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Simon Commission 1927

The British government sent seven members of the parliament to India to mull over the constitutional reforms by the British government. It was called Simon Commission on the name of John Simon who chaired the seven-member commission. The other six members were Clement Atlee, Harry levy-Lawson, Edward Cadogan, Vernon Hartshorne, George Lane-Fox, and Donald Howard. Interestingly enough, the Commission did not include any Indian in their meditation on India’s future.

Consequently it was vehemently disfavored by the Indians. Both Muslim League and Congress took it as an insult to injury because it implied that the Indians were unable to think over and decide upon their own future.

Prior to the Commission, dyarchy system had been introduced by the British Government in the form of Minto-Morley Reforms I909. In the late 20s the Conservative Party feared a defeat at the hands of the Labor Party in the elections. In the Khilafat Movement, the Indians especially the Muslims demanded a support from the British Government to the Ottoman Empire but the demand stayed unanswered. Instead the Muslim leaders were put behind the bars.

The Simon Commission recommended that:

  • The new constitution should have the flexibility to make plans. It needs self-growth and diversity to cover the multiple natures of Indian issues. Also it should be need-oriented rather than being scheduled. “The Preamble to the Government of India declares that progress in giving effect to the policy of the progressive realization of responsible government in British India can only be achieved by successive stages; but there is no reason why the length of these successive stages should be defined in advance, or why every stage should be marked by a commission of enquiry”. (Simon Report Vol. 2 P.5).
  • Interests of the minorities, maintenance of order and peace should be given importance and the special powers should be granted to the governors for these purposes while the ministers who are responsible to the legislature, should be given the provincial responsibilities.
  • A federal union should be constituted including the Prince States and the British India.
  • Legislature should be enlarged and the political awareness of the Indian people should be increased and enhanced. Dyarchy at the center was strongly opposed by the Commission.

The Commission was greeted with a fervent criticism as it totally ignored the Indians. Black flags were hoisted against it. A resolution was moved against it in the Legislative Assembly of the Punjab by Lala Rajpat Rai. The diarchy was abolished as the consequence of the Commission and the Government of India Act was forethought.

About SAIMA ASHRAF

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