Communal Award by His Majesty's Government÷1932

In the statement made by the Prime Minister on 1st December last on behalf of His Majesty's Government at the close of the second session of the Round Table Conference, which was immediately afterwards endorsed by both Houses of Parliament, it was made plain that if the communities in India were unable to reach a settlement acceptable to all parties on the communal questions which the Conference had failed to solve, His Majesty's Government were determined that India's constitutional advance should not on that account be frustrated, and that they would remove this obstacle by devising and applying themselves a provisional scheme./1/

(2.) On the 19th March last His Majesty's Government, having been informed that the continued failure of the communities to reach agreement was blocking the progress of the plans for the framing of a new Constitution, stated that they were engaged upon a careful re-examination of the difficult and controversial questions which arise. They are now satisfied that without a decision of at least some aspects of the problems connected with the position of minorities under the new Constitution, no further progress can be made with the framing of the Constitution.

(3.) His Majesty's Government have accordingly decided that they will include provisions to give effect to the scheme set out below in the proposals relating to the Indian Constitution to be laid in due course before Parliament. The scope of this scheme is purposely confined to the arrangements to be made for the representation of the British Indian communities in the Provincial Legislatures, consideration of representation in the Legislature at the Centre being deferred for the reason given in paragraph 20 below. The decision to limit the scope of the scheme implies no failure to realise that the framing of the Constitution will necessitate the decision of a number of the problems of great importance to minorities, but has been taken in the hope that once a pronouncement has been made upon the basic questions of method and proportions of representation the communities themselves may find it possible to arrive at a modus vivendi on other communal problems, which have not as yet received the examination they require.

(4.) His Majesty's Government wish it to be most clearly understood that they themselves can be no parties to any negotiations which may be initiated with a view to the revision of their decision, and will not be prepared to give consideration to any representation aimed at securing the modification of it which is not supported by all the parties affected. But they are most desirous to close no door to an agreed settlement should such happily be forthcoming. If, therefore before a new Government of India Act has passed into law, they are satisfied that the communities who are concerned are mutually agreed upon a practicable alternative scheme, either in respect of any one or more of the Governors' Provinces or in respect of the whole of the British India, they will be prepared to recommend to Parliament that that alternative should be submitted for the provisions now outlined.

(5.) Seats in the Legislative Councils in the Governors' Provinces, or in the Lower House if there is an Upper Chamber, will be allocated as shown in the annexed table./2/

(6.) Election to the seats allotted to Muhammadan, European and Sikh constituencies will be by voters voting in separate communal electorates covering between them the whole area of the Province (apart from any portions which may in special cases be excluded from the electoral area as "backward").

Provision will be made in the Constitution itself to empower a revision of this electoral arrangement (and the other similar arrangements mentioned below) after 10 years with the assent of the communities affected, for the ascertainment of which suitable means will be devised.

(7.) All qualified electors, who are not voters either in a Muhammadan) Sikh, Indian Christian (see paragraph 10 below), Anglo-Indian (see paragraph II below) or European constituency, will be entitled to vote in a general constituency.

(8.) Seven seats will be reserved for Mahrattas in certain selected plural member general constituencies in Bombay.

(9.) Members of the "depressed classes" qualified to vote will vote in a general constituency. In view of the fact that for a considerable period these classes would be unlikely, by this means alone, to secure any adequate representation in the Legislature, a number of special seats will be assigned to them as shown in the table.  These seats will be filled by election from special constituencies in which only members of the "depressed classes" electorally qualified will be entitled to vote. Any person voting in such a special constituency will, as stated above, be also entitled to vote in a general constituency. It is intended that these constituencies should be formed in selected areas where the Depressed Classes are most numerous, and that, except in Madras, they should not cover the whole area of the Province.

In Bengal it seems possible that in some general constituencies a majority of the voters will belong to the Depressed Classes. Accordingly, pending further investigation, no number has been fixed for the members to be returned from the special Depressed Class constituencies in that Province. It is intended to secure that the Depressed Classes should obtain not 'less than 10 seats in the Bengal Legislature.

The precise definition in each Province of those who (if electorally qualified) will be entitled to vote in the special Depressed Class constituencies has not yet been finally determined. It will be based as a rule on the general principles advocated in the Franchise Committee's Report. Modification may, however, be found necessary in some Provinces in Northern India where the application of the general criteria of untouchability might result in a definition unsuitable in some respects to the special conditions of the Province.

His Majesty's Government do not consider that these special Depressed Class constituencies will be required for more than a limited time. They intend that the Constitution shall provide that they shall come to an end after 20 years if they have not previously been abolished under the general powers of electoral revision referred to in paragraph 6.

(10.) Election to the seats allotted to Indian Christians will be by voters voting in separate communal electorates. It seems almost certain that practical difficulties will, except possibly in Madras, prevent the formation of Indian Christian constituencies covering the whole area of the Province, and that accordingly special Indian Christian constituencies will have to be formed only in one or two selected areas in the Province. Indian Christian voters in these areas will not vote in a general constituency. Indian Christian voters outside these areas will vote in a general constituency. Special arrangements may be needed in Bihar and Orissa, where a considerable proportion of the Indian Christian community belongs to the aboriginal tribes.

(11.) Election to the seats allotted to Anglo-Indians will be by voters voting in separate communal electorates. It is at present intended, subject to investigation of any practical difficulties that may arise, that the Anglo-Indian constituencies shall cover the whole area of each Province, a postal ballot being employed; but no final decision has yet been reached.

(12.) The method of filling the seats assigned for representatives from backward areas is still under investigation, and the number of seats so assigned should be regarded as provisional pending a final decision as to the constitutional arrangements to be made in relation to such areas.

(13.) His Majesty's Government attach great importance to securing that the new legislatures should contain at least a small number of women members. They feel that at the outset this object could not be achieved without creating a certain number of seats specially allotted to women. They also feel that it is essential that women members should not be drawn disproportionately from one community. They have been unable to find any system which would avoid this risk, and would be consistent with the rest of the scheme for representation which they have found it necessary to adopt, except that of limiting the electorate for each special women's seat to voters from one community./3/ The special women's seats have accordingly been specifically divided, as shown in the table, between the various communities. The precise electoral machinery to be employed in these special constituencies is still under consideration.

(14.) The seats allotted to "Labour" will be filled from noncommunal constituencies. The electoral arrangements have still to be determined, but it is likely that in most Provinces the Labour constituencies will be partly trade union and partly special constituencies as recommended by the Franchise Committee.

(15.) The special seats allotted to Commerce and Industry, Mining and Planting will be filled by election through Chambers of Commerce and various Associations. The details of the electoral arrangements for these seats must await further investigation.

(16.) The special seats allotted to Land-holders will be filled by election by special Land-holders' constituencies.

(17.) The method to be employed for election to the University seats is still under consideration.

(18.) His Majesty's Government have found it impossible in determining these questions of representation in the Provincial Legislatures to avoid entering into considerable detail. There remains, nevertheless, the determination of the constituencies. They intend that this task should be undertaken in India as early as possible.

It is possible that in some instances delimitation of constituencies might be materially improved by slight variations from the numbers of seats now given. His Majesty's Government reserve the right to make such slight variations, for such purpose, provided that they would not materially affect the essential balance between communities. No such variations will, however, be made in the case of Bengal and Punjab.

(19.) The question of the composition of Second Chambers in the Provinces has so far received comparatively little attention in the constitutional discussions and requires further consideration before a decision is reached as to which Provinces shall have a Second Chamber or a scheme is drawn up for their composition.

His Majesty's Government consider that the composition of the Upper House in a Province should be such as not to disturb in any essential the balance between the communities resulting from the composition of the Lower House.

(20.) His Majesty's Government do not propose at present to enter into the question of the size and composition of the Legislature at the Centre, since this involves among other questions that of representation of the Indian States which still needs further discussion. They will; of course, when considering the composition, pay full regard to the claims of all communities for adequate representation therein.

(21.) His Majesty's Government have already accepted the principle that Sind should be constituted a separate Province, if satisfactory means of financing it can be found. As the financial problems involved still have to be reviewed in connection with other problems of federal finance, His Majesty's Government have thought preferable to include, at this stage, figures for a Legislature for the existing Province of Bombay, in addition to the schemes for separate Legislatures for Bombay Presidency proper and Sind.

(22.) The figures given for Bihar and Orissa relate to the existing Province. The question of constituting a separate Province of Orissa is still under investigation.

(23.) The inclusion in the table of figures relating to a Legislature for the Central Provinces including Berar does not imply that any decision has yet been reached regarding the future constitutional position of Berar.

London, 4th August, 1932.


/1/ Parliamentary Paper (Command 4147) of 1932. Officially it is spoken of as [the] Communal Decision.

/2/ See chart below.

/3/ Subject to one exception, see note (3) to Table, Appendix XIII.


Allocation of Seats in Provincial Legislatures (Lower House Only)

Province.  General.  Depressed Classes  Representatives from Backward Areas.  Sikh.  Muhamadan.  Indian Christian.  Anglo-Indlan.  Europeans  Commerce and Industry, Mining and Planting, Special.  Land Holders special  University Special  Labour Special  Total 
Madras  134 (including 6 women)  18  20 (including 1 women)  215 
Bombay (Including Sind)  97 (b) (including 6 women)  10  63  (including 1 women)  200 
Bengal  80 (c) (including 2 women)  (c) 119 (including 2 women)  4 (including 1 woman)  11  19  2M 
UnitedProvinces  132 (including 4 women)  12  66 (including 2 women)  228 
Punjab  43 (including 1 women)  32  86 (including 2 women)  5(d) 176 
Bihar and Orissa  99 (including 3 women)  42 (including 1 women)  ð 4  175 
Central Provlnces (including Berar)  77 (including 3 women)  10  14  112 
Assam  44 (including 1 women) (e)  -- 34  11   -- 108 
North-West Frontier Province  30  50 
Bombay(without Sind)  109(b) (including 6 women) 10  30 (including 6 women) 7 175 
Sind  19 (including 6 women) 34 (including 6 women) 60 

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