Montague Chelmsford Reforms 1919
British Government in 1919 introduced a new package of reforms in Subcontinent to appease the smoldering passions of Indian people who were annoyed over the British Government un-political policies in the Subcontinent.
British Government appointed a committee under Justice R. A. Rowlatt to suggest way and means to crush all political conspiracies in Subcontinent against British India Government. The committee submitted its report in 1918 to government which had suggested very strict measures to adopt against those who were found involved in political activities against the government. Protests against the Rowlatt Committee Report were launched throughout India which resulted in the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy in Amritsar.
Government Of India Act 1919 / Montague Chelmsford Reforms 1919
To pacify the situation, Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montague in the House of Commons announced the introduction of a new set of reforms for the gradual development of self-governing institutions and realization of the responsible Government in India as an integral part of the British Empire.
To give practical shape to his announcement Mr. Montague along with his delegation visited India and met with the Viceroy and other important political leaders of India. Mr. Montague along with Viceroy Viscount Chelmsford prepared a scheme for the constitutional reforms which was presented to the British Government for approval. After acceding royal assent, the scheme was enforced in the country as Government of India Act 1919.
Salient Features Of Montague Chelmsford Reforms
Some of the important salient features of the Government of India Act 1919 are given below.
- Bicameral legislature. Upper House, known as Council of State, had 60 members while Lower House, known as Central Legislative, had 146 members
- Terms of houses: Upper House 5 years and Lower House 3 years
- Separate electorate retained for Muslims
- Gradual development of Self-Government in India
- System of Dyarchy at provincial level which divided subjects into Transferred and Reserved. Health, Commerce and Education were entrusted to Indian Ministers while Law and Order, Finance, Police, Irrigation and Forests were placed under Governor Control. Governor General could interfere in provincial matters.
- Division of Subjects between Centre and Provinces. Central subjects were Defence, Foreign Affairs, Currency, Railway and Telecommunication. Provincial subjects were Education, Health, Irrigation and Local Government.
- Governor General’s Executive Council was answerable to Secretary of State for India.
- Governor General had the right to certify any legislation felt necessary
Indians’ Reaction To Monatgue Chelmsford Reforms 1919
The Government of India Act 1919 delivered political reforms far less than what were demanded in Lucknow Pact 1916. This made these reforms unacceptable to both Congress and Muslim League and therefore both parties declared them as inadequate.