Indian Councils Act of 1909

Indian Councils Act of 1909 is also known as Morley-Minto Reforms. It was named after Lord Morley, the then secretary of state for India, and Lord Minto, the then viceroy of India.

The Morley-Minto Reforms were announced only to placate the moderate nationalists. It was a part of the policy of dividing Hindus and Muslims and thus maintaining British supremacy in India. The Indian Councils Act of 1909 checked the progress of India’s unification which had been a continuous historical process.

Features of the Indian Councils Act of 1909

  • This act considerably increased the size of the legislative councils, both Central and provincial. The number of members in the Central legislative council increased from 16 to 60. The number of members in the provincial legislative councils was not uniform.
  • The Act retained the official majority in the Central legislative council but allowed the provincial legislative councils to have a non-official majority.
  • The Act enlarged the deliberative functions of the legislative councils at both levels. For example, the members were allowed to ask supplementary questions, move resolutions on the budget, and so on.
  • For the first time, it provided the association of Indians with the executive council of the viceroy and governors.
  • Satyendra Prasad Sinha became the first Indian to join the Viceroy’s executive council. Mr. Sinha was appointed as the law member.
  • Indian Councils Act of 1909 introduced a system of communal representation of Muslims as it accepted the concept of a ‘Separate Electorate’ (as per the demand of the Muslim League), Muslim members were to be elected by only Muslim voters.
  • This Act ‘legalized communalism’ and Lord Minto came to be known as the “Father of Communal Electorate”. (The introduction of a separate electorate for Muslims was viewed by Congress as an imperial attempt to control through an elective policy of divide and rule.)
  • The Act also provided for separate representation of presidential corporations, Chambers of Commerce, universities, and zamindars.
Indian Councils Act of 1909

Indian Councils Act of 1909

Evaluation of Morley-Minto Reforms

  • As the reform increased the number of elected members but most of the members were elected indirectly, by the provincial council in the case of the Imperial Council and Municipal committees and district boards in the case of the provincial council.
  • For instance of the 68 members of the Imperial Legislative Council, 36 were officials, and 5 were nominated non-officials. Of the 27 elected members, 6 were to represent the big landlords, and 2 were the British capitalists. Moreover, the reformed councils still enjoyed no real power, being merely advisory bodies.
  • The reform did not change the fact of foreign economic exploitation of the country.
  • The real purpose of the Reforms of 1909 was to confuse the moderate nationalists and to divide the growth of unity among Indians.
  • The separate electorate for Muslims was a part of the policy of dividing Hindus and Muslims and thus maintained British Supremacy in India. The system of a separate electorate proved extremely harmful in practice. It checked the Indian progress of unification, which became a potent factor in the growth of communalism i.e. both Muslim and Hindu in the country.
  • The reform prevented people from concentrating on economic and political problems which were common to all Indians, Hindu or Muslim.
  • The moderate nationalists did not fully support the Morley-Minto Reforms, but they decided to cooperate with the government in working on this reform.
  • The cooperation of moderates with this reform proved very costly to them. They gradually lost the respect and support of the public and were reduced to a small political group.

You can also read:


Thank you

Spread Your Love

1 Comment

Constitutional Development of India - PCSSTUDIES Polity · June 3, 2023 at 2:02 am

[…] Indian Council Act 1909- (Morley-Minto Reforms) […]

  • Leave a Reply