The Indian Statutory Commission was a group
of British Members of Parliament that had been
dispatched to India in 1927 to study constitutional
reform in that colony. It was commonly referred to
as the Simon Commission after its chairman,
Sir John Simon. One of its members was Clement
Attlee, who subsequently became the British Prime
Minister who would oversee the granting of
independence to India and Pakistan in 1947.
Members of the Commission
Sir John Simon (chairman)
Harry Levy-Lawson, 1st Viscount Burnham
The Government of India Act 1919 had introduced the
to govern the provinces of British India. However,
the Indian public clamoured for revision of the
difficult dyarchy form of government, and the
Government of India Act 1919 itself stated that a
commission would be appointed after 10 years to
investigate the progress of the governance scheme
and suggest new steps for reform. In the late 1920s,
the Conservative government then in power in Britain
feared imminent electoral defeat at the hands of the
Labour Party, and also feared the effects of the
consequent transference of control of India to such
an "inexperienced" body. Hence, it appointed seven
MPs (including Chairman Simon) to constitute the
commission that had been promised in 1919 that would
look into the state of Indian constitutional
affairs. The people of the Indian subcontinent were
outraged and insulted, as the Simon Commission,
which was to determine the future of India, did not
include a single Indian member in it. The Indian
National Congress, at its December 1927 meeting in
Madras (now Chennai), resolved to boycott the
Commission and challenge Lord Birkenhead, the
Secretary of State for India, to draft a
constitution that would be acceptable to the Indian
populace. A faction of the Muslim League, led by
Muhammad Ali Jinnah, also decided to boycott the
An All-India Committee for Cooperation with the
Simon Commission was established by the Council of
India and by selection by the Viceroy The Lord
Irwin. The members of the committee were: Sir C.
Sankaran Nair (Chairman), Sir Arthur Froom, Rajah
Nawab Ali Khan, Sardar Shivdev Singh Uberoi, Nawab
Sir Zulfiqar Ali Khan, Sir Hari Singh Gour, Sir
Abdullah Al-Mamun Suhrawardy, Kikabhai Premchand and
Rao Bahadur M. C. Rajah.
Almost immediately with its arrival in Bombay on
February 3, 1928, the Simon Commission was
confronted by throngs of protestors. The entire
country observed a hartal (strike), and many
people turned out to greet the Commission with black
flags. Similar protests occurred in every major
Indian city that the seven British MPs visited.
However, one protest against the Simon Commission
would gain infamy above all the others.
The Commission published its 17-volume report in
1930. It proposed the abolition of dyarchy and the
establishment of representative government in the
provinces. It also recommended that separate
communal electorates be retained, but only until
tensions between Hindus and Muslims had died down.
Noting that educated Indians opposed the Commission
and also that communal tensions had increased
instead of decreased, the British government opted
for another method of dealing with the
constitutional issues of India. Before the
publication of the report, the British government
stated that Indian opinion would henceforth be taken
into account, and that the natural outcome of the
constitutional process would be dominion status for
India. The outcome of the Simon Commission was the
Government of India Act 1935, which established
representative government at the provincial level in
India and is the basis of many parts of the Indian
Constitution. In 1937 the first elections were held
in the Provinces, resulting in Congress Governments
being returned in almost all Provinces. In September
1928, Mr. Motilal Nehru presented his Nehru Report
to counter British charges that Indians could not
find a constitutional consensus among themselves, it
advocated that India be given dominion status of
complete internal self-government.
Impact of the Simon Commission
a. The appointment of the “all-white” Simon
Commission reinvigorated Indian Nationalism to a
high pith of activity which would have a major
impact throughout the remaining years of the British
Raj. This led, in short order, to the boycott of the
Commission the development of the all-party Nehru
b. The Indian Round Table Conferences 1931-1933 were
an attempt to undo the damage caused by the
mishandling of the appointment of the Commission;
c. When the Simon recommendations are compared to
the Government of India Act 1935 the following may
At the provincial level Simon’s recommendations were
taken over by the Act but with even more stringent
safeguards – i.e. even less true responsible
At the Centre, contrary to Simon’s recommendations,
the Act authorized the formation of an utterly
unworkable federation that never came into being.
Thus the Centre remained governed by Government of
India Act 1919.
d. Clement Attlee got his education on India on the
Commission and both he and Simon were involved in
developing Indian policy during the Second World War
and Attlee header the labour Government that Granted
India independence in 1947.
SIMON COMMISSION AND SINDH:
Sindh, though as the part of Bombay presidency,
played a vital role in this movement of disowning of
Simon Commission. Sindh was at par with all the
provinces of united India. Sindhies suffered a lot
on account of opposing the Simon Commission. The
Special Boycott Bulletins were published and
issued on the eve, Editor from Kotri was sentenced
to Imprisonment. Seth Harchandrai vishandas in spite
of serious illness went Bombay to cast his vote in
the Assembly/Council against the Simon Commission
and he breathed his last with in days.
How Sindh prepared herself for taking part in this
movement can be judged by going through the minutes
& proceedings of various meetings held in sindh.
Some of details are given as under:
02-02-1928, All the important college of Karachi: D.
J. College, N. E. D college, Law College students
decided to Boycott the classes on 03rd
On 06-10-1928, the meeting was held in the office of
Santdas Mangharam pleader in Hyderabad. Jamshed N.
R. Mehta presided. in this meeting a committee
consisting of Santdas Mangharam, Jamshed N. R.
Mehta, Prof: Nariandas Malkani and Mr. K. Punniah
Was formed to set the provisional Congress Committee
and its affiliated organizations in proper order and
The meeting accepted the resolution passed at the
All Parties Conference held at Lucknow and resolved
that a movement be organized to carry on propaganda
of explaining these Resolutions to the public.
The meeting resolved that all the political workers
of sindh should carry on vigorously the boycott
of the Simon Commission and should prepare a
statement that persons who give evidence before
Commission are not the representatives of the people
and make efforts to induce witnesses to desist from
On 14-10-1928, the meeting of the Simon
Commission Boycott Committee was held in the
office/ Dispensary of Dr. Tarachand J. Lalwani under
chairmanship of Swami Govindannd. The following
program of Boycott was fixed:
No hartal as the commission was arriving at
Karachi on the Diwali Day.
Procession with Black flags of “Simon Go
Back” from the city Karachi to the Cantonment
Station on the 11th of Nov.
Putting up placards, black flags & posters on
the main streets & routes of Simon Commission.
Picketing on the Houses of the witnesses &
places where the commission will take Oral Evidence.
Restricted Social Boycott of the people
extending cooperation to the Simon Commission.
Public meetings shall be held on 10-12-1928,
11-12-1928, & 20-11-1928.
Street propaganda shall be started from
On 20-10-1928, a public meeting was held at
Khaliqdino Hall (KARACHI) under Chairmanship of
Naraindas Anandji M. L. C. Swami Govindannd, Meer
Muhammad Baloch, Shaikh Abdul Majeed, Swani
Krishnanad & Sidhwa spoke on the ocean and requested
the people the Boycott the Commission.
On 25-10-1928 at 7pm in the Kasari office following
programmed was approved.
A full time man to be appointed to carry on the
whole of the office and outdoor work.
Mr. Mohan lal D.Sachday has agreed to accept the
At this stage some of the chief office bearers of
the Sindh Khilafat Committee came. They informed the
boycott committee that their organization have
resolved to co-operate with our committee in the
matter of making the boycott demonstration effective
and successful. The committee resolved to express
its appreciation of the offer of whole hearted
co-operation by the Khilafat Committee.
It was resolved to hold public meetings, (1) in
Mithadar Chowk on Saturday 27th at 9 p.m. (2) in
Deshar Bazaar, Runchore line on Sunday, the 28th at
9 p.m. and (3) in Garikhatta opposite Jethamal’s
building and Lambart Market-chowk on Monday, the
29th at 9 p.m.
It was resolved to send invitations to Pandit
Motilal Nehru and Madan Mohan Malvya, Dr. Ansart,
Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and Mr. Nariman to pay a
visit to Karachi on the occasion of arrived of the
The committee appeals to the youth of Karachi in
particular and in Sindh in general to come forward
to make the programmed of the black flag procession
on 11th November & picketing most impressive &
The committee notes with satisfaction the response
so far make to the “Appeal for volunteers and hopes
that within a very short time the required number of
1000 will have enrolled themselves.
The committee appeals to all the citizens of Karachi
to muster in their thousands to join the Black
Flag Procession on 11th November, the day of the
arrivals of the Simon commission in Karachi.”
The committee will meet from day to day at 8.30 p.m.
to take the stock of the situation and discuss its