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Fourteen Points


Fourteen Points a charter of demands enunciated as a constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of the Muslims in a self-governing India. Earlier in 1928, an All Parties Conference was convened to solve the constitutional problems of India. A committee was set up under Pandit Jowaherlal Nehru to suggest means to that end. The report of the committee known as 'Nehru Report' demanded 'Dominion status' for India, refused to accept separate electorates and rejected the idea of reservation of seats for the Muslims of Bengal and Punjab. In this backdrop, the Muslim leaders decided to give an alternative charter of demands for the Muslim community, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah was authorized to draft in concise term the basis of a future constitution for India. At the annual session of All India Muslim League held on 28 March 1929 Jinnah placed his fourteen points. The meeting resolved that no future constitution for India would be acceptable to the Muslims unless the basic principles put forth by Jinnah in his fourteen points incorporated in it. Hence, as a response to the Nehru Report, the Muslims presented their own demands as envisaged in the Fourteen Points which, in fact, were the counter proposals expressed in the Nehru Report. The fourteen points demand popularly came to be known as 'Jinnah's Fourteen Points'.

Fourteen Points
1.   The form of the future Constitution should be federal in structure with the residuary powers vested in the provinces;
2.   A uniform measure of autonomy shall be granted to all provinces;
3.  All legislatures, central and provincial, and other elected bodies in the country 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, Muslim representation shall not be less than one-third;
5. Representation of communal groups shall continue to be based on separate electorate as at present, provided it shall be open to any community at any time to abandon its separate electorate in favour of a joint electorate;
6.   Any territorial redistribution that might in 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 any resolution or any part thereof shall be passed in any legislature or any other elected body if three-fourth 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 methods shall be devised as may be found feasible and practicable to deal with such cases;
9.   Sind should be separated from the Bombay presidency;
10. Reform should be introduced in the North-west frontier province and Beluchistan on the same footing as in the 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-government 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-government 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 demands contained in the fourteen points and termed as 'irreducible minimum' were rejected by the Congress leaders. However, Jinnah's fourteen points formula remained a point of reference in many forthcoming negotiations between the Congress and the Muslim League, and these points were also presented in the Round Table Conference of 1930. The subsequent MacDonald Award drew a number of its items from the Fourteen Points, providing separate electorate for the Muslims being the main. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]