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Nehru Report 1928 – Major Recommendations

Nehru Report 1928 – Major Recommendations

NEHRU REPORT

  • Following the challenge posed by British, an All Parties Conference met in February 1928 and appointed a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Motilal Nehru to draft a constitution.
  • This was the first major attempt by the Indians to draft a constitutional framework for the country. The committee included Tej Bahadur Sapru, Subhash Bose, M.S. Aney, Mangal Singh, All Imam, Shuab Qureshi and G.R. Pradhan as its members.
  • The report was finalised by August 1928. The recommendations of the Nehru Committee were unanimous except in one respect- while the majority favoured the “dominion status” as the basis of the Constitution, a section of it wanted “complete independence” as the basis, with the majority section giving the latter section liberty of action.

MAIN RECOMMENDATIONS

The Nehru Report confined itself to British India, as it envisaged the future link-up of British India with the princely states on a federal basis.

For the dominion it recommended:

  1. Dominion status op lines of self-governing dominions as the form of government desired by Indians (much to the demand of younger, militant section- Nehru being prominent among them).
  2. 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 Muslims at the centre and in provinces where they were in minority (and not in those where Muslims were in majority, such as Punjab and Bengal) in proportion to the Muslim population there with right to contest additional seats.
  3. Linguistic provinces.
  4. Nineteen fundamental rights including equal rights for women, right to form unions, and universal adult suffrage.
  5. Responsible government at the centre and in provinces.
  6. The Indian Parliament at the centre to consist of a 500- member House of Representatives elected on the basis of adult suffrage, a 200-member Senate to be elected by provincial councils; the House of Representatives to have a tenure of 5 years and the Senate, one of 7 years; the central government to be headed by a Governor-General, appointed by the British Government but paid out of Indian revenues, who would act on the advice of the central executive council responsible to the Parliament.
  7. Provincial councils to have a 5 year tenure, headed by a governor acting on the advice of the provincial executive council.
  8. Full protection to cultural and religious interests of Muslims.
  9. Complete dissociation of state from religion.

The Muslim and Hindu Communal conflict:

  • Though the process of drafting a constitutional framework was begun enthusiastically and unitedly by political leaders, communal differences crept in and the Nehru Report got involved in controversies over the issue of communal representation.
  • Earlier, in December 1927, a large number of Muslim leaders had met at Delhi at the Muslim League session and evolved four proposals for Muslim demands to be incorporated in the draft constitution.                            Nehru Report 1928 – Major Recommendations

These proposals, which were accepted by the Madras session of the Congress (December 1927), came to be known as the “Delhi Proposals”. These were:

  • Joint electorates in place of separate electorates with reserved seats for Muslims;
  • One-third representation to Muslims in Central Legislative Assembly;
  • Representation to Muslims in Punjab and Bengal in proportion to their population;
  • Formation of three new Muslim majority provinces — Sindh, Baluchistan and North-West Frontier Province.

However, the Hindu Mahasabha was vehemently opposed to the proposals for creating new Muslim-majority provinces and reservation of seats for Muslims majorities in Punjab and Bengal (which would ensure Muslim control over legislatures in both).

It also demanded a strictly unitary structure. This attitude of the Hindu Mahasabha complicated matters. In the course of the deliberations of the All Parties Conference, the Muslim League dissociated itself and stuck to its demand for reservation of seats for Muslims, especially in the Central Legislature and in Muslim majority provinces.

Thus, Motilal Nehru and other leaders drafting the report found themselves in a dilemma: if the demands of the Muslim communal opinion were accepted, the Hindu communalists could withdraw their support, if the latter were satisfied, the Muslim leaders would get estranged.                            Nehru Report 1928 – Major Recommendations

The concessions made in the Nehru Report to Hindu communalists included the following:

  1. Joint electorates proposed everywhere but reservation for Muslims only where in minority;
  2. Sindh to be detached from Bombay only after dominion status was granted and subject to weightage to Hindu minority in Sindh;
  3. Political structure proposed was broadly unitary, as residual powers rested with the centre.

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