Simon Commission 1927

Government of India Act 1919 had introduced the system of dyarchy to govern the provinces of British India. This act had a provision that a commission would be appointed after 10 years to investigate the progress of the governance scheme and suggest new steps for reform.

The Government in England was a conservative Government which was not in very much favor of giving any control to Indians. In March 1927, his majesty’s Government announced its decision to appoint the “Statutory Commission” in advance of the prescribed date. (The commission was supposed to be set up in 1929).

The announcement came as a surprise. Indians were already in a state of frustration.

The Congress was almost agenda less and no active programme was there except the Khadi. The Swarajists were in the Legislative Council and had lost cohesiveness with the Congress. So, for the agenda-less Congress, Simon Commission came as a blessing in disguise and they got an issue to take up effectively.

The personnel of the Commission and its terms of reference were announced in November 1927. It had 7 members which were lifted from the three political parties of the British Parliament under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon. None of the Indians was appointed in the commission and the promise of appeasing the Indian opinion seemed to be a bubble. When no Indian was included in the commission, it was like depriving of their right to participate in the determination of the constitution of their own country.

At the annual session of the Congress in Madras in December 1927, a resolution was passed which advocated the boycott of the Simon Commission “at every stage and in every form“. Other factions of the politicians also joined the suit.

  • However, in Muslim league, there was a split of thought. Jinnah was for boycotting the commission; but Muhammad Shafi was for support for the Government.
  • Thus in 1927, Muslim league had two sessions– One was led by Jinnah at Calcutta where he opposed the Commission. Another was held at Lahore that was led by Muhammad Shafi, where he supported the Government.

    So, all parties except the Shafi group of Muslim league and a Justice Party at Madras, were against the Simon Commission.

    Explicit and Implicit Objectives of Simon Commission

    • To delay the process of transfer of power from the British to the people.
    • To further widen the communal feelings by diametrically provisions which could be diametrically opposed to the interests of the two communities?
    • To show the people that British were sincere in the efforts in giving people the self rule but it was Indians who could not decide for a consensus on power-sharing.
    • To give impression of a federal constitution so that week centre and a powerful province can be created. It would created feelings of regionalism which is an antidote to nationalism.
    • To give political autonomy without economic autonomy.

    Recommendations of Simon Commission

    1. There should be a constitutional reconstruction.
    2. It would be a federal constitution.
    3. The provinces should be given full autonomy including law.
    4. The governor should have discretionary power to relate to internal security and administrative powers to protect the different communities.
    5. The number of members of provincial legislative council should be increased.
    6. Governor general should have complete power to appoint the members of the cabinet.
    7. The government of India should have complete control over the high court.

    Limitations of Simon Commission

    • No Indians members in the commission.
    • No universal franchise was proposed.
    • The position of governor-general remained unaffected.
    • No provision to abolish separate electorate but rather extended to other communities as well.
    • No financial devolution was proposed.

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