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Indian Councils Act, 1909 (Morley- Minto Reforms)

In Unacademy’s Morley-Minto Reforms UPSC notes, you can read about the Indian Council Act 1909, the main features of the Morley-Minto reforms, and its significance in India.

The Indian Councils Act of 1909 or the 1909 Morley-Minto Reforms were reforms that the British Parliament enacted. The reforms introduced Indian participation in the Secretary of State’s council, Bombay and Madras’ executive councils, the viceroy’s executive council, and the legislature. 

What were the Morley-Minto Reforms? 

The 1909 Morley-Minto Reforms was formulated by John Morley, the secretary of state of India (1905-1910), following discussions with Lord Minto, the viceroy of India (1905-1910). 

John Morley was able to bring significant innovations to the legislative machinery of the Indian Government to implement Queen Victoria’s promise of equality of opportunity. With the help of Krishna G. Gupta (Indian Civil Service officer) and Sayyid Husain Bilgrami (member of the Indian Muslim League), John Morley was able to bring a resolution in the British parliament. 

The Indian Councils Act 1909 only authorized a small minority of Indians with property ownership and education to stand for elections. In the 1910 legislative council elections, 135 Indians were elected as representatives throughout India. The 1909 Morley-Minto reforms also increased the cap on membership of the Imperial Legislative Council and in the provincial councils of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras. The reforms also introduced the provision of separate electorates for Muslims. 

Main Features of Morley-Minto Reforms:

  • One of the main features of the Morley-Minto reforms was that they introduced separate electorates for landlords and Muslims
  • The viceroy’s executive council could elect only one Indian member. Satyendra P. Sinha was the first Indian member appointed to the ruler’s executive committee
  • The reforms introduced separate representatives for universities, zamindars, and chambers of commerce
  • The provisions of the reforms increased the size of Indian representation in the legislative councils in the provinces and at the Center level

Importance of Morley-Minto Reforms: 

  • Indian representatives to the councils were allowed to introduce legislative proposals 
  • The reforms empowered Indian members of the councils to question aspects of the annual budget
  • The act played a significant role in creating a responsible rapport between the elected Indian officials and the British administration

The Indian Council Act 1909, brought changes to the British legislature.

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