Modern History Simplified: Indian Councils Act of 1861

Indian Councils Act of 1861
The  Act seeks the cooperation of the Indians in the administration of their country.  Hence the 1861 Act marked an advance in the principle of representatives of non-officials in legislative bodies.
Features of the Act
  1. Beginning of associating Indians in the law-making process. It thus provided that the viceroy should nominate some Indians as non official members of his expanded council.
  2. Process of Decentralisation was initiated. For instance, the Act restored the legislative powers to the Bombay and Madras presidencies. [This Act reversed the centralising tendency that started from the Regulating Act 1773 and which reached its climax under the Charter Act of 1833]
  3. The portfolio system introduced by Lord Canning laid the foundations of cabinet government in India. The Portfolio system includes each branch of the administration having its official head and spokesman in the government, who was responsible for its administration.
  4. The Act empowered Viceroy to issue Ordinances without the concurrence of the legislative council, during an emergency. 
  1. Indians associated as non-officials were members of elite sections only.
  2. The legislative councils could not discuss important matters and no financial matters at all without previous approval of the government. 
  3. The legislative councils had no control over the budget
  4. The legislative councils could not discuss executive action
  5. Final passing of the bill needed viceroy’s approval. Even if approved by the viceroy, the secretary of state could disallow legislation. 

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