Simon Commission

Simon Commission was appointed on Nov. 8, 1927. Sec. 84-A of the Government of India Act, 1919 contained a specific provision for the appointment of a Commission after ten years to examine the working of the dyarchical system of Government. But due to pressing demand of Swarajists in the legislature compelled the British Parliament to appoint a Royal Statutory Commission two years earlier i.e., on Nov. 8, 1927.

Objects for the Appointment of the Commission

The Simon Commission was appointed “for the purpose of inquiring into the working of the system of Government, the growth of education and the development of representative institutions in British India and matters connected therewith” and reporting “as to whether to what extent it is desirable to establish the principle of responsible Government, or to extend, modify or restrict the degree of responsible Government then existing therein, including the question whether the establishment of second, chambers of local legislatures is or is not desirable.” As the enquiry was coming to a close, the Commissioners, were increasingly impressed by the impossibility of considering the constitutional problems of British India and the Indian States. With the approval of British Government, the Commission also considered the relations between British India and Indian States.

Boycott of Commission by Indian Leaders

The Commission consisted of seven members of British Parliament including Sir John Simon as its chairman. The appointment of an all-white Commission was strongly opposed by the Indian Leaders. The total exclusion of Indian element from the Commission was deeply resented by all parties including Liberals, the League and the Congress and they unanimously decided to boycott the Simon Commission, Consequently, the Commission which landed at Bombay on Feb. 3, 1928 and toured the country with the assistance of a few bureaucratists in Provincial legislature, was greeted with complete Hartals, black flags and loud slogan of ‘Simon go back. The Legislative Assembly also passed a resolution against the Commission and the whole of India was ablaze with indigntion. The Indian leaders reiterated their demand that ‘All-British Commission’ had no right to determine the future Constitution. Some leaders proposed the setting up Round Table Conference in place of Statutory Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the working system of Govt. of India Act, 1919 and subsequent improvement therein.

The Report of the Simon Commission was condemned by Indian leaders and the British Government was also not eager to implement all its recommendations. However some of its recommendations were embodied in the Government of India Act, 1935.

Report of Simon Commission – The Commission declared that the Constitutional framework should not be Unitary type. It must be Federal. The Commission recommended the following things —

1. Dyarchy should be abolished in the provinces and the whole field of provincial administration should be left to the ministers responsible to their legislature.

2. The question of making Sind and Orissa as separate provinces should be given further expert examination. However, it should be decided forth withthe separate Burma from the Government of India. The provinces should be given a legislation and representation in Central Legislature.

3. The report recommended for preparing the way for all India federation. The Central Legislature was to be constituted on the federal principle.

4. A council of greater India should be set up representing both British India and the states to discuss in a consultative capacity all matters of common concern.

5. The report recommended no change in the Central Executive. There was to be no government responsible to the legislature. There was to be no dyarchy in the centre. It was pointed out that the Central Government should be strong.

6. The provincial legislative should be enlarged and franchise should be extended. Official and nominated membership should not exceed more than ten percent. However, communal representation was retained.


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