The Government of India Act 1919 was essentially transitional in character. Under
Section 84 of the said Act, a statutory Commission was to be appointed at the end of ten
years to determine the next stage in the realization of self-rule in India. Accordingly, the
Simon Commission was sent to the Sub-continent under the command of Sir John Simon.
All members of the commission were British. This was regarded as highly insulting to the
Indians and immediate protest was raised from all the important political parties. When
the Simon Commission arrived, the local masses welcomed it by with slogans of “Go
back Simon!”. All the major political parties of Sub-continent, except the Shafi League of
Punjab, boycotted the Simon Commission.
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. They knew
that the Congress and Muslim League were the two main parties and that they both had
serious difference of opinions. Birkenhead, Secretary of Sate for Indian Affairs, threw the
ball in the Indian politicians’ court, and asked them to draw a draft of the forthcoming Act
on which both Hindus and Muslims could agree. The Indian leaders accepted the
challenge and for this purpose, the All Parties Conference was held at Delhi in January
- More than a hundred delegates of almost all the parties of the Sub-continent
assembled and participated in the conference. Unfortunately, the leaders were not able to
come to any conclusion. The biggest hindrance was the issue of the rights of minorities.
The second meeting of the All Parties Conference was held in March the same year, but
the leaders still had their differences and again were not able to reach a conclusion. The
only work done in this conference was the appointment of two subcommittees. But due to
the mutual differences between Muslims and Hindus, the committees failed to produce
any positive result.
When the All Parties Conference met for the third time in Bombay on May 19 1928,
there was hardly any prospect of an agreed constitution. It was then decided that a small
committee should be appointed to work out the details of the constitution