the advancement of the workers class. This Act was the first attempt to give the provinces an autonomous status by freeing them from external interference.
The Federal Court that was established in 1937 through the Government of India Act, 1935 was considered as the Supreme Court by independent India. The Constitution of India also borrowed the feature that every state should have a Governor who would be elected by the Central Government. The Public Service Commission that we see in Article 315 of the Indian Constitution had also been taken from the Government of India Act, 1935.
It also stated that the Council of State could not be dissolved as it got the recognition of a permanent body through this Act. First Schedule of this Act gives the provision on which a member can retire or in how much amount they could be retired. It says that one-third members of the council will retire as per this provision. In this sense, it gives a perfect shape to Indian polity.
It is an essential feature for the federal government to work well. It will be difficult to maintain the supremacy of the constitution if it is not in written form. As the terms and conditions will not be cleared so, to reduce misunderstanding or disagreement there is a need for a written constitution. The Constitution of India is written. It specifies the structure, powers, functions of both center and state government.
Hence, the Government of India Act 1935, acts as an important source for the Indian constitution.
The main objectivity of the act of 1935 was that the government of India was under the British Crown. So, the authorities and their functions derive from the Crown, in so far as the crown did not itself retain executive functions. His conception, familiar in dominion constitutions, was absent in earlier Acts passed for India. This Act also suggested the establishment of a federal government that would allow princes to participate in India’s political activities. The new Act armed the Governors and Governor-General with tremendous discretionary powers. The act failed to provide a proper federal structure, the majority of the power was with the governor general. Hence, the act of 1935 served some useful purposes by the experiment of provincial autonomy, thus we can say that the Government of India Act 1935 marks a point of no return in the history of constitutional development in India.
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