The Congress-League Scheme 1916, also known as the Lucknow Pact, was a document jointly drafted by the Indian National Congress and the All India Muslim League. In 1913, the League at its Lucknow session – which Mohammad Ali Jinnah attended for the first time - decided to cooperate with the Congress and join in on calls for ‘self-government’. The Congress, in the same year, held its 28th session at Bombay. At this session, which Jinnah attended as a delegate, the Congress appreciated the League’s stance on self-government and laid the foundation for collaboration between the League and the Congress.
Jinnah and Wazir Khan, the nationalist members of the League, ensured that the annual sessions of the Congress and the League happened at the same time and place (Bombay, 1915) and organised a joint meeting between both parties. At this meeting, both political organisations agreed to work together on a scheme that demanded self-government and put pressure on the British. They jointly appointed committees for this purpose; the committees met in Lucknow and Calcutta prepared a scheme of reforms. The Congress and the League endorsed these reforms at their respective annual sessions at Lucknow in 1916 - these reforms came to be known as the Congress-League Scheme 1916.
The document was organised around seven parts; four dealt with the composition and functioning of the legislature and executive at the provincial and federal levels. The other three were titled: Secretary of State, India and the Empire, and Military and Other Matters.
The document proposed separate electorates and proportional representation for minorities, especially Muslims, at the provincial and federal legislatures. Other notable aspects of the document included: calls for equality with other British dominions, the abolishing of the Council of the Secretary of State and the ban on members of the Indian Civil Service from occupying political positions in government. Unlike many other Indian Historical Constitutions, this document contained no articulations of rights.
Hugh Owen in ‘Negotiating the Lucknow Pact’ (The Journal of Asian Studies, 1972), argues that the Congress-League Scheme 1916 ‘ushered in a period of Hindu Muslim cooperation culminating in the Khilafat Agitation of 120-21’. While the document did garner attention, it did not manage to persuade the British in introducing self-government. It was overshadowed by ‘Montague-Chelmsford’ reforms that became the basis of the Government of India Act 1919. The British claimed this Act introduced self-government - leaders of the freedom movement disagreed.
I - PROVINCIAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCILS
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PROVINCIAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCILS shall consist of four-ﬁfths elected and of one-ﬁfth nominated members.
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2. There shall be not less than 125 members in the major Provinces, and from 50 to 75 in the minor provinces.
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3. The members of Councils should be elected by the people on as broad a franchise as possible.
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4. Adequate provision should be made for the representation of important minorities by election, and the Mohamedans should be represented through special electorates on the Provincial Legislative Councils in the following proportions:
Punjab ……………One-half the elected members
United Provinces….30 %
Bombay……………..One-third the elected members
Provided that no Mohamedan shall participate in any of the other elections to the Imperial or Provincial Legislative Councils, save and except those by electorates representing special interests:
Provided that further no bill, nor any clause thereof, nor a resolution introduced by non-ofﬁcial members affecting one or the other community, which question is to be determined by the members of that community in the Legislative Council concerned, shall be proceeded with, if three- fourths of the members of that community in the particular Council, Imperial or Provincial, oppose the bill or any claim thereof or the resolution.
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5. The head of the Provincial Government should not be the President of the Legislative Council but the Council should have the right of electing its President
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6. The right of asking supplementary questions should not be restricted to the member putting the original question but should be allowed to be exercised by any other member.
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7. (a) Except customs, post, telegraph, mint, salt, opium, railways, army and navy. and tributes from Indian States, all other sources of revenue should be provincial.
(b) There should be no divided heads of revenues. The Government of India should be provided with ﬁxed contributions from the Provincial Governments, such fixed contributions being liable to revision when extraordinary and unforeseen contingencies render such revision necessary.
(c) The Provincial Council should have full authority to deal with all matters affecting the internal administration of the province including the power to raise loans, to impose taxation, and to vote on the Budget. All items of expenditure, and all proposals concerning ways and means of raising the necessary revenue, should be embodied in Bills and submitted to the Provincial Council for adoption.
(d) Resolutions on all matters within the purview of the Provincial Government should be allowed for discussion in accordance with rules made in that behalf by the Council itself.
(e) A resolution passed by the Provincial Legislative Council shall be binding on the executive Government unless vetoed by the Governor in Council, provided however that if the resolution is again passed by the Council after an interval of not less than one year, it must be given effect to.
(f) A motion for adjournment may be brought forward for the discussion of a definite matter of urgent public importance, if supported by not less than one-eighth of the members present.
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8. A special meeting of the Provincial Council may be summoned on requisition by not less than one-eighth of the members.
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9. A Bill, other than a Money Bill, may be introduced in Council in accordance with rules made in that behalf by the Council itself and the consent of the Government should not be required therefor.
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10. All Bills passed by Provincial Legislatures shall have to receive the assent of the Governor before they become law, but may be vetoed by the Governor-General.
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11. The term of office of the members shall be ﬁve years.
II - PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS
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l. The head of every Provincial Government shall be a Governor who shall not ordinarily belong to the Indian Civil Service or any of the permanent services.
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2. There shall be in every Province an Executive Council which, with the Governor, shall constitute the Executive Government of the Province.
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3. Members of the Indian Civil Service shall not ordinarily be appointed to the Executive Councils.
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4. Not less than one-half of the members of the Executive Council shall consist of Indians to be elected by the elected members of the Provincial Legislative Council.
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5. The term of office of the members shall be ﬁve years.
III - IMPERIAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
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l. The strength of the Imperial Legislative Council shall be 150.
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2. Four-ﬁfths of the members shall be elected.
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3. The franchise for the Imperial Legislative Council should be widened as far its possible on the lines of electorates for Mohammedans for the Provincial Legislative Councils, and the elected members of the Provincial Legislative Councils should also form an electorate for the return of members to the Imperial Legislative Council.
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4. One-third of the Indian elected members should be Mohammedan, elected by separate Mohammedan electorates in the several Provinces, in the proportion, as nearly as may be, in which they are represented in the Provincial Legislative Councils by separate Mohammedan electorates vide proviso to section 1, clause 4.
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5. The President of the Council shall be elected by the Council itself.
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6. The right of asking supplementary questions shall not be restricted to the member putting the original question but should be allowed to be exercised by any other member.
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7. A special meeting of the Council may be summoned on a requisition by not less than one-eighth of the members.
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8. A Bill, other than a Money Bill, may be introduced in Council in accordance with rules made in that behalf by the Council itself, and the Consent of the Executive Government should not be required therefor.
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9. All Bills passed by the Council shall have to receive the assent of the Governor-General before they become law.
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10. All ﬁnancial proposals relating to sources of income and items of expenditure shall be embodied in Bills. Every such Bill and the Budget as a whole shall be submitted for the vote of the Imperial Legislative Council.
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11. The term of ofﬁce of members shall be ﬁve years.
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12. The matters mentioned herein below shall be exclusively under the control of the Imperial Legislative Council.
(a) Matters in regard to which uniform legislation for the whole of India is desirable
(b) Provincial legislation in so far as it may affect inter-provincial ﬁscal relations
(c) Questions affecting purely Imperial Revenue, excepting tributes from Indian States
(d) Questions affecting purely Imperial expenditure, except that no resolutions of the Imperial Legislative Conncil shall be binding on the Governor-General in Council in respect of military charges for the defence of the country.
(e) Ther right of revising Indian tariffs and customs - duties, of imposing altering, or removing any tax or cess, modifying the existing system of currency and banking, and getting any aids or bounties to any or all deserving and nascent industries of the country.
(f) Resolutions on all matters relating to the administration of the country as a whole.
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13. A Resolution passed by the Legislative Council should be binding on the Executive Government, unless vetoed by the Governor-General in Council; provided however that if the resolution is again passed by the Council after an interval of not less than one year, it must be given effect to.
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14. A motion for adjournment may be brought forward for discussion of a definite matter of urgent public importance, if supported by not less than one-eighth of the members present.
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15. When the Crown chooses to exercise its power of veto in regard to a Bill passed by a Provincial Legislative Council, or by the Imperial Legislative Council, it should be exercised within twelve months from the date on which it is passed and the Bill shall cease to have effect as from the date on which the fact of such veto is made known to the Legislative Council concerned.
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16. The Imperial Legislative Council shall have no power to interfere with the Government of India’s direction of the military affairs and the foreign and political relations of India, includlng the declaration of war, the making of peace and entering into treaties.
IV - THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
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l. The Governor-General of India will be the head of the Government of India.
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2. He will have an Executive Council, half of whom shall be Indians.
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3. The Indian members should be elected by the elected members of the Imperial Legislative Council.
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4. Members of the Indian Civil Service shall not ordinarily be appointed to the Executive Council of the Governor-General.
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5. The power of making appointments with Imperial Civil Services shall vest in the Government of India; as constituted under this scheme, due regard being paid to existing interests, subject to any laws that may be made bv the Imperial Legislative Council. ##civil service, government service, public service, appointment
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6. The Government of India shall not ordinarily interfere in the local affairs of a province, and powers not specially given to Provincial Governments, shall be deemed to be vested in the former. The authority of the Government of India will ordinarily be limited to general supervision and superintendence over the Provincial Governments.
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7. In legislative and administrative matters the Government of India as constituted under this scheme, shall as far as possible, be independent of the Secretary of State.
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8. A system of independent audit of the accounts of the Government of India should be instituted.
V-THE SECRETARY OF STATE IN COUNCIL
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1. The Council of the Secretary of State for India should be abolished.
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2. The salary of the Secretary of State should be placed in British Estimates.
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3. The Secretary of State should, as far as possible, occupy the same position in relation to the Government of India, as the Secretary of State for the Colonies does in relation to the Governments of self-governing Dominions..
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4. The Secretary of State of India should be assisted by the two permanent Under-Secretaries, one of whom should always be an Indian .
VI - INDIA AND THE EMPIRE
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1. In any Council or other body which may be constituted or convened for the settlement or control of Imperial affairs, India shall be adequately represented in like manner with the Dominions and with equal rights.
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2. Indians should be placed on a footing of equality in respect of status and rights of citizenship with other subjects of His Majesty the King throughout the Empire.
VII - MILITARY AND OTHER MATTERS
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1. The military and naval services of His Majesty both in their commissioned and non-commissioned ranks, should be thrown open to Indians and adequate provision should be made for their selection, training and instruction in India.
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2. Indians should be allowed to enlist as volunteers.
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3. Executive officers in India shall have no judicial powers entrusted to them and the judiciary in every province shall be placed under the highest court of that province.