During the First World War Britain and her allies said that they were fighting for the freedom of the
nations. The Indian leaders believed that after the war was over India would be given freedom. The
British government had no intention to do so. Changes in the administrative system were made which
resulted in the Montague-Chelmsford reforms, called the Government of India Act 1919.
The main features of the Monford Reforms were as follows:
Provisional Government- Introduction of Diarchy:
● Diarchy means the rule of two was introduced- executive councilors and popular ministers. The
executive head of the province was to be the governor.
● All subjects were divided into two lists the reserved and the transferred. The reserved list included subjects like law and order, finance, irrigation, etc and transferred subjects were education, health, industry, agriculture, local government, excise, etc. Reserved subjects were to be administered by the governor through his executive council of bureaucrats and the transferred subjects were to be administered by the ministers nominated from among the elected members of the legislative council.
● The executive were councilors were not responsible to the legislature whereas the ministers were directly responsible to the legislature and if a no-confidence motion was passed against them they had to resign.
● The governor had the power to take over the administration of the transferred subjects too in case there was a failure in the constitutional machinery.
● In the case of the reserved subjects, the secretary of state and the governor-general could interfere whereas in the case of transferred subjects their interference was restricted. Legislature:
● The Provincial legislative councils were expanded and 70%of their members were to be elected
● Women were now given the right to vote.
● Now the system of communal and class electorates was further combined.
● The legislative councils could initiate legislation but the approval of the Governor was required.
● The Governor could issue ordinances.
● The Legislative councils could reject the budget but the Governor had the power to Restore it if needed
● Freedom of speech was enjoyed by the legislators. The Central Government – Still Without Responsible Government:
● Chief Executive Authority was in the hands of the governor-general.
● Two lists for administration- The central and the provincial.
● Three members out of eight were to be Indians in the viceroy’s executive council.
● The reserved subjects in the provinces were fully controlled by the governor-general.
● The governor-general could certify bills rejected by the central legislature, restore cuts in grants
and issue ordinances.
● A bicameral legislature was introduced where the lower house or the central legislative assembly consisted of 144 members in which 41 nominated and 103 were elected members which consisted of 52 general, 30 Muslims, 2 Sikhs and 20 were special members and the upper house of the council of state would have 60 members in which 26 nominated and 34 were elected and consisted of 20 General, 10 Muslims, 3 Europeans, and one Sikh.
● The tenure of the Council of State was for 5 years and consisted of male members only while the
Central Legislative Assembly had tenure for 3 years.
● The legislatures had the power to pass adjournment motions, ask questions and vote in a part of
The Congress in August 1918 declared the reforms to be disappointing and unsatisfactory thus,
demanded effective self-government.
Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms is a very scoring and easy topic for the UPSC 2020 exams and the UPSC 2020 forms last date as of now is 3rd March. Keep yourself updated in case of any changes regarding the examination.