The British Parliament introduced the Government of India Act 1919 in the country to establish more responsible participation of the people in the system. It came in the response to the active demand of self- government by the Indian National Congress after the end of the world war. Through this act, the British government gave some powers to Indian people in the functioning of the administration. Therefore, it announced a policy based on a report by Edwin Charles Montague (Secretary of the state) and Lord Chelmsford (Governor General) in 1917. This policy turned into an act in 1919. It is also known as Montague- Chelmsford reform.


  • The act was written in a legal format and had 45 sections and 5 schedules.
  • It came into force in
  • The administration was divided at Central and Provincial levels. It reduced the intervention of central government into provincial administration.
  • It introduced bicameralism at the Centre. The lower house was called the legislative assembly and the upper house was called as the Council of States.
  • At central level, all the important matters related to the all India were to be managed.
  • It remained responsible only to the British Parliament through Secretary of state.
  • This act also introduced a dual form of government at provinces which was also known as
  • The separation of the subjects of the provinces into two categories i.e. transferred and reserved subjects.
  • The matters related to finance, revenue, law and order were under reserved subjects. It was being regulated by the Governor and its executive council.
  • Whereas, transferred subjects included less important matters like health, education, local self-government. They were given to regulate to legislative council consisting of Indian members.
  • The dividing of powers also gave rights to both central and provinces to formulate their own budget.
  • Communal representation was extended by giving separate electorates to Sikh, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and European community.
  • It provided for the allotment of the three Indian members in the Viceroy’s executive council.
  • The establishment of a commission for the recruitment of the civil servants in 1926. It was called as Central Public Service Commission.


  • British Government appointed a seven-member statutory committee, headed by Sir John Simon to evaluate the GOI Act 1919 in November 1927.
  • Few of the recommendations it made were
  1. a) abolition of dyarchy
  2. b) creation of federation between British India and

princely states.

  • All the major parties in India boycotted the commission and its report because of the appointment two years before the schedule and exclusion of Indian members in.
  • The Nehru report (August 1928) was drafted in response to the Simon Commission, having demands such as dominion status for India, rejection of separate electorates, universal adult franchise etc. However, the report failed to gain consensus of all the parties. (example – Jinnah rejected the report, thereby demanding separate electorates and Jawaharlal Nehru and Subash Chandra Bose rejected the report on dominion status as they demanded Purna Swaraj – complete independence for India).
  • The British government hold three round table conference (November 1930, September 1932, November 1933 respectively) comprising the representative of British government, British provinces and Princely states.
  • Gandhi attended only 2nd Round Table Conference (September 1931), while Ambedkar attended all three.
  • ‘White Paper on Constitutional Reforms’ was prepared as the conclusion of the conferences. Further, it was submitted for the consideration of the Joint Select Committee of the British Parliament.
  • The Committee recommended with some changes which were subsumed in the next Government of India Act 1935.


  • In August 1932, British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, announced a scheme called Communal Award.
  • It extended the separate electorate for the depressed class (schedule caste) and created more division in the society.
  • Gandhiji became more upset with this and hence went on for fast unto death in Yeravada Jail of Poona.

Finally, a settlement was met between Congress leaders and depressed classes (led by Ambedkar), which accepted Hindu joint electorate with reservations for depressed classes. This agreement was known as the Poona Pact.

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