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Constituent Assembly Of India - Volume - VII
Dated: November 05, 1948.
Sir, I have a few remarks to make in regard to there port of the Expert Committee. The Expert Committee did not seem to be sure of itself. Actually, though the terms of reference which you, Sir furnished them were wide enough, wide in the sense that going on the experience of the Government of India and the provincial governments during the last ten years they were competent even to suggest alterations of the various heads in the lists enumerating Central and State subjects if necessary, they did not attempt to seize the opportunity that you furnished to them, but on the other hand they have mentioned explicitly in their report that they preferred in the circumstances that exist in this country to adopt the status quo rather than attempt to make any revolutionary changes in the financial structure of the country. That, Sir, I am afraid, was very unfortunate.
The second point on which I would like to touch is about paragraph 49 of the report with regard to the items in provincial list, Nos. 48. 49 and 51., 51 relates to agricultural income-tax. 48 and 49 relate to Estate Duty and Succession Duty on agricultural land. They felt that in the present context of things, the difference between agricultural property and non-agricultural property had no validity. I think they were quite right, but they have not had the courage to suggest that in the Draft Constitution this distinction which was imported for specific reasons into the Government of India Act should be done away with. I propose Sir, if the House would permit me, to table an amendment seeking to do away with this distinction. Not that I feel that the powers of the provinces should be encroached upon but I feel that the only way in which the revenues of the provinces could be augmented is by unifying income-tax, whether it is agricultural or non-agricultural property, unifying Estate Duty whether it is agricultural or non-agricultural property and so on and making the advantage of such unification available to the Provinces.
Sir, one other recommendation of the Expert Committee is, I am afraid, rather mischievous. That is, they have suggested in regard to Sales Tax - which is item 58 in List 2 - that the definition should be enlarged so as to include Use Tax as well, going undoubtedly on the experience of the American State Use Tax which, I think, is a pernicious recommendation. I think it finds a reflection in the mention of Sales Tax in Item No.58 which ought not to be there.
The other recommendations of the Expert Committee like increasing the share of income-tax to the provinces from 50 per cent to 60 per cent and incorporating in the pool the proceeds of Corporation Taxes as well as taxes on Federal emoluments have been more or less dismissed by the Drafting Committee .
So I do feel that either the Drafting Committee was not competent to examine even the half-hearted recommendations made by the Expert Committee or they felt that it would be better to tread on safer ground and adopt the status quo which idea, I think, more or less dictated the decisions made by the Expert Committee itself.
Then I come to a new provision that has been made in the financial sections of this Draft Constitution, viz. Article 260. Article 260, Sir speaks of a Finance Commission. In fact, Sir, in the terms of reference that you had sent to the Expert Committee you yourself made that suggestion, but I do not know if it is at all necessary for us to incorporate in the constitution an Article like 260 which is mandatory only in regard to one particular aspect of it. namely, the appointment of a Commission. The duties assigned to it, to arbitrate between provincial units and the Centre and also to act as a sort of Grants Commission, can actually be done by any Commission approved by any law enacted by Parliament. Parliament is empowered to appoint a Commission of this nature so long as the recommendations of the Commission are not mandatory on the Central and provincial governments which is the position as the wording of Article 260 as it now stands. So what I really feel would be wiser to insert it, in view of the fact that we have had no time to examine the financial implications of this Constitution and in view of the fact that we could not apportion the heads of income properly between the provinces and the Centre, a provision in the Constitution itself for a Commission which will go into the entire financial structure of the country and make recommendations even in regard to changing the heads in the lists assigned to the provinces and the Centre. As a matter of fact, mention has been made by the Expert Committee that it should be done, though they have not gone further into it. What I would like to have in this Constitution is that a Finance Commission should be appointed and that Commission should be empowered to make recommendations to make alterations in both lists 1 and 2 and that the recommendations of that Commission should be adopted as a part of the constitution and should be obligatory on the Government of India and the provincial governments without going to the needless process and trouble of an amendment to the constitution. I do not know, Sir, if such a thing is possible but I see that the mover of this motion is not here--probably he may have been able to enlighten me on this point if he were here--but I do feel that an attempt should be made to insert a provision of this nature in the Constitution. I would only say, Sir, when dealing with this particular aspect of the matter that I feel that the defects in regard to the distribution of the financial powers in the 1935 Act have not been properly appreciated and no serious attempt has been made to devise methods to increase the revenues of the provinces which do badly need additional resources and to have a more rational and equitable system of taxation in this country.
Sir, one or two other aspects I would like to touch on before I sit down is this. Sir, the Mover of the motion mentioned about the need for a strong Centre. I find that sentiment has been echoed by Mr. Anthony. Well, I think in the uncertain state of events which lie ahead of us and in view of the fact that the main objective of our having achieved freedom is to better the lot of the lowliest in this country, namely, to improve the economy of the common man, the only way in which that can be achieved is to take certain amount of powers to the Centre which can direct the steps to be taken to this end. I am all for a strong Centre, if the provinces' powers could be preserved intact. It is also necessary, Sir, as I find from a letter written to me recently by a former member of the Government of India and a well-known lawyer who has complained, that Provinces as they are today are merely going off the rails and are imposing all kinds of parochial and provincial restrictions in regard to the internal economy of the province and he has doubted whether it was wise to have a federal system of Government in the present state of things and whether we should not go back to the unitary system. That is there and when we look at it from that point of view, we feel that a strong center is necessary. I would also say that in certain matters Central direction may probably be useful. My honourable friend Mr. Jagjivan Ram has found a lot of difficulty in implementing his labour policy because of the imperfect power that is vested in the Central Government. Actually I see that Dr. Ambedkar has said that Article 60 is now so worded that the power of the Central Government in regard to concurrent subjects will also extend to giving executive directions which are non-existent at the present time. But I do not think, as I read the Article 60, the power is explicitly there but that is a point which Mr. Jagjivan Ram has often mentioned and I always felt that in regard to labour matters, it is better that a larger amount of power is vested in the Centre both for purposes of co-ordination and also because in the provinces the various vested interests prevent progressive lab our legislation being undertaken. So, I would perhaps suggest either an explicit mention in Article 60 that in regard to concurrent subjects the power of the Central Government to give executive directions will also be there or to put lab our legislation in List 1.
One other matter in which perhaps I had some sympathy with Mr. Anthony's suggestion, though I feel I must resist all other suggestions he has made in regard to strengthening the Centre, is in regard to public health. There are certain aspects of public health where the Central Government could do a lot of good. Actually, disease in this country is universal. It is not the main privilege of Madras, Bombay or U. P. and therefore in the matter of public health legislation and also in the matter of maintaining institutes for purposes of research in health, I think some amount of power could be given to the Centre and therefore, that item could come into List 3. But, Sir, while I feel that a strong Centre is necessary, because I visualise the most important task before us is the implementing of the economic objectives, I am rather disinclined to pursue that idea to its logical end, because of what happened yesterday here. Sir, I assure you that I am not going into any controversy, because a controversy can be raised at the proper time. We found yesterday the display of a certain amount of intolerance, of a certain amount of fanaticism, of a certain amount of thoughtlessness on the part of people whom I always regarded as being highly intellectual, highly developed in the matter of aesthetic regarded as being highly intellectual, highly developed in the matter of aesthetic sensibilities and civilization. I refer, Sir, to a type of imperialism that seems to threaten us to-day which perhaps driven to its logical end will bring into being a type of totalitarianism and its reaction on the rest of the units of the Union of India to be. Sir. I refer to this question of language imperialism. There are various forms of imperialism and language imperialism is one of the most powerful methods of propagating the imperialistic idea. It is no doubt true that a large portion of this country do speak a particular language. If I were perhaps a Hindi speaking person, I would certain visualise the days when the Hindi-speaking areas would be a powerful area, well-knit with United Provinces, the northern portion of C. P. portions of Bihar. Matsya Union, Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, all together reproducing, Sir, the greatness of the Asokan Empire, the Empire of Vikramaditya and that of Harshavardhana. It is a thing which just tickles your fancy and if you happen to be a native of the area your imagination more or less takes you to the glories of the past which one seeks to bring into being. But what about the other areas? What about the level of education that we have now attained in those areas and the ideas of freedom that have grown with it? Believe me, Sir, that the hatred that we in South India had for the English language has now gone. We disliked the English language in the past. I disliked it because I was forced to learn Shakespeare and Milton, for which I had no taste at all, but today it is no longer a matter of duress. But if we are going to be compelled to learn Hindi in order to be a member of the Central Assembly in order to speak out the grievances of my people, well, I would perhaps not be able to do it at my age, and perhaps I will not be willing to do it because of the amount of constraint that you put on me. I shall deal with this particular subject later on at the appropriate time but I do feel, Sir, that my honourable friends of the U. P. and C. P. and portions of Bihar will take note of the fact that while they are enthusiastic for their own language, and while they want the English language to be wiped out of this country, they must also recognise that there are a number of people all over India who do not understand the Hindi language. Sir, my honourable friend yesterday resorted to a simile, to strengthen his case. I am accustomed to hear similes, I have a friend who is extraordinarily good in similes and parables, who is somewhere near here now. But what about the simile used by my friend? My honourable friend said:
Yes, there are a number of people in this House and elsewhere who do not understand English. It may be my neighbour from Madras does not understand English and he is prepared to trust me, but that does not mean that a person in South India would be content to trust somebody in U. P., however good Pandit Balkrishna Sharma may be and whatever assurance I may carry forth from Delhi to the South. I know he is an ideal legislator, has an aesthetic soul, is a poet and all that sort of thing-it does not mean that merely because in one particular area there are people who cannot understand the language, they should be prepared to trust those people, who understand it and who are a thousand miles away to carry on the administration. Has anybody in this House given one moment of thought to those of us of this House, who have been merely gaping unintelligently because we could not understand what is being said? It may be, as my honourable friend, Mr. Satyanarayana, who propagates Hindi in South India without effect told me, that there was not much substance in the Hindi speeches that have been made; perhaps it is so, but I would like to know what has been said; I would like to counter the points made. I felt completely helpless in a situation where I am bound to have brought to bear all my faculties to understand what has been said for the benefit of the future of my country, for the benefit of the future of my people. This kind of intolerance makes us fear that the strong Centre which we need, a strong Centre which is necessary will also mean the enslavement of people who do not speak the language of the legislature, the language of the Centre. I would, Sir, convey a warning on behalf of the people of the South for the reason that there are already elements in South India who want separation and it is up to us to tax the maximum strength we have to keeping those elements down, and my honourable friends in U. P. do not help us in any way by flogging their idea `Hindi Imperialism' to the maximum extent possible. Sir, it is up to my friends in U. P. to have a whole-India; it is up tot hem to have a Hindi-India. The choice is theirs and they can incorporate it in this Constitution; and if we are left out, well, we will only curse our luck and hope for better times to come.
Mr. President: We shall now adjourn for lunch. Before we adjourn, it has been pointed out to me by the office that some difficulty is being experienced in distributing papers because some members have not reported their arrival or given their addresses. I request the members to leave their addresses in the notice office so that papers may be sent to them. Those who have not done so will kindly do so.
We shall adjourn now till Three of the Clock.
The Assembly then adjourned for lunch till Three of the Clock.
The Assembly re-assembled after lunch at Three of the Clock, Mr. Vice-President (Dr. H. C. Mookherjee) in the Chair.
Shri Biswanath Das (Orissa: General): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I rise to thank the Honourable Dr. Ambedkar for the brilliant analysis of the Constitution that he presented to the Constituent Assembly. Sir, I equally thank his colleagues who laboured hard for six long months to forge the Constitution that is presented to this House. While paying respect that is due to them, I will be failing in my duty if I do not state here that the Drafting Committee has exceeded the terms of the reference and power that was vested in them by the Honourable House. Sir, the House, if I remember aright, decided to refer the decisions to the Drafting committee to be presented in the shape of a bill and a subsequent motion by an Honourable Friend in this House gave them the option of making certain changes which might be found necessary in the course of the drafting changes flowing from decisions. But, Sir, in the course of drafting the Bill they have not only assumed to themselves the powers of the Drafting Committee but also the powers of a Select Committee - nay - something more - the Constituent Assembly itself. They have made certain changes for which they had no authority. Reference has already been made to the question of bringing in new changes in the Constitution for which they had no authority, questions which were not discussed nor were decided in the Constituent Assembly. Certain changes they themselves have made which they admit in the report and the changes have been marked and new questions have been introduced. Three committees were appointed either by the House or by the Honourable the President - the Sarker Committee, The Centrally Administered Areas Committee and the Minority Committee. I must state here that we have not discussed those reports nor has the Assembly come to any or the recommendations of the Committee but in certain cases something more than what the Committee have recommended; especially in this case need I draw the attention of the House to the recommendations of the Sarker Committee involving very important questions, viz., the financial relations between the Centre and the Provinces as also among the provinces themselves. I must frankly say that the Drafting Committee had no jurisdiction and all that has been done is done without the power or authority of this House.
Similarly, changes have been made in the Constitution without a decision of the Assembly. Sir, I will, having stated so far about the decision taken by the Drafting Committee itself, come to the question of the Draft Constitution. Sir, the procedure adopted by the Honourable President regarding discussion of the Draft Constitution is, I am afraid, peculiar. It is neither the procedure that relates to a Bill, nor the procedure that has been followed in other Constituent Assemblies. We constituted the Drafting Committee on the 10th of August 1947. After six months of labour, a report was presented to the Honourable Members of this House. The report was circulated about the middle of February 1948 and a very short time was given for Honourable Members to place their views before the Committee. I must frankly confess that not only was the time given to us short, but the time that was chosen for offering suggestions was very inopportune, in the sense that both the members of the Central Legislature as also members of the provincial Legislatures were busy with their Budgets. Therefore, the attention that was necessary and that ought to have been given to such an important thing was not given for no fault of the members themselves. Thus the help which the Drafting Committee must have received or has received necessarily remains very small and inadequate. Having said so much about the time given to us for submitting our suggestions, I pass on to the other question that was raised by Mr. T. T. Krishnamachari.
Not all the members of the Committee have taken part in the discussions of the Drafting Committee, not even I believe the decision of the members have given their joint thoughts. Therefore the decision of the Drafting Committee boils down to be the decision of a few Honourable friends. They may be eminent in their own way, but we want more minds, more thought and more discussion on this question. There was not enough, I claim. A year passed without much work and a lot of work could have been done and there would have been no complaint today either on the score of taking consultations or taking help of members or placing of the views of different members of the Constituent Assembly before the Drafting Committee. It is a matter to be regretted that even today we do not have before us the decisions or the discussions of the various legislatures. We claim here that we are delegates representing provinces and we do not know what the provinces have decided and what their views are. If we could know them, this would certainly give us good guidance in giving our decisions. Let me hope that at least before the actual Bill is taken for discussion, we will have before us the discussions or decisions of all the provincial legislatures whom we have the honour to represent in this Constituent Assembly.
It behoves me to place my protest here that a Bill of this importance has not been thoroughly scrutinised by a sort of Select Committee taking into consideration the various representations made from all over India and also views expressed by the members of different Provincial legislatures. If such an occasion had been given, it would have been welcome. If a session of the Constituent Assembly had been held in the month of May 1948, sitting and discussing, say, for about a week or so, the matter could easily have been referred to a Committee which would have taken the place of a Select Committee, and they would have thoroughly scrutinised the various Sections by this time, taking into consideration the views of different organisations. I feel that due scrutiny has not been made by the members of the Drafting Committee, nor is this House given necessary time to discuss the whole question, nor even the opportunity to place the views of members properly and fully either before the Select Committee or before this House. I must again state that there was a meeting of four committees in one place - that was about 9th or 10th April 1948 - a combined meeting of the Drafting Committee, the Union Powers Committee and the Union Committee and the Provincial constitution Committee. I must frankly state that the decisions that were arrived at have not been accepted by the Drafting Committee. Therefore, is this a Drafting Committee , or a Select Committee, or an all-powerful Constituent Assembly? It remains for the, no, not for me, but for the Honourable Members of the House to decide. Under these circumstances, I do not at all feel happy over this performance.
One other item I will state before I resume my seat. It is an important one. I refer specially to the question of fundamental rights. Fundamental rights, specially Section 7,lays down that any Act which comes into conflict with the fundamental rights will be swept away, and the same Section defines the law to include Ordinances, Rules, Regulations and the like. That means that all the existing laws, provincial, central as also parliamentary laws that are in operation including Regulations and a huge number of Codes will be swept away by the operation of the justiciable portion of the fundamental rights. I am asking my Honourable friend Dr. Ambedkar whether he has examined thoroughly the implications and effect of these fundamental rights on the existing laws, both central and provincial. Are you going to create chaos in the country? I believe it was left either to the Secretariat of the Constituent Assembly or to the Central and Provincial Governments to determine the effect and implications of these laws. The British Government before it passed a Constitution Act undertook an examination as to the implications of the Constitution on the existing laws, and after being satisfied with it, they provided three different stages. The first stage was provided in the Act itself, that the existing laws shall continue in operation. The second was taken by allowing authority to take to adaptations of the Acts that are in existence and the third stage was in providing for the issuing of Orders in Council. Nothing of this kind has been attempted here nor an examination of the effect upon existing laws undertaken. It was left to me to protest against this in April 1947. I said this is unfair to the country and would bring trouble and misery. An examination was promised, and I state that this examination has not yet been undertaken, at least to my knowledge. This examination should be taken up in right earnest. I hope my speech proves that the necessary discussion has not been possible.
Shri B. Das (Orissa: General): Mr. Vice President, Sir, at the outset I must pay my tribute to the Drafting Committee that did a greatly arduous work and put into shape and form the Constitution Bill which we are considering today and which we have to alter according to our will, so that a proper sovereign Constitution will be designed for India. While I pay my tribute to Dr. Ambedkar and his colleagues, I must also pay the tribute that your Advisers deserve. Our great Constitutional Adviser, Srijut Narasingha Rau has rendered yeoman service in assisting the Drafting and other Committees in bringing the Constitution to this safe anchor. We are also indebted to our friend Srijut Narasingha Rau for raising our international status at the U. N. O. While we are still a Dominion, and I always think I am still a slave of England, my friend went there, raised our status and dignity and showed the West that India can contribute to world peace and happiness.
Now, Sir, I agree with some of the draft articles of this Constitution Bill. I may not be able here within the short time at my disposal to state the issues where I agree. I would rather start by enumerating the points where I disagree with the draft constitution and where the House must deliberate and so change the draft that the Constitution is truly for Indians and not based on past traditions and past connections with the British.
Now I will take the new draft of the Preamble to which I strongly object. The Objectives Resolution that we adopted in January 1947 stated that the Constitution is "Independent Sovereign Republic". On 21st February 1948 my friend Dr. Ambedkar changed it into "Sovereign Democratic Republic" but we find in another note of 26th October 1948 it has been changed into "Sovereign Democratic State". I do not know how this Drafting Committee can change the Objectives Resolution that this House passed in January 1947. There we have agreed unanimously that the Preamble should be "Independent Sovereign Republic", and I am one who will oppose the amended draft Preamble very strongly.
There are certain points here in which the House never gave its opinion. They were controversial. They were allowed to stand over, but still I welcome the new amendment to article 5 that the Drafting Committee has suggested. It should be further improved. I am referring to the definition of "citizenship". It requires closer examination. The Drafting Committee in its first draft was hesitant but in another suggested amendment they have introduced a better draft. It needs further improvement.
Regarding Fundamental Rights, there were two or three points where the House did not reach any conclusion. I do hope that we will be allowed sufficient time to discuss those without accepting the Drafting Committee's recommendations. One thing I am happy about is that the women of India have won a position which women in no other independent nation enjoy. They have secured equal rights, equal privileges, equal opportunities, with men and that is one great achievement in Fundamental Rights of our citizens.
Sir, I very strongly oppose the idea of nominated Governors. I do not know why the idea of those in which my friend Dr. Ambedkar is participating - the Government – should come into the drafting of this Constitution Bill. At no stage have we found any representative of our Cabinet making here that suggestion. Governors should be elected by Provincial Assemblies and they need not has the residents of that province to contest the Governorship. We do not want to hand our powers to the Government, be he the President or any other able Administrator including Dr. Ambedkar. We do not want the Governorships or Ministerships to be confined to a few individuals and their associates.
My greatest objection - and one on which the whole Constitution Act will founder - is in relation to financial allocation as between the provinces and the Centre. I am surprised that a brave man like my friend Dr. Ambedkar is fighting shy to discuss the finances of the Provinces and piously recommend that for five years after the promulgation of the Constitution Act we should not disturb the financial allocations. Very, very surprising indeed it was to me! It was the same attitude that the Colonial Government, that our former Government, took, and the supporters of that Government took in 1935. The foreign rulers wanted a top heavy central administration and starved the Provinces. I am surprised today to see that the same thing has been in the mind of the Drafting Committee! Of course, I concur with my friend Srijut Kamath that more Congress-minded men should have been in the Drafting Committee so that they will represent the principles and the thoughts of the people who have brought this Constituent Assembly to fruition and whose desire could have been reflected in the draft.
I am grateful to Mr. T. T. Krishnamachari for speaking out strongly. I find that in public health the range of expenditure in all the Provinces varied from 5.8 and 3.1 percent of the total expenditure. This was before the war in 1935-38; this is so after the war in 1947-48. Due to inflation, the expenditure has gone up three times in all the Provinces and at the Centre. This is a point which every province should examine and take note of. Poor provinces like Orissa and Assam are going to examine the consequences of such a statement from Dr. Ambedkar. We want finances re-allocated so that provinces have resources to give to effect to the second sentence in the Preamble:
Sir, I do not care for political justice. I want social and economic justice from this House for the people. And if the Honourable Members are found hostile to it, we will compel them to accept the majority view of the House and do justice—social, economic,--to the teeming millions placed under provincial administrations.
Shri Lokanath Misra (Orissa : General): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I am a new Member to this august House and never before have I taken any part in the proceedings here. I therefore would crave the indulgence of this Honourable House if I fail to make a coherent speech. But then I owe it to the people who sent me here to express in their behalf what I think is their view on this most important matter.
Sir, this Constituent Assembly which represents the sovereignty of India and which is supposed to give shape and form and prestige to our freedom is here deliberating on a Constitution that is supposed to be the guardian of our future. With that end in view, our leaders have laboured enough and hard and have produced a Draft Constitution which we are now going to discuss. But I can not really congratulate the Drafting Committee to the extent that they have been congratulated on this draft.
Sir, my first point is this: that although Dr. Ambedkar has delivered a very brilliant, illuminating, bold and lucid speech completely analyzing the Draft Constitution—here I must say that but for that speech I would not have been able to find out the defects in the draft so much—I must say that the draft does not represent the Objectives Resolution which this sovereign body passed last year. So far as I have been able to read it and so far as I can remember, the Objectives Resolution was a magnificent product which represented the mind and spirit of India not only for the moment, but for the distant future too. What was the Objectives Resolution? That Objectives Resolution envisaged a federal constitution in which the provinces would have the residuary powers and the Centre would have no more and no less power than is necessary to bring the provinces into a coherent system. But this Draft Constitution, by whatever name it may be called, federal or unitary, parliamentary or presidential, is laying the foundation more for a formidable unitary constitution than a federal one. By unitary I mean that it has surreptitiously taken more power to the Centre than it has given to the provinces. Whatever Dr. Ambedkar might have said or might have been thinking of about giving power to the individual with all his disdain for our villages, I must say, this Constitution does give nothing to the individual, nothing to the family, nothing to the villages, nothing to the districts, and nothing to the provinces. Dr. Ambedkar has taken everything to the Centre.
And what is this center? By this centralization of power, I do not know what will happen in the future. But from my present experience I must say that the Government that we are now having has been so centralised and our people in power have become so greedy of power that in the name of law and order, peace and unity, they are liable to go astray easily if the country is not vigilant and the are not relentlessly vigilant. I should therefore say that whatever might be the future of India, we must once for all know and the people must once for know and realize what is the ideal for which we are having this Constitution and what amount of freedom we are going to have.
Now, it has been said that the United States of America has got a Federal constitution, but that gradually it is becoming a unitary constitution and that therefore it is getting better. It has also been said that as time goes on it is natural that the Centre must be taking more power and that the Provinces and units must be losing more and more power. This is a temperament of war-mindedness or at least of panicky peace. Let us see to what effect the United States Government has taken more power. The effect can only be that they will be stronger against Russia or some other country. That means strong against external forces. I should say that the strength of a nation and the unity of her people do not depend upon the State power. It depends upon the realization of the inner unity and the human spirit that makes all men brothers. Therefore if the words in the Preamble ‘Equality, justice and peace’ could have meaning only if we have a strong Centre, the sooner we are disillusioned, the better. I am wholly against a very strong Centre in the sense that the Government will be so strong, though not dictatorial or oligarchic, that the provinces will lose all importance, all initiative and drive. That ultimately curbs the individual below.
An Honourable Member just now said that we may have a strong Centre but no common language. I should say that we should be strong at the Centre if only we have a common language. If really we must have a unity in India , we must have a common language. If we are not prepared to forego the provincial language how can we have unity and how does it lie in the mouth of a Member to suggest that we must have unity, but no common language. He probably means that we must have a strong Centre with no common language which express an inherent common culture. The slogan of united India with a strong Centre is that way frightful. A strong Centre is not worthy of the struggle for us. Now my time is up. I would have taken some more time to x-ray the speech of Dr. Ambedkar. I bow down to his knowledge. I bow down to his clarity of speech. I bow down to his courage. But I am surprised to see that so learned a man so great a son of India knows so little of India. He is doubtless the very soul of the Draft Constitution and he has given in his Draft something which is absolutely un-Indian. By un-Indian I mean that however much he my repudiate, it is absolutely a slavish imitation of – nay, much more,-- a slavish surrender to the West.
Kazi Syed Karimuddin (C. P. & Berar : Muslim): Mr. President, Sir, I congratulate Dr. Ambedkar for the introduction of the motion for the consideration of the Draft Constitution of India. The speech that he delivered was a remarkable one and I am sure that his name is bound to go down to posterity as a great constitution-maker.
It was stated by him yesterday that the Constitution is the bulkiest in the world. In my opinion it is no merit in itself, unless there is substance in it. There is no doubt that we have copied provisions after provisions from foreign constitutions. This Constitution is neither parliamentary nor non-parliamentary, and it is yet to be seen, when we begin to work it, whether it would work properly.
Sir, I have very serious objections to some parts of the Constitution. As Dr. Ambedkar himself has agreed, the continuance of the States is not really proper in India, i.e. States or groups of States who will have the authority to legislate or to have separate Constituent Assemblies. In my opinion, it is really a stigma and a blot on the Constitution of India that even in the twentieth century Rajas, Rajpramukhs and Nizams are allowed to continue and to have their dynasties also continued. All these institutions must be abolished and there should be similar constitution for every State. All these States or groups of States should either be merged with the provinces or should be converted into independent provinces.
Sir the most important provision in this Constitution from the point of view of the minorities is the provision of reservation of seats with joint electorates. The Constituent Assembly last time considered the problem of the separate and joint electorates with reservation of seats. The only provision made for the minorities now is joint electorate with reservation of seats. In my opinion, it is neither here, nor there. Joint electorates with reservation of seats is absolutely of no consequence to the minorities. It would do them positive disservice. The representatives who would be elected under joint electorate with reservation of seats would not be the representatives of the minorities for whom reservation is given. Even a false convert, or a hireling of the majority party would come in by the majority party. Therefore my submission is that this provision is detrimental to the interests of the minorities. If the two resolutions regarding the continuation of separate electorate or joint electorate with reservation of seats with a fixed percentage of votes of the community to which the candidate belongs which were rejected last time are not acceptable to the House, the minorities should forego this reservation of seats under joint electorates. Sir, this is going to create permanent statutory minorities in the country. It would be to the great disadvantage and detriment of the Muslim community or any other minority community which claims reservation, as there is no chance under the system for any real representatives of the minorities to be elected. Even when we are having separate electorates we are not able to do any service to the community. We have thrown ourselves at the mercy of the majority and it is up to the majority to rise to the occasion and in this way the minorities and the majorities will be united together in the country to the advantage of both. We have seen how things have happened in India after 15th August, 1947 and we were sitting in separate compartments helplessly. We should be prepared to have joint electorates and fight our battles on a common ticket. It is up to the majority to create confidence in the minorities and it is up to the minorities to come forward and co-operate with the majority. Therefore my submission is that reservation of seats will create more bitterness, more jealousies, more communal hatred and Muslim disintegration. This provision is not in favour of the Muslim community. It is no us e accepting safeguards which are nominal and can not be effective. This is my opinion. We must be left to our own fate and we are quite prepared to face the future. If at all the majority community want to protect the rights of the minorities, let them introduce the system of proportional representation. Proportional representation with multi-member constituencies with plural voting is the only democratic system known in Europe for the protection of political and communal minorities. Without any sacrifice of the democratic principles the minorities can be protected. The rights of the minorities can be protected in another way and that is by the establishment of a non-parliamentary executive in this country. I was really surprised to hear Dr. Ambedkar while he was introducing the Draft Constitution, praising the system of parliamentary executive, while in his book "States and Minorities" he has advocated that the system of non-parliamentary executive is best suited to protect the minorities, and I would like to read to him what he himself stated in the year 1947:-
" Provisions for the protection of minorities-
The constitution of the United States of India shall provide:
(1) that the executive –Union of States – shall be non-parliamentary in the sense that it shall not be removable before the term of the legislature.
(2) members of the executive, if they are not members of the legislature, shall have the right to speak in the legislature, speak, vote and answer questions:
* * *
(4) the representatives of the different minorities in the Cabinet shall be elected by members of each minority community in the legislature by the single transferable vote.
(5) the representatives of the majority community in the executive shall be elected by the whole House by the single transferable vote.
* * *
In my opinion this is the easiest method to afford protection to minorities. What has happened in India? In all provinces there were acts of rioting, arson and murder and the ministers were not courageous enough to come forward and stop them immediately, being afraid of their constituents. If you introduce non-parliamentary executive, the members of the executive would not be afraid because they are not liable to be removed by their supporters. Therefore in parliamentary executive the Government is naturally weak, and vacillating because the ministers have to depend for their continuance on communally minded supporters.
Sir, the fourth part of the Constitution is the directive fundamentals which have been given. I want to tell Dr. Ambedkar that in his book, he has mentioned that all these principles and fundamentals should be mandatory. He has mentioned that these provisions should be enforced within a period of ten years. What is stated in Part IV is vague. What we want today is not mere talk of economic or philosophical ideals. We want an economic pattern of the country in which the lot of the poor masses can be improved. In this Constitution which is framed, there is neither a promise nor a declaration for the nationalization of the industries. There is no promise for the abolition of Zamindari. It is nothing but a drift. It is nothing but avoiding the whole issue in a Constitution of a Free India. Not to have a definite economic pattern in the Constitution of Free India is a great tragedy.
One word more, Sir, and I have done. It is mentioned in a footnote to the Preamble that the question of our continuance in the commonwealth or otherwise is not yet decided. I am very sorry to point out I am very sorry to point out that when the Objectives Resolution was moved, it was proclaimed to the world and to the Indians that India will be a free and independent State. Why is this indefiniteness? At whose instance is this done, when by a resolution the sovereign Constituent Assembly of India had declared that India would be independent. I can not understand how this position was taken and with whose authority and whose consent this was done. My submission is that Dr. Ambedkar has gone beyond his powers in taking this wrong step. We have not forgotten the tragedies that have been committed in India. We have not forgotten the tragedy of Jallianwallah; we have not forgotten the support of British imperialism to the Union Government in South Africa Indians; we have not forgotten the racial policy in Australia. Such an association identifies us with Fascism in South Africa and with racial discrimination in Australia and moreover it would be an absolute failure of our foreign policy of neutrality. In view of all this my definite opinion is that there is no other way except to be out of the Commonwealth. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1929 at Lahore has declared that unless British Imperialism and all that is implies is discarded, India could never be a member of the Commonwealth. I am very sorry my time is up.
Prof. K. T. Shah (Bihar: General): Sir, I have to join in the chorus of congratulations that have been offered to the Drafting Committee and its Chairman for the very elaborate Draft Constitution that they have placed before this House. I have particularly to felicitate the Law Minister for the very lucid way in which he has put forward the salient features of the Constitution for our consideration, and given us thought-provoking ideas, with reasons why certain items have been included and why certain others have been put in the manner they have been.
My congratulations, I venture to submit, are the more sincere, as I am afraid I am not able to take the same view on many of the leading issues involved in this Draft Constitution. I would invite the House, Sir, to consider that in the first place the principles on which the Draft is based, or the instructions for preparing this draft were prepared and given at a time when this country was passing through very serious crises and happenings which many of us deplore. Our minds were tense; our thoughts were fixed upon certain events, which, if I may say so, distorted our vision of the future India as it should be. Under the stress of those events, instructions were given and principles laid down which I for one feel on more sober consideration we may have reason to revise. When the proper time comes, Sir, I shall put forward suggestions for amending certain provisions in the Constitution, on which I will not take the time of the House at this moment. Certain general ideas, however, I would beg to place before this House at this stage which I think would require reconsideration; and the foremost is, to use the words of Dr. Ambedkar himself: "the aims of this Constitution." What is this Constitution intended to do? The Constitution’s aim, as explained by Dr. Ambedkar, or as can be gleaned from the wording of the Constitution itself, is almost entirely political and not at all social or economic. I hope no one will think it is a bee in my bonnet when I put forward this idea that there is not a trace of any desire to secure social justice, a real equality of the people, not merely paper equality, but equality in actual fact, in daily living and experience, which we were promised and we had all hoped would be the result after the Imperialist exploiter was ousted from the country. As I read two or three most prominent chapters or articles I feel a glaring lack of any attention being given to the disinherited, to the dispossessed, to those who have not scope to have the minimum, what I may call, a decent standard of civilized existence in this country.
Take the chapter of Fundamental Rights. For example, we were told and with some force that the Fundamental Rights have been added to and modified by a number of exceptions, but that these exceptions do not take away the right. I for one feel that the exceptions are too many. As I said before we have given the instructions or the principles have been laid down for drafting this Constitution in a moment of tension, in a moment when our minds were terribly disturbed so that attention was paid only to the dangers in an emergency rather than a more normal, more permanent, more usual form of life or standard of life which we were hoping for.
In the various items of the Fundamental Rights which will come up for detailed discussion later on I shall have, I hope, an opportunity to suggest amendments and redress the comission or correct the distortion this Draft suffers from on this most important subject.
But there is one aspect of it which I wish even at this moment to place before the House. The Rights are throughout spoken of only as "Rights"; and there is not a word said about Obligations. I would put it to the House that we are living and thinking as individuals or as a community too much of Rights and forgetting our Obligations whether as citizens, or as communities, or as a State. I for one would like to emphasize the chapter of Obligations of the State to the individual and vice versa as much, if not more, as that of rights.
The Rights, if I may say so, indicate extreme individualism, an exclusionist or exclusivist tendency, in which the individual emphasizes his exclusive claims or possession of privileges or possibilities far more than that of his membership of a group or of a society or of a community; whereas a similar emphasis on Obligations would teach him that he is not living in an isolated compartment by himself, he is not living in a Robinson Crusoe island, but that he is a member of a cooperative society, of a mutually interdependent community, of a state in which the only guarantee for survival, the only chance of progressive advancement is a co-operative effort, in which individual rights have to be subordinated to the co-operative necessity of joint effort for a common or agreed end. Sir, we are living in an age when we think so much of freedom; and talk in terms of individual liberty so much that we are apt to forget that "freedom" is likely to degenerate into "license" if we do not take care to remember the need simultaneously for self discipline that freedom has its obligations just as much as its advantages. This would be a self-imposed restriction like any kind of discipline that one can think of.
Here again is a case in which in regard to not only individuals, but also communities, the provinces and the whole Union, I should like to emphasise the Obligations chapter as much as, if not more than, the chapter of Rights. The individual has his rights, and I for one shall never agree to any suggestion of any infraction of those rights. But, at the same time the individual as well as the society have mutual obligations; and unless these obligations are duly stressed, I fear the apprehensions of many of us, about the likely consequences of the unrest of our time, will not be lulled to rest.
In this connection, I would like to add another idea which I would beg the House to consider more at length later on. We are talking about "Democracy" almost as a fetish. I know I am using some unpopular language when I speak in this strain. But please remember that "democracy", to be successful, has to be qualitative as much as quantitative. You must remember that what should count ought not to be merely the number of hands that are raised or the number of heads, present, but the character of those hands or the content of those heads.
In the Constitution before us, this qualitative aspect of democracy is, I am afraid, very much over-looked, if it is at all there, whereas the quantitative aspect figures almost in every chapter, and if I may say so, almost in every word of this Constitution. I could give a number of illustration straight off of the way in which the wordings express more the quantitative side of democracy, more the number, more the numerical strength, and not the moral force, the spiritual backing, the intrinsic value that a sound democracy should have.
I am afraid this is an idea not very popular at the moment, not very fashionable. But it is an idea which I wish the House would at least bear in mind before adopting the several process of the constitution. They embody a view, which I am afraid, has already become obsolete. We were told the other day that there is nothing new in this Constitution. The Law Minister was good enough to say that in matters like this, there can be nothing new. But here is a suggestion: why should we not begin, if I may say so, emphasising what I call the qualitative side of democracy of the new India as much as we have so far been talking of territorial or quantitative democracy?
In the chapter relating to the distribution of financial resource and obligations, to which allusion was made this morning; in the chapter relating to the distribution of powers between the provinces or the units and the Union, in the question of the emergency powers, and so on, always there is a hint, behind the scenes so to say, there seems to be a conflict even in the minds of the draftsmen, between what is demanded in the interests of the integrity, independence and security of the new State and also by the freer life, nobler living, and wider opportunity for the individuals that make up this nation.
I am not inclined, Sir, to invite a repetition of your bell though I have a lot more to say. Even if you are gracious enough to extend the time, I would not be able to say it within this time limit. I would, therefore, reserve what I have to say to the time when the amendments come up for discussion. Thank you.
Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra (West Bengal: General): Sir I would be failing in my duty if I do not at the very outset congratulate my Honourable friend and old colleague Dr. Ambedkar, for the magnificent performance he made yesterday. The House appreciates the stupendous amount of time and energy he has spent in giving the constitutional proposals a definite shape. In the few minutes at my disposal, I propose to discuss some of the most striking points in this Draft Constitution and before I plunge myself headlong into the provisions, I would request my Honourable friends Dr. Ambedkar and Sir Gopalaswami Ayyangar to listen to me for a minutes with attention.
The first thing to which I would like to draw the attention of my Honourable friend, Dr. Ambedkar, is the description he has given of India as a Union of States. I take particular objection to the expression States; for, "States" in political parlance, in the constitutional literature of the world, has got a certain special connotation. Unfortunately, the expression States has been used this Draft Constitution in many places for a variety of purpose and in different senses likely to create confusion. If the world Sates is retained in the description of India as it is, the impression may be caused in future that these States are independent sovereign States, joined to the Centre by some sort of a voluntary association. Students of constitutional history know that happened in the United States of America. There, some of the States, under the advice of some of the eminent jurists of the time, formed the States’ Rights School and seriously contended that the States had each of them real sovereign and independent states and that it was by sheer voluntary association that they formed into a federation and worked together. I want this is to be guarded against. We had before the transference or power a body of territories known as Native States. Many of them have acceded to the Indian Union. If this description of India, as is given in articles 1 and 2, is retained, these States may contend, at some later stage, that they were sovereign States and were united to the Indian Union by purely voluntary arrangement. We want to make it perfectly clear in the Constitution that this Union is an indissoluble Union of indestructible States, States in the sense of constituent units. If I try to develop this point further, I will take more of the time of the House. We have got to find a suitable expression. We could use the word Provinces in the case of Governors’ Provinces, and in the case of the native States, "principalities" or expressions like that. If Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg or even Delhi were to be dignified by the name of State, it would be descending really to the region of the ridiculous.
The next point to which I want to draw the attention of the House, is the discretionary power given to the Governors in the Constitution. The House knows very well that according to the Government of India act of 1935, the Governor had certain special powers to be exercised by him in his discretion or his individual judgment. This caused a lot of friction between the provincial Ministers and the Governors,--some of the Premiers are sitting here in front of me and I see them nod in assent of what I say—that this had been really a source of discontent among the popular ministers in the country. After the 15th of August, 1947, we made a clean sweep of these provisions. It is now provided that " there shall be a Council of Ministers to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions", removing completely all the discretionary powers which the Governors used to enjoy under the Government of India act of 1935, until the 15th August 1947. Curiously enough I find that this Constitution these noxious provisions have been bodily incorporated in Article 143 (i) and (ii). Here in this Constitution we have again provided for discretionary powers of the Governor but I ask the House very seriously to consider whether it really means progress or regress, advance or reaction. Today the Constitution of the country provides that the Governor or Governor-General of this country shall function merely as the Constitutional head and nothing more. Tomorrow if this Constitution, as it is, comes into operation with Section 143 (i) and (ii) the Governor will be more than a constitutional head as he will have certain discretionary powers. There is another point to which I would like to draw the attention of the House. In the Government of India act of 1935 there was in Section 54 a salutary check that whenever the Governor was to function in his discretion or in the exercise of individual judgment, he was to be under the superintendence, guidance and control of the Governor-General. This is entirely absent in the present case. Therefore this demands serious consideration.
My third point is regarding the provision for a very strong Centre. An Honourable Member speaking before me was making a grievance that the Centre was being made over-strong. Yes we want a strong Centre by all means, if we want to preserve or maintain our new born freedom, and if we want the solidarity of this country. (Hear, hear). We have had enough experience of Provisional Autonomy of which we had been enamoured in the past and now we have seen its effects. We have seen the centrifugal and fissiparous tendencies that it has generated and we all know it to our cost. If we want to hold together all the component units there must be a Centre which would be able to bring them into cohesion, and that Centre must have ample powers for the purpose. This does not mean that provincial autonomy should be ruthlessly curtailed.
My next point is regarding reservation of seats for minorities. I have a strong feeling about it. Reservation of seats today has absolutely no meaning (cheers). Reservation of seats for Muslims can have absolutely no justification. After having divided the country on basis of two-nation theory with all its implications after having provided in the Constitution. Fundamental Rights some of which are justiciable, after having provided in the Constitution Directive Principals of Governance, after having provided in the Constitution for the adult suffrage, after having done all this, does anyone feel called upon to provide for any reservation ? In principle I am opposed to it. Let my Muslim friends not misunderstand me. They have got this country divided and we know to our cost what that divisoin has meant. Punjab has understood it and Bengal has realised it. Therefore, those of you who are super-secular minded, by all means, give all manner of special representations to whom so ever you please but so far as the province of West Bengal and East Punjab are concerned, I beseech you to take your hands off. In the last session of the Constituent Assembly, I got a motion passed that so far as reservation for minorities etc., is concerned, exception must be made in the case of West Bengal and East Punjab; the House accepted it.
Prof. N. G. Ranga ( Madras : General): We do not want reservation.
Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra: Mr. Vice-President of this august Assembly represents the Indian Christian community in India. He is man of great eminence and standing and he has been President, for three successive terms, of the Indian Christian Association. This Christian Community under his able guidance and leadership has never claimed any special representation. And if there is any Community in India which can legitimately claim special representation, it is the Indian Christian Community. He has set an example and I hope the leaders of the rest of the communities would emulate his example. We are trying to weld all Indians into a common nationhood. Whatever is left in India after division, is one nation and it will be the endeavour of Constitutionalists, public-men and the Government to work up to this ideal that we are all one nation.
Next I want to insist that we should have in every province a bi-cameral legislature. You are giving adult suffrage and you do not know how big your legislatures would be and you do not know what kind of people you will have. We want revising Chamber as a check or brake on hasty legislation. That has just a very salutary practice which obtains in England and so far as I am concerned, I have not the slightest doubt that you must have bi-cameral legislatures in every province for another two decades at least. In any case I, do declare here that we in Bengal want a bi-cameral legislature, an upper House.
Next the successful operation of this constitution hinges on a very important matter and that is the financial adjustments between the provinces and the Centre. Unless you provide here and now in the body of the Constitution itself the basis on which allocation between the Centre and the provinces should be made, I am afraid the new Constitutional machinery would begin functioning at great disadvantage. The provinces or the components unit will not know how to proceed with their development plans or Nation-building projects unless they are told in the Constitution itself their respective shares in the revenues in the Centre. I would therefore suggest that a Committee of Impartial financial experts should be appointed to advise the Central Government, after exploring the entire field of taxation the allocation to be made to the different provinces out of the revenues that are derived from the provinces on behalf of the Centre and other sources of taxation.
Lastly I think I should make a passing reference to the controversy which has unfortunately been raised on this House over the question of State language. The protagonists of Hindi, in their enthusiasm, have gone too far. As a reaction two or three of my friends have already spoken against it somewhat bitterly. I wish that this matter had not been raised at this stage. I can assure my friends from Northern India that if we cannot speak Hindi today, it is simply because we happen to be born in the Eastern and Southern parts. It is a mere accident of birth and individual merit or demerit has absolutely nothing to do with it. We will try to see how far we can go with you. We want some national language for India (Cheers) but it is no use repeating ad nauseum the new dictum that independence will be meaningless if we all do not start talking in Hindi or conducting official business in Hindi from tomorrow. It is both ridiculous and absurd. However at some later stage we must solve this problem. I can assure my Honourable friends from the north that we have got every sympathy for Hindi, but let them not in their over zealousness mar their own case. This is a sort of fanaticism, this is linguistics fanaticism, which is allowed to grow and allowed to grow and develop, will ultimately defeat the very object they have in view. I therefore, appeal to them for a little patience and forbearance towards those who for the time being cannot speak the language of the north. After all they also humbly claim that their own languages contain literacy wealth and treasure which they cannot all throw away the mere bidding of the North.
Shri Ramnarayan Singh (Bihar: General): Sir, I congratulate my Honourable friend Dr. Ambedkar on the opportunity he got of introducing this Constitution bill and I support this motion. As political workers we always talked of Swaraj which means that power will go from the British direct to the people in the villages. But I do not think this proposed constitution will give that power to them. As before once in five or seven years they will give their votes and their power will end there; later on, they will be governed as in British days. What we all want is that the political organizations in the country should serve the people; we do not want to be governed as before. We do not want Governors and even Ministers. The political and other organization should think how best to serve the people of the country. As regards the powers of the President and Ministers, my Honourable friend Dr. Ambedkar has very well appreciated this parliamentary system. He was not ashamed to admit that many things have been borrowed from other constitutions. It is of course a fact that beggars and borrowers do not feel ashamed of what they do, but those who do not want it feel the pangs of it. This constitution will only indicate to the outside world that we have no originality and only borrow from the constitutions of other countries. I say emphatically that the constitution is not what is wanted by the country.
Dr. Ambedkar said in an appreciative mood that it is parliamentary system of Government. If that is so, I am sure it will develop surely into the party system of Government which has been a failure in the west. I appeal to the House to consider this very seriously. There are people who say that the party system is based on democracy; on the other hand many jurists and politicians feel—and I also feel—that there is no democracy in it; on the other hand it strikes at the very root of the democracy. Democracy means rule by the majority, which must consists of feel and independent votes. But what we find is that our votes are influenced by a few people. And once the votes are influenced there is no democracy. I therefore say that this parliamentary system of Government must go out of this; it has failed in the west and it will create hell in this country. I have a bitter experience of its working in the provinces. In the Presidential system of Government it is easy to find one honest President, but it is not so easy to find an army of honest ministers and deputy ministers and parliamentary secretaries, and so on. So long as this thing is there, there can be no justice. Of course we can provide for the removal of the President if he goes wrong, but I think both in the center and in the provinces we must have all powerful Presidents who will be responsible for the work done and who will chose their ministers or secretaries. With regard to those people I am inclined to say that it is better to be ruled by the devils than by an army of ministers and secretaries, etc. I want power to go direct to the villages. It is not enough that they should vote; they must be made to take an interest in day to day administration of the country. Besides everybody knows that in a good State the three functions of judicial, legislative and executive are independent. But in these days under the parliamentary system of Government people from parties and manipulate votes and get a majority in the Legislatures and from the Government. This is dangerous. We find to our cost that these people wish to please their relatives and party men. Therefore I suggest that the parliamentary system should go and the three branches-executive, judicial and legislative—should have nothing to do with one another.
As regards language and protection of cows I agree with what my friend Seth Govind Das said. The economy of the country demands that the question of cow protection should form one of the items of the Fundamental Rights which should also include the right to bear arms.
As regards reservation of seats I feel it should not be allowed. All my friends know that I have never been communal-minded. But as Pandit Maitra said, when the country was divided on a communal basis, there should not be any reservation for Muslims. At the same time I am not one of those who say that all Muslims should be sent to Pakistan or should be harassed in the Indian Union in any way or that their rights should be less than mine. They should have the same rights and privileges here as others but there should be no talk of reservation for them. To provide the reservations for any community would do great harm to the country. In conclusion I appeal to the House and to the country outside to frame the constitution in such a way that power may go to the purest and the best of our countrymen and that those who wield power may serve the people and make them happy and prosperous.
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh (C. P. & Berar : General): Sir, I am thankful to you for giving me this opportunity to express my views on the proposed constitution. The time is limited and therefore my observations can only be of a very general nature. When consideration of the various clauses takes place I shall unfortunately not be present here. I am therefore all the more grateful to have these few minutes.
The speech delivered by my Honourable friend Dr. Ambedkar was an excellent performance and it was an impressive commentary on the Draft that has been presented. As is well known, he is an advocate of repute and I think he ably argued what was before him. He would perhaps have shaped the constitution differently if he had the scope to do so. In any case I think he admitted his difficulties fully when he said that after all you can not alter the administration in a day. And if the present constitution can be described in a nutshell it is one intended to fit in with the present administration. That is why there is nothing original and nothing striking, nothing to create any enthusiasm about it. It is fit in with the administration left by the British in this country. The Governors of provinces are to be there; the administration in the provinces is not to be disturbed. What has been disturbed is only a few names here and there. We are told that there will be a President of the Indian Republic. As the learned Doctor himself admitted, he has been metamorphosed into a pitiable figurehead like the present King of England. So the name of President is merely a misnomer. It is to be adopted because we have perhaps no other alternative and because we are not prepared to call the head of our executive by the name of king. Apart from that and apart from the enumeration of Fundamental Rights, we do not find any striking difference between this constitution and the Government of India Act of 1935. In the way in which it was done by my learned friend it looks perhaps more attractive but on an ultimate analysis it will be found to be the same as the Act of 1935 with a few changes here and there.
With regard to the Fundamental Rights my Honourable friend had to admit that they have not tended to remain as fundamental as they should have been expected to. What is being done by the Supreme Court of America is tried to be done by provisos in the Draft Constitution. The various Fundamental Rights embodied in the American constitution were interpreted by the Supreme Court of America from time to time, and in their interpretation there were certain clogs placed on the fundamental nature of the Fundamental Rights, provided for in the American Constitution. That is what we do here by way of provisos. I for one do not like the fundamental rights because those which are necessary are already there in the Act of 1935, without the pompous name of Fundamental Rights. For instance, freedom of speech and freedom to associate freely although these rights had to be trampled under feet on various occasions during the Congress movement. The Fundamental Rights which are provided in the present constitution should not either have been circumscribed as they are or their enumeration should have been avoided to a large extent. Because some at least of them are bound to prove a clog, an obstacle to our future progress. For instance, freedom to acquire or sell property and to dwell anywhere one likes. I think it takes away from the sovereignty of the Parliament. If this is going to be the state of our fundamental Rights provided for in the Drat Constitution based on the parliamentary system of government, these rights should have much rather been permitted to be determined from day to day by the Parliament itself. Why should we take away or encroach on the sovereignty of Parliament by defining the rights which we are not prepared to concede on any broad basis? We have hedged in the Fundamental Rights with so many restrictions that they are neither Fundamental nor have much of rights in them. In some respects at least they constitute an enumeration without much significance.
The Honourable Dr. Ambedkar was at pains to justify the inclusion of the directive principles of administration in the body of the Constitution. He was constrained to admit that if he had the choice he would have relegated them to the Schedules in the Constitution. That I think is a very clear and explicit admission on his part. Really speaking there is no place for them in the Constitution. It is a sort of a election manifesto. Moreover the directive principles themselves are not of a very fundamental nature. I could have understood it if it was provided that it shall be the duty of the State to establish the right of the state to the ownership of all mineral resources, that all industries shall be the property of the nation, that the Government derives all its authority from the people, that no person shall be permitted to be exploited by another etc. If there was something fundamental like that, there would have been more use. It is no use to put them in the Instrument of Instructions also as suggested by Dr. Ambedkar. They should not have in any case found a place in the Constitution itself.
Then my friend tried to tell us that the Constitution was more unitary than federal. My opinion frankly is that the present Constitution is neither unitary nor federal. That being so, this is nothing better than the 1935 Act. It is not unitary because provincial autonomy of a sort will continue; it is not federal because there is no freedom allowed to any of the units to any substantial degree. So I think this is a hotchpotch of the provisions taken from several different constitutions and my friend has been hard put to it to make a consistent whole of it. Of course , as an advocate he has justified every provision in it. This Constitution will in all probability go through the House without much change. I think we are destined to have this Constitution and no other. But in spite of that, I should like to say that we should have a Constitution about which every individual in the country would feel enthusiastic.
Sir, after all this is a country of agriculturists. The peasants and the labourers should have a larger share and the most dominating in the Government. They should have been made to feel that they are the real master of this the biggest nation on earth. I do not share the view that the past or our ancient civilization is not worth utilizing for the future building up of the Indian nation. That is a view from which I differ. I have offered these few comments, within the time at my disposal. I do not think that this House would be in a position to alter the Constitution largely.
Here I may refer to the feeling of some people that we have got into the Constituent Assembly and want to drag on remaining in office by some means or the other. Though that feeling is there, we have to make the best of the situation; we must try to remove it and improve it as much as possible. That is all that is possible in the present circumstances.
I hope the Honourable Doctor, although he has not been able to frame a Constitution more akin to the genius of the Indian people, will be accommodating in the matter of the amendments intended to make the ordinary citizen feel more enthusiasm and the peasant and the labourer feel that his Raj and his kingdom is going to dawn. That was the Ashirwad that Mahatma Gandhi gave him.
Shri S. Nagappa: Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I join the previous speakers in congratulating the Honourable Chairman of the Drafting Committee and all members of it. They have taken care to see that all aspects of all problems and all the reports of the various committees have been consolidated and looked into.
Now, as regards the labour problem, which my friend Shri T. T. Krishnamachari was kind enough to bring to our notice, it is a fact that we have been finding that in various provinces different measures to deal with labour are going forward. It would have been better if Labour therefore had been in the Central list. That would help to solve all the problems agitating lab our.
Sir, I am one of those who plead for a strong Centre, especially as we all know that we have won our freedom very recently. We require sufficient time to consolidate it and to retain it for all time to come. For another reason also the Centre has to be strong. We have been already divided in so many respects, communally and on religious grounds. Now let us not be divided on the basis of provinces. So, in order to unite all the provinces and to bring about more unity, it is in the country’s interests as a whole to have a strong Centre.
Another reason why we should have a strong Centre I will mention presently. Some people say that we should have a strong Centre with a war mentality. I do not think we should have that mentality at all. We have been trained to be non-violent and truthful. These are our principles. When that is the case, there is no likelihood of the Centre having war mentality.
The Honourable Dr. Ambedkar, in introducing his report and the Draft Constitution, mentioned that the Constitution was federal in structure but unitary in character. I believe, Sir, especially at this stage we require such a Constitution. We were told that he has borrowed from the Government of India act. When we find something good in it, we copy it. If we find something useful and suitable to us, to our custom and to our culture, in other constitutions, there is no harm in adopting it.
The minorities have been very well provided for in the Constitution. I am glad about it and the representatives who have returned to this House to safeguard the interests of the minorities are also glad about it. For this we have to congratulate the majority community. We have to congratulate the majority community for conceding certain special privileges to the minorities.
Questions were raised here whether it is necessary for the minorities to have reservation. I think it may not be necessary for all time to come and for all the minorities. There are certain minorities which require some safeguards. I do not want these safeguards to be continued for all time to come. It depends more on the majorities how the minorities are made to merge with the majorities. It is not for the minorities to claim any reservation and to be always secluded or separated. The minorities are more eager than the majorities to get themselves merged at the earliest possible moment, but the task lies not on the minorities but on the majorities. The majority must conduct itself in such a way that the minorities feel that they are not different from the majority. It is only then, Sir, that we will be in a position to do away with the minority problem. Anyhow, I am thankful to the majority for having gone such a long way. As my Honourable friend, Mr. Frank Anthony, was saying this morning, the minorities have gone more than half the distance to meet the majority. Sir, there is some point in having reservation at least for some time to come. I only want to emphasise that it is the duty of the majority to see that the minorities do not feel that they are minorities.
I am glad, Sir, that social problems have also been touched. In the Constitution it has been made an offence to practice untouchability in any form. I am glad that the Drafting Committee has taken care to see that this is incorporated in the Constitution.
Sir, with regard to the services also, the Committee has made provision for the adequate representation of minorities. But there is one omission which I want to bring to the notice of the House. Nothing has been said that, when the leader of a party forms a Government, his government should be so formed as to reflect all shades of opinion and all classes of people. If such a provision is included, it will go a long way in solving the minority problem. I am thankful to the Drafting Committee for having conceded most of the points of these minorities. If the Drafting Committee had taken care to include such a provision as I have mentioned regarding the formation of Cabinets, both provincial and Central, they could have solved the minority problem completely. The House can easily imagine as to what will happen if this matter is left to the sweet-will and pleasure of the Premier whether to select a member of the minority communities or not. The Premier may say that in his Party there is no member belonging to the minority communities and that therefore he need not include any member in his Cabinet from outside his Party. In order to see that the minorities get a share in the administration of the country, it would have been better if the Drafting Committee had made a provision stipulating due-representation of the minorities in the Cabinets, both Provincial and Central.
As regards the language problem, it has been touched on by my Honourable friend coming from Southern India. I feel that my Honourable friends from Northern India are taking undue advantage of the fact that they have learnt Hindi from birth. That should not be the reason why these friends want to force Hindi on the people of Southern India. This does not mean that we are not for this language. We are not fond of English or any other foreign language. We are fond of our own language Hindi but that must take its own time. Even a child, when sent to school, takes its own time to study. Why are you in such a hurry? I do not think you have got to catch a bus or anything. I would like to assure my friends from Northern India that we are for one language for the country, whether it is Hindi or any other language decided by this House. But you should not try to force it on us all of a sudden and see that we are kept in the dark thereby. This must take time till all the people in this country become accustomed to it.
Sir, I once again thank the Honourable Dr. Ambedkar for having taken the trouble of drafting this Constitution. No doubt, it is an elaborate task but he has done it so successfully and in such a short time.
Mr. Vice-President: The House stands adjourned till Ten of the Clock tomorrow morning.
The Assembly then adjourned till Ten of the Clock on Saturday, the 6th November 1948.
The Assembly then adjourned till Ten of the Clock on Saturday, the 6th November 1948.