Muddiman Committee, 1924

Muddiman Committee, 1924 a committee appointed by the Government of India in early 1924 with the terms of reference of making an empirical investigation into the working of the Constitution as set up in 1921 under the India Act of 1919, and making appropriate recommendations for the consideration of the authorities. The immediate background to the committee was the mounting political unrest on the dyarchy issue of the Constitution. The official designation of the committee was the Reforms Enquiry Committee, but it came to be known as the Muddiman Committee after the name of its chairman, Sir Alexander Muddiman, who was then a Home Member of the Government of India.

The Committee submitted its divided report in December 1924. The majority suggested only minor changes in the structure of the Constitution while the minority, consisting entirely of non-official Indians, condemned the dyarchy and advocated for its immediate abolition and democratisation of the Constitution. No effect was however given to the recommendations of the Committee.

The Muddiman Committee Report officially known as the Report of the Reforms Enqury Committee, 1924 was the product of the Government of India Act, 1919. After the committee was put into operation, resolutions were pressed in the Imperial legislature, especially led by the Swarajists for the revision of the Constitution to secure for India full self-governing Dominion status. Plagued by such Indian demands, the Government of India set up a Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir Alexander Muddiman. The nine member Committee's terms of reference were: to enquire into the difficulties arising from, or defects inherent in, the working of the Government of India Act and the Rules thereunder in regard to central government and the governments of Governors' provinces; to investigate the feasibility and desirability of securing remedies for such difficulties or defects, consistent with the structure, policy and purpose of the Act, or by such amendments of the Act as appear necessary to rectify any administrative imperfections. The Committee rather expeditiously completed its work August and December 1924. The Committee submitted its report in September 1925. Its betweenappendices contained a list of public leaders and individuals who had tendered evidences to the Committee; memorandum of the legal and constitutional possibilities of advance within the Government of India Act; and a lengthy note by a member Bijoy Chand Mahtab.

The views expressed by the Government of Bengal upon the working of the reforms are summarised below. The obstacle which is the root of all difficulties in working the transitional constitution is the Indian conception of government as something in which the people have no share or responsibility, and which is the duty of every progressive politician to criticise and oppose. Neither the ministers nor the member had any policy to put into place. Many of the members of the Bengal Council had taken pledge to render the Constitution unworkable. In spite of differences between groups, the majority of the educated classes in Bengal desired provincial autonomy as early as possible. It is, therefore, of the first necessity that the elected members should realize their powers and use them.

Sir abdur rahim and ak fazlul huq forwarded separate notes with the report of the Bengal Government. Abdur Rahim stated that any step of a retrograde or reactionary tendency would be in opposition to unanimous Indian opinion, and gravely intensify political difficulties. Fazlul Huq, on the other hand, was not prepared to support the idea that dyarchy should be worked out. He felt that western representative institution was not suitable to Indian conditions.

The Muddiman Committee did not submit a unanimous report. The majority view was that the existing Constitution was working in most provinces and was affording valuable political experience. Detailed recommendations were made for improving machinery of the government. The minority view was that dyarchy had absolutely failed and could not succeed at all in the future. According to them, it was only a fundamental change in the Constitution, which could bring about the improvement. [Enayetur Rahim]