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Government of India Act, 1935


Main features of this act were:

• In all previous GoI acts government of India was unitary but first time in GoI Act, 1935, A federal structure of government was prescribed. But Indian rulers of states never gave their consent and therefore federation as envisaged in act was never realized.
• Certain degree of autonomy was provided to provinces this time and provinces were no longer delegation of Central government but were autonomous units of administration. Legislative powers were divided between provinces and centre.
• Now governor was not subordinate of Governor General and was required to act on aid and advice of CoM. Governor was to govern on behalf of the Crown. Though in certain matters, governor has power of ‘discretion’ and exercise of his individual judgement and not to act on advice of CoM.
• A system of Dyarchy at center was placed. Function of GG were divided in two groups.
• Administration of defense foreign relations, ecclesiastical affairs and of tribal areas, was to be made by GG in his discretion with help counsellors appointed by him who were not reponsible to legislature.
• In All other matters, GG was to act on adivce of CoM who were responsible to Legislature. But even in this regard, GG had power to act against advice if he felt any of his ‘special responsibilities’ was involved.
But in reality no counsellors nor any CoM were appointed under Act, the old executive council provided by 1919 act continued to advice GG until the Indian Independence Act,1947.
• Central legislature was bicameral, legislature of some of provinces were bicameral and some were uni-cameral. There were few limitations on Central legislature as follows
• A bill passed by Central Legislature was subject to veto by crown and Governor.
• GG was empowered to prevent discussion or suspend proceeding in legislature if he felt it would affect his special responsibilities.
• GG could pass permanent acts at any time for discharge of special responsibilites and promulgate ordinances at any matter during recess of legislature.
• No bill or amendment could be introduced in legislature without GG’s previous consent wrt certain matters.
• Though Indian states did not join the Federation, the federal provisions were in fact applied as between center and provinces. The division of legislative subjects between center and provinces proposed in this act were kept more less same in Our present Constitution. Subjects were divided in 3 categories- Federal(External affairs, military, coinage, census etc), provincial(Police, education, provincial public services etc) and Concurrent(Criminal laws and procedures, Marriage and divorce, Arbitration etc). In case of repugnancy in the Concurrent field, Federal law will prevail over provincial law to the extent of repugnancy.
• Dominion status was not conferred by GoI Act, 1935