Government of India Act 1935 - Provisions, Purpose, Features of GOI Act 1935 | UPSC Notes 

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : September 23rd, 2022

Government of India Act 1935 was passed by the British Parliament, marking the milestone toward a completely responsible Indian government. The 1935 Act was a detailed document that consisted of 321 sections and 10 schedules. It was the GOI Act 1935 that demolished the concept of dyarchy introduced by the Government of India Act 1990 and shaved the formation of a Federation of India that would include the provinces of British India and princely states in some or all cases.

The Government of India Act 1935 Notes have been compiled for the upcoming UPSC Exam as it is an important part of Modern History that comes under Paper 4 of the General Studies of UPSC Exam.

Table of Content

What is Government of India Act 1935?

In August 1935 the British Parliament passed the Govt of India Act 1935 which at that time, was the longest act enacted by the parliament of Britain. Namely, the 1935 Government of India Act and the Government of Burma Act 1935 are two separate acts that were divided by it.

Government of India Act 1935 PDF

  • The main aim of the Government of India Act 1935 was to make further provisions for the Indian Government which was finally repealed in India on 26th January 1950.
  • The Government of India Act 1919 was ended by this Act.
  • The major benefit was that the Government of India Act 1935 was the first to provide the provinces with autonomous status by giving them freedom from external or British interference.
  • Another major benefit was that more voting rights were given to people this time than in the Government of India Act 1919.

Govt of India Act 1935 Highlights

Some of the important highlight of the Gov of India Act 1935 are mentioned below.

Government of India Act 1935

Aim of the GOI Act 1935

To establish the Federation of India and end the dyarchy. 

Territorial Extent of Act 1935

All Territories under direct British control 

Enacted by

Parliament of United Kingdom

Royal Assent Date

24th July 1935

Commenced on 

1st April 1937

Status of Govt of India Act 1935

Repealed on 26th January 1950 in India

History of GOI Act 1935

For the self-government form to be imposed on India, the Government of India Act 1919 was insufficient and did not provide enough provisions. There was frustration among the Indian officials at that duration since they believed the area they were controlling officially was still in the hands of British officials.

  • Therefore the Simon Commission was tasked with reviewing and amending this matter.
  • There had been some criticism of the Simon Commission report, leading to the Round table conference in London where the Indian community representatives were consulted on this matter.
  • However, this round table conference failed, as it could not meet its goal. The Round table conference issued a white paper in 1933 recommending a constitution of India to be drafted.
  • The committee headed by Viceroy Linlithgow discussed the white paper’s recommendations.
  • The report prepared by the committee was published in 1934 and incorporated a bill of law. The British Parliament successfully passed this report and bill. Later on, this Act was enacted into law after it received the Royal Assent in 1935 as the government of India Act.
  • Later on, Indian federalism was established by theGovernment Act 1935.

So it can be said that the Government Act of 1935 was prepared from 4 sources which were 

  • Simon Commission report 
  • Third round table conference discussions 
  • The white paper issued in 1933
  • The joint select committees' report

Objectives of Government of India Act 1935

  • The Govt of India Act 1935 abolished the dyarchy system imposed by the government of India Act 1990 and established the Federation of India, having provinces and princely states.
  • Despite this, the Federation of India was not able to be formed since there were not a sufficient number of princely states.
  • The main motto behind the Act of 1935 was to establish an Indian Federation consisting of the governors and Chief commissioners of provinces of British India that joined voluntarily.

Provisions of Government of India Act 1935

All the provisions of the Gov of India Act 1935 have been discussed below

All India Federation

  • Several British Indian provinces, as well as Indian states, joined together to form an All-India Federation. A state was eligible to be part of the Federation only under the conditions specified in the instrument of accession.
  • Under the Government of India Act 1935, the states were absolutely free to connect with the Federation of India at their discretion.
  • The act stipulates that India can become a federal country if half of its states agree to join it. But due to the lack of princely states joining the Federation of India the provisions regarding the Federation were not implemented.

Provincial Autonomy

  • In addition to marking the beginning of prevention autonomy, the new act had one redeeming feature, which was that the provinces were free to act as autonomous administrative units in the spheres defined for them.
  • In fact, the app required the provincial legislature to be formed on the advice of the Governor by the responsible government in each province.
  • The duration of this program was very short as 1937 marked the beginning of it and in 1939 it was discontinued. As a result of the Act of 1935, the provinces do not have a truly responsible government.
  • Despite ministerial control, the departments were not fully under the control of the ministers. There were a variety of overriding powers that were retained by the governors but a few of them were used.

Division of the Subject

  • The Government of India Act 1935 revised the division of subjects and added some more subjects between the Centre and the Provinces.
  • The subjects were divided into three lists-
    • The federal list has 59 items.
    • The provincial list has 54 items.
    • The concurrent list has 36 items.
  • The provincial legislature was solely responsible for the subjects on the Provincial List.
  • As a result of the act, both federal and provincial legislature was empowered to enact legislation on certain topics, and in case of disagreement, the federal law would prevail.

Dyarchy at the Centre

The Government of India Act 1935 abolished the system of dyarchy, that was introduced by the GOI Act 1919, and introduced two types of federal subjects-

  1. The Reserved Subject, where the subjects were to be administered by the Governor General.
  2. The Transferred Subject, where the subjects were to be administered by the council of ministers, and the count of ministers in a council could not exceed 10.

Supremacy of the Parliament

  • The Government of India Act 1935 was very rigid in nature as any Indian legislature, whether Federal or temporary, could not change or amend the 1935 Act.
  • Changing any law under the Government of India Act 1935 was solely the responsibility of the British government.
  • It won't be wrong to say that the British Parliament imposed the 1935 Act on India.

Bicameral Legislature

  • To adjudicate disputes relating to federal matters, there was a provision for establishing a Federal Court under the Government of India Act 1935.
  • Some other provisions of the Government of India Act 1935 are- provided to control the currency and credit of the country and established the Reserve Bank of India. There is also provision for establishing a Federal Public Service Commission, a Provincial Service Commission, and a Joint Public Service Commission.

Features of Govt of India Act 1935

Following are the features of the Government of India Act 1935-

  • The Government of India Act 1935 divided the powers among the centre and states in terms of three lists: federal, provincial, and concurrent. The residual powers were provided to the viceroy of India, but the concept of a Federation was not a success as the princely states did not join it.
  • This act demolished the dyarchy system in the states and introduced provincial autonomy as a replacement for it. These provinces were provided with their own defined spheres and could act as the autonomous administration units in them. Also, with this, the government became more responsible in the provinces as the Governor was required to act by taking advice from the ministers from the cabinet.
  • This act introduced bicameralism in 6 provinces- Bengal, Bombay, Madras, Bihar, and Assam. These provinces were made bicameral and consisted of upper and lower houses.
  • It provided separate electorates for some special classes like the Schedule Caste labour class and women to increase the principle of communal representation.
  • It increases the voting rights of people by extending the franchise to 10% of the total population.
  • To control the finances and monetary policy it, established the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The Government of India Act 1935 established a provincial public service commission, joint Public Service Commission, and Federal Public Service Commission.
  • In 1937 the Government of India Act 1935 established the federal code.
  • Also, this act discarded the Council of India, which was made by the GOI Act 1858. However, the secretary of state of India was assisted by some advisors.

Importance of 1935 Government of India Act

  • Act of 1935 curtails the power centralized with the Union Government and distributes it to the regional governments.
  • There were separate electorates for the worker and women, that allowed them for their own representations.
  • It was the first moment when the provinces were given the title of an autonomous state.
  • Compared to the Government of India Act 1919, the Government of India Act 1935 provided more people with voting rights.
  • The concept of the Public Service Commission(presently in Article 315) was adopted under the Indian Government Act 1935.
  • In 1935, the GOI Act provided for the appointment of the governor.

Failure of Government of India Act 1935

  • The Govt of India Act 1935 provides so many non-mandatory powers to the Governors and Governor-General.
  • There was a fundamental flaw in the proposed formation of the federation.
  • As a result, the legislation was unable to provide individuals with constitutional flexibility.
  • The act did not provide a proper federal structure because most of the powers were withheld by the Governor-General.

Govt of India Act 1935 UPSC

Government of India Act 1935 is an important topic in the History Syllabus for UPSC and is relevant for UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains. To prepare this or other relevant topics related to modern history, you can also download the NCERT Books for UPSC and other UPSC Books. Candidates preparing for the upcoming IAS Exam can also download UPSC Previous Year Question Paper and other UPSC Study Materials to level up their preparation.

Government of India Act 1935 Notes UPSC

Government of India Act 1935 UPSC Question

Question- 2005 Prelim Ques- The Government of India Act, 1935 provided for-

  1. The provincial autonomy.
  2. The establishment of a Federal court.
  3. All India Federation at the centre.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Answer- D

Question- UPSC 2010 Question- The "Instrument of Instructions" contained in the Government of India Act, 1935 have been incorporated in the Constitution of India in the year 1950 as -

  1. Fundamental Rights
  2. Directive Principles of State Policy
  3. The extent of executive power of the State
  4. Conduct of business of the Government of India

Answer- B

Question- Sample Prelims Question- Which of the following statements is/are correct about the Government of Indian Act, 1935?

  1. It was the outcome of the Round Table conference.
  2. It recommended dyarchy at the Centre.
  3. It proposed the establishment of an All India Federation based on the Union of the provinces of the British.

Select the correct answer using the code given below

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 3 only
  4. All of the above

Answer- D

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FAQs on Government of India Act 1935

  • The Government of India Act 1935 is an act passed by the British Parliament to replace the Government of India Act 1919 in August 1935 to provide the establishment of the Federation of India.

  • The key features and Government of India Act 1935 Purpose was Dyarchy system in Central, Provincial Autonomy, Separation of Burma from India, the Largest Source of Indian Constitution, etc.

  • All India Federation consisted of provinces and princely states established by the Government of India Act 1935, and the decision of the state to join the federation was discretionary.

  • The Government of India Act 1935 failed because it was opposed by both the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League. Morover, the provincial governors retained more important powers than the elected government.

  • The GOI Act 1935 introduced Provincial autonomy, diarchy at the center, Bicameral legislature, Federal court and Indian Council

  • The 1935 GOI Act segregated the powers between the center and the provinces. The act introduced three lists- federal, provincial, and concurrent.

  • GOI Act 1935 UPSC Notes can be downloaded using the link mentioned here. The note on the Government of India Act 1935 includes in detail the provisions, features, importance, and drawbacks of the act.

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