Jinnah’s 14 Points & The Nehru Report

The report was not acceptable to Muslims and both the Muslim members of the Committee, Syed Ali Imam and Shoaib Qureshi, refused to sign it. Syed Ali Imam could not attend the meetings of the Committee due to bad health.

Introduction

The wave of communal harmony between the Muslims and the Hindus in India, created in the early 1920’s by the symbiosis of the Khilafat Movement with M. K. Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement was replaced by an atmosphere of grave mistrust between the two communities. Jinnah’s celebrated Fourteen Points, presented on 30 March 1929, were one passionate attempt to make sense of the situation and reach upon a solution through parliamentary means within the framework of a United India.

Background

Failure of Simon Commission

Under the Act of 1919, new reforms were to be introduced in India by the British Government after every 10 years. For this purpose, Simon Commission was sent to India in 1927. Most of the Indian political parties decided to boycott the Commission on the plea that it lacked Indian representation. Lord Birkendhead, Secretary of State for Indian Affairs, challenged the Indians:

If they have any political capability and competence then they should form a unanimous constitution and present it to us and we will implement it.

So, the Simon Commission as it was destined to’ failed.

Nehru Committee

After the failure of Simon Commission, there was no alternative for the British government but to ask the local people to frame a constitution for themselves. Indian political parties accepted the challenge and called an All Parties Conference at Delhi in January 1928. But, the Conference failed to reach a conclusion on the issue of the rights of minorities. The second round of the All Parties Conference was held in March the same year. Two sub-committees were formed but the end result of the session was not different from the first one.

Nehru Report

Despite many hurdles, the Nehru Committee completed its task. And its report, commonly known as Nehru Report, was presented in the fourth session of the All Parties Conference held in August 1928. The Committee declared that it was useless to ask anything less than complete Swaraj, and presented the following demands:

1. India should be given Dominion Status with the parliamentary form of government.

2. There should be a bicameral legislature consisting of senate and house of representatives. The senate will comprise two hundred members elected for seven years, while the house of representatives should consist of five hundred members elected for five years.

3. Governor-General will act on the advice of executive council. It was to be collectively responsible to the parliament.

4. There should be federal form of government in India with residuary powers to be vested in Centre.

5. There will be no separate electorate for minorities. It claimed ‘since separate electorate awakens communal sentiments therefore it should be scrapped and joint electorate should be introduced.

6. System of weightage should not be adopted for any province.

7. There will be no reserved seats for communities in Punjab and Bengal. However, reservation of Muslim seats could be possible in the provinces where Muslim population should be at least ten percent.

8. Judiciary should be independent from the executive

9. There should be 1/4th Muslim representation at Centre.

10. Sind should be separated from Bombay provided it proves to be financially self-sufficient.

11. Reforms should be introduced in NWFP.

Muslims’ Reaction

The report was not acceptable to Muslims and both the Muslim members of the Committee, Syed Ali Imam and Shoaib Qureshi, refused to sign it. Syed Ali Imam could not attend the meetings of the Committee due to bad health.

Amendments proposed by Quaid-i-Azam

In the fourth session of the All Parties Conference convened in December to review the Nehru Report, Jinnah, representing the Muslim League, presented following four amendments in the report:

1. There should be no less than one-third Muslim representation in the Central Legislature.

2. In event of the adult suffrage not being established, Punjab and Bengal should have seats reserved for the Muslims on population basis.

3. The form of the constitution should be Federal with residuary powers vested in the provinces.

4. Sind should immediately be made a separate province and the reforms should also be introduced in NWFP and Balochistan at the earliest.

Rejection of Proposals

Jinnah’s proposals were rejected when put to vote in All Parties Conference. The Congress managed to get the majority vote in favour of the Report.

Quaid-i-Azam’s Fourteen Points

The League, after anxious and careful consideration, most earnestly and emphatically laid down that no scheme for the future constitution of the Government of India will be acceptable to Muslims of India until and unless the following basic principles are given effect to and provisions are embodied therein to safeguard their rights and interests:

1. The form of the future constitution should be federal with the residuary powers vested in the provinces.

2. A uniform measure of autonomy shall be granted to all provinces.

3. All legislatures in the country and other elected bodies shall be constituted on the definite principle of adequate and effective representation of minorities in every province without reducing the majority in any province to a minority or even equality.

4. In the Central Legislative, Muslim representation shall not be less than one-third.

5. Representation of communal groups shall continue to be by means of separate electorate as at present, provided it shall be open to any community at any time to abandon its separate electorate in favour of a joint electorate.

6. Any territorial distribution that might at any time be necessary shall not in any way affect the Muslim majority in the Punjab, Bengal and the North West Frontier Province.

7. Full religious liberty, i.e. liberty of belief, worship and observance, propaganda, association and education, shall be guaranteed to all communities.

8. No bill or any resolution or any part thereof shall be passed in any legislature or any other elected body if three-fourth of the members of any community in that particular body oppose such a bill resolution or part thereof on the ground that it would be injurious to the interests of that community or in the alternative, such other method is devised as may be found feasible and practicable to deal with such cases.

9. Sind should be separated from the Bombay presidency.

10. Reforms should be introduced in the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan on the same footing as in the other provinces.

11. Provision should be made in the constitution giving Muslims an adequate share, along with the other Indians, in all the services of the state and in local self-governing bodies having due regard to the requirements of efficiency.

12. The constitution should embody adequate safeguards for the protection of Muslim culture and for the protection and promotion of Muslim education, language, religion, personal laws and Muslim charitable institution and for their due share in the grants-in-aid given by the state and by local self-governing bodies.

13. No cabinet, either central or provincial, should be formed without there being a proportion of at least one-third Muslim ministers.

14. No change shall be made in the constitution by the Central Legislature except with the concurrence of the State’s contribution of the Indian Federation.

Comparison

1. The Nehru Committee’s greatest blow was the rejection of separate electorates but Quaid-i-Azam was in the favour of separate Muslims electorate.

2. In 14 points of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, weightage for minorities was demanded but Nehru in his report did not compromise with our Quaid.

3. Nehru report demand strong Central Government. On the other hand Quaid-i-Azam believed in provincial autonomy.

4. Jinnah was in the favour of inclusions of Muslims in the cabinet but Nehru was against the inclusion of Muslims in the cabinet.

5. Quaid-i-Azam demanded 1/3rd representation in central government for Muslims but Nehru report gave 1/4th representation to Muslims in central government.

6. It is true that demand of separation of Sind from Bombay was considered in the Nehru Report as Jinnah mentioned in his 14 points but the condition of self-economy was also put forward.

Conclusion

The Nehru Report was nothing else than a Congress document and thus was totally opposed by Muslims of the Subcontinent. The Hindus under Congress threatened the government with a disobedience movement if the Nehru report was not implemented into the Act by December 31, 1929. This Hindu attitude proved to be a milestone in the freedom movement of the Muslims. It also proved to be a turning point in the life of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. After reading the Nehru Report, Jinnah announced a ‘parting of the ways’. The Nehru Report reflected the inner prejudice and narrow-minded approach of the Hindus.

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