With reference to the Government of India Act, 1935, consider the following statements:

  1. It provided for the establishment of an All India Federation based on the union of the British Indian Provinces and Princely States.
  2. Defence and Foreign Affairs were kept under the control of the federal legislature.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Correct Answer: (a) 1 only

  • Statement 1: The Government of India Act, 1935 provided for the establishment of an All India Federation based on the union of the British Indian Provinces and Princely States. This federation was intended to include both British India and the princely states, although the latter’s participation was not mandatory.
  • Statement 2Defence and Foreign Affairs were not kept under the control of the federal legislature. Instead, these subjects were part of the reserved subjects controlled by the Governor-General, who administered them with the help of appointed counsellors and not the legislature.

Learn more

  • Government of India Act, 1935:
    • Aim: To make further provisions for the governance of India.
    • Territorial Extent: Applied to territories under direct British control.
    • Enacted by: Parliament of the United Kingdom.
    • Royal Assent: 24th July 1935.
    • Commencement: 1st April 1937.
    • Status: Repealed on 26th January 1950 in India.
  • Background:
    • The Act was a response to the growing demand for constitutional reforms in India.
    • It was based on the Simon Commission Report, recommendations of the Round Table Conferences, the White Paper of 1933, and the Report of the Joint Select Committees.
  • Key Features:
    • All India Federation: Proposed a federation consisting of British Indian provinces and princely states, although it never materialized due to lack of support from the princely states.
    • Division of Powers: Powers were divided between the centre and the provinces through three lists: Federal List, Provincial List, and Concurrent List. Residuary powers were vested in the Viceroy.
    • Provincial Autonomy: Introduced provincial autonomy, abolishing dyarchy at the provincial level. Governors were to act on the advice of ministers responsible to the provincial legislatures.
    • Diarchy at the Centre: Federal subjects were divided into reserved and transferred subjects. Reserved subjects were controlled by the Governor-General, while transferred subjects were administered by the Governor-General with his Council of Ministers.
    • Bicameral Legislature: Introduced bicameralism in six out of eleven provinces, with legislative councils and assemblies.
    • Federal Court: Established a Federal Court in 1937, which functioned until the establishment of the Supreme Court of India in 1950.
    • Franchise: Extended the franchise, allowing about 10-14% of the population to vote.
    • Reorganization: Included the separation of Burma from India and the reorganization of provinces like Sindh from Bombay Presidency.
  • Significance:
    • Marked a significant step towards a responsible government in India.
    • Laid the groundwork for the future constitutional framework of independent India.
    • Despite its limitations, it was a crucial milestone in India’s constitutional development.

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