Simon Commission was constituted under the leadership of Sir John Simon to look into the functioning of the constitutional system in India and suggest changes. It was officially known as ‘Indian Statutory Commission’ and consists of four conservative, two Labourites and one liberal member from the British Parliament.
The British government appointed a commission to enquire into the working of the government of India act of 1919 and to suggest further reforms in the system of administration. This commission is known as the Simon commission, after Sir John Simon who headed it. Its appointment came as a rude shock to the Indian people. The members of the commission were all Englishmen and not a single Indian was included in it. The government showed no inclination of accepting the demand for Swaraj. The composition of the commission confirmed the fears of the Indian people. The appointment of the commission sparked off a wave of protest all over the country.
In 1927, the annual session of the congress was held at Madras. It decided to Boycott the commission. The Muslim league also decided to boycott the commission. The commission arrived in India on 3 February 1928. On that day, the entire country observed a hartal. In the afternoon on that day, meeting were held all over the country to condemn the appointment of the commission and to declare that the people of India would have nothing to do with it. There was firing at demonstrators in Madras and lathi charges at many places. The commission faced massive protest demonstrations and hartals wherever it went. The central legislative assembly decided by a majority that it would have nothing to do with the commission. All over the country the cry of ‘Simon Go Back’ was raised.
The police resorted to repressive measures. Thousands of people were beaten up. It was during these demonstrations that the great leader Lala Lajpat Rai, who was popularly known as Sher-i-Punjab, was severely assaulted by the police. He died of the injuries inflicted on him by the police. In Lucknow, Nehru and Govind Ballabh Pant were those who suffered blows of police lathis. The lathis blows crippled Govind Ballabh Pant for life.
In the agitation against the Simon commission, the Indian people once again showed their unity and determination for freedom. They now prepared themselves for a bigger struggle. The congress session at Madras, which was presided over by Dr M.A.Ansari, had passed a resolution which declared the attainment of complete independence as the goal of the Indian people. The resolution was moved by the Nehru and supported by S. satyamurty. Meanwhile an organisation called the Indian Independence league had been formed to press the demand for complete independence. The league was led by a number of important leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Srinivas Iyenger, Satyamurty and Sarat Chandra Bose, elder brother of Subhas Chandra Bose.
In December 1928, the congress met at Calcutta under the presidentship of Motilal Nehru. At this session, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose and many others pressed the congress to demand complete independence. The congress, however, passed a resolution demanding dominion status. This meant less than complete independence. But it was declared that if the dominion status was not granted within one year, the congress would demand complete independence and would launch a mass movement to achieve it. The Indian independence league continued to rally the people behind the demand for complete independence throughout 1929. The mood of the people throughout the country had changed by the time the congress held its next annual session.
Recommendations of Simon Commission
Simon Commission was constituted under the leadership of Sir John Simon to look into the functioning of the constitutional system in India and suggest changes. It was officially known as ‘Indian Statutory Commission’ and consists of four conservative, two Labourites and one liberal member from the British Parliament. Commission did not have a single Indian member. Hence, at their arrival they greeted with the slogan ‘Go back Simon’. In order to overcome the protest, the viceroy, Lord Irwin announce an offer ‘dominion status’ for India in October AD 1929 and a Round Table Conference to discuss a future constitution.