Congress and Muslim parties on Communal Question 1927-1931

Extra(4). Congress and Muslim parties'  positions on the Communal question 1927-1931
Documents included:
  •  Indian National Congress Resolutions, December 1927 (full text).
  • Nehru Committee Proposals, December 1928-January 1929 (full text).
  • All India Muslim Conference Resolution, January 1929 (full text).
  • Jinnah's Fourteen Points, March 1929 (full text).
  • The Congress Scheme for a Communal Settlement,  October 1931 (full text).

From 'Speeches and Documents on the Indian Constitution 1921-1947', Selected by Sir Maurice Gwyer and A. Appadorai, OUP, 1957 Vol. I.

(1)Resolutions of the Indian National Congress on the Political, Religious and other Rights of Minorities, 28 December 1927

PART A. (Political Rights)

This Congress resolves:

1. That in any future scheme of Constitution, so far as representation in the various Legislatures is concerned, joint electorates in all the Provinces and in the Central Legislature be constituted.

2. That, with a view to give full assurances to the two great communities that their legitimate interests will be safeguarded in the Legislatures such representation of the communities should be secured for the present, and if desired, by the reservation of seats in joint electorates on the basis of population in every Province and in the Central Legislature;

Provided that reciprocal concessions in favour of Minorities may be made by mutual agreement so as to given them representation in excess of the proportion of the number of seats to which they would be entitled on the population basis in any Province or Provinces, and the proportion so agreed upon for the Provinces shall be maintained in the representation of the two communities in the Central Legislature from the Provinces.

In the decision of the reservation of seats for the Punjab, the questions of representation of Sikhs as an important Minority will be given full consideration.

3. (a) That the proposal made by the Muslim leaders that reforms should be introduced in North-West Frontier Province and British Baluchistan on the same footing as in other Provinces is, in the opinion of the Congress, a fair and reasonable one and should be given effect to, care being taken that simultaneously with other measures of administrative reform an adequate system of judicial administration shall be introduced in the said Provinces.

(b) (i) That with regard to the proposal that Sind should be constituted into a separate Province, this Congress is of opinion that the time has come for the redistribution of Provinces on linguistic basis-a principle that has been adopted in the Constitution of the Congress.

(ii) This Congress is also of opinion that such readjustment of Provinces be immediately taken in hand and that any Province which demands such reconstitution on linguistic basis be dealt with accordingly.

(iii) This Congress is further of opinion that a beginning may be made by constituting Andhra, Utkal, Sind and Karnatak into separate Provinces.

4. That, in the future Constitution, liberty of conscience shall be guaranteed and no Legislature, Central or Provincial, shall have power to interfere to make any laws interfering with libery of conscience.

'Liberty of Conscience' means liberty of belief and worship, freedom of religious observances and association and freedom to carry on religious education and propaganda with due regard to the feelings of others and without interfering with similar rights of others.

5. That no Bill, Resolution, Motion or Amendment regarding inter-communal matters shall be moved, discussed or passed in any Legislature, Central or Provincial, if a three-fourths majority of the Members of either community affected thereby in that Legislature oppose the introduction, discussion or passing of such Bill, Resolution, Motion or Amendment.

'Inter-communal matters' means matters agreed upon as such by a Joint Standing Committee of both communities-of the Hindu and Moslem members of the Legislature concerned, appointed at the commencement of every session of the Legislature.

PART B.(Religious and other rights)

This Congress resolves that:
1. Without prejudice to the rights that the Hindus and Mussulmans claim, the one to play music and conduct processions whereever they please and the other to slaughter cows for sacrifice or food whereever they please, the Mussulmans appeal to the Mussulmans to spare Hindu feelings as much as possible in the matter of the cow and the Hindus appeal to the Hindus to spare Mussulman feelings as much as possible in the matter of music before mosques.

And therefore this Congress calls upon both the Hindus and the Mussulmans not have recourse to violence or to law to prevent the slaughter of a cow or the playing of music before a mosque.

2. This Congress further resolves that every individual or group is at liberty to convert or reconvert another by argument or persuasion but no individual or group shall attempt to do so, or prevent its being done, by force, fraud or other unfair means such as the offering of material inducement. Persons under the age of eighteen years of age should not be converted unless it be along with their parents and guardians. If any person under eighteen years of age is found stranded without his parents or guardian by persons of another faith he should be promptly handed over to persons of his own faith. There must be no secrecy as to the person, place, time and manner about any conversion or reconversion, nor should there be any demonstration of jubiliation in support of any conversion or reconversion.

Whenever any complaint is made in respect of any conversion or reconversion, that it was effected in secrecy of by force, fraud or other unfair means, or whenever any person under eighteen years of age is converted, the matter shall be inquired into and decided by arbitrators who shall be appointed by the Working Committee either by name or under general regulations.

(2) Nehru Committee Proposals regarding communal Representation as amended and adopted by the All Parties National Convention, 22 December 1928 to 1 January 1929.

There shall be joint mixed electorates throughout India for the House of Representatives and the Provincial Legislatures.

There shall be no reservation of seats for the House of Representatives except for Muslims in Provinces where they are in a minority and nonMuslims in the North-West Frontier Province. Such reservation will be in strict proportion to the Muslim population in every Province where they are in a minority and in proportion to the non-Muslim population in the North-West Frontier Province. The Muslims or non-Muslims where reservation is allowed to them shall have the right to contest additional seats.

In the Provinces, (a) there shall be no reservation of seats for any community in the Punjab and Bengal; (Provided that the franchise is based on adult suffrage;    further  that the question of communal representation will be open for reconsideration if so desired by any community after working the recommended system for 10 years; (b) in Provinces other than the Punjab and Bengal there will be reservation of seats for Muslim minorities on population basis with the right to contest additional seats; (c) for the North-West Frontier Province there shall be similar reservation of seats for non-Muslims with the right to contest other seats.

Reservation of seats, where allowed, shall be for a fixed period of 10 years; provided that the question will be open for reconsideration after the expiration of that period if so desired by any community.

(3) Resolution of the All-India Muslim Conference, 1 January 1929

Whereas, in the view of India's vast extent and its ethnological, linguistic, administrative and geographical or territorial divisions, the only form of government suitable to Indian conditions is a federal system with complete autonomy and residuary powers vested in the constituent States, the Central Government having control of only such matters of common interest as may be specifically entrusted to it by the Constitution;

And whereas it is essential that no Bill, resolution, motion or amendment regarding inter-communal matters be moved, discussed or passed by any Legislature, Central or Provincial, if a three-fourth majority of the members of either the Hindu or the Muslim community affected thereby in that Legislatire oppose the introduction, discussion or passing of such Bill, resolution, motion or amendment;

And whereas the right of Moslems to elect their representatives on the various Indian Legislatures through separate electorates is now the law of land and Muslims cannot be deprived of that right without their consent;

And whereas in the conditions existing at present in India and so long as those conditons continue to exist, representation in various Legislatures and other statutory self-governing bodies of Muslims through their own separate electorates is essential in order to bring into existence a really representative democratic Government;

And whereas as long as Mussulmans are not satisfied that their rights and interests are adequately safeguarded in the Constitution, they will in no way consent to the establishment of joint electorates, whether with or without conditions,

And whereas, for the purposes aforesaid, it is essential that Mussalmans should have their due share in the Central and Provincial Cabinets;

And whereas it is essential that representation of Mussulmans in the various Legislatures and other statutory self-governing bodies should be based on a plan whereby the Muslim majority in those Provinces where Mussulmans constitute a majority of population shall in no way be affected and in the Provinces in which Mussulmans constitute a minority they shall have a representation in no case less than that enjoyed by them under the existing law;

And whereas representative Muslim gatherings in all Provinces in India have unanimously resolved that with a view to provide adequate safeguards for the protection of Muslim interests in India as a whole, Mussulmans should have the right of 33 per cent representation in the Central Legislature and this Conference entirely endorses that demand;

And whereas on ethnological, linguistic, geographical and administrative grounds the Province of Sind has no affinity whatever with the rest of the Bombay Presidency and its unconditional constitution into a separate Province, possessing its own separate legislative and administrative machinery on the same lines as in other Provinces of India is essential in the interests of its people, the Hindu minority in Sind being given adequate and effective representation in excess of their proportion in the population, as may be given to Mussulmans in Provinces in which they constitute a minority of population;

And whereas the introduction of constitutional reforms in the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan along such lines as may be adopted in other Provinces of India is essential not only in the interests of those Provinces but also of the constitutional advance of India as a whole, the Hindu minorities in those Provinces being given adequate and effective representation in excess of their proportion in population, as is given to the Muslim community in Provinces in which it constitutes a minority of the population;

And whereas it is essential in the interests of the Indian administration that provision should be made in the Constitution giving Muslims their adequate share along with other Indians in all Services of the State and on all statutory self-governing bodies, having due regard to the requirments of efficiency;

And whereas, having regard to the political conditions obtaining in India it is essential that the Indian Constitution should embody safeguards for protection and promotion of Muslim education, languages, religion, personal law and Muslim charitable institutions, and for their due share in grants-in-aid;

And whereas, it is essential that the Constitution should provide that no change in the Indian Constitution shall, after its inauguration, be made by the Central Legislature except with the concurrence of all the States constituting the Indian Federation ;

This Conference emphatically declares that no Constitution, whomsoever proposed or devised, will be acceptable to Indian Mussulmans unless it conforms with the principles embodied in this resolution.

(4) Mr Jinnah's Fourteen Points, 28 March 1929

Whereas the basic idea on which the All-Parties Conference was called in being and a Convention was summoned at Calcutta during Christmas Week, 1928 was that a scheme of reforms should be formulated and accepted and ratified by the foremost political organizations in the country as a National Pact; and whereas the Report was adopted by the Indian National Congress only constitutionally for the one year ending 31st December 1929 and in the event of the British Parliament not accepting it within the time limit, the Congress stands committed to the policy and programme of Complete Independence by resort to civil disobedience and non-payment of taxes; and whereas the attitude taken up by the Hindu Maha Sabha from the commencement through their representatives at the Convention was nothing short of an ultimatum, that if a single word in the Nehru Report in respect of the communal settlement was changed they would immediately withdraw their support to it; and whereas the National Liberal Federation delegates at the Convention took up an attitude of benevolent neutrality, and subsequently in their open sesson at Allahabad, adopted a non-committal policy with regard to the Hindu-Muslim differences; and whereas the non-Brahmin and Depressed Classes are entirely opposed to it; and whereas the reasonable and moderate proposals put forward by the delegates of the All-India Muslim League at the Convention in modification were not accepted, the Muslim League is unable to accept the Nehru Report.

The League after anxious and careful consideration most earnestly and emphatically lays down that no scheme for the future constitution of the government of India will be acceptable to Mussulmans 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 Legislature, Mussalman representation shall not be less than one third.
(5) Representation of communal groups shall continue to be by means of separate electorates as at present: provided it shall be open to any community, at any time, to abandon its separate electorate in favour of joint electorates.
(6) Any territorial redistribution 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 resolution or any part thereof shall be passed in any Legislature or any other elected body if three-fourths 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 devises 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 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 institutions 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 States constituting the Indian Federation.

The draft resolution also mentions an alternative to the above provision in the following terms:
That, in the present circumstances, representation of Mussulmans in the different Legislatures of the country and other elected bodies through separate electorates is inevitable and further, the Government being pledged over and over again not to disturb this franchise so granted to the Muslim community since 1909 till such time as the Mussulmans chose to abandon it, the Mussulmans will not consent to joint electorates unless Sind is actually constituted into a separate Province and reforms in fact are introduced in the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan on the same footing as in other Provinces.

Further, it is provided that there shall be reservation of seats according to the Muslim population in the various Provinces; but where Mussulmans are in a majority they shall not contest more seats than their population warrants.
The question of excess representation of Mussulmans over and above their population in Provinces where they are in minority is to be considered hereafter.

(5) The Congress Scheme for a communal Settlement, 28 October 1931

However much it may have failed in the realization, the Congress has, from its very inception, set up pure nationalism as its ideal. It has endeavoured to break down communal barriers. The following Lahore resolution was the culminating point in its advance towards nationalism:

'In view of the lapse of the Nehru Report it is unnecessary to declare the policy of the Congress regarding communal questions, the Congress believing that in an independent India communal questions can only be solved on strictly national lines. But as the Sikhs in particular, and the Muslims and the other Minorities in general, have expressed dissatisfaction over the solution of communal questions proposed in the Nehru Report, this Congress assured the Sikhs, the Muslims and other Minorities  that no solution thereof in any future Constitution will be acceptable to the Congress that does not give full satisfaction to the parties concerned.'

Hence, the Congress is precluded from setting forth any communal solution of the communal problem. But at this critical juncture in the history of the nation, it is felt that the Working Committee should suggest for adoption by the country a solution though communal in appearance, yet as nearly national as possible and generally acceptable to the communities concerned. The Working Committee, therefore, after full and free discussion, unanimously passed the following scheme:

1.(a) The article in the Constitution relating to Fundamental Rights shall include a guarantee to the communities concerned of the protection of their cultures, languages, scripts, education, profession and practice of religion and religious endowments.
(b) Personal laws shall be protected by specific provisions to be embodied in the Constitution.
(c) Protection of political and other rights of minority communities in the various Provinces shall be the concern, and be within the jurisdiction, of the Federal Government.

2. The franchise shall be extended to all adult men and women.
(NOTE A. The Working Committee is committed to adult franchise by the Karachi resolution of the Congress and cannot entertain any alternative franchise. In view, however, of misapprehensions in some quarters, the Committee wishes to make it clear that in any event the franchise shall be uniform and so extensive as to reflect in the electoral roll the proportion in the population of every community.)

3. (a) Joint electorates shall form the basis of representation in the future Constitution of India.

(NOTE B. Whereever possible the electoral circles shall be so determined as to enable every community, if it so desires, to secure its proportionate share in the Legislatures.)

(b) That for Hindus in Sind, the Muslims in Assam and the Sikhs in the Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province and for Hindus and Muslims in any Province where they are less than 25 per cent of the population, seats shall be reserved in the Federal and Provincial Legislatures on the basis of population with the right to contest additional seats.

4. Appointments shall be made by non-party Public Service Commissions which shall prescribe the minimum qualifications, and which shall have due regard to the efficiency of the Public Service as well as to the principle of equal opportunity to all communities for a fair share in the Public Services of the country.

(Note B is not part of the scheme but has been added by me as not being inconsistent with the scheme. - M.K.G)


CMP(1) -  From Ayesha Jalal's 'The Sole Spokesman'

CMP(2) -  Congress and Muslim League positions on 12 May 1946

CMP(3) -  The Cabinet Mission Plan 16 May 1946

CMP(4) - Jinnah  and ML  responses to the CMP 22 May  and June 6 1946

CMP(5) -  Jinnah's meeting with Mission Delegation on 4 April 1946

CMP(6) -  Jinnah's meeting with Missiion Delegation on 16 April 1946

CMP(7A) - Maulana Azad's meeting with Mission Delegation on 17 April 1946

CMP(7) -  The Congress unease with parity  8-9 May 1946

CMP(7B) - Jinnah and Azad responses to preliminary proposals 8-9 May 1946

CMP(8A) - Simla Conference meetings on 5 May 1946 on the powers of the Union

CMP(8) -  More exchanges on parity, Simla Conference meeting  11 May 1946

CMP(9) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(1) on Pakistan and CMP, 8 Jan. and 25 May 1946

CMP(10) -  Jinnah and Wyatt(2) on the interim government, 11 June 1946

CMP(11) -   Congress opposition to grouping. Gandhi, Patel and Azad, May 1946

CMP(12) - Congress Working Committee resolutions, May-June 1946

CMP(12A) - Arguments over inclusion of a Congress Muslim, June 1946

CMP(12B) - Behind the scenes-Gandhi, June-July 1946

CMP(12C) - Behind the scenes-Jinnah, June-July 1946

CMP(13) - Jawaharlal Nehru's press conference on the Plan, 10 July 1946

CMP(14) - League rejected Plan, called Direct Action,  July-August 1946

CMP(15) - Viceroy strong-arming Nehru, Gandhi on compulsory grouping, Pethick-Lawrence to Attlee, Aug -Sept 1946

CMP(16) - Intelligence assessment on Jinnah's options and threat of civil war, Sept. 1946

CMP(17) - League Boycott of the Constituent Assembly Dec. 1946

CMP(17A) - Congress "climbdown" on grouping and Jinnah's rejection, January 1947

CMP (A1) - Plain speaking from Sir Khizr Hayat, Abell on the Breakdown plan, Wavell

CMP(A2) - North West Frontier Province, Oct-Nov 1946 and Feb-March 1947

CMP(A3) - Bengal and Bihar, August - November 1946

CMP(A4) - Punjab, February - March 1947

CMP (18) - My take

CMP (19) - What did parity and communal veto mean in numbers?

CMP(20) - Another take -with links to reference material

CMP(21) - Mountbatten discussing CMP with Patel and Jinnah, 24-26 Apr 1947

CMP(22) - A reply on the Cabinet Mission Plan

Extra(1) - Jinnah's speech in March 1941 on independent sovereign Pakistan

Extra(1A) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1941-1942

Extra(1B) - Jinnah's Speeches and Statements from 1938-1940

Extra(1C) - Jinnah's speeches and Statements from 1943-45

Extra(2) - Gandhi-Jinnah talks in 1944 on defining Pakistan

Extra(3) - BR Ambedkar quoted from his book 'Pakistan or the Partition of India'

Extra(4) - Congress and Muslim parties' on the Communal question 1927-1931

Extra(4A) - Excerpts of Motilal Nehru Committee Report 1928

Extra(4B) - Nehru, Bose, Jinnah Correspondence 1937-38

Extra(5) -  BR Ambedkar on Communal Representation 1909-1947

Extra(6) - Gandhiji's scheme of offering the Prime Ministership to Jinnah in 1947

Extra(6A) - Jinnah on Congress's offers of Prime Ministership 1940-43

Extra (6B) - Apr-Jul 1947 Negotiations on Pakistan between Mountbatten and Jinnah

Extra(7) - M.A.Jinnah and Maulana Azad on two nation theory

Extra(8) - On Separate electorates, Joint electorates and Reserved constituencies

Extra(9) - Links to cartoons on Indian constitutional parleys from the Daily Mail, UK, 1942 and 1946-1947, by L.G. Illingworth

Extra(10) -Nehru Report 1928 (10 MB pdf)
Extra(11) -Iqbal's letters to Jinnah, May-June 1937

Extra(12) -Jinnah, Linlithgow, Sikander Hayat, Pakistan rumblings 1942-43

Durga Das (1) 1919-1931, Jallianwala Bagh to Bhagat Singh

Durga Das (2) 1931-1936, Crescent Card: Jinnah in London to Fazli Husain in Punjab

Durga Das(3) 1937-1940, Provincial Autonomy to Jinnah gets the veto

Durga Das(4) 1940-1945, The War Years: India's War Effort-Pakistan on a platter

Durga Das(5) 1945-1947, The Cabinet Mission to Divide and Quit

1937-1940(2)  Congress and Jinnah fall out in U.P., Jinnah's anti-Congress campaign and the Viceroy gives Jinnah a Veto: Ayesha Jalal, Sarvepalli Gopal and Stanley Wolpert

1937: Congress-Jinnah tussle over coalition government in U. P., M.J. Akbar

1937: Nehru, Jinnah and Coalition Governments, Bimal Prasad

1939-1940: India and the War, Anita Inder Singh

1945-1946: The Elections of 1945-46, Anita Inder Singh

1857-1938 Glimpses of British policy in Punjab: Ian Talbot and David Page

1930-1939 Congress Decline in Bengal, John Gallagher

Glendevon (1) 1937: Congress's Office Acceptance Saga over Governor's Powers

Glendevon (2) 1937-1940: Federation, Jinnah, Congress activism in Princely States

Glendevon (3) 1939-1942: Linlithgow, Congress, Jinnah,War-time Realignments

1939-1947: Jinnah and the Anglo-Muslim League Alliance, Narendra Singh Sarila

1944: Gandhi-Jinnah talks, Jaswant Singh

1830s-1898: British Forward Policy(1)

1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)

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