The Government of India Act 1919 was essentially transitional in character. Under Section 84 of the said Act, a statutory Commission was to be appointed at the end of 10 years to determine the next stage in the realization of self-rule in India. Accordingly, the Simon Commission was sent to the sub-continent under the command of Sir John Simon.
All the members of the Commission were British. Thus was regarded as highly insulting to the Indians and immediate protest was raised from all the important political parties.
When the Commission arrived, the local masses welcomed it by slogans of ‘Go Back Simon’. All the major political parties of sub-continent, except the Shafi League of the Punjab, boycotted the Simon Commission.
After the failure of the Commission, there was no alternative for the British Government but to ask the local people to frame a constitution for themselves.
They knew that the Congress and Muslim League were the two main parties and that they both had serious differences in opinions. Birkenhead, secretary of state for India, challenged the Indian leaders to prepare a constitution agreeable to all Indian parties.
The Indian leaders accepted the challenge and thus led to the formation of Nehru Report of 1928. An ultimatum was served to the British Government to accept the Nehru Report on or before December 1929, failing which the party was a launch another mass movement.
Some of the important features of the Nehru Report were:
- India was to be given a Dominion Status, which meant, independence within British Commonwealth.
- Rejection of separate electorates which had been the basis of constitutional reforms so far; instead a demand for joint electorates with reservation of seats for Muslim minority (and not where Muslims were in majority, such as Punjab and Bengal).
- Provinces should be given full autonomy with residuary powers vested with centre.
- Complete dissociation of state from religion i.e. India would be a secular state with no state religion.
- It recommended for linguistic provinces.
- It also recommended statutory recognition of 19 Fundamental Rights including equal rights for women, right to form unions, right to expression and universal adult suffrage.
- It recommended for a responsible government at centre as well as in provinces.
- Full protection to cultural and religious interests of Muslims.
- Universal adult franchise for those who attained the age of 21 and were not disqualified by the law.
- It recommended for the creation of new provinces of Sindh. Moreover, it desired to make the N.W.F.P. a governor province.