From 'The Transfer of Power 1942-7' Volume VII The Cabinet Mission 23 March-29 June 1946, Eds, Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, 1977 (full text)
This interim set of proposals from the British and Jinnah's and Azad's responses to them underline the three parties' respective positions during the Simla Conference. The differences between the League and Congress positions on the communal grouping of the provinces and two constitution-making bodies lingered in the coming months and became the reasons for breakdown of the Cabinet Mission Plan.
220 page 462
With reference to the Secretary of State's letter to you this
morning the Cabinet Delegation wish me to send to you the
enclosed document which is the paper to which the Secretary of State
referred. The Delegation propose that this paper should be
discussed at the next meeting to be held on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m
if that is agreeable to the Congress/Muslim delegates.
2. All the remaining powers shall vest in the Provinces.
3. Groups of Provinces may be formed and such groups may
determine the Provincial subjects which they desire to take in
4. The groups may set up their own Executives and Legislatures.
5. The Legislature of the Union shall be composed of equal
proportions from the Muslim-majority Provinces and for the
Hindu-majority Provinces whether or not these or any of them have
formed themselves into groups, together with representatives of
6. The Government of the Union shall be constituted in the
same proportion as the Legislature.
7. The constitutions of the Union and the groups(if any) shall
contain a provision whereby any Province can by a majority vote of its
Legislative Assembly call for a reconsideration of the terms of the
constitution after an initial period of 10 years and at 10 yearly
intervals thereafter. For the purpose of such reconsideration a body
shall be constituted on the same basis as the original Constituent
Assembly and with the same provisions as to voting and shall have power
to amend the constitution in any way decided upon.
8. The constitution-making machinery to arrive at a
constitution on the above basis shall be as following:-
A. Representatives shall be elected from each Provincial
Assembly in proportion to the strengths of the various parties in that
assembly on the basis of 1/10th of their numbers.
B. Representatives shall be invited from the States on the
basis of their population in proportion to the representation from
C.The Constituent Assembly so formed shall meet at the
earliest date possible in New Delhi.
D. After its preliminary meeting at which the general order of
business will be settled it will divide into three sections, one
section representing the Hindu-majority Provinces, one section
representing the Muslim-majority Provinces and one representing the
E. The first two sections will then meet separately to decide
the Provincial constitutions for their group and, if they wish, a group
F. When these have been settled it will be open to any
Province to decide to opt out of its original groups and into the other
group or to remain outside any group.
G. Thereafter the three bodies will meet together to settle
the constitution for the Union on the lines agreed in paragraphs 1-7
H. No major point in the Union constitution which affects the
communal issue shall be deemed to be passed by the Assembly unless a
majority of both the major communities vote in its favour.
221 page 464
Mr Jinnah to Lord Pethick-Lawrence(full text)
THE "YARROWS" SIMLA, 8 May 1946
Dear Lord Pethick-Lawrence,
I have now received the letter of your Private Secretary, dated 8th May 1946, and the enclosed document to which you had referred in your earlier letter of 8th May 1946. It is proposed by you that this "paper" be discussed at the next meeting of the Conference to be held on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. if this is agreeable to the Muslim League Delegation.
Your proposal embodied in your letter of 27th April 1946 runs as follows:-
"A Union Government dealing with the folowing subjects:-Foreign Affairs, Defence and Communications. There will be two groups of Provinces, the one of the predominantly Hindu Provinces and the other of the predominantly Muslim Provinces, dealing with all other subjects which the Provinces in the respective groups desire to be dealt with in common. The provincial governments will deal with all other subjects and will have all residuary sovereign rights."
This matter was to be discussed at Simla and we agreed to attend the Conference on Sunday, 5th May, 1946, on the terms of my letter, dated 28th April 1946.
You were good enough to explain your formula and then after hours of discussion on the 5th and 6th of May, the Congress finally and definitely turned down the proposed Union confined only to three subjects even with power to levy contribution for financing the Union.
Next, your formula clearly envisaged an agreement precedent between the Congress and the Muslim League with regard to the grouping of Muslim and Hindu provinces and the formation of two federations of the grouped provinces and it followed that there must be two constitution-making machineries. It was on that basis that some kind of Union was suggested in your formula confined only to three subjects and our approval was sought in order to put into this skeleton blood and flesh. This proposal was also categorically turned down by the Congress and the meeting had to be adjourned for the Mission to consider the matter further as to what steps they may take in the matter.
And now the new enclosed document has been sent to us with a view that "this paper should be discussed at the next meeting to be held on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.". The heading of the paper is "Suggested Points for Agreement between the Representatives of Congress and the Muslim League". By whom are they suggested, it is not made clear.
We are of the opinion that the new suggested points for agreement are a fundamental departure from the original formula embodied in your letter of 27th April, which was rejected by the Congress.
To mention some of the important points we are now asked to agree that there should be one All-India Union Government in terms of paragraphs 1-7 of this paper, which adds one more subject to be vested in the Union Government i.e. "Fundamental Rights" and it is not made clear whether the Union Government and Legislature will have power or not to obtain for itself the finances by means of taxation.
In the new "suggestions", the question of grouping of provinces is left exactly as the Congress spokesman desired in the course of discussions that have taken place hitherto, and is totally different from your original formula. That there should be a single constitution-making body, we can never agree to; nor can we agree to the method of formation of constitution-making machineries suggested in the paper.
There are many other objectionable features contained in the suggestions which we have not dealt with as we are only dealing with the main points arising out of this paper. In these circumstances, we think, no useful purpose will be served to discuss this paper, as it is a complete departure from your original formula, unless after what we have said above you still desire us to discuss it in the Conference itself tomorrow.
228 page 476
Maulana Azad to Lord Pethick-Lawrence (full text)
"THE RETREAT", SIMLA, 9 May 1946
Dear Lord Pethick-Lawrence,
My colleagues and I have given the most careful consideration to the memorandum sent by you yesterday suggesting various points of agreement. On the 28th April I sent you a letter in which I explained briefly the Congress view-point in regard to certain "fundamental principles" mentioned in your letter of 27th April. After the first day of the conference, on May 6th, I wrote to you again to avoid any possible misunderstanding regarding the issues being discussed in the conference.
I now find from your memorandum that some of your suggestions are entirely opposed to our views and to the views repeatedly declared by the Congress. We are thus placed in a difficult position. It has been and is our desire to explore every avenue for a settlement and a change-over in India by consent, and for this purpose we are prepared to go far. But there are obvious limits beyond which we cannot go if we are convinced that this would be injurious to the people of Inida and to India's progress as a free nation.
In my previous letters I have laid stress on the necessity of having a strong and organic Federal Union. I have also stated that we do not approve of sub-federations or groupings of provinces in the manner suggested, and are wholly opposed to parity in executives or legislatures as between wholly unequal groups. We do not wish to come in the way of provinces or other units cooperating together, if they so choose, but this must be entirely optional.
The proposals you have put forward are meant, we presume, to limit the free discretion of the Constituent Assembly. We do not see how this can be done. We are at present concerned with one important aspect of a larger problem. Any decision on this aspect taken now might well conflict with the decisions we, or the Constituent Assembly, might want to take on other aspects. The only reasonable course [it] appears to us is to have a Constituent Assembly with perfect freedom to draw up its constitution, with certain reservations to protect the rights of minorities. Thus we may agree that any major communal issue must be settled by consent of the parties concerned, or, where such consent is not obtained, by arbitration.
From the proposals you have sent us(8 D.E.F.G) it would appear that two or three separate constitutions might emerge for separate groups, joined together by a flimsy common super-structure left to the mercy of the three dis-jointed groups.
There is also compulsion in the early stages for a province to join a particular group whether it wants to or not. Thus why should the Frontier Province which is clearly a Congress Province, be compelled to join any group hostile to the Congress?
We realise that in dealing with human beings, as individuals and groups, many consideration have to be borne in mind besides logic and reason. But logic and reason cannot be ignored altogether, and unreason and injustice are dangerous companions at any time and, more especially, when we are building for the future of hundreds of millions of human beings.
I shall now deal with some of the points in your memorandum and make some suggestions in regard to them.
No. 1.- We note that you have provided for the Union to have necessary powers to obtain for itself the finance it requires for the subjects its deals with. We think it should be clearly stated that the Federal Union must have power to raise revenues in its own right. Further that currency and customs must in any event be included in the Union subjects, as well as such other subjects as on closer scrutiny may be found to be intimately allied to them. One other subject is an essential and inevitable Union subject and that is Planning. Planning can only be done effectively at the Centre, though the Provinces or units will give effect to it in their respective areas.
The Union must also have power to have remedial action in cases of breakdown of the constitution and in grave public emergencies.
Nos. 5 and 6.- We are entirely opposed to the proposed parity, both in the Executive and Legislature, as between wholly unequal groups. This is unfair and will lead to trouble. Such a provision contains in itself the seed of conflict and the destruction of free growth. If there is no agreement on this or any similar matter, we are prepared to leave it to arbitration.
No. 7.- We are prepared to accept the suggestion that provision be made for a reconsideration of the constitution after ten years. Indeed the constitution will necessarily provide the machinery for its revision at any time.
The second clause lays down the reconsideration should be done by a body constituted on the same basis as the Constituent Assembly. This present provision is intended to meet an emergency. We expect that the constitution for India will be based on adult suffrage. Ten years hence India is not likely to be satisfied with anything less than adult suffrage to express its mind on all grave issues.
No.8-A.- We would suggest that the just and proper method of elections, fair to all parties, is the method of proportional representation by single transferable vote. It might be remembered that the present basis of election for the provincial assemblies is strongly weighted in favour of the minorities.
The proportion of 1/10th appears to be too small and will limit the numbers of the Constituent Assembly too much. Probably the number would not exceed 200. In the vitally important tasks the Assembly will have to face, it should have larger numbers. We suggest that at least one-fifth of the total membership of the provincial assemblies should be elected for the Constituent Assembly.
No.8-B.-This clause is vague and requires elucidation. But for the present we are not going into further details.
No.8-D.E.F.G.-I have aready referred to these clauses. We think that both the formation of these groups and the procedure suggested are wrong and undesirable. We do not wish to rule out the formation of groups if the Provinces so desire. But this subject must be left open for decision by the Constituent Assembly. The drafting and settling of the constitution should begin with the Federal Union. This should contain common and uniform provisions for the Provinces and other units. The Provinces may then add to these.
No. 8-H.-In the circumstances existing today we are prepared to accept some such clause. In case of disagreement the matter should be referred to arbitration.
I have pointed out above some of the obvious defects, as we see them, in the proposals contained in your memorandum. If these are remedied, as suggested by us, we might be in a position to recommend their acceptance by the Congress. But as drafted in the memorandum sent to us, I regret that we are unable to accept them.
On the whole, therefore, if the suggestions are intended to have a binding effect, with all the will in the world to have an agreement with the League, we must repudiate most of them. Let us not run into any evil greater than the one all of us three parties should seek to avoid.
If an agreement honourable to both the parties and favourable to the growth of free and united India cannot be achieved, we would suggest that an interim Provisional Government responsible to the elected members of the Central Assembly be formed at once and the matters in dispute concerning the Constituent Assembly between the Congress and the League be referred to an independent tribunal.
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
1899-1947: British Forward Policy(2)