Why Was The Simon Commission Sent To India?

What is Simon Commission?

Simon Commission, also known as Indian Statutory Commission and led by Sir John Simon, consisted of 7 members of Parliament.

In 1928, the group travelled to British India to research constitutional change in the vast and strategically crucial colony.

After 10 years, a commission was to be appointed by the Act of Indian Government 1919 to assess the system of government’s performance and provide recommendations.

It was vehemently opposed by the national leaders & freedom fighters since the British government had failed to put even one Indian on the Commission.

Simon Commission

The Simon commission was sent to India due to the following reasons:

  • The Administration of Indian Act 1919 was enacted by the British Parliament to increase Indian representation in government.
  • In response to the legislation, Indian nationalist leaders urged a review of the diarchy system that had been implemented in British India.
  • The legislation planned for a system of reviewing reforms every 10 years to assess constitutional development and implement further changes.
  • The Conservative administration in control at the time chose to establish the Commission to investigate the constitutional development of India in late 1920s, even though the review wasn’t due until 1929.
  • Foreseeing an electoral defeat at the hands of the “Labour Party,” the Conservative administration moved quickly to establish the Commission.

Other recommendations

  • The Governor is invested with the unique authority to ensure the safety of the province and to protect vulnerable populations.
  • Population-based representation in the Federal Assembly of provinces or other territories
  • Dominion title for Burma is strongly suggested, and the country should be given its own constitution.
  • It was suggested that rather than relying on a system of direct elections, the members of the Council of State should be selected via a system of indirect elections conducted by the Provincial Council, which would function in much the same way as the modern system of proportional representation.
  • To prevent the “Labor Party” from seizing control of British India, the Conservative administration established a committee of seven British members of parliament to examine the country’s constitutional development, as had been promised.

Reason behind Simon commission boycott

The Indian public was outraged and embarrassed because no Indians were included on the Commission that was appointed to study and make recommendations on constitutional changes for their country.

The Congress as well as other nationalistic leaders and the general public condemned Simon Commission’s findings and recommendations.

Numerous demonstrations, both solo and organized, were staged to demand that the British government reevaluate the Commission’s make-up.

During a conference in Madras in Dec 1927, the INC decided to boycott the Commission. Mohammed Ali Jinnah had also convinced certain members of the “Muslim League” to take this stance.