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Indian Council Act 1892

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Indian Council act 1892

The Indian Council Act of 1892 was passed with the intention of increasing the size of various legislative councils in India so that the engagement of Indians with respect to the administration in British India could be increased.

In 1892, Richard Assheton Cross introduced the Indian Council act and it commenced on February 3 1893.

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Indian Councils Act of 1892 represents significant milestones in the constitutional and political history of India. In this article, the Indian Council Act of 1892 is described as included in the syllabus of the Indian Polity and Governance for the UPSC exam.

The growth of the Indian constitution is a story of discontent and agitation interspersed with Council Reforms after the act of 1861 but these reforms were found to be insufficient that were unwillingly accepted and finally resulted in respect dissatisfaction and a demand for more reforms.

In 1985, the Indian National Congress was established. During the 1885-1889 session, Indian National Congress offered a number of demands to the British government. And one of the main demands was the reform of the legislative councils and they also wanted the principal of the election instead of nomination.

Also, the Indian National Congress wanted the right to hold discussions on final matters which was formerly not allowed. Lord Dufferin, the viceroy at the time, set up a committee to investigate the matter but the Secretary of State did not agree to the plan of direct elections. Therefore, Viceroy agreed to representation by way of indirect election.

Provisions

Indian Council act increased the number of additional or non-official members in the legislative Council as given below:

  • Central Legislative Council- 10 to 16 members
  • Bengal- 20 members
  • Madras- 20 members
  • Bombay- 8 members
  • Oudh- 15 members
  • North Western Province- 15

Only 5 were Indians out of 24 members in 1892. The members were given the right to ask questions on the budget or matters of public interest but they had to give notice 6 days prior and they could not ask supplementary questions.

Also, the principle of representation was initiated through the Indian Council Act. The universities, district boards, municipalities, chambers of commerce and zamindars were sanctioned to recommend members to the provincial councils. The legislative Council were authorised to make new laws and repeal old laws with the consent of the Governor-General.

Evaluation of the Indian Council act

This act was the first step towards a representative form of government in modern India. However, there was nothing in it for the common people. The positive step was that the number of Indians increased.

This act led to the rise of many revolutionary movements in India. Many freedom fighters like Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded aggressive policy against British rule and blamed Congress’ moderate policy of petition and persuasions for a lack of positive developments.

Significance of the Indian Council act

In spite of the fact that Indians did not have the power to veto the majority, their opinions were heard.

In 1892, the principle of election was accepted and it allowed non-officials to have a free and open discussion on the government’s financial strategy.

Subsequently, the administration had an opportunity to clear up misconceptions and respond to criticism.

Also, the statute gave members of the Council the power to issue interpellations on subjects of public concern.

Defects

Although, it was the first step toward a representative government in modern India but did not provide any benefit to the common man.

Despite this fact, the Indian Council Act is a significant milestone in India’s constitutional political history. This act not only increased the size of various legislative councils in India but also the engagement of Indians with respect to the administration in British India.

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