After the failure of the Third Round
Table Conference, the British government gave the Joint
Select Committee the task of formulating the new Act for
India. The Committee comprised of 16 members each from
the House of Commons and House of Lords, 20
representatives from British India and seven from the
princely states. Lord Linlithgow was appointed as the
president of the Committee. After a year and a half of
deliberations, the Committee finally came out with a
draft Bill on February 5, 1935. The Bill was discussed in
the House of Commons for 43 days and in the House of
Lords for 13 days and finally, after being signed by the
King, was enforced as the Government of India Act, 1935,
in July 1935.
1. A Federation of India was promised for,
comprising both provinces and states. The provisions of
the Act establishing the federal central government
were not to go into operation until a specified number
of rulers of states had signed Instruments of
Accession. Since, this did not happen, the central
government continued to function in accordance with the
1919 Act and only the part of the 1935 Act dealing with
the provincial governments went into operation.
2. The Governor General remained the head of the
central administration and enjoyed wide powers
concerning administration, legislation and finance.
3. No finance bill could be placed in the Central
Legislature without the consent of the Governor
4. The Federal Legislature was to consist of two
houses, the Council of State (Upper House) and the
Federal Assembly (Lower House).
5. The Council of State was to consist of 260
members, out of whom 156 were to be elected from the
British India and 104 to be nominated by the rulers of
6. The Federal Assembly was to consist of 375
members; out of which 250 were to be elected by the
Legislative Assemblies of the British Indian provinces
while 125 were to be nominated by the rulers of
7. The Central Legislature had the right to pass any
bill, but the bill required the approval of the
Governor General before it became Law. On the other
hand Governor General had the power to frame
8. The Indian Council was abolished. In its place,
few advisers were nominated to help the Secretary of
State for India.
9. The Secretary of State was not expected to
interfere in matters that the Governor dealt with, with
the help of Indian Ministers.
10. The provinces were given autonomy with respect
to subjects delegated to them.
11. Diarchy, which had been established in the
provinces by the Act of 1919, was to be established at
the Center. However it came to an end in the
12. Two new provinces Sindh and Orissa were
13. Reforms were introduced in N. W. F. P. as were
in the other provinces.
14. Separate electorates were continued as
15. One-third Muslim representation in the Central
Legislature was guaranteed.
16. Autonomous provincial governments in 11
provinces, under ministries responsible to
legislatures, would be setup.
17. Burma and Aden were separated from India.
18. The Federal Court was established in the
19. The Reserve Bank of India was established.
Both the Indian National Congress and the Muslim
League opposed the Act, but participated in the
provincial elections of winter 1936-37, conducted under
stipulations of the Act. At the time of independence, the
two dominions of India and Pakistan accepted the Act of
1935, with few amendments, as their provisional