Indian Council Act 1892

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Indian Council Act 1892| Defect of the Act, Significance of the Act, Conclusion


• This act enlarged the functions of the Legislative Councils. They were authorized to discuss the annual financial statement under certain conditions and restrictions.

• The members of the Councils were given the right to addressing questions to the Government on matters of public interest. A previous notice of 6 days was to be given to the Government for asking a question. The President might disallow any questions without giving any reason.

• The number of additional members in the Council was increased. It was to be not less than 10 and not more than 16 in the case of the Supreme Council and not less than 8 and not more than 20 in the case of Madras and Bombay. The maximum number for Bengal was fixed at 20 and for North- Western Province and Oudh at 15. Two-fifths of the additional members were to be non-officials.

• As a result of the pressure brought by the Indian National Congress the Government agreed to allow elections to be held in India under the rules, though the members so elected could take their seats only after being nominated by the government. It was assured by the government that “under this clause, it will be possible for the Governor-General should find that such a system can properly be established.

Indian Council Act 1892

Defect of the Act:

• Although the Indian Council’s Act of 1892 was the outcome of lot of agitation and patient waiting, it did not give anything substantial to the people of India. No wonder the critics point out many defects. The system of elections was a roundabout one. The people who got into the legislatures by this system did not represent the people in the real sense of the word. They could not sit in the legislatures as a matter of right of election.

• The functions of the Legislative Councils were strictly circumscribed. The members could not ask supplementary questions. The President could refuse the asking of any question, and there was no remedy against his ruling. The Councils did not get any substantial control over the Budget.

• The rule of election was unfair. Certain classes were over-represented, and others did not find any representation at all. In the case of Bombay, out of the six seats two were given the European merchants but nothing was given to the Indian merchants.

• The number of non-official members was very small. Out of 24 members at the centre, 14 were officials, 4 were elected non-officials and 5 were nominated non-officials.

Significance of the Act:

• The achievements of the Act were of quite a great significance. There is no- denying the fact that Indians were not in a position to override the official majority in the Council as they were only one-third of the latter, yet their opinions and views were accorded proper attention; and listened to with great deference.

• The rules and regulations made under the Act required that a certain proportion of the non-official members in each Council should, be nominated by the Head of the Government on the recommendation of certain bodies.

• As already pointed out, of sixteen additional members of the Imperial Legislative Council, five were to be elected. In the Provincial Councils also, the persons recommended by the specified bodies were accepted as a matter of course. Thus, the principle of election was conceded. In this indirect acceptance of the principle of election lies the momentous’ character of the change effected by the Act of 1892.

• Enlargement of the functions of the Legislative Councils in the financial matters was another commendable provision of the Act. The Act of 1861 had not empowered the Councils to criticize and discuss the financial policy of the government. The Act of 1892 enabled the non-officials to have free and full discussions on the financial policy of the government. Thus, the government got an opportunity to remove misapprehensions and meet their criticism.

• The Act empowered the members of the Council to put interpellations on matters of public interest. They could not, however, ask supplementary questions. The restrictions imposed upon interpellation were in no way more comprehensive than those meant for the House of Commons in England. It was indeed a significant advance. The Report on Constitutional Reforms nicely portrays the advance made by the Act of 1892 on that of 1861.


No doubt, the Act did not mark the beginning of parliamentary government in India, yet it is decidedly an important milestone on the road that led to the establishment of the parliamentary government at a later stage. The seed sown in 1892 at a much later date sprouted and grew into a big tree despite the attempts made by the white bureaucrats to sterilise and kill it.

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