Nehru Report

The Nehru Report of 28-30 August, 1928 was a memorandum outlining a proposed new dominion status constitution for India. It was prepared by a committee of the All Parties Conference chaired by Motilal Nehru with his son Jawaharlal Nehru acting as secretary. There were nine other members in this committee. The final report was signed by Motilal Nehru, Ali Imam, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Madhav Shrihari Aney, Mangal Singh, Shuaib Qureshi, Subhas Chandra Bose, and G. R. Pradhan. Shuaib Qureshi disagreed with some of the recommendations.

Background

British policy, until almost the end of the Raj, was that the timing and nature of Indian constitutional development was to be decided exclusively by the British Parliament, but it was assumed that Indians would be consulted as appropriate. This was formally stated in the Government of India Act 1919. Britain did not acknowledge the right of Indians to frame their own constitution unil the 1942 Cripps Declaration.

A nonofficial effort to ... (to draft a new constitution was) made by Mrs. Besant and a few of her Indian friends. Most of the leaders were rather cool toward her project, but it was somewhat revised by a so-called All-Parties Conference which met at Delhi in January–February, 1925, and was formally approved by a convention held at Cawnpore in April. It was drafted as a statute and introduced in the House of Commons by Mr. George Lansbury, December 9, 1925, under the title, "The Commonwealth of India Bill." The bill proposed to confer upon India at once the full status of a Dominion, subject to certain temporary reservations. The Viceroy, as the representative of the King-Emperor, was to have complete charge of military and naval forces and foreign relations until the Indian Parliament by its own act should signify its readiness to assume control. Any step taken by the Indian Parliament concerning the Indian States must have the previous approval of the Viceroy. There was a Bill of Rights which included, among other things, guarantees of personal liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and equality of sex. This scheme did not arouse any popular enthusiasm, partly perhaps because it was not really an Indian product, but mainly because of the negative character of the Nationalist movement. The leaders were more interested in opposing the existing system than they were in preparing a constructive alternative.

In November 1927, the British government appointed the Simon Commission to review the working of the Government of India Act 1919 and propose constitutional reforms for India. The Commission did not have a single Indian member which irked leaders of the nationalist movement. While the British acknowledged the discontent, it did not consider making changes to the composition of the Commission; it instead asked Indians to prove that they could draw up a constitution themselves. A similar challenge was made in 1925 by Lord Birkenhead, Secretary of State for India, in the House of Lords:

... let them [Indians] produce a constitution which carries behind it a fair measure of general agreement among the great peoples of India...

Leaders of the nationalist movement responded to the challenge by drafting the Nehru Report.

In December 1927, at its Madras session, the Indian National Congress, took two major decisions in response to the setting up the Simon Commission: first, it decided to not cooperate with the Commission; second, it set up an All Parties Conference to draft a Constitution for India.[1]