Indian Councils Act 1861- Restoration of Law Making Powers of Madras and Bombay

The Governments of Madras and Bombay were deprived of their power of legislation by Charter act of 1833. The Indian Councils Act 1861 restored this power to them. This act is known to have made notable changes in the composition of the Governor General’s council for executive & legislative Purposes.

The council of the Governor General of India performed dual functions of executive and legislature. For executive functions the notable change was that Council of the Governor General was expanded and a fifth member was added. For the purpose of Legislation, the Governor General’s Council was restructured. Now the additional new NOT less than 6 and NOT more than 12 members were now to be nominated by the Governor General and they were to hold the office for two years. Out of these, not less than half were required to be Non-Official. This was a beginning towards the establishment of legislative system by adding legislative non official members to the Council of the Governor General.

However, the functions were limited to the legislation and it had not to do any other function except the consideration or enactment of legislative measures.

It was laid down that without the assent of the Governor General a bill relating to the public revenue or debt, religion, military, naval or foreign relations cannot be passed. However, any such act might be dissolved by the crown acting through the secretary of State of India.

The Indian Councils Act 1861 restored the power of legislation to the governor-in-councils of Madras and Bombay in respective matters. The act also laid down the provision for the formation of legislative councils in other provinces.

With the Indian Councils Act for the first time Portfolio system started. Each member of the Council of the Governor General was allocated portfolio of a particular department. Lord Canning was the First to start a Portfolio system.

The Governor General was authorized to exercise a veto and issue ordinances in a situation of emergency.

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