militant nationalists and the advocates of Home Rule made the British
government to consider some political concessions for India.
According to the declaration, the policy of the British government was
that of the increasing association of Indians in every branch of the
administration and the gradual development of self-governing institutions,
with a view to the progressive realisation of ‘responsible government’ in
India as an integral part of the British empire. The declaration, in effect,
signified the transformation of the empire into a commonwealth of
Government of India Act of 1919
• The Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, named after their principal co-
sponsors, E. S. Montagu, then Secretary of State for India and Lord
Chelmsford, then Governor-General, were a logical sequel to the
historic Declaration of 20 August 1917.
• Prior to it, the accepted principle of government had been that both
authority as well as responsibility for the governance of India was
vested in the King-in-Parliament, who exercised it through the agency
of the Secretary of State in London, the Governor-General-in-Council
in India and the governors-in-council in the different provinces.
• The association of Indians in the legislative sphere was designed only
to acquaint the rulers with the thoughts and aspirations of the
governed. It was clearly appreciated that, to the extent power had
been constitutionally transferred to Indian hands, intervention by
Parliament and its agents should cease.
• Thus the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled in 1921, that
parliamentary criticism should not extend to ‘transferred’ subjects in
the provinces. As for the central government and the ‘reserved’
subjects in the provinces, since legal responsibility for them vested in
Parliament, there could be no abrogation of control.
• Even here, the Joint Select Committee on the India Bill (1919) ruled
that “in the exercise of his responsibility to Parliament, which he
cannot delegate to anyone else, the Secretary of State may reasonably