Indian Council Act 1861

Indian Council Act 1861
Posted on 11-06-2022

Indian Councils Act 1861: The Indian Councils Act 1861 was passed by the British Parliament on 1 August 1861. After the revolution of 1857, the British government realized that the cooperation of Indians was necessary to run the rule in India. For this policy of cooperation, the British Parliament passed the India Council Act in 1861.

Indian Councils Act – 1861

The main points of this act are as follows –

  • This marked the beginning of the involvement of Indian representatives in the process of making laws.
  • By this act, a fifth member was added to the Viceroy's Council as a jurist.
  • The Viceroy's Council was expanded in accordance with the provisions of this Act. Additional members were added for law-making, whose number could be a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12. The tenure of these members was 2 years. In this way, the total number of members in the Viceroy's Council increased to 17.
  • Half of the nominated members were required to be non-official. The Viceroy could nominate some Indians as private members in the expanded council.
  • According to the provisions of this Act, there was no compulsion for the members of the expanded Council of the Viceroy to be Indian. But in practice, the elite Indian was added to it, in 1862 Lord Canning nominated three Indians - the Raja of Benares, the Maharaja of Patiala, and Sir Dinkar Rao - to the Legislative Council.
  • This act started the process of decentralization by re-granting legislative powers to the Madras and Bombay Presidencies.
  • Thus this act reversed the tendency of centralization initiated by the Regulating Act 1773.
  • Due to this legislative development policy, the provinces got complete internal autonomy by 1937.
  • Legislative Councils were formed in Bengal-1862, in North Western Frontier Province-1866, and Punjab-1867.
  • It gave powers to the Viceroy to make more rules and orders for the conduct of business in the Council.
  • This authorized the Viceroy to issue ordinances in times of emergency without the recommendation of the Council. The duration of such an ordinance was only six months.
  • According to this act, the Viceroy could now form new provinces for administrative and legislative functions and appoint lieutenant governors for them.
  • Also recognized was the portfolio system introduced by Lord Canning in 1859.
    • Portfolio System - Under this, a member of the Viceroy's Council could be placed in charge of one or more government departments and he had the right to pass final orders on behalf of the council in this department.
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