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Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Crown Rule (1858- 1947) - Part V : Montagu-Chelmssford Reforms (1919)

The Crown Rule (1858-1947) - Part V

On August 20, 1917, the British Government declared, for the first time, that its objective was with the gradual introduction of responsible government in India as the Government of India Act.

The Crown Rule (1858- 1947) - Part V : Montagu-Chelmssford Reforms (1919)

The Government of India Act of 1919 was thus enacted, which came into force in 1921. This Act is also known as Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (Montagu was the secretary of State for India and Chelmsford was the Viceroy of India).

Features of the Act:


  • It further divided the provincial subjects into two (2) parts- transferred subjects and reserved subjects. The transferred subjects were to be administered by the governors with the aids of ministers responsible for the legislative council. The reserved subjects were to be administered by the government and his executive council without being responsible to the legislative council. This dual scheme of governance was known as 'dyarchy'- a term is derived from the Greek word 'di-arche' = double rule. However, this experiment was largely unsuccessful.

  • It introduced, for the first time, bicameralism and direct elections in the country. Thus, the Indian legislative council was replaced by a bicameral legislature consisting of an Upper House (Council of State) and a Lower House (Legislative Assembly). The majority of members of both Houses were chosen by direct election.

  • It required that the three (3) of the six (6) members of the Viceroy's executive council (other than the commander-in-chief) were to be Indian.

  • It extended the principle of communal representation by providing a separate electorate for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, and Europeans.


  • It created a new office of the High Commissioner for India in London and transferred to him some of the functions hitherto performed by the secretary of State for India.

  • It provided for the establishment of a public service commission. Hence, a Central Public Service Commission was set up in 1926 for recruiting civil servants.


  • It provided for the appointment of a statutory commission to inquire into and report on its working after ten (10) years of its coming into force.

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