Montague Chelmsford Reforms


Montague Chelmsford Reforms

Prelude to Montague Chelmsford

  • Lord Chelmsford was made Viceroy of India in 1916 and Samuel Montague was made Secretary of State for Government of India in 1917. 
  • After the end of World War I Indian nationalist were pressurizing British government for the ultimate goal of Self Government.
  • Montagu Declaration also known as August Declaration reads  “Increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration and the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire“.

Montague Chelmsford Reforms Provisions:

  • Montague Chelmsford Reforms also known as Government of India Act, 1919 came into force in 1921.
  • It extended the provision of Separate Electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo Indians and Europeans. 
  • It created a new office of the High Commissioner for India in London.  
  • It provided for the establishment of a Public Service Commission. Central Public Service Commission was set up in 1926.
  • It provided for the appointment of a statutory commission after 10 years of coming into force of Government of India Act,1919.

Provincial Government


  • Introduced Dyarchy at the Provincial Level. Dyarchy is the system of Double Government introduced by the Government of India Act (1919) for the provinces of British India.
  • Subjects were divided into two lists- ‘Reserved list and Transferred list’. 
  • Reserved list includes subjects such as law and order, finance, land revenue, irrigation, etc. Subjects under the Reserved list were administered by the Governor through his executive council of bureaucrats. 
  • Whereas transferred list includes subjects such as education, health, local government, industry, agriculture, etc. Subjects under transferred list were to be administered by  ministers nominated by the elected members of the legislative council.
  • Ministers were responsible to the legislature.
  • In case of failure of Constitutional Machinery in the province the Governor could take over the administration of the “Transferred subjects” also.


  • 70% of the members of the Provincial Legislative Councils were to be elected.
  • The Legislative Council could initiate legislation but governor’s assent was must. Governor could veto bills and issue ordinances.

Central Government


  • There were two lists for administration-central and provincial.
  • It required three of eight members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council to be Indians.
  • The Governor General retained full control over the reserved subjects of the provinces.


  • It was first time Bicameralism was introduced  in the country.
  • Lower house known as Central Legislative Assembly would be introduced consisting of 145 members(41 nominated and 104 elected). It would have a tenure of 3 years.
  • Upper house also known as The council of State had a tenure of 5 years and consists of only male members. 

Limitations of Montagu Chelmsford Reforms:

  • Indians had asked for “Self Government” but what they actually got is “Responsible Government”.
  • Legislature has no control over the Governor General and his Executive Council.
  • Allocation of seats for Central Legislature to provinces was unsatisfactory. Provinces like Punjab and Bombay were allocated more seats because of its military and commercial importance respectively.
  • Provincial ministers had no control over the finances and many a times they were overruled by the Governor on any important matter.
  • Congress in a special session in August 1918 declared the reforms as ‘disappointing’ and ‘unsatisfactory’.


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