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Constituent Assembly Of India - Volume VII
Dated: December 06, 1948
The Constituent Assembly of India met in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi, at Ten of the Clock, Mr. Vice-President (Dr. H. C. Mookherjee) in the Chair.
TAKING THE PLEDGE AND SIGNING THE REGISTER
The following Member took the Pledge and signed the Register:-
Shri K. Chengalaraya Reddy (Mysore).
Mr. Vice-President (Dr. H. C. Mookherjee): We shall now resume discussion on article 19.
Shri Lokanath Misra (Orissa: General): Sir, it has been repeated to our ears that ours is a secular State. I accepted this secularism in the sense that our State shall remain unconcerned with religion, and I thought that the secular State of partitioned India was the maximum of generosity of a Hindu dominated territory for its non-Hindu population. I did not of course know what exactly this secularism meant and how far the State intends to cover the life and manners of our people. To my mind life cannot be compartmentalised and yet I reconciled myself to the new cry.
The Honourable Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (UnitedProvinces: General): Sir, are manuscripts allowed to be read in this House?
Mr. Vice-President: Ordinarily I do not allow manuscripts to be read, but if a Member feels that he cannot otherwise do full justice to the subject on hand, I allow him to read from his manuscript.
The Honourable Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru: May I know what is the subject?
Mr. Vice-President: Mr. Lokanath Misra is moving an amendment to article 19. I ask the indulgence of the House because Mr. Lokanath Misra represents a particular point of view which I hold should be given expression to in this House.
Shri Lokanath Misra: Gradually it seems to me that our`secular State' is a slippery phrase, a device to by-pass the ancient culture of the land.
The absurdity of this position is now manifest in articles 19 to 22 of the Draft Constitution. Do we really believe that religion can be divorced from life, or is it our belief that in the midst of many religions we cannot decide which one to accept? If religion is beyond the ken of our State, let us clearly say so and delete all reference to rights relating to religion. If we find it necessary, let us be brave enough and say what it should be.
Shri S. Nagappa (Madras: General): The honourable Member is reading so fast that we are not able to follow him.
Mr. Vice-President: Order, order.
Shri Lokanath Misra: But this unjust generosity of tabooing religion and yet making propagation of religion a fundamental right is some what uncanny and dangerous. Justice demands that the ancient faith and culture of the land should be given a fair deal, if not restored to its legitimate place after a thousand years of suppression.
We have no quarrel with Christ or Mohammad or what they saw and said. We have all respect for them. To my mind,Vedic culture excludes nothing. Every philosophy and culture has its place but now (the cry of religion is a dangerous cry.) It denominates, it divides and encamps people to warring ways. (In the present context what can this word`propagation' in article 19 mean? It can only mean paving the way for the complete annihilation of Hindu culture, the Hindu way of life and manners. Islam has declared its hostility to Hindu thought. Christianity has worked out the policy of peaceful penetration by the back-door on the outskirts of our social life. This is because Hinduism did not accept barricades for its protection. Hinduism is just an integrated vision and a philosophy of life and cosmos,expressed in organised society to live that philosophy in peace and amity. But Hindu generosity has been misused and politics has over run Hindu culture. Today religion in Indian serves no higher purpose than collecting ignorance, poverty and ambition under a banner that flies for fanaticism. The aim is political, for in the modern world all is power-politics and the inner man is lost in the dust. Let everybody live as he thinks best but let him not try to swell his number to demand the spoils of political warfare.Let us not raise the question of communal minor ities anymore. It is a device to swallow the major ity in the longrun. This is in tolerable and unjust.
Indeed in no constitution of the world right to propagate religion is a fundamental right and justiciable.The Irish Free State Constitution recognises the special position of the faith professed by the great major ity of the citizens. We in India are shy of such recognition. U.S.S.R.gives freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda. Our Constitution gives the right even to propagate religion but does not give the right to any anti-religious propaganda.
If people should propagate their religion, let them do so. Only I crave, let not the Constitution put it as a fundamental right and encourage it. Fundamental rights are in alienable and once they are admitted, it will create bad blood. I therefore say, let us say nothing about rights relating to religion. Religion will take care of itself.Drop the word 'propagate' in article 19 at least.Civilisation is going headlong to the melting pot. Let us beware and try to survive.
Mr. Vice-President: There are two amendments in my list, i.e., 592 and 593. They are of similar import and may be considered together. Of these two, amendment No. 593 standing in the name of Mr. Kamath is more comprehensive and I allow it to be moved.
Shri H. V. Kamath (C. P. & Berar: General): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I move:-
That after clause (1) of article 19, the following new sub-clause be added:-
*["(2) The State shall not establish, endow, or patronize any particular religion. Nothing shall however prevent the State from imparting spiritual training or instruction to the citizens of the Union."] The amendment consists of two parts, the first relating to the disestablishment or the separation of what you may call in Western parlance the Church from the State, and the second relates to the deeper import of religion, namely, the eternal values of the spirit.
As regards the first part of the amendment, I need only observe that the history of Europe and of England during the middle ages, the bloody history of those ages bears witness to the pernicious effects that flowed from the union of Church and State. It is true enough that in India during the reign of Asoka, when the State identified itself with a particular religion, that is, Buddhism, there was no `civil' strife, but you will have to remember that at that time in India, there was only one other religion and that was Hinduism. Personally, I believe that because Asoka adopted Buddhism as the State religion, there developed some sort of internecine feud between the Hindus and Buddhists, which ultimately led to the overthrow and the banishment of Buddhism from India.Therefore, it is clear to my mind that (If a State identifies itself with any particular religion, there will be rift within the State. After all, the State represents all the people, who live within its territories, and,therefore, it cannot afford to identify itself with the religion of any particular section of the population. But,Sir, let me not be misunderstood. When I say that a State should not identify itself with any particular religion, I do not mean to say that a State should be anti-religious or irreligious. We have certainly declared that India would bea secular State. But to my mind a secular state is neither a God-less State nor an irreligious nor an anti-religious State.)
Now, Sir, coming to the real meaning of this word`religion', I assert that `Dharma' in the most comprehensive sense should be interpreted to mean the true values of religion or of the spirit. `Dharma', which we have adopted in the crest or the seal of our Constituent Assembly and which you will find on the printed proceedings of our debates: ("Dharma Chakra pravartanaya")--that spirit, Sir,to my mind, should be inclucated in the citizens of the Indian Union. If honourable Members will care to go just outside this Assembly hall and look at the dome above, they will see a sloka in Sanskrit:
That `Dharma', Sir, must be our religion. `Dharma' ofwhich the poet has said.
Yenedam dharyate jagat (that by which this world is supported.)
That, Sir, which is embodied which is incorporated in the great sutras, the Mahavakyas of our religions, inSanskrit, in Hinduism, the Mahavakya `Aham Brahma Asmi',then `Anal Haq' in Sufism and `I and my Father are one'--in the Christian religion--these doctrines, Sir, if they are inculcated and practised to-day, will lead to the cessation of strife in the world. It is these which India has got to take up and teach, not merely to her own citizens, but to the world. It is the only way out for the spiritual malaise,in which the world is caught today, because the House will agree, I am sure, with what has been said by the Maha Yogi,Sri Aurobindo, in one of his famous books, where he says:
I am happy, Sir, to see in this Assembly today our learned scholar and philosopher, Prof. Radhakrishnan. He has been telling the world during the last two or three years that the malaise, the sickness of this world is at bottom spiritual and therefore, our duty, our mission, India's mission comes into play.
If we have to make this disunited Nations so called United, but really disunited nations--really United, if we have got to convert this Insecurity Council into a real Security Council, we have to go back to the values of the spirit, we have to go back to God in spirit and truth, and(India has stood for these eternal values of the spirit from time immemorial.)
Coming to the second part of the amendment, which reads: "Nothing shall however prevent the State from imparting spiritual training or instruction to the citizens of the Union", I attach great importance to the same. India has stood through the ages for a certain system of spiritual discipline,) spiritual instruction, which has been known throughout the world by the name of "Yoga"; and Sri Aurobindo, the MahaYogi, has said again and again, that the greatest need today is a transformation of consciousness, the upliftment of humanity to a higher level through the discipline of Yoga.
May I, Sir, by your leave, read what a Western writer, Arthur Koestler has written in one of his recent books called "Yogi or commissar"? "Yogi" stands for spirituality and "commissar" stands for materialism. In that book the writer observes: "Will mankind find a doctor or a dictator?Will he be yogi or commissar? The yogi does in order to be;the commissar, the capitalist, does in order to have;Western democracy needs more yogis"; that is the conclusion reached by this Western author.
Here, Sir, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the value and the importance that all our teachers,from time immemorial, from the Rishis and the Seers of the Upanishads down to Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhas ChandraBose have attached to spiritual training and spiritual instruction. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose went to the length of prescribing spiritual training and spiritual instruction to the soldiers of the Azad Hind Fouj. In the curriculum, in the syllabus of the Azad Hind Fouj, this item of spiritual instruction was included. (When I say, Sir, that the State shall not establish or endow or patronise any particular religion, I mean the formal religions of the word; I do not mean religion in the widest and in the deepest sense, and that meaning of religion as the highest value of the spirit, I have sought to incorporate in the second part of the amendment. That is, the State shall do all in its power to impart spiritual training and spiritual instruction to the citizens of the Union.)
In the end, I would only say this. We are living in a war-torn, war-weary world, where the values of the spirit are at a low ebb, or at a discount. Nemesis has overtaken the world which has lost its spiritual value, and unless this world returns to the Spirit, to God in spirit and in truth, it is doomed Sir, I commend my amendment to the acceptance of the House.
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment Nos. 594 and 595 are identical. I can allow amendment No. 595 to be moved.
(Amendments Nos. 595 and 594 were not moved.)
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment No. 596, Dr. Ambedkar.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (Bombay: General):Sir, I beg to move:
This is only for the purpose of keeping symmetry in the language that we have used in the other articles.
Mr. Vice-President: There are a number of amendments to this amendment. The first is amendment No. 11 of list I,standing in the name of Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava.
(Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 in list I were not moved.)
Amendment No. 13 standing in the name of Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad is disallowed. For the words "the State" he wants the words "any State" to be substituted.
(Amendments Nos. 597, 598, 599 and 600 were not moved.)
Amendment No. 601, Prof. K. T. Shah.
Prof. K. T. Shah (Bihar: General): Mr. Vice-President,Sir, I beg to move:
The clause as amended would read:
These are the words that I have ventured to add, and I think they are necessary. (If the State has to have itssupreme author ity asserted as against, or in relation to,any Religion, which, merely in the name of religion, carrieson practices of a secular kind whether it is financial,economic or political, it is necessary) that those words beadded and form part of the article.
(I am not content with merely "regulating orrestricting" them; I should like the State also to have thepower positively and absolutely "to prohibit" any suchpractice.) Such practices in my opinion, only degrade thevery name of religion. Nothing has caused more the populardisfavour of some of the most well-known and most widelyspread religions in the world than the association of thosereligions with secular activities, and with excesses thatare connected with those activities. Material possessions,worldly wealth and worldly grandeur are things which havebeen the doom of many an established Church. Many a well-known Religion, which has ceased to follow the originalspirit or the precepts of its Founders, has, nevertheless,carried on, in the popular eye, business, trade, andpolitical activity of a most reprehensible character. TheState in India, if it claims to be secular, if it claims tohave an open mind, should have, in my opinion, a right notmerely to regulate and restrict such practices but alsoabsolutely to prohibit them.
I do not wish to hurt anybody's feelings by citingspecific examples of religious heads, or those claiming to be acting in the name of religion, carrying on a number ofworldly activities of a most undersirable kind. They notonly minister to the benefit or aggrandisement of theparticular sect or class to which they belong, but, moreoften than not, they relate to the particular individual whofor the moment claims to be the head or representative of that religion. The association of private property, thepossession of material wealth, and the possibility ofdeveloping that wealth by trading, by speculation, byeconomic activity, which many of those carry on in the nameof religion, or in virtue of their being heads of religion,are productive of evils of which perhaps the innocentMembers of this House have no conception.
The facts are well-known, however, to those who have atall discerned in this matter not only that the heads ofreligions in the name of their religion claim exemption fromincome-tax out of the receipts of their own domain, but alsoright of any further gains that they may make by open orillicit trading, speculation, investments, or what not. Isuggest that it is absolutely necessary and but right andproper, in the interests of the State, and more so in theinterests of the general policy and principles on which theState is founded in India, that power be reserved in thisConstitution absolutely to prohibit any such non-religious,non-spiritual activity, that in the name of religion, may becarried on, to the grave prejudice of the country as awhole, and even to the same religion of which they claim to be heads.
I have no desire as observed already, to citeillustrations. I know in advance the fate of my amendment,and, therefore, it is unnecessary for me to make the Housewiser than it is by citing examples, and incurring for methe further displeasure of particular classes affected thereby.)
Mr. Vice-President: Professor Shah--I cannot allow youto indulge in these remarks--I mean referring to the fate ofyour amendments and casting reflections on particular groups.
Prof. K. T. Shah: I was only trying to say that I knowthe fate of my amendments in advance; but I would not makeit worse by citing examples, which might affect particularclasses, and might incur for me their displeasure. If I havesaid anything improper I am sorry and I would apologize for it.
Mr. Vice-President: I did not say "improper". But it isbound to affect the calmness of the House and I would implore you.....
Prof. K. T. Shah: Sir, I would obey all your commandsand even if you put them in the name of request, I wouldtreat them as commands. But with the experience that I havehad of my amendments--however good they are I was entitledto say this. If you think otherwise, I will submit to your ruling and take my seat.
(Amendments Nos. 602 and 603 were not moved.)
Mr. Vice-President: Nos. 604, 605, 607 and 608 aresimilar. I allow 604 and 607 to be moved.
Mr. Vice-President: No. 607--Prof. K. T. Shah.
Prof. K. T. Shah: Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I beg to move--
The clause as I suggest would read--
Sir, I do not see why this right or obligation shouldbe restricted only to Hindu Religious institutions to bethrown open to public. I think the intention of this clausewould be served if it is more generalised, and madeaccessible or made applicable to all the leading religionsof this country, whose religious institutions are more orless cognate, and who therefore may not see any violation of their religious freedom, or their religious exclusiveness,by having this clause about throwing open their places of worship to the public.
I think, Sir, that the freedom of religion being guaranteed by this constitution, and promised as one of theFundamental Rights, the possibility of all religiousinstitutions being accessible and open for all communitiesis a very healthy sign, and would promote harmony andbrotherhood amongst the peoples following various forms ofbeliefs in this country, and therefore I think, Sir, thatthis amendment at any rate should find acceptance from thosewho have sponsored this clause.
(Amendments Nos. 606 and 608 were not moved.)
Shrimati G. Durgabai (Madras: General): Mr. President,Sir, I beg to move the following amendment:--
Sir, if my amendment is accepted, the clause would readthus:--
Sir, the object of my amendment is to enlarge the scopeof the clause as it stands. The clause as it stands, reads thus-
Sir, in my view the clause as it stands is restrictedin its scope, and the object of my amendment is to securethe benefit in a wider way and to make it applicable to allclasses and sections.
Sir, though we are not able to make a sweeping reformor a more comprehensive reform in this direction, I feelthat no distinction of any kind should be made between oneclass of Hindus and another.
Now, with regard to the Hindu religious institutions ofa public character, we are all aware that there are variousclasses of these institutions, such as temples, religiousmaths, and educational institutions or Pathasalas conductedby these institutions, or attached to these institutions. Sofar as temples are concerned, I am sure that all of us areaware that almost all of the provinces, including someStates, have already passed law throwing open temples to allclasses or sections of Hindus. But I am equally sure thatsome distinction does still exist in regard to the otherforms of religious institutions, such as Pathasalas, educational institutions and others managed or conducted bythese religious institutions. As I have already explained,my object is to enlarge the scope of this clause, and toinclude within it all classes and sections of Hindus. If myamendment is accepted, then that object will be fulfilled.As I have already explained, there should not be anydistinction between one class and another class of Hindus.
I think these few words will suffice to explain theobject of my amendment. I commend my amendment to the Housefor its acceptance. Sir, I move.
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment No. 610 is disallowedbecause it has already been covered by something allied,under the Directive Principles.
(Amendment No. 611 was not moved.)
No. 612, standing in the joint names of Mr. MohammedIsmail Sahib and Mr. Pocker Sahib.
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam (Madras: General):Sir, on a point of order. This particular amendment No. 612is not relevant to this article 19. The amendment refers topersonal law, but here we are dealing only with freedom ofreligion. The matter touched by the amendment has alreadybeen raised in a previous article, and also in the Directive Principles.
Mohamed Ismail Sahib (Madras: Muslim): Sir, I beg tosubmit that my amendment is quite in order under thisarticle, because this article speaks of the religious rightsof the citizens, and personal law is based upon religion. Ihave made it quite clear on a previous occasion thatpersonal law is part of the religion of the people who areobserving that personal law. I only want to make it clearthat this article shall not preclude people from observingtheir personal law. I am putting it in a negative form,because here, the article says
This practice of personal law may, by a stretch ofimagination, be brought under the secular activitiesassociated with religion. Therefore,(I propose to make itclear that so far as personal law is concerned, this articleshall not affect the observance thereof by the peopleconcerned.) That is my point.
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam: Sir, we have adopteda directive asking the State to endeavour to evolve auniform civil code, and this particular amendment is adirect negation of that directive. On that ground also, I think, this is altogether inmappropriate in this connection.
Mr. Vice-President: Would you like to say anything onthis matter, Dr. Ambedkar? I should value your advice aboutthis amendment being in order or not, on account of thereasons put forward by Mr. Santhanam.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: I was discussinganother amendment with Mr. Ranga here and so.......
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam: Amendment No. 612about personal law is sought to be moved.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: This point wasdisposed of already, when we discussed the DirectivePrinciples, and also when we discussed another amendment theother day.
Mr. Mohamed Ismail Sahib: On a previous occasion I putit in the positive form and here I put it in the negativeform. So far as the Directive Principles are concerned, theyspeak of the attempts which the Government have to make inevolving a uniform civil code. Suppose they have exemptedpersonal law, that does not mean that there can be nouniform civil code in the country. Whatever that may be,here I say under this article, in the matter of religion,people are given certain rights and this question ofpersonal law shall not be brought in. That is what I say.The question of personal law shall not be affected when thisarticle comes into operation. That is my point.
Mr. Vice-President: I do not know whether I amtechnically correct or not; but in view of the peculiarcircumstances in which our Muslim brethren are placed, I amallowing Mr. Mohamed Ismail Sahib to say what he has to sayand to place his views before the House.
Mr. Mohamed Ismail Sahib: Thank you very much, Sir, forgiving me another opportunity to put my views before theHouse on this very important matter. I beg to move:
Sir, this provision which I am suggesting would onlyrecognise the agelong right of the people to follow theirown personal law, within the limits of their families andcommunities. This does not affect in any way the members ofother communities. This does not encroach upon the rights of the members of other communities to follow their ownpersonal law. It does not mean any sacrifice at all on thepart of the members of any other community. Sir, here whatwe are concerned with is only the practice of the members ofcertain families coming under one community. It is a familypractice and in such cases as succession, inheritance anddisposal of properties by way of wakf and will, the personallaw operates. It is only with such matters that we areconcerned under personal law. In other matters, such asevidence, transfer of property, contracts and in innumerableother questions of this sort, the civil code will operateand will apply to every citizen of the land, to whatevercommunity he may belong. Therefore, this will not in any waydetract from the desirable amount of uniformity which theState may try to bring about, in the matter of the civil law.
This practice of following personal law has been thereamongst the people for ages. What I want under this amendment is that that practice should not be disturbed nowand I want only the continuance of a practice that has beengoing on among the people for ages past. On a previousoccasion Dr. Ambedkar spoke about certain enactmentsconcerning Muslim personal law, enactments relating to Wakf,Shariat law and Muslim marriage law. Here there was noquestion of the abrogation of the Muslim personal law atall. There was no revision at all and in all those caseswhat was done was that the Muslim personal law waselucidated and it was made clear that these laws shall applyto the Muslims. They did not modify them at all. There forethose enactments and legislations cannot be cited now asmatters of precedents for us to do anything contravening thepersonal law of the people. Under this amendment what I wantthe House to accept is that when we speak of the State doing anything with reference to thesecular aspect of religion, the question of the personal lawshall not be brought in and it shall not be affected.
Sir, by way of general remarks I want to say a fewwords on this article. My friend Mr. Tajamul Husain broughtforward certain amendments, Nos. 572 and 588. To tell youthe truth, Sir, I did not know at that time nor do I knownow whether he was serious at all when he made thoseproposals and what were the points which he urged in favourof his proposals I could not understand. I did not take him,and I make bold to say that the House also did not take him,seriously and therefore I do not want to waste the time of the House in replying to him.
The question of professing, practis ing and propagatingone's faith is a right which the human being had from the very beginning of time and that has been recognised as aninalienable right of every human being, not only in thisland but the whole world over and I think that nothingshould be done to affect that right of man as a human being.That part of the article as it stands is properly worded andit should stand as it is. That is my view.
Another honourable Member spoke about the troubles thathad arisen as a result of the propagation of religion. I would say that the troubles were not the result of thepropagation of religion or the professing or practis ing of religion. They arose as a result of the misunderstanding ofreligion. My point of view, and I say that that is thecorrect point of view, is that if only people understand their respective religions aright and if they practise themaright in the proper manner there would be no troublewhatever; and because there was some trouble due to somecause it does not stand to reason that the fundamental rightof a human being to practise and propagate his religionshould be abrogated in any way.
Mr. Vice-President: The clause is now open fordiscussion.
Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra (West Bengal: General): Sir, I feel myself called upon to put in a few words toexplain the general implications of this article so as toremove some of the misconceptions that have arisen in theminds of some of my honourable Friends over it.
This article 19 of the Draft Constitution confers onall person the right to profess, practise and propagate anyreligion they like but this right has been circumscribed bycertain conditions which the State would be free to imposein the interests of public morality, public order and publichealth and also in so far as the right conferred here doesnot conflict in any way with the other provisions elaboratedunder this part of the Constitution. Some of my Friendsargued that this right ought not to be permitted in thisDraft Constitution for the simple reason that we havedeclared time and again that this is going to be a secularState and as such practice of religion should not bepermitted as a fundamental right. It has been further arguedthat by conferring the additional right to propagate aparticular faith or religion the door is opened for allmanner of troubles and conflicts which would eventually paralyse the normal life of the State. I would say at oncethat this conception of a secular State is wholly wrong. (Bysecular State, as I understand it, is meant that the Stateis not going to make any discrimination whatsoever on theground of religion or community against any personprofessing any particular form of religious faith. Thismeans in essence that no particular religion in the Statewill receive any State patronage whatsoever. The State is not going to establish, patronise or endow any particularreligion to the exclusion of or in preference to others andthat no citizen in the State will have any preferentialtreatment or will be discriminated against simply on theground that he professed a particular form of religion. Inother words in the affairs of the State the professing of any particular religion will not be taken into considerationat all.) This I consider to be the essence of a secular state. At the same time we must be very careful to seethat this land of ours we do not deny to anybody the rightnot only to profess or practise but also to propagate any particular religion. Mr. Vice-President, this glorious landof ours is nothing if it does not stand for lofty religiousand spiritual concepts and ideals. India would not beoccupying any place of honour on this globe if she had notreached that spiritual height which she did in her gloriouspast. Therefore I feel that the Constitution has rightlyprovided for this not only as a right but also as a fundamental right. In the exercise of this fundamental rightevery community inhabiting this State professing anyreligion will have equal right and equal facilities to dowhatever it likes in accordance with its religion providedit does not clash with the conditions laid down here.
The great Swami Vivekananda used to say that India isrespected and revered all over the world because of her richspiritual heritage. The western world, strong with all thestrength of a materialistic civilsation, rich with the acquisitions of science, having a dominating position in theworld, is poor today because of its utter lack of spiritualtreasure. And here does India step in. India has to importthis rich spiritual treasure, this message of hers to thewest. If we are to do that, if we are to educate the world,if we are to remove the doubts and misconceptions and thecolossal ignorance that prevails in the world about India'sculture and heritage, this right must be inherent,--theright to profess and propagate her religious faith must be conceded.
I have lisitened to some of the speeches that have beenmade in connection with this article. It has been objectedto and it has been said that the right to propagate shouldbe taken away. One honourable Member suggested that if weconceded the right, the bloody upheaval which this countryhas witnessed of late would again recur with full vehemencein the near future. I do not at all share that pessimism ofmy honourable Friend. Apparently my honourable Friend hasnot given special consideration to the conditions that areimposed in this article. The power that this article imposesupon the State to intervene on certain occasions completelydemolishes all chances of that kind of cataclysm which wehave seen.
It has also been said, and I am very sorry that anobservation was made by an honourable Member of considerableeminence and standing, that the Christian community in itsproselytis ing zeal has sometimes transgressed its limits andhas done acts which can never be justified. An instance ofBombay was cited in defence of his position.
Mr. Vice-President: I am afraid you are making amistake there. No particular instance, so far as I remember,was cited.
Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra: Anyway I believe that wasat the back of his mind. I am sorry if I have not got at itcorrectly. I want to say that a good deal of injustice willbe done to the great Christian community in India if we goaway with that impression. The Indian Christian communityhappens to be the most inoffensive community in the whole ofIndia. That is my personal opinion and I have never knownanybody contesting that proposition. This Indian Christiancommunity, so far as I am aware, spend to the tune of nearlyRs. 2 crores every year for educational uplift, medicalrelief and for sanitation, public health and the rest of it.Look at the numerous educational institutions, dispensariesand hospitals they have been running so effectively andefficiently, catering to all classes and communities. Ifthis vest amount of Rs. 2 crores were utilised by thisChristian community for purposes of seeking converts, thenthe Indian Christian community which comprises only 70millions would have gone up to...........
Mr. Vice-President: Your are mistaken there: it is only7 millions.
Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra: I beg your pardon. From 7millions it would have gone to 70 millions. But the point,Mr. Vice-President, is not in the figures. The point of mywhole contention is that the Christian community in Indiahas not done that proselytis ing work with that amount ofzeal and frenzy with which some of our friends haveassociated it. I am anxious to remove that mis-conception.Sir, I feel that every single community in India should begiven this right to propagate its own religion. Even in a secular state I believe there is necessity for religion. Weare passing through an era of absolute irreligion. Why isthere so much vice or corruption in every stratum ofsociety; Because we have forgotten the sense of values ofthings which our forefathers had inculcated. We do not atall care in these days, for all these glorious traditions of ours with the result that everybody now acts in his own way,and justice, fairness, good sense and honesty have all goneto the wilderness. (If we are to restore our sense of valueswhich we have held dear, it is of the utmost importance thatwe should be able to propagate what we honestly feel andbelieve in. Propagation does not necessrily mean seekingconverts by force of arms, by the sword, or by coercion. Butwhy should obstacles stand in the way if by exposition,illustration and persuasion you could convey your ownreligious faith to others?) I do not see any harm in it. AndI do feel that this would be the very essence of our fundamental right the right to profess and practise any particular religion. Therefore this right should not betaken away, in my opinion. (If in this country the differentreligious faiths would go on expounding their religioustenets and doctrines, then probably a good deal of misconception prevailing in the minds of people about different religions would be removed, and probably a stagewould be reached when by mutual understanding we could avoid in future all manner of conflicts that arise in the name of religion. From that point of view I am convinced that the word `propagate' should be there and should not be deleted.)
In this connection I think I may remind the House thatthe whole matter was discussed in the Advisory Council andit was passed there. As such I do not see any reason why weshould now go back on that. Sir, the clause as it is has mywhole-hearted support, and I feel that with the amendmentsmoved by my honourable Friend Dr. Ambedkar and ShrimatiDurgabai this clause should stand as part of the Constitution.
Shri L. Krishnaswami Bharathi (Madras: General): Mr.Vice-President, after the eloquent and elaborate speech ofmy respected Friend Pandit Maitra I though it was quiteunnecessary on my part to participate in the discussion. Ifully agree with him that the word `propagate' ought to bethere. After all, it should not be understood that it isonly for any sectarian religion. It is generally understoodthat the word `propagate' is intended only for the Christiancommunity. But I think it is absolutely necessary, in thepresent context of circumstances, that we must educate ourpeople on religious tenets and doctrines. So far as myexperience goes, the Christian community have nottransgressed their limits of legitimate propagation ofreligious view, and on the whole they have done very wellindeed. It is for other communities to emulate them andpropagate their own religions as well. This word isgenerally understood as if it referred to only oneparticular religion, namely, Christianity alone. As we readthis clause, it is a right given to all sectional religions;and it is well known that after all, all religions have oneobjective and if it is properly understood by the masses,they will come to know that all religions are one and thesame. It is all God, though under different names. Thereforethis word ought to be there. This right ought to there. The different communities may well carry on propaganda orpropagate their religion and what it stands for. It is not to be understood that when one- propagate his religion he should cry down other religions.It is not the spirit of any religion to cry down anotherreligion. Therefore this is absolutely necessary and essential.
Again, it is not at all inconsistent with the secularnature of the State. After all, the State does not interferewith it. Religion will be there. It is a personal affair and the State as such does not side with one religion oranother. It tolerates all religions. Its citizens have theirown religion and its communities have their own religions.And I have no doubt, whatever, seeing from past history,that there will not be any quarrel on this account. It wasonly yesterday His Excellency the Governor-General SriRajaji spoke on this matter. It is very necessary that weshould show tolerance. That is the spirit of all religions.To say that some religious people should not do propagandaor propagate their views is to show intolerance on our part.
Let me also, in this connection, remind the House thatthe matter was thoroughly discussed at all stages in theMinor ities Committee, and they came to the conclusion thatthis great Christian community which is willing and ready toassimilate itself with the general community, which does notwant reservation or other special privileges should beallowed to propagate its religion along with other religiouscommunities in India.
Sir, on this occasion I may also mention that you, Mr.Vice-President, are willing to give up reservation of seatsin the Assembly and the local Legislatures of Madras andBombay, and have been good enough to give notice of anamendment to delete the clause giving reservation to theChristian community. That is the way in which thiscommunity, which has been throughly nationalist in it soutlook, has been moving. Therefore, in good grace, the major ity community should allow this privilege for the minor ity communities and have it for themselves as well. I think I can speak on this point with a certain amount ofassurance that the major ity community is perfectly willingto allow this right. I am therefore strongly in favour of the retention of the word `propagate' in this clause.
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam: Mr. Vice-President,Sir, I stand here to support this article. This article hasto be read with article 13, article 13 has already assuredfreedom of speech and expression and the right to formassociation or unions. The above rights include the right ofreligious speech and expression and the right to formreligious association or unions. Therefore, article 19 isreally not so much an article on religious freedom. But anarticle on, what I may call religious toleration. It is notso much the words "All persons are equally entitled tofreedom of conscience and the right freely to profess,practise and propagate religion" that are important. Whatare important are the governing words with which the articlebegins, viz., "Subject to public order, morality and health".
Hither to it was thought in this country that anythingin the name of religion must have the right to unrestrictedpractice and propagation. But we are now in the newConstitution restricting the right only to that right whichis consistent with public order, morality and health. Thefull implications of this qualification are not easy todiscover. Naturally, they will grow with the growing socialand moral conscience of the people. For instance, I do notknow if for a considerable period of time the people ofIndia will think that purdah is consistent with the health of the people. Similarly, there are many institutions ofHindu religion which the future conscience of the Hinducommunity will consider as inconsistent with morality.
Sir, some discussion has taken place on the word`propagate'. After all, propagation is merely freedom ofexpression. I would like to point out that the word`convert' is not there. Mass conversion was a part of theactivities of the Christian Missionaries in this country andgreat objection has been taken by the people to that. [Those who drafted this Constitutionhave taken care to see that no unlimited right of conversionhas been given. People have freedom of conscience and, ifany man is converted voluntarily owing to freedom ofconscience, then well and good. No restrictions can beplaced against it. But if any attempt is made by onereligious community or another to have mass conversionsthrough undue influence either by money or by pressure or byother means, the State has every right to regulate suchactivity.]
Therefore I submit to you that this article, asit is, is not so much an article ensuring freedom, buttoleration--toleration for all, irrespective of thereligious practice or profession. And this toleration issubject to public order, morality and health.
Therefore this article has been very carefully draftedand the exceptions and qualifications are as important asthe right it confers. Therefore I think the article as itstands is entitled to our wholehearted support.
Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhari (Assam: General): Sir, I amgrateful to you for giving me this opportunity for making afew observations on this very important article. It struckme as very peculiar that, although as many as four articleshave dealt with religion, there is no mention of Godanywhere in the whole Chapter. At first I considered itextremely strange, but after going through the matter morecarefully, I found every justification for it. From the wayin which the world is progressing, there is very littledoubt that a time will come when we may be in a position todispense with God altogether. That has happened in othermore advanced countries and therefore I believe, in order tomake room for such a state of things, the word "God" hasbeen purposely avoided in dealing with religion itself.
It reminds me of a story, Sir, which I had heard in mystudent life. There was a great scientist who presented to the king something like a globe in which the whole solarsystem, the sun, moon and everything, was shown. Then theking who had some faith in God asked the scientist, "Wherehave you placed God?". The scientist said, "I have donewithout him". That is exactly the position today. We areframing a Constitution where we speak of religion but thereis no mention of God anywhere in the whole chapter. Sir, (myhonourable Friend Mr. Kamath introduced `God' in his speechbut at the same time he spoke about spiritual matters.) Theterm "Spiritual training" is somewhat ambiguous. The word"spirit" is defined in the Chambers Dictionary as a `ghost'.There are people in this world who do not fear God but theyfear ghosts all the same because ghosts bring troubles whileGod does not. (The term `spiritual training' is verydifficult for me to follow. What did my honourable Friend.Mr. Kamath, mean by spiritual training? What is thespiritual training to which he is referring? Is it trainingto believe in ghosts or to avoid them or is it the trainingto have more recourse to spirit to keep up your spirits in the evening. (What actually he meant by spiritual trainingis very difficult to follow. Does he mean the teaching of the great books like the Bible, the Koran and the Gita inall institutions and that the State should be in a positionto endow any institution which is dealing only with theteaching of the Koran, or the Bible or the Gita? I do notthink that that is the aim. That point ought to be madeclear.)
Another point is the propagation of religion. (I haveno objection to the propagation of any religion. If anyonethinks that his religion is something ennobling and that it is his duty to ask others to follow that religion, he iswelcome to do so. But what I would object to is that thereis no provision in this Constitution to prevent the so-called propagandist of his religion from throwing mud atsome other religion.) For instance, Sir, in the past weremember how missionaries went round the country anddescribed Sri Krishna in the most abominable terms. Theywould bring up particular activities of Sri Krishna and say,"Look here, this is your Lord Krishna and this is hisconduct". We also remember with great pain how they used todecry the worshipof the I dols and call them names. (Sir, in the newConstitution we must make it perfectly clear that no suchthing will be tolerated. It is not necessary in the courseof propagating any particular religion to throw mud at otherreligions, to decry them and bring out their unsatisfactoryfeatures according to the particular supporters of aparticular religion. There should be a provision in the law,in the Constitution itself that such conduct will be met with exemplary punishment. With these words, Sir, I supportthe amendment subject to such verbal alterations as havebeen suggested by Shrimati Durgabai and the Honourable Dr.Ambedkar.)
Shri T. T. Krishnamachari (Madras: General): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I am here to support the motion before theHouse, viz., to approve of article 19. Many speakers beforeme have emphasised the various provisions of this particulararticle and the background in regard to the framing of thisarticle. What I would like to stress in this: Sir, we arenot concerned here with compromises arrived at between thevarious communities. We are not really concerned withwhether some advantage might be derived from the wording ofthis article later on by certain communities in regard to the furtherance of their own religious beliefs andpractices, but I think emphasis should be laid on the factthat a new government and the new Constitution have to takethings as they are, and unless the status quo has somethingwhich offends all ideas of decency, all ideas of equity andall ideas of justice, its continuance has to be provided forin the Constitution so that people who are coming under theregime of a new government may feel that the change is not achange for the worse. In achieving that particular object, I think this article has gone a long way.
Sir, objection has been taken to the inclusion of theword "propagate" along with the words "profess and practise"in the matter of religion. (Sir, it does not mean that thisright to propagate one's religion is given to any particularcommunity or to people who follow any particular religion.It is perfectly open to the Hindus and the Arya Samajists tocarry on their Suddhi propaganda as it is open to theChristians, the Muslims, the Jains and the Bhuddists and toevery other religionist, so long as he does it subject topublic order, morality and the other conditions that have to be observed in any civilised government. So, it is not aquestion of taking away anybody's rights. It is a questionof conferring these rights on all the citizens and seeingthat these rights are exercised in a manner which will notupset the economy of the country, which will not createdisorder and which will not create undue conflict in theminds of the people. That, I feel, is the point that has to be stressed in regard to this particular article.) Sir, I know as a person who has studied for about fourteen years inChristian institutions that no attempt had been made toconvert me from my own faith and to practise Christianity. Iam very well aware of the influences that Christianity hasbrought to bear upon our own ideals and our own outlook, andI am not prepared to say here that they should be preventedfrom propagating their religion. I would ask the House tolook at the facts so far as the history of this type ofconversion is concerned. It depends upon the way in whichcertain religionists and certain communities treat theirless fortunate brethren. The fact that many people in thiscountry have embraced Christianity is due partly to thestatus that it gave to them. Why should we forget thatparticular fact? An untouchable who became a Christianbecame an equal in every matter along with the high-casteHindu, and if we remove the need to obtain that particularadvantage that he might probably get--it is undoubtedly avery important advantage, apart from the fact that he hasfaith in the religion itself--well, the incentive foranybody to become a Christian will not probably exist. Ihave no doubt, Sir, we have come to a stage when it does notmatter to what religion a man belongs, it does not matter towhat sub-sect or community in a particular religion a manbelongs, he will be equal in the eyes of law and in society and in regard to theexercise of all rights that are given to those who are morefortunately placed. So I feel that any undue influence thatmight be brought to bear on people to change their religionor any other extraneous consideration for discarding theirown faith in any particular religion and accepting anotherfaith will no longer exist; and in the circumstanes, I thinkit is only fair that we should take the status quo as it is in regard to religion and put it into our Fundamental rights, giving the same right to every religionist, as Isaid before, to propagate his religion and to convertpeople, if he felt that it is a thing that he has to do andthat is a thing for which he has been born and that is hisduty towards his God and his community.
Subject to the overriding considerations of themaintenance of the integrity of the State and the well-beingof the people,--these conditions are satisfied by this article--I feel that if the followers of any religion wantto subtract from the concessions given herein in any way,they are not only doing injustice to the possibility ofintegration of all communities into one nation in the futurebut also doing injustice to their own religion and to theirown community. Sir, I support the article as it is.
Shri K. M. Munshi (Bombay: General): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I have only a few submissions to make to theHouse. As regards amendment No. 607, moved by my honourableFriend, Prof. K. T. Shah, I entirely agree with him that theword `Hindu' used in this section should be widely defined.As a matter of fact, the Hindu Bill which is now before this House in its legislative capacity has defined `Hindu' so asto include the various sub-sections, but it will be more appropriate to have this definition in the interpretation clause than in this.
I have only a few words to say with regard to theobjections taken to the word "propagate". Many honourableMembers have spoken before me placing the point of view thatthey need not be afraid of the word "propagate" in thisparticular article. (When we object to this word, we thinkin terms of the old regime. In the old regime, the Christianmissionaries, particularly those who were Brit ish were at anadvantage.) But since 1938, I know, in my part of Bombay,the influence which was derived from their politicalinfluence and power has disappeared. If I may mention a factwithin my knowledge in 1937 when the first Congress Ministrycame into power in Bombay, the Christian missionaries whotill then had great influence with the Collectors of theDistricts and through their influence acquired converts,lost it and since then whatever conversious take place inthat part of the country are only the result or persuasionand not because of material advantages offered to them. (In the present set up that we are now creating under thisConstitution, there is a secular State. There is noparticular advantage to a member of one community overanother; nor is there any political advantage by increasingone's fold. In those circumstances, the word `propagate'cannot possibily have dangerous implications, which some of the Members think that it has.)
Moreover, I was a party from the very beginning to thecompromise with the minor ities, which ultimately led to manyof these clauses being inserted in the Constitution and I know it was on this word that the Indian Christian communitylaid the greatest emphasis, not because they wanted toconvert people aggressively, but because the word"propagate" was a fundamental part of their tenet. Even If the word were not there, I am sure, under the freedom ofspeech which the Constitution guarantees it will be open to any religious community to persuade other people to join their faith. So long as religion is religion, conversion byfree exercise of the conscience has to be recognised. Theword `propagate' in this clause is nothing very much out of the way as some people think, not is it fraught withdangerous consequences.
Speaking frankly, whatever its results we ought torespect the compromise. The Minor ities Committee the yearbefore the last performed a great achievment by having aunanimous vote on almost every provision of its report.
This unanimity created an atmosphere of harmony andconfidence in the major ity community. Therefore, the word`propagate' should be maintained in this article in orderthat the compromise so laudably achieved by the Minor ityCommittee should not be disturbed.
That is all that I want to submit.
Mr. Vice-President: I have on my list here 15amendments, most of which have been moved before the House.I should think that they give the views on this particulararticle from different angles. We had about seven or eightspeakers giving utterance to their views. I think that thearticle has been sufficiently debated. I call upon Dr.Ambedkar to reply.
The Honourable Dr. Ambedkar: Mr. Vice-President, Sir, Ihave nothing to add to the various speakers who have spokenin support of this article. What I have to say is that theonly amendment I am prepared to accept is amendment No. 609.
Shri H. V. Kamath: May I ask whether it will be enoughif Dr. Ambedkar says: "I oppose: I have nothing to say." Ishould think that in fairness to the House, he should replyto the points raised in the amendments and during thedebate.
Mr. Vice-President: I am afraid we cannot compel Dr.Ambedkar to give reasons for rejecting the various amendments.
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad (West Bengal: Muslim): Mr. Vice-President, may I say that amendment No. 609 which has beenaccepted by the Honourable Dr. Ambedkar is a mere verbal amendment?
Mr. Vice-President: It will be recorded in theproceedings. We shall now consider the amendments one by one.
The question is:
"That in clause (1) of article 19, for the words`practice and propagate religion' the words `and practisereligion privately' be substituted."
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: The question is:
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: The question is:
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: The question is:
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: The question is:
The amendment was negatived.