Nehru Report [1928]

Pandit Motilal Nehru

Towards the end of the All-Parties Conference, which had been convened by the Congress to protest against the composition and terms of reference of the statutory commission, was now asked by the Congress leaders to prepare a constitution for India to confound the British Government. The Conference appointed a committee of jurists with Motilal Nehru as chairman, to study the problem and draft a constitution.

The committee worked for three months at Allahabad and its memorandum was called the "Nehru Report". The chairman joined hands with the Hindu Mahasabha and unceremoniously quashed the recent Congress acceptance of the Delhi Proposals.

The Nehru Report recommended that a Declaration of Rights should be inserted in the constitution assuring the fullest liberty on conscience and religion.

The following are the recommendations advanced by the Nehru Report:

1. India should be given the status of a Dominion on a unitary basis with parliamentary powers of seat.

2. Residuary powers should vested in the center.

3. India should have a parliamentary form of government headed by Prime Minister and six ministers appointed by Governor General.

4. There should be no separate electorate or weightage for minorities.

5. Reservation of Muslim seats could be possible in the provinces where Muslim population was at least 10%, but this was to be in strict proportion to the size of the community.

6. Muslims should enjoy one fourth representation in the Central Legislature.

7. The N.W.F.P. should be given full provincial status and Sind should be taken away from Bombay and made a separate province.

8. A new Canarese-Speaking province "Karnatak" be established in South India.

9. Hindi should be made the official language of India.

The recommendations of the Nehru Report went against the interest of the Muslim community. It was an attempt to serve Hindu predominance over Muslims. A Muslim member of the Nehru Committee, Shoaib Qureshi disagreed with the proposals, but his pleadings were simply rejected.

Quaid-i-Azam and other Muslim leaders condemned the Nehru report

The immediate result of the publication of the report was that Muslims of all shades of opinion united in opposition to it. The two wings into which the Muslim League had been split since 1924 came closer.

On January 21, 1929, nearly every shade of opinion was represented in the All India Muslim Conference which met at Delhi under the Aga Khan and laid down the demands of the Muslims in India in the clearest possible terms:

1. The only form of Government suitable to Indian conditions was a federal system with complete autonomy and residuary powers vested in the constituent states.

2. Muslims should not be deprived of the right to elect their representatives through separate electorates without their consent.

3. Muslims should continue to have weightage in the Hindu majority provinces and they were willing to accord the same privilege to non-Muslim minorities in Sind, the N.W.F.P. and Baluchistan.

4. Muslims should have their due share in the central and provincial cabinets.

5. Muslim majority in all Muslim majority provinces (with particular reference to Bengal and Punjab) should in no way be disturbed.

Aga Khan laid down the demands of the Muslims of India

This resolution was the Muslim reply to the Nehru Report. The rejection of the Congress-inspired constitution was completely unanimous and clear. On two points the Muslims were adamant: separate electorates must continue and India must have a federal form of government. The Nehru Report was primarily repudiated because it denied these conditions.

At this critical juncture, Jinnah made the last move to unite the Hindus and the Muslims by suggesting certain modifications to be made in the recommendations of the Nehru Report, at All Parties Convention at Calcutta in 1929.

The were as follows:

1. One-third of the elected representatives of both the houses of the central legislature should be Mussalmans;

2. In the Punjab and Bengal, in the event of adult suffrage not being established, there should be reservations of seats for the Mussalmans on the population basis for ten years, subject to a re-examination after that period, but they shall have no right to contest additional seats;

3. Residuary powers should be left to the provinces and should not rest with the central legislature.

The committee rejected these suggestions. Thus in March 1929, Quaid-i-Azam drew up greatly influenced Muslim thinking for the better part of the next decade.