Government of India Act, 1935

o   Was passed by the British Parliament in August 1935.

o   Was the longest Act enacted by the British Parliament at that time, with 321 section and 10 schedules.

o   The Act was based on: -

·       Simon Commission Report.

·       The Recommendations of the RTC.

·       Third RTC.

·       Report of the Joint Select Committee.

 o   A cursory detail of the Act.


-    Aim:


-    Territorial extent:

-    Enacted By:

-    Royal Assent:

-    Commenced:

-    Status:

An Act to make further provision for the government of India.

Territories under direct British control.

Parliament of Britain.

24th July 1935.

1st April 1937.

Repealed on 26th January 1950 in India.





Ø  Main Features

Its main provisions were as follows: -

1.   An all India federation:

§  This federation was to consist of British India and the Indian Princely States.

§  The provinces in British India would have to join the federation but this was not compulsory for the princely states.

§  This federation never materialised because of the lack of support from the required no. of princely states. 

2.   Federal Level

ü  At Executive

§  The governor general was the pivot ( the central point) of the entire constitution.

§   subjects to be administered were divided into reserved and transferred subjects.

§  Reserved subjects -foreign affaires, defence, tribal areas , and ecclesiastical affaires - were to be administered by the governor general on the advice of executive councillors.

§  Transferred subjects were to be administered by the governor general on the advice of ministers elected by the legislature .

§  The governor general could act in his individual judgement in the discharge of his special responsibilities for the security and tranquillity of India. 

ü  At legislature

§  The bicameral legislature was to continue having 2 houses, upper house to be a 260 - member house (council of state, directly elected from British Indian provinces) and Lower house to be a 375 - member house ( Federal Assembly, indirectly elected. from British Indian provinces and partly ‘one third’ nominated by the princes.

§  The three lists for legislation purposes were to be federal, provincial, and concurrent.

§  The system of religion - based and class- based electorates was further extended.

§  80% of the budget was non-votable.

§  Governor general had Residuary Power.

§  He could (a) restore cuts in grants;

 (b) certify bills rejected by the legislature.

 (c) issue ordinances.

 (d) exercise his veto.

3.   Provincial Autonomy

§  It rejected dyarchy.

§  Provinces were granted autonomy and separate legal identity.

§  Provinces were free from “the superintendence direction” of the secretary of state and governor general.

§  Provinces were given independent financial powers and resources.(provincial government could borrow money on their own security.

ü  At Executive

§  Governor  was to be the Crown’s nominee and representative to exercise authority on the king’s behalf in a province.

§   Governor was to have special powers regarding minorities, right t civil servants, law and order, British business interests, partially excluded areas, princely states, etc.

§  Governor could takeover and indefinitely run administration. 

ü  At legislature

§  Separate electorates based on Communal Award were top be made operational.

§  All members were to be directly elected.

§  Franchise was extended.

§  Women got the right on the same basis as men.

§  Ministers were made answerable to and removal by the adverse vote of the legislature.

§  Provincial legislature could legislate on subjects in provincial and concurrent lists.

§  40% of the budget was still not votable.

§  Governor could: -

(a)   Refuse to a bill.

(b)   Promulgate  ordinances.

(c)   Enact Governor’s Acts. 

Ø  Evaluation of the Act

§  Numerous ‘safeguards’ and ‘special responsibilities’ of the governor worked as brakes in the proper functioning of the Act.

§  In provinces, the Governor still had executive powers.

§  The Act enfranchised 14% of British Indian Population.

§  The extension of the system of communal electorates and representation of various interests promoted separate tendencies which culminated in partition of India.

§  Right of amendment was reserved with the British Parliament, thus, there was no possibility of growth.

§  The strategy of the British was to weaken the National Movement and integrate large segments of the movement into Colonial, constitutional and administrative structure. 

Ø  Nationalist’s Response

§  The 1935 Act was condemned by nearly all sections and unanimously rejected by the congress.

§  The Hindu Mahasabha and the National Liberal Foundation, declared themselves in favour of the working of the 1935 Act in the central as well as provincial level.

§  The congress demanded the convening of a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of Adult Franchise to frame a constitution for independent India.

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