Simon Commission| Purpose and Recommendations

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Purpose and Recommendations of Simon Commission

Government of India Act, 1919 provided for the appointment of a Royal Commission after ten years to assess the effectiveness of the Act in practice and whether Indians were capable of participating in self-rule. It was scheduled to end in 1929. Therefore, a Commission would be appointed that year. However, the political situation in England at that time made it necessary to appoint the Commission two years in advance.

In 1929, the conservatives were in power in England, but there were elections due and the Labour Party was expected to win. It was not acceptable for them to allow the Labour Party to decide India’s political future. The Indian leaders sought improvements in the constitutional position at the same time. These were the factors that led the British Government to decide that this was the opportune time for the commission’s appointment.

The British Government announced in November 1927 the appointment of a Royal Commission led by Sir John Simon to examine the workings of the constitutional reforms ushered in by the Government of India Act, 1919. The Simon Commission was boycotted almost unanimously by Indian political parties. The non-inclusion of any Indian in the Commission was strongly denounced at an all-party conference in Allahabad on December 11, 1927. In May 1930, the Simon Commission’s report was published.

Recommendations of Simon Commission

The commission recommended the abolition of Dyarchy as a form of government in the provinces and the grant of full autonomy, including legal and regulatory powers.

The council recommended enlarging the provincial legislative councils. There were to be 200 to 250 members in some of the important legislative councils.

To ensure adequate resources for the provinces without limiting their autonomy, the report recommended the creation of a provincial fund.

The commander-in-chief should not sit on the Viceroy’s Executive Council or the Central Legislature.

Parliament’s parliamentary system of government was adopted on the basis of ‘faith’ which had yet to be proven.

In the provinces, power should be handed over to ministers who are responsible to their legislatures.

The High Court should be under the administrative control of the Government of India.

The country needed to transform into a federal state because a unitary government was not appropriate.

The extension of suffrage and legislative power gradually would be more feasible than universal adult suffrage.

Although no fundamental changes had to be made to the structure of the Central Legislative Assembly, it was possible for members of the Central Legislative Assembly to be indirectly elected by provincial legislatures.

Community representation was, of course, a bad system, but at that time there was no other option.

Members of the Simon Commission

  • Sir John Simon (Chairman)
  • Donald Howard 3rd Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal
  • Harry Levy-Lawson (1st Viscount Burnham)
  • Clement Atlee (Labour Party)
  • Edward Cadogan (Conservative Party)
  • George Lane-Fox (Conservative Party)
  • Vernon Hartshorn (Labour Party)

Key Points of Simon Commission

• In November 1927 itself (i.e., 2 years before the schedule), the British Government announced the appointment a seven-member statutory commission under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon to report on the condition of India under its new Constitution.

• All the members of the commission were British and hence, all the parties boycotted the commission.

• The commission submitted its report in 1930 and recommended the abolition of dyarchy, extension of responsible government in the provinces, establishment of a federation of British India and princely states, continuation of communal electorate and so on.

• To consider the proposals of the commission, the British Government convened three round table conferences of the representatives of the British Government, British India and Indian princely states.

• On the basis of these discussions, a ‘White Paper on Constitutional Reforms’ was prepared and submitted for the consideration of the Joint Select Committee of the British Parliament.

• The recommendations of this committee were incorporated (with certain changes) in the next Government of India Act of 1935.

Reaction of Simon Commission

The Simon Commission reached Bombay on February 3, 1928. Everywhere they went, they encountered black flags and slogans saying, “Simon go back“.

The Indian members of the Central Legislative Assembly also refused to accept the Simon Commission. Among these opposing activities, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose emerged as prominent young nationalists and travelled widely.

During the Madras session of the Congress held in December, 1927 under the chairmanship of M.A. Ansari, the Congress decided to boycott it in all its forms.

What was the purpose of Simon Commission?

The purpose of the Simon Commission was to investigate India’s political and economic situation and to propose changes. However, the commission was met with criticism from Indian nationalists who saw it as a tool of British imperialism, and the commission itself was not given full independence.

Who set up Simon Commission and why?

The Simon Commission was appointed by British government was setup to investigate the current state of affairs in British India. The commission was made up of 7 British members and was chaired by Sir John Simon. The commission was met with criticism by the Indian people who saw it as a tool of British imperialism. Despite the criticism, the commission submitted its report which made a number of recommendations for the governance of British India.

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