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Constituent Assembly Of India Volume - VII
Dated: November 08, 1948
Now I have ventured with your permission, Sir, to take part in this initial debate on this Draft Constitution, but it is not my intention to deal with any particular part of it, either in commendation of it or in criticism, because a great deal of that kind has already been said and will no doubt be said. But in view of that perhaps I could make some useful contribution to this debate by drawing attention to certain fundamental factories again. I had thought that I could do this even more because in recent days and weeks. I have been beyond the shores of India, have visited foreign lands, eminent people and statesmen of other countries and had the advantage of looking at this beloved country of ours from a distance. That is some advantage. It is true that those who look from a distance do not see many things that exist in this country. But it is equally true that those who live in this country and are surrounded all the time with our numerous difficulties and problems sometimes may fail to see the picture as a whole. We have to do both; to see our problems in their intricate detail in order to understand them and also to see them in some perspective so that we may have that picture as a whole before our eyes.
Now this becomes even more important during a period of swift transition such as we have gone through. We who have lived through this period of transition with all its triumphs and glories and sorrows and bitterness, we are affected by all these changes; we are changing ourselves; we do not notice ourselves changing or the country changing so much and it is a little helpful to be out of this turmoil for a while and to look at it from a distance and to look at it also to some extent with the eyes of other people. I have had that opportunity given to me. I am glad of that opportunity, because for the moment I was rid of the tremendous burden of responsibility which all of us carried and which in a measure some of us who have to shoulder the burden of Government have to carry more. For a moment I was rid of those immediate responsibilities and with a mind somewhat free, I could look at that picture and I saw from that distance the rising Star of India far above the horizon (hear, hear) and casting its soothing light, in spite of all that has happened, over many countries of the world, who looked up to with hope, who considered that out of this new Free India would come various forces which would help Asia, which would help the world somewhat to right itself, which would co-operate with other similar forces elsewhere, because the world is in a bad way, because this great continent of Asia or Europe and the rest of the world are in a bad way and are faced with problems which might almost appear to be insurmountable. And sometimes one has the feeling as if we were all actors in some terrible Greek tragedy which was moving on to its inevitable climax of disaster. Yet when I looked at this picture again from afar and from here, I had a feeling of hope and optimism not merely because of India, but because also of other things that I saw that the tragedy which seemed inevitable was not necessarily inevitable, that there were many other forces at work, that there were innumerable men and women of goodwill in the world who wanted to avoid this disaster and tragedy, and there was certainly a possibility that they will succeed in avoiding it.
But to come back to India, we have, ever since I moved this Objectives Resolution before this House - a year and eleven months ago, almost exactly - passed through strange transitions and changes. We function here far more independently than we did at that time. We function as a sovereign independent nation, but we have also gone through a great deal of sorrow and bitter grief during this period and all of us have been powerfully affected by it. The country for which we were going to frame this Constitution was partitioned and split into two. And what happened afterwards is fresh in our minds and will remain fresh with all its horrors for a very long time to come. All that has happened, and yet, in spite of all this, India has grown in strength and in freedom, and undoubtedly this growth of India, this emergence of India as a free country, is one of the significant brothers and sisters who live in this country, significant for Asia, and significant for the world, and the world is beginning to realise - chiefly I think and I am glad to find this - that India's role in Asia and the world will be a beneficent role; sometimes it may be with a measure of apprehension, because India may play some part which some people, some countries, with other interests may not particularly like. All that is happening, but the main thing is this great significant factor that India after a long period of being dominated over has emerged as a free sovereign democratic independent country, and that is a fact which changes and is changing history. How far it would change history will depend upon us, this House in the present and other Houses like this coming in the future who represent the organised will of the Indian people.
That is a tremendous responsibility. Freedom brings responsibility; of course there is no such thing as freedom without responsibility. Irresponsibility itself means lack of freedom. Therefore we have to be conscious of this tremendous burden of responsibility which freedom has brought: the discipline of freedom and the organised way of working freedom. But, there is something even more than that. The freedom that has come to India by virtue of many things, history, tradition, resources, our geographical position, our great many things, history, tradition, resources, our geographical position, our great potential and all that, inevitably leads India to play an important part in world affairs. It is not a question of our choosing this or that; it is an inevitable consequence of what India is and what a free India must be. And, because we have to play that inevitable part in world affairs, that brings another and greater responsibility. Sometimes, with all my hope and optimism and confidence in my nation, I rather quake at the great responsibilities that are being thrust upon us, and which we cannot escape. If we get tied up in our narrow controversies, we may forget it. Whether we forget it or not, that responsibility is there. If we forget it, we fail in that measure. Therefore, I would beg of this House to consider these great responsibilities that have been thrust upon India, and because we represent India in this as in many other spheres, on us in this House, and to work together in the framing of the Constitution or otherwise, always keeping that in view, because the eyes of the world are upon us and the hopes and aspirations of a great part of the world are also upon us. We dare not belittle; if we do so, we do an ill-service to this country of ours and to those hopes and aspirations that surround us from other countries. It is in this way that I would like this House to consider this Constitution: first of all to keep the Objectives Resolution before us and to see how far we are going to act up to it, how far we are going to buildup, as we said in that Resolution, "an Independent Sovereign Republic, wherein all power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of Government, are derived from the people, and wherein shall be guaranteed and secured to all of the people of India justice, social, economic and political; equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought and expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality; and this ancient land attain its rightful and honored place in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind."
I read that last clause in particular because that brings to our mind India's duty to the world. I should like this House when it considers the various controversies - there are bound to be controversies and there should be controversies because we are a living and vital nation, and it is right that people should think differently and it is also right that, thinking differently when they come to decisions, they should act unitedly in furtherance of those decisions. There are various problems, some very important problems, on which there is very little controversy and we pass them - they are of the greatest importance - with a certain unanimity. There are other problems, important no doubt, possibly of a lesser importance, on which we spend a great deal of time and energy and passion also, and do not arrive at agreements in that spirit with which we should arrive at agreements. In the country today, reference has-been made - I will mention one or two matters - to linguistic provinces and to the question of language in this Assembly and for the country. I do not propose to say much about these questions, except to say that it seems to me and it has long seemed to me inevitable that in India some kind of reorganization should take place of provinces, etc., to fit in more with the cultural, geographical and economic condition of the people and with their desires. We have long been committed to this. I do not think it is good enough just to say linguistic provinces; that is a major factor to be considered, no doubt. But there are more important factors to be considered, and you have therefore to consider the whole picture before you proceed to break up what we have got and re-fashion it into something new. What I would like to place before the House is that, important from the point of view of our future life and governance as this question is, I would not have thought that this was a question of that primary importance, which must be settled here and now today. It is eminently a question which should be settled in an atmosphere of good-will and calm and on a rather scholarly discussion of the various factors of the case. I find, unfortunately, it has raised a considerable degree of heat and passion and when heat and passion are there, the mind is clouded. Therefore, I would beg of this House to take these matters into consideration when it thinks fit, and to treat it as a thing which should be settled not in a hurry when passions are roused, but at a suitable moment when the time is ripe for it.
The same argument, if I may say so, applies to this question of language. Now, it is an obvious thing and a vital thing that any country, much more so a free and independent country, must function in its own language. Unfortunately, the mere fact that I am speaking to this House in a foreign language and so many of our colleagues here have to address the House in a foreign language itself shows that something is lacking. It is lacking; let us recognise it; we shall get rid of that lacuna undoubtedly. But, if in trying to press for a change, an immediate change, we get wrapped up in numerous controversies and possibly even delay the whole Constitution, I submit to this House it is not a very wise step to take. Language is and has been a vital factor in an individual's and a nation's life and because it is vital, we have to give it every thought and consideration. Because it is vital, it is also an urgent matter; and because it is vital, it is also a matter in which urgency may ill-serve our purpose. There is a slight contradiction. Because, if we proceed in an urgent matter to impose something, may be by a majority, on an unwilling minority in parts of the country or even in this House, we do not really succeed in what we have started to achieve. Powerful forces are at work in the country which will inevitably lead to the substitution of the English language by an Indian language or Indian languages in so far as the different parts of the country are concerned; but there will always be one all-India language. Language ultimately grows from the people; it is seldom that it can be imposed. Any attempt to impose a particular form of language on an unwilling people has usually met with the strongest opposition and has actually resulted in something the very reverse of what the promoters thought. I would beg this House to consider the fact and to realize, if it agrees with me, that the surest way of developing a natural all-India language is not so much to pass resolutions and Lawson the subject but to work to that end in other ways. For my part I have a certain conception of what an all-India language should be. Other people's conception may not be quite the same as mine. I cannot impose my conception on this House or on the country just as any other person will not be able to impose his or her conception unless the country accepts it. But I would much rather avoid trying to impose my or anyone else's conception but to work to that end in co-operation and amity and see how, after we have settled these major things about the Constitution etc., after we have attained an even greater measure of stability, we can take up each one of these separate questions and dispose of them in a much better atmosphere.
The House will remember that when I brought that motion of the Objectives Resolution before this House, I referred to the fact that we were asking for or rather we were laying down that our Constitution should be framed for an Independent Sovereign Republic. I stated at that time and I have stated subsequently this business of our being a Republic is entirely a matter for us to determine of course. It has nothing or little to do with what relations we should have with other countries, notably the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth that used to be called the British Commonwealth of Nations. That was a question which had to be determined again by this House and by none else, independently of what our Constitution was going to be. I want to inform the House that in recent weeks when I was in the United Kingdom, whenever this subject or any allied subject came up for a private discussion - there was no public discussion or decision because the Commonwealth Conference which I attended did not consider it at all in its sessions - but inevitably there were private discussions, because it is a matter of high moment not only for us but for other countries as to what, if any, relation we should have, what contacts, what links we should bear with these other countries. Therefore the matter came up in private discussion. Inevitably the first thing that I had to say in all these discussions was this that I could not as an individual - even though I had been honored by this high office of Prime Minister ship - I could not in any way or in any sense commit the country - even the Government which I have the hon. our to represent could not finally decide this matter. This was essentially a matter which the Constituent Assembly of India alone can decide. That I made perfectly clear. Having made that clear, I further pointed out this Objectives Resolution of this Constituent Assembly. I said it is open of course to the Constituent Assembly to vary that Resolution as it can vary anything else because it is Sovereign in this and other matters. Nevertheless that was the direction which the Constituent Assembly gave to itself and to its Drafting Committee for Constitution, and so long as it is (cheers) - that Constitution would be in terms of that Objectives Resolution. Having made that clear, Sir, I said that it has often been said on our behalf that we desire to be associated in friendly relationship with other countries, with the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. How in this context it can be done or it should be done is a matter for careful consideration and ultimate decision naturally on our part by the Constituent Assembly, on their part by the irrespective Governments or peoples. That is all I wish to say about this matter at this stage because possibly in the course of this session this matter no doubt will come up before the House in more concrete form. But in whatever from whether now or later, the point I should like to stress is this, that it is something apart from and in a sense independent of the Constitution that we are considering. We pass that Constitution for an Independent Sovereign Democratic India, for a Republic as we choose, and the second question is to be considered separately at whatever time it suits this House. It does not in any sense fetter this Constitution of ours or limit it because this Constitution coming from the people of India through their representatives represents their free will with regard to the future governance of India.
Now, may I beg again to repeat what I said earlier and that is this: that destiny has cast a certain role on this country. Whether anyone of us present here can be called men or women of destiny or not I do not know. That is a big word which does not apply to average human beings, but whether we are men or women of destiny or not, India is a country of destiny (cheers), and so far as we represent this great country with a great destiny stretching out in front of her, we also have to function as men and women of destiny, viewing all our problems in that long perspective of destiny and of the World and of Asia, never forgetting the great responsibility that freedom, that this great destiny of our country has cast upon us, not losing ourselves in petty controversies and debates which may be useful but which will in this context be either out of place or out of tune. Vast numbers of minds and eyes look in this direction. We have tore member them. Hundreds of millions of our own people look to us and hundreds of millions of others also look to us; and remember this, that while we want this Constitution to be as solid and as permanent a structure as we can make it, nevertheless there is no permanence in Constitutions. There should be a certain flexibility. If you make anything rigid and permanent, you stop a Nation's growth, the growth of a living vital organic people. Therefore it has to be flexible. So also, when you pass this Constitution you will, and I think it is proposed, lay down a period of years - whatever that period may be - during which changes to that Constitution can be easily made without any difficult process. That is a very necessary proviso for a number of reasons. One is this: that while we, who are assembled in this House, undoubtedly represent the people of India, nevertheless I thinks it can be said, and truthfully, that when a new House, by whatever name it goes, is elected in terms of this Constitution, and every adult in India has the right to vote - man and woman - the House that emerges then will certainly be fully representative of every section of the Indian people. It is right that House elected so - under this Constitution of course it will have the right to do anything - should have an easy opportunity to make such changes as it wants to. But in any event, we should not make a Constitution such as some other great countries have, which are so rigid that they do not and cannot be adapted easily to changing conditions. Today especially, when the world is in turmoil and we are passing through a very swift period of transition, what we may do today may not be wholly applicable tomorrow. Therefore, while we make a Constitution which is sound and as basic as we can, it should also be flexible and for a period we should be in a position to change it with relative facility.
May I say one word again about certain tendencies in the country which still think in terms of separatist existence or separate privileges and the like? This very Objectives Resolution set out adequate safeguards to be provided for minorities, for tribal areas, depressed and other backward classes. Of course that must be done, and it is the duty and responsibility of the majority to see that this is done and to see that they win over all minorities which may have suspicions against them, which may suffer from fear. It is right and important that we should raise the level of the backward groups in India and bring them up to the level of the rest. But it is not right that in trying to do this we create further barriers, or even keep on existing barriers, because the ultimate objective is not separatism but building up an organic nation, not necessarily a uniform nation because we have a varied culture, and in this country ways of living differ in various parts of the country, habits differ and cultural traditions differ. I have no grievance against that. Ultimately in the modern world there is a strong tendency for the prevailing culture to influence others. That may be a natural influence. But I think the glory of India has been the way in which it has managed to keep two things going at the same time: that is, its infinite variety and at the same time its unity in that variety. Both have to be kept, because if we have only variety, then that means separatism and joint to pieces. If we seek to impose some kind of regimented unity that makes a living organism rather lifeless. Therefore, while it is our bounden duty to do everything we can to give full opportunity to every minority or group and to raise every backward group or class, I do not think it will be a right thing to go the way this country has gone in the past by creating barriers and by calling for protection. As a matter of fact nothing can protect such a minority or a group less than a barrier which separates it from the majority. It makes it a permanently isolated group and it prevents it from any kind of tendency to bring it closer to the other groups in the country.
I trust, Sir, that what I have ventured to submit to the House will be borne in mind when these various clauses are considered and that ultimately we shall pass this Constitution in the spirit of the solemn moment when we started this great endeavor.
The Assembly then adjourned for Lunch till Three of the Clock.
The Constituent Assembly reassembled after lunch at Three of the Clock, Mr. Vice-President (Dr. H. C. Mookherjee ) in the Chair.
Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir (East Punjab: Sikh): Mr. President, like my Honourable friend Shri Deshbandhu Gupta, I cannot say that Dr. Ambedkar, President of the Drafting Committee does not deserve any congratulation. On several matters he deserves congratulation for several reasons and the Committee's labour in framing this first constitution is certainly praise-worthy. In spite of that, if anybody discovers any error, he mentions it, according to the measure of his understanding.
Now I want to say something regarding Article 5 which is embodied in the Part relating to the rights of citizenship. Some of my friends have already drawn our attention to the fact that it would be very difficult for illiterate people to appear before a magistrate for filling their declarations. But I look at it also from another point of view. From both points of view, some sort of amendment is essential, because in this Article no distinction has been made between a foreigner and the Hindus and the Sikhs coming from Pakistan. Those that are still perforce in Pakistan will have no right of acquiring citizenship after this Constitution has been framed. I think this Article should be so amended that they might be regarded as the citizens of this land, whenever they come here. There is yet another point. Just at present Non-Muslims are coming from East Bengal. If, therefore, any provision is made in this Constitution to the effect that they would not be able to come, after this Constitution has been passed, then the process of their migration will gain momentum. We are notable to look fully well after the refugees who have come here already. From this point of view, too, I consider it expedient that suitable amendment should be made in this item.
Another point which I want to mention is regarding the Fundamental rights, namely the one which concerns our basic rights. They have been stated in grandiloquent style, but the many limitations made therein have lessened the grandiloquence. Seth Damodar Swarup had moved an amendment on behalf of his party, which was lost. The object of his amendment was to point out that this Assembly which is not elected on the basis of joint electorate and adult franchise, is not representative of the masses; but we did not agree with him and the House rejected his amendment. But this much is very clear that although our Assembly was not elected on the basis of joint electorate and adult franchise. Yet this Constituent Assembly has to look to the interest of the masses at the time of framing the constitution. Articles 9 to 13, where the people's rights have been embodied, answer the objection raised by Seth Sahib. For instance, there is equality of right on the basis of religion, race or caste, meaning thereby that there shall be no discrimination on grounds of Caste. Untouchability is abolished. Freedom of speech is guaranteed and in awarding punishment, no discrimination shall be made on grounds of creed or caste. All these things have been incorporated and they are all very good; but I have objection against some of the limitations. For example, in Article 13, freedom of speech has been guaranteed, freedom of movement throughout the country without any distinction has been given and there is freedom to acquire and to dispose of property - all these things have been embodied. But the limitation imposed in item (5) of Article 13 should not have been there. In the face of these limitations, all grand clauses which have been embodied in it will lose some of their grandeur. Even now I have this complaint anybody may admit it or not; but I strongly believe, that those of our brethren who have come from Pakistan - although in some places they have been treated well, yet distinction has certainly been made and their rehabilitation has not been liked. Wherever they have gone, difficulties have certainly been raised in rehabilitating them freely and comfortably. Therefore from the point of view of refugee problem, too, there should not be any limitation regarding the freedom of movement throughout the country and of acquiring and disposing of property. Those who cannot acquire plots should have the liberty of acquiring cultivable lands. I have received telegrams from everywhere that this limitation should bed one away with so that this old evil of disunion might disappear.
Third thing which I want to say is about the language. This is a very important question but I had not thought it to be so intricate as made out by our learned men and research scholars. Till the time this question had not come to me in its present form, I never thought there was any difference between Hindi and Hindustani. It never occurred to me that Hindi is separate language from Hindustani. In this connection I recall a Panjabi couplet of my own which means "Ignorance was bliss to me; knowledge has landed me into a difficult situation" or, in other words, I wish I had not known about it; now when I have known it I am in a puzzle what to do. But one thing is quite clear. As a principle we should agree to keep only one script in our Constitution. There should be one script and one language for the whole of India, as has been stated by our friend Seth Govind Das Ji and several other speakers.
I also agree that our first constitution should be adopted in the National language. This is my firm faith and my confirmed opinion. So far as language is concerned, it undoubtedly varies from place to place; there is no doubt about it. There seems to be some difficulty about language question. Some Honourable members have gone to the extent of threatening that if a particular decision is taken they would stop attending the House or would have to take some steps as a protest. In our armed forces, Roman script, Urdu script as well as Devnagri script are prevalent. If we have to keep only one script than we ought to see in which of these three scripts all our languages can be written and reproduced correctly. I would go to this extent, that if all the advocates of provincial languages so agree, then I would be prepared for the position that Bengalis should leave their Bengali script, Tamilians and Telugus give up their scripts and Punjabis leave their Punjabi script and all these languages should be written in Devnagri script and I would have no objection. Under the present conditions however this seems to be somewhat difficult, though it would create a sense of oneness. If all of us differ in every other respect, at least we must be one in one respect. We must unite on one point, that is we must agree to have one common script, in which all different languages may be written. If it is done we shall be saved from several perplexities. In case this is not possible, then every provincial language must be given equal importance in that particular province.
Then remains the question of language; regarding that I want to say this that I have seen all the translations of this draft constitution. I have seen its Hindi translation, and have read its Urdu and Hindustani translations. I have used the word "seen" about Hindi translation for the reason that I have talked to several of my friends who are supporters of Hindi. None of them could explain the purport of the Hindi translation to me. Our great poet of Panjab Dr. Tribal, used to write his poems in Persian. I have read several of his books in Persian but when he realised that his Persian poetry was like a wild flower for the people, out of which nobody got any fragrance, then he began writing in Urdu. If you see the language of his Urdu poems, you will find that he was obliged to use a simple diction so that his thoughts may reach the people. Just listen; I repeat one of his couplets to you:-
"Iqbal bara updeshak hai, Man baton men moh leta hai, Guftar ka woh ghazi to bana Kirdar ka ghazi ban no saka."
Now tell me what you will call this language - Hindi, Urdu or Hindustani? To which language do the words 'updeshak', Man', and 'Moh' belong? If the language in which my friend, Chaudhary Ranbir Singh, delivered his speech the other day, is Hindi then I am a supporter of Hindi. Now, we have to see what is most suitable and most practicable. If you ask me about the Punjab I can tell you that all those papers, which are supporters of Hindi, are printed in Urdu script. It is not a question of personal or individual convenience but of finding a most suitable and practicable solution.
So what I mean, is that our language should be easy and commonly understandable. I suggest that a committee be appointed for coining the terms, and after the terms have been coined and the simplification of language decided upon then I think there will be no difficulty in the way of solving the language question. There is short-coming in us all and particularly in Panjabis, that we tend to give a religious tinge to every problem. We pitch ourselves against each other on the basis of religion. The matter may be simple but by giving it a religious co lour we create a mess.
There is a talk of division of provinces on linguistic basis. On that point our constitution is almost silent; only a vague hint has been given in the Panjab this question too has taken a religious turn although it is a very simple one. So, as was said by one speaker in the morning, it is a controversial matter. It should be postponed, and this principle should be accepted that if provinces are formed on a linguistic basis, then all the developed languages will be given due consideration.
My time is almost finished, but I want to say something about the minorities. I have not given much thought to this question because I have been a Congress worker. Even now I am the President of the Provincial Congress. To my mind, rights of the minorities will be quite safe in the hands of the Congress Governments. But at present the question of reservation is before us. This is true that on the basis of religion I belong to a minority community, and I am proud of the fact that I have never viewed this question from a communal angle. Regarding this, I would like to state that the Sikh community has always been proud of the fact that it has bravely made sacrifices in making the country a strong nation. That was the reason which prompted revered Pandit Malviyaji to remark that every Hindu family must have a Sikh son. Shri Savarkar had once advised the co-religionists of Dr. Ambedkar that if they wished to change their religion they could become sikhs. I had then enquired from Shri Savarkarji as to how could he, being himself a Hindu and an Arya Samajist, give such advice? (A voice - Savarkar is not an Arya Samajist.) Then, I withdraw my words. Anyway, he replied to me that though he had not studied Sikhism, this much he knew that when he was at the Andaman's there were several old and distinguished Sikh prisoners with him, in whom he had found intense patriotism, passion for national service and sacrifice in abundance. Judged from that he could say that they were good people and for that reasons he had advised co-religionists of Dr. Ambedkar to embrace Sikhism. From the point of view of the minorities themselves, I venture to say that without weight age reservation is of no use. I think that if our hearts are freed from mutual suspicions and we gain each other's confidence then several provisions can be embodied which would help us in forging one nation. Governors and the President can be vested with the power of nomination incases where minorities fail to secure their adequate place under election. If any such method is devised whereby reservation is done away with then it would be a test of the majority also, as well as a step forward towards forging one nation. We have seen how the reservation and separate electorates have worked under the British regime; instead of becoming one nation, the country had been torn to pieces. This treatment simply aggravated the malady. We should take lesson from that; we should know what steps we ought to take for knitting the country into one nation. Majority community ought to find out the ways for filling up the shortage, if any, in the representation of the minorities.
With this end in view let us proceed in a way whereby one united nation may emerge. There is no time left; otherwise I had to say much more on this subject.
Mr. Vice-President (Dr. H. C. Mookherjee): I have received notice of an amendment from Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad to the following effect: -
I rule it out of order on the ground that in the rules for the consideration and passing of the Draft Constitution there is no provision for reference to a select Committee. Acceptance of this amendment would amount to an amendment of the rules already framed. This cannot be done without reference to the Steering Committee. Not only that. Rule 31(4) says:
I consider this a dilatory amendment. I therefore rule it out of order.
The Honourable Rev. J. J. M. Nichols-Roy (Assam: General): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, it is indeed a great privilege to associate myself in rendering tribute to Dr. Ambedkar and the other members of the Drafting Committee for the stupendous task they have undertaken to bring out this Draft Constitution. they all deserve our best thanks.
To me, the structure of the Constitution depicted in this draft looks good though it requires certain modifications in some details and important matters. By this Constitution, India is to have unity in diversities, India with diverse races, colours, creeds languages and cultures and with varied degrees of civilisation is being moulded into one Nation that will work together for the good of the common whole. This is not a small task. India is like the different States in the continent of Europe which have not been able to form a united sovereign country. But by the help of God and the wisdom given to our leaders India is having unity in the midst of diversities. This unity is not to be achieved by eliminating all diversities and putting all component parts into one mould by a stroke of the pen, for such an attempt will cause terrible revolution and great distress everywhere. The process for achieving the unity of India is by evolution as provided in this Draft Constitution.
The provisions for freedom of worship etc. etc. for minorities and for certain special areas and for hill tribes are the necessary stages for evolving unity in the midst of diversities. The wisdom of our leaders and of the majority community in acknowledging the necessity for allowing diversities in this unity structure is greatly appreciated and will be greatly appreciated by all. This is God's own method. God's own creation everywhere is unity with diversities. I thank Sardar Patel, the Chairman of the Advisory Committee for Minorities etc. He appreciated the needs of minorities and special tribal hill areas.
I must especially thank the Drafting Committee for accepting the draft for the creation of District Councils with autonomy in the hill districts in Assam which in the Sixth Schedule are called autonomous districts. These hill districts, inhabited by tribal hill people, will under this constitution be able to develop themselves according to their own genius and culture. The result, I believe, will be charming if these autonomous districts are nurtured to develop themselves in their own way without disturbing the main purpose of unity underlying the constitution presented in the draft. These tribes, though small in themselves, have been self-governing bodies from time immemorial. The India of tomorrow will surely stand to gain if the schemes for development of these areas are duly financed by the Government of India as proposed in the draft. Certain improvements in the Sixth Schedule will have to be made in the draft. I hope the House will accept the amendments which will be moved in due course.
While I fully appreciate the attitude expressed by Dr. Ambedkar and others as regards the strengthening of the Centre, I have to express that my views are very strong against the unbalanced strengthening of the Centre at the cost of causing weakness to the component parts thereof. It will be like the picture of an unbalanced man with a very big head but with bony and lean limbs. Such a head in that very condition will not be able to stand.
In perusing the printed amendments to Article 131 it appears that the Drafting Committee wants that the Governor should be appointed by the President. Powers are therefore proposed to be centralised. I hope the Drafting Committee will revise their view and find it undesirable to move it. I think this country has long given up the idea of nominated governorship with discretionary powers. The Drafting Committee has also given an alternative proposal for the appointment of Governors from a panel of four candidates to be elected by Members of the Legislative Assembly of the State. The argument of some of the members of the Committee is that the co-existence of an elected Governor and a Prime Minister responsible to the Legislature might lead to friction and consequent weakness in administration; but at the same time the existence of a nominated Governor with discretionary powers might cause obstruction and deadlock. I have had experience as a Minister with eight nominated Governors. I am strongly of the opinion that an elected Governor will be better substitute. This matter will be discussed at length when the amendments to Article 131 are moved in this House. I shall have occasion to say more about this then.
In the matter of Finance this draft is very unsatisfactory - particularly in reference to smaller Provinces. It does not give a fair deal to the Provinces. Poor Provinces like Assam and Orissa have reasons to be particularly disappointed. Those Provinces should not be weakened financially. Even one weak limb of the body will make the whole body weak. If India is to live and prosper, the States which are its component parts should function as healthy organs of the body politic of India. To come to the point, I want to say that the provisions of Articles 253 and 254 cannot be appreciated by us. They are couched almost in the same language as that of section 140 of the Government of India Act of 1935. The good wishes of the Government of India have so far remained a dead letter while the backward Provinces like Orissa and Assam remain where they were before. Even this year, Sir, our Assam Province is being greatly hit by the financial policy of the Central Government. We were in great hopes that our most essential needs such as building up of institutions for educating and training personnel in various nation-building activities would be satisfied, but we are told that these have to be postponed or delayed. The construction of strategic highways and roads absolutely essential for giving relief to our distressed people living on the border of Pakistan and for the protection of the country are proposed not to be pushed on with the same rapidity as it is essentially necessary to be done for we are told that not even one-fourth of the money required for these schemes for the current year will be available to us. The great Congress organisation has declared that our goal is a co-operative commonwealth, but when rural centres for an all round development of the villages are proposed to be opened on co-operative principles, the money required for the fulfillment of the schemes in this connection is not forthcoming. Our Assam Government in order to raise the maximum finances it is capable of doing, within the provincial list, has exhausted all the sources of taxation; but our province is yet faced with a deficit of about a crore, while its substantial income is only over four crores. But Assam would have had enough to bear its own responsibilities without begging from the Centre, had not the Central Government taken away the export duty on tea. Tea and petroleum are produced in Assam. If the excise and export duties on tea and petroleum are allotted to us, which give about eight crores of rupees annually from Assam alone to the coffers of the Government of India, we shall have enough to finance our development schemes all round. Why should not this export duty be given to Assam, at least the largest share of it, every year?
An Expert Committee was appointed to investigate these questions and the Premier of Assam, Mr. G. N. Bardoloi himself led the deputation before the Committee. While the Committee conceded that a portion of the export duty on jute could be given to Bengal (a small portion of which comes to Assam also) and that a portion of the excise duty on tobacco might be given to the Province of Madras, the Committee did not consider it desirable to concede anything in favour of Assam on account of tea and petroleum produced in Assam. Is this just and equitable? Assam is kept under this system of eternal doles from the Centre. It passes our comprehension why this difference is made. Is it because Assam does not have a strong voice in the Centre? For many years during the rule of the British, Assam has been crying hoarse against this injustice committed by the central financial authorities in the past; but all our cries and condemnation of that injustice have gone unheeded by the Centre. Why reduce this producing province which could have had enough to support itself to a state of a beggar perpetually? Sir, I hope any strengthening of the Centre financially in this manner while robbing a province of its legitimate right will not be supported by any one. I believe that this just House with reasonable minds and sympathetic hearts will see that the province gets a fair deal. Facts should be faced.
I think myself that the authorities have been so busy with other matters that their attention could not be drawn in the past to this matter of life and death for Assam. We are today appealing to all the Honourable Members to come to our rescue at this time. Let it not be forgotten that Assam is a Frontier province which is subject to aggression from all sides. It is the duty of the whole Union to attend to this from the very beginning before evil days come. It is also very necessary for India to keep the bordering areas supplied with the necessities of life in order to keep them satisfied, otherwise adverse elements will cause great trouble which may cost India ten times more than the amount of money which may be spent during peaceful time. It will be a shortsighted policy to deprive our Assam province of its export duty on tea and to reduce its legitimate share of excise duties on tea and petroleum etc. In the past the bureaucratic Government overlooked the claims of backward provinces like Assam or Orissa, but how can we imagine that this Constituent Assembly will allow the perpetuation of the same wrong which was by the alien Government? I hope, Sir, that when the amendments to right this wrong are brought before this House, they will receive full support from all the Members of this august Assembly.
Before I close, Sir, I must also say that adult franchise is necessary as the basis of election. The people everywhere must feel that freedom has come to them and that they have a share in the shaping of the administration of the country. This has been the hope given by the Congress in the past and any deviation from this principle will cause disappointment and arouse agitation in the country. It is true that the common man in the villages does not understand much, but it is the duty of the politicians to educate the common man in the right direction. We have adopted democratic principles, and the salvation of our country is to educate the common man and trust that he will be guided to exercise his right of franchise in the right direction.
I do not want to take the time of this House with other observations and criticisms which I would have liked to make, but before I conclude, I want to say that if we are going to build up a democratic State, we must make every one in this country, however humble and poor he may be, feel that he has a share in the making of a better country. We must cultivate the spirit of fraternity and this should have full sway in this country of ours so that every one of us, however humble and low we might be, can feel proud of this country to which we belong. God also will no doubt help us when we are saturated with this spirit of honesty and fraternity.
Mr. Mohammed Ismail Sahib (Madras: Muslim): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I thank you, in the first instance, for having allowed me some time though almost at the last stage of this general debate. I shall touch only on a few of the points I wanted to place before the House and try to compress my ideas within the short time which I understand has been kindly allowed to me by you.
Sir, it is indeed a great speech in which the Honourable Dr. Ambedkar has commended the consideration of the Draft Constitution to the House. For lucidity, for persuasiveness, impressiveness and logic I do not think that it could be beaten. All congratulations to him. But this does not mean that one is agreeing with everything that is said by him in the speech. For example, take the question of provincial autonomy, the relationship between the Centre and the States. He pleads more really for a unitary type of State. He says that a balance has been struck between federalism and the unitary type of Government. But I am inclined to think, when I go through the Draft Constitution, that the emphasis is too much upon the unitary nature of the State. In my view, this is not conducive to the happiness and prosperity of the country. Ours is a vast country of great distances and huge population. However much the Centre may be anxious to accord uniform treatment to the various parts of the country, still, in the very nature of things, there will be draw-backs and shortcomings. This will naturally lead to discontent, and conflict. It is for this reason that many political thinkers have been of the view that a federal type of Government is more suitable than anything else for such a country as ours. We in India need not be afraid of anything like disintegration or undue clashes and conflicts between the various parts of the country. The example of the United States of America has been cited. What has happened there really? This country which has got more than forty States, all autonomous, have, as one unit, stood two of the severest wars ever known to the history of mankind, and these States have also stood together and have dealt with and confronted successfully the stress and strain of post-war problems that faced them after the last two wars. Take again the case of Russia. The States of Russia are called autonomous Republics. It is said that they have got even control over external affairs. What has happened? That country with all these autonomous republics, has been able to withstand the deadly and terrible onslaught of the last war, and today she is as one big country, able to pull on in the face of so many hardships and difficulties. Therefore, it is not so much the type of Government, or the number of powers which we give to the Centre that really matters. It is the character of the personnel which runs the Government, and it is the character of the people that really counts in these matters. Sir, in spite of the Russian States being autonomous republics, what has fact, to be over-weighted with powers. The Centre has come, in actual fact, to be over-weighted with powers. That is human nature. Here, it is said, on occasions, our Constitution will become unitary. But, in the nature of things, when once it becomes unitary, the tendency will be to stay on the unitary type of Government. I say that the federal system is more suited to the conditions of our country than the unitary type.
The conditions in different parts of the country are different. Therefore they have to be dealt with by the people who are in more intimate touch with those conditions from day to day. In this connection, I shall just touch on one point. That is to say, when the province is deprived of so much of its autonomous powers, there is a proposal which does not agree with this framework, viz., that of the election of the Governor through adult franchise. The Governor himself is only a constitutional head if he is not a figure-head and to go through all the paraphernalia and trouble of having him elected by tens of millions of people in a province is not necessary and it really bristles, with possible difficulties and probable hardships apart from huge expenditure it would involve. The Governor must of course be elected by certain agencies in the provinces and States themselves and that is in keeping with the provincial autonomy of my pleading. Such an agency might take the form of an electoral college consisting probably of members of the legislature in a province members of the municipalities and district boards and I would even go, if friends would like it, to the extent of including members of the Panchayat Board as well. After all it may mean only about fifty or sixty thousand voters when the Governor is also elected by the people through adult franchise it is only natural that on occasions he will come into conflict with the ministry which will claim to be the spokesmen of the people.
Regarding Fundamental Rights, the Mover of the Resolution said that the exceptions have not eaten up the rights, but as a matter of fact they have actually eaten up the rights. He says everyone of these exceptions can be supported by at least one decision of the Supreme Court of America. To say so is on a par with the argument advanced by the British politicians when the Government of India Act of1935 was on the anvil of the Parliament in Great Britain. They said they were including in that Act things which were there and they had come into being and therefore it was that they were putting them into that Act. To say that the Supreme Court has decided in a certain way, has decided that certain exceptions are quite legal and all right and therefore such exceptions must come into our Constitution - to say that is different from saying that the people will have the freedom of going to Supreme Court or Federal Court whenever a fundamental right is in question in doubt. This freedom of the people to go to the Federal Court even as against the Government will really imbue them with a sense of real freedom and that will also have a salutary check on the Government which is very necessary in democracy.
Some of my friends claimed that Constitution is apolitical Constitution but really is it so - I don't know. It deals with untouchability, temple-entry and religious instruction. I don't blame the Constitution or its drawers for this. I say it is quite right in noting these things; but one important fundamental thing I want to refer to and that is regarding religious instruction. The Constitution says that religious instruction shall not be provided in any of the State schools. Taking this provision with the compulsory elementary education which is being introduced in almost all the provinces. It means that the Government is against religious instruction, it is against people getting instruction in their own religion even if they wanted it. Therefore until 15 years of age up to which age the children have to be sent to these elementary schools they shall not have an opportunity in these schools of having any instruction in religion. That right is not derogatory to the neutrality or secular nature of the State. The State would not impose any religious instruction upon people who do not like it. They only give facilities for the people if they want to give instruction to their children in their own religion.
Then, Sir, I have to refer to the question of minorities. Some friends said that reservation must go; some said it must go because it is not of much use and some said that reservation as such must go. They said that it was good-will that was required and not reservation. It is really true that goodwill is required; it is essential even in the working of this elaborate bulky constitution and without goodwill any elaborate scheme will be of no avail. But on that plea goodwill might be taken as a substitute for many other provisions in the Draft Constitution; nevertheless, those provisions are there. Goodwill has to be grounded on something and it can't be live on air. There has to be something for goodwill to be based upon and for it to grow and that is the elementary rights - fundamental rights and safeguards given to minorities. Therefore it is that my community wants this reservation though it alone does not satisfy their requirements. I don't mean to say that it satisfies the people who want representation in the legislatures. They want themselves to be given the right of really representing their views and the feelings and aspirations before the legislature. Will these people who are the occupants of these reserved seats under joint electorates be able to express the view of the community as such? When I say this we should not rake up the past and I don't want to refer to the past and kindle and stir up controversies and disputes. We should take up this question on its own merits - whether it is reasonable or not we should consider. In my view there should not only be reservation of seats but these seats should be filled up through separate electorates. I don't find any other alternative if you want to give the right to these minorities to express themselves before the majority community, before the country and before the legislature. This is all that is meant by this electorate. It is no barrier between one community and another and if there was any trouble in the past it was not due to this system of election, but it was due to other things. As I have told you, I don't want to enter into the past. Again, when we talk of these separate electorates communalism is brought forward. In this connection I would only give the House the benefit of a quotation from one of the Ministers, a Congress Minister in the Madras Assembly, about ten days ago. A question was put regarding communal representation for the admission of students to a certain college.
One of the Members put the question to the Minister:
Then the Minister for Education answers:
Then the Minister further added:
That is the view expressed by a Congress leader belonging to the majority community who is now working an important portfolio in one of the important provinces of the country.
Therefore, Sir, that is the position. There is no harm in recognising those communities and this is not a position peculiar to our country. When I was a young-man I used to follow the national movement of Egypt. When they first wanted independence, a community called the Copts came up. This community started a counter-movement. They wanted to be assured of their rights under independence and then Zaghlul Pasha, the leader of Egypt called those people and asked them to formulate their demands. The demands were brought forward in due course of time and he considered them. He then said that those demands alone would not secure the minority's rights and position; that they would not even give them the right or proper expression. He said that he was giving them more. That was how the minority was treated in that country. Until then, whenever there was anything about Egypt there would be something about the Copts as well. But all this changed. From that day of settlement until now we do not hear the name of the Copts at all. Now they are a contented people. They are all living today as one people. I hope the House will consider this question in a dispassionate manner, excluding any emotionalism or sentiment from the subject.
Shri Algu Rai Shastri: (United Provinces: General):*[Mr. President, as there is only one hour left at our disposal I would request that the time for discussion be extended by a day. Many members have expressed a desire to speak and so far no closure has been moved. It appears that the House wants to have more discussion on the subject. The issue is of great importance and, as Shri Diwakar said yesterday, it should not be disposed of hurriedly. At least one day's extension should be given for its consideration. Only some of those persons whose names are already with you would like to speak. I beg to make one more submission. Sir, the entire time today has been given by you to those whom you consider to be the members of minority communities They have placed their view point before the House. Will you not now give an opportunity to those whom you consider to be members of majority communities to place their views? Some reasoned reply to objections raised here must be permitted to be made here so that the world may be influenced to believe that whatever decisions are being taken in this House, are based on reasoning and not on a majority vote. If any one wants to meet the objections raised here, he must be given an opportunity to do so. There is the question of language, the question of our relations with Great Britain and other problems of this kind. These are very important matters and require through elucidation in the House. I would, therefore request you kindly to give us one day more for discussion. We must have at least one day more so that others also place their views on these matters.
Mr. Vice-President: You want one extra day!
Pandit Govind Malaviya: (United Provinces: General): May I support that request. I think we are discussing a very important matter, for which there will be no other opportunity and I think, even when three days have already been devoted to this, so long as there are a number of Members of this House who have yet to express their views before it on this matter, I think we shall be doing nothing wrong in extending the time.
The Honourable Shri B. G. Kher (Bombay: General): Tomorrow again a request will be made that one more day should be granted. There will be plenty of opportunities when amendments are moved and all these points could be brought out. We have been treated to a variety of views indifferent languages and sufficient light or darkness has been thrown on a subject which has been before us for two year. I sympathise with Members who want to speak and to be heard, but I do submit that there ought to be some finality to such general discussion and when you have already extended the time by one day I thought that was enough I suggest there should be no more extensions.
Shri Mahavir Tyagi (United Provinces: General): As long as there is one Member who wants to record his opinion on this subject, he should be given a full opportunity to express himself. I therefore submit, that not only one, but if tomorrow we want another day, then another day must be given.
Mr. Vice-President: I have here the names of about forty gentlemen who want to speak. At the same time I have to point out that I have been keeping a note of the principal items touched upon by the previous speakers, and I find that they concern more or less six different points. Already about thirty Members have spoken and they have gone round these six different points. If the House is certain that the gentlemen who come here-after will be able to do something more than cover these six points, then there will be some justification. But I am in your hands. I am perfectly prepared to extend the time, provided you can convince me that something new will be contributed.
Pandit Govind Malaviya: Would you like us to submit to you a precis of the points we wish to raise?
Mr. Vice-President: Perhaps you have misunderstood me and that deliberately.
I have never suggested that I wanted a precis. But those who have sat down here and listened - you came only today and so you do not know the points that have been touched upon......
Pandit Govind Malaviya: But I have taken the proceedings home and studied them
Mr. Vice-President: ... the Members whose names are already with me, if they can convince me or convince themselves that they have something new to contribute, then I am prepared to consider the proposition.
Mr. Hussain Imam: (Interruption)....
Shri Suresh Chandra Majumdar: (West Bengal: General) When there are forty names outstanding even a day's extension may not suffice. So you must go on for the whole week
Shri Vishwamber Dayal Tripathi: (United Provinces: General) I suggest two more days should be given for this discussion.
Mr. Vice-President: All right, I will give one day more. But I do hope the time will be used for some useful purpose.
Shri Alladi Krishna swami Ayyar (Madras: General): Sir, before making a few remarks on the Draft Constitution, I should like to join in the tribute of praise to the Honourable Dr. Ambedkar for the lucid and able manner in which he has explained the principles of the Draft Constitution, though I owe it to myself to say that I do not share the views of my honourable Friend in his general condemnation of village communities in India. I must also express my emphatic dissent from his observation that Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on Indian soil. The democratic principle was recognised in the various indigenous institutions of the country going back to the earliest period in her history. Democracy in its modern form is comparatively recent even in European history, as its main developments are only subsequent to the French Revolution and to the American War of Independence. The essential elements of democracy as understood and practised at the present day are even of much later date and have gained currency and universal support during the last war and after its termination.
Before I proceed to make my remarks on the Draft Constitution, in view of certain observations of my honourable Friend Mr. T. T. Krishnamachari on the work of the Drafting Committee and the part taken by its members, I owe it to myself and to the House to explain my position. As a member of the Committee, in spite of my indifferent health, I took a fairly active part in several of its meetings prior to the publication of the Draft Constitution and sent up notes and suggestion for the consideration of my colleagues even when I was unable to attend its meetings. Subsequent to the publication of the draft, for reasons of health, I could not take part in any of its deliberations, and I can claim no credit for the suggestions as to the modifications of the draft.
In dealing with the Draft Constitution, it is as well to remember that the main features of the Constitution in regard to several particulars were settled by the Assembly after due consideration of the reports of various committees; this Assembly is not starting afresh after two years of work. I doubt if even, some of the Members who animadverted upon certain features of this constitution settled by this House could disclaim responsibility for the decisions already reached. The federal framework of the Constitution with an over-riding power in the Centre, the need for a concurrent list and the items therein, the composition of the Houses, the relative powers of the two Houses of Parliament and in the provincial legislatures, the mode of election of the President and of the Governors, the relationship between the legislature and the executive, the constitution and powers of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts, the fundamental rights to be guaranteed to the citizen and a number of other matters relating to the constitutional framework, were settled by this House or considered by the Committees appointed by this House. In so far as the Drafting Committee has embodied in the articles as framed the considered decisions of this Assembly, the Drafting Committee can in no way be responsible for the decisions already reached, while it may be quite open to the House to revise those decisions on special grounds. In regard to such of the provisions of the draft as have not been considered by this House, it is open to this House, to come to any conclusion, consistently with the resolutions already reached and with the general framework of the Constitution.
The main criticisms on the Draft Constitution range under the following heads:-
The problem of minorities has been solved by common agreement in a manner satisfactory to the various parties concerned, and the draft Constitution merely seeks to give effect to the agreement reached. As has been pointed out in the spirited address of our Prime Minister this morning, while regimented unity will not do, nothing should be done which will tend to perpetuate the division of the nation into minorities and to prevent the consolidation of the nation.
The next criticism is that the common man is ignored and there is no socialistic flavour about the Constitution. Sir, the Constitution, while it does not commit the country to any particular form of economic structure or social adjustment, gives ample scope for future legislatures and the future Parliament to involve any economic order and to undertake any legislation they choose in public interests. In this connection, the various Articles which are directive principles of social policy are not without significance and importance. While from the very nature they cannot be justiciable or enforceable legal rights in a court of law, they are none the less, in the language of Article 29,fundamental in the governance of the country and it is the duty of the State to apply the principles in making laws. It is idle to suggest that any responsible government or any legislature elected on the basis of universal suffrage can or will ignore these principles.
The financial provisions in the draft Constitution have also come in for strong comment from my honourable friend Shri T. T. Krishnamachari. While an independent source or sources of revenue are certainly necessary for the proper functioning of a federal government, there is a distinct tendency, however, in the several federations, for the Central Government to act as the taxing agency, taking care to make adequate provision for the units sharing in the proceeds as also for the central or national Government granting subsidies. After all, it cannot be forgotten that the tax payer is the individual citizen or a corporation - whichever the taxing agency might be - and the multiplication of taxing agencies is not a matter of convenience to the citizens. I doubt whether in the present uncertain state of the country it is possible to overhaul the whole financial structure and attempt a re-distribution on entirely new lines. That is why a provision has been made for a Financial Commission at the end of ten years. Possibly the draft is defective in that special provision has not been made for the re-arranging of the lists in regard to financial matters in light of the recommendations of the Financial Commission without having recourse to the procedure as to Constitutional Amendments.
In regard to the subject of taxation, Professor Wheare makes the following observations in his recent Treatise on Federalism:-
We then had the criticism that the Constitution is far too detailed and elaborate and contained more number of articles than any other known Constitution. This criticism does not take note of the fact that we are not starting a Constitution anew after a Revolution. The existing administrative structure which has been worked so long cannot altogether be ignored in the new framework. The second point that the critics have failed to take note of is that unlike other constitutions, the draft Constitution contains detailed provision as to the constitution and power of the Supreme Court and the High Courts and also Articles relating to the Constitution of the units themselves. If we could eliminate all those Articles, our Constitution also could be rendered simpler and shorter.
In regard to the Judiciary, the draft Constitution also recognises the importance of an independent judiciary for the proper working of democracy, and especially of a Federal Constitution. The Supreme Court, under the Draft Constitution, has wider powers than any other court under any Federal system in the world.
More than any other provision in the Constitution. I should think the boldest step taken by this Assembly is in the matter of universal adult suffrage with a belief in the common man and in his power to shape the future of the country. For this institution to work properly too great a care cannot be taken in the matter of the preparation of proper electoral rolls and a uniform principle being adopted in the different parts of India. I would commend for the consideration of the House the suggestions made by my friend, the Honourable Shri Santhanam, in the course of his speech yesterday.
There are other matters which require very close and critical examination by this Assembly before the Constitution is finally adopted, such as citizenship, the formation of new States, and the position of the Indian States which have been grouped together under the able leadership and guidance of our Sardar. The position of the States which are not represented in the Constituent Assembly will also have to be considered and dealt with before the Constitution is completed as otherwise complicated legal questions might arise in regard to the relationship of these States vis-à-vis the Union of India.
There are two other points also which have been touched upon in the course of the debate. These relate to the emergency powers vested in the Government and to the ordinance-making power. One point that has to be remembered in this connection is that any power exercised by the President is not to be exercised on his own responsibility. The word 'President' used in the Constitution merely stands for the fabric responsible to the Legislature. Whether it is Ordinance or whether it is the use of the emergency power, the Cabinet is responsible to the popularly elected House. It should be remembered too that during the last debate it was the representatives......
Prof. N. G. Ranga (Madras : General) : There is too much noise in the House. Another debate seems to be going on in that corner of the House.
Mr. Vice-President: Order in the House, please.
Shri Alladi Krishnamachari Ayyar: I may mention that during the last debate the representatives from the Provinces were more anxious, including the Ministers, than anybody else, to have emergency powers. It is they, having regard to the actual working of the administration, who wanted these emergency powers given to them. How exactly the emergency power is to be provided for, whether any changes are necessary, all that is another matter. So normally when the Assembly is not in session. If the Assembly is in session, I do not think that the representatives elected under universal suffrage are likely to be less insistent upon their rights than the Members of this House elected on a comparatively narrow ticket.
A brief survey of the draft Constitution must convince the Members that is based upon sound principles of democratic government and contains within itself elements necessary for growth and expansion and is in line with the most advanced democratic Constitution of the world. It is well to remember that a Constitution is after all what we make of it. The best illustration of this is found in the Constitution of the United States which was received with the least enthusiasm when it was finally adopted by the different States but has stood the test of time and is regarded as a model Constitution by the rest of the democratic world.
Shri K. Hanumanthaiya (My sore): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, Dr. Ambedkar was pleased to make a reference to the Indian States and made an appeal that so far as the units are concerned, there need not be any difference in the constitutional set-up between the Provinces and States. I am glad that such an opinion is given, I think, though for the first time. Hitherto, every State was allowed to have a Constituent Assembly of its own and even the Unions of States were permitted to summon Constituent Assemblies for the purpose of framing their own constitutions. Many of us are wondering whether the Constituent Assemblies to be summoned in the States and Unions of States are free to make their own constitution, whether they were in consonance with the Indian Constitution or not. I want to suggest some ways by which we can attain the desired end.
In My sore, Sir, the Constituent Assembly has done almost half of its work, and when it was about to appoint a Drafting Committee, it thought it fit that the opinions of the other Assemblies in the States and also the opinion of this honourable House may be of much value in coming to final conclusions. Therefore it has appointed a Committee of five members to get into touch with the representatives of other States' Assemblies and if possible with this House also. The personnel of the Committee has been announced. I hope the Members representing the States in this House will be able to sit separately together either officially or unofficially and evolve a policy acceptable to this House and to the country. The constituent assemblies in various States and Unions of States will no doubt take the advice that may be given to them by the States representatives in this House. But there are certain impediments in the way which I would like to point out.
The States, as you know, Sir, even under the British regime were enjoying a certain amount of autonomy more in degree than the provinces were allowed to enjoy and that autonomy, I might say, has never been misused. Every State, whatever the degree of its autonomy, has always had the interests of India at heart and acted accordingly. We, the States people, feel that the Units of the Federation may not have sufficient autonomy in the draft as it stands to manage their own affairs well and efficiently. The draft as it stands - I beg to differ from Dr. Ambedkar - is rather too much over-Centralised. It practically makes the Indian Union a Unitary State and not a Federal State. In their anxiety to make the Centre strong, they have given too much legislative and financial powers to the Centre, and have treated the provinces and States as though they were mere districts of a province. This tendency, I am afraid, will not make for what is called the strength of the Centre. Let me tell all those who are concerned in drafting this Constitution that mere accumulation of files in the Imperial Secretariat does not make for the strength of the Centre. The strength of the Centre, if I understand correctly, consists in having a strong Army, a strong Navy and a strong Air Force and in the possession of sufficient money for these purposes, instead of it taking a begging bowl before the States and provinces. Beyond that, if they take too much power and accumulate their legislative lists, what happen sis that the initiative that should come form provinces will not be there and the provinces will be reduced to mere automatons. I have read experts on constitutions and one of the accepted tests whether a country enjoys freedom is to see how far the units and the local bodies enjoy freedom and autonomy. Different people understand the strength of the Centre in different ways and the Drafting Committee have merely understood that the mere accumulation of files in the Imperial Secretariat makes for the strength of the Centre. This is a great impediment in the way of the States people agreeing to have a common constitutional set-up for the units. Before the States agree to come on a par with the provinces - I am talking here for all the units, States as well as provinces - they will have to be assured real autonomy, not autonomy to injure the interests of the State as a whole, but sufficient powers and responsibility to manage their affairs well and efficiently. We have forgotten whom we repeatedly call the Father of Nation. He said that the constitution should be a pyramid-like structure with the Centre occupying the apex. But the present set-up is absolutely topsy-turvy. The fear is there in the minds of the States people, that the Centre is taking too much power.
There is one other matter which has not been brought sufficiently to light and I hope I would not be misunderstood if I say that the States Ministry as such has caused more dissatisfaction to the States people than even the Political Department did previously. I have heard it said by the representatives of the States people in the House that the States Ministry has failed to take the opinion of the States people into consideration at all. They are more after the Princes and their Dewans. The people are really nowhere in the picture. It seems as though the Princes and the Dewans get everything and the people nothing. If the integration of States has taken place today, it is not because the people in the States who participated in the freedom movement had created such a position that the Princes had no other course except to follow this line, and it is a sorrowful thing that we have forgotten the people in our anxiety to placate the Princes and their Dewans. This psychology of the States Ministry has to be reversed as soon as possible in order to make the people really feel that they are one with the rest of India and they are in safe hands.
Then, Sir, the States have been enjoying in the matter of taxation much more latitude than the provinces. We have conceded three subjects and in order to meet the expenditure in connection with these three subjects, sufficient money may be provided. For example, most of the States collect income-tax just now. We have no objection if it goes to the Centre, but the other taxing heads ought to be left to the States themselves in order to meet their own expenditure. Intact the complaint is repeatedly made that the merging States today are not enjoying even as beneficent a Government as they were enjoying under the Princes. That is the opinion of the accredited representatives of the people. This is a very sorrowful feature. We expected that after the Princes went away and after the States were merged with the provinces they would get better amenities and better opportunities than they were accustomed to previously. It is a bitter feeling that is expressed by the States representatives. In the Orissa States and the Deccan States the administration under Congress Governments is not as beneficent as it was under the Princes' administration. I am not merely speaking as a representative of My sore, but I have had occasion to talk with other States representatives and this is their opinion.
Then, Sir, Delhi happens to be the capital for the present. Most of us from the South, from Bengal and fro mother parts of the country, feel that Delhi is not suited to be the capital of India for various reasons. Historically Delhi has developed a course; it has got all the empires it had buried in its tombs scattered all about the place, and we do not want our new Government to go that way. I have got not a sentimental reason only. Here in Delhi excepting for two months either we have to sweat or shiver and in this extremity of climates, it is almost impossible to do any hard work. The capital of a country, it is reasonable to expect, should be in the Centre of the country and we can locate our capital either in the C. P. or somewhere near about.
The Honourable Shri B. G. Kher (Bombay-General): Bombay is better!
Shri K. Hanumanthaiya: Sir, I might say, after I have gathered the opinions of many of my colleagues, I am saying that C. P. is preferred. For example, it may be Betulin C. P. Sir, there is an argument that having expended so much money on Delhi, is it wise for us to expend further sums of money for another capital? In Delhi, we can still locate some of the Central offices. Now East Punjab is hunting after a capital and they want to make Ambala as its capital. We can make over half of our Government buildings here to East Punjab Government and take money from them. In the financial proposals I see that after the partition of the Punjab it has not been able to maintain itself and wants a subsidy from the Centre. If you make Delhi part of the Punjab, there will be no necessity for us to pay the subsidy, for it will then be a self-sufficient province. From this point of view and from the point of view of public opinion also it is better and in the interests of the country and its future, Delhi should cease to be the capital of India. We must be able to build a fresh capital in the Centre Provinces. Thank you very much, Sir.
Mr. Vice-President: Pandit Govind Malaviya.
Pandit Govind Malaviya: Since we are carrying on till tomorrow, may I have the privilege of speaking tomorrow?
Mr. Vice-President: I think you had better speak now.
Pandit Govind Malaviya: Sir, before I say anything else. I should like to offer my cordial congratulations to ourselves and to the Drafting Committee and its versatile Chairman, our friend, Dr. Ambedkar, for the very excellent work which they have done in giving us this Draft Constitution. It was a difficult problem which they had to face and they have tackled it most excellently. There may be many things in the Draft Constitution which one might have wished to be slightly different, but then that must be so about anything which can be produced anywhere.
The reason, Sir, why I requested you to allow me an opportunity to take a few minutes of this House was not to put before this House all the points about which I wish the draft was slightly different. In such matters, differences can remain, but after all they do not matter very much so long as a thing is tacitly good. For instance, in the Draft Constitution there are some things which personally I should have preferred to be slightly different. There is the election of the President, Sir, by proportional representation by single transferable vote. I do not feel happy about it; I should have preferred that it should have been by a straight vote. The proportional method might prove extremely unhealthy but I do not wish to take one moment more of your time than is absolutely necessary. I can only mention that by the way. There is, Sir, the right in the hands of the President to nominate fifteen members to the Upper Chamber; I should have felt happier without that. Then there is the federal judiciary about which we have a fixed minimum limit, but we have no maximum limit. I am sorry, Sir, I came only today. I did not know this discussion was continuing. I have not brought my papers, etc. I was not prepared to speak just now. I am just saying a few things as they strike me. There is the minimum limit but there is no maximum limit fixed to it. I can contemplate a situation where the executive, the Government of India, might abuse that provision by adding to the federal judiciary a number of new judges and getting the work done by them and in that manner bypassing any inconvenient older judiciary. I do not suggest that it will happen, but when we are framing a constitution for the future administration of the country, the more cautious we are the better. I should, therefore, have preferred that there should be an upper ceiling also to the number of judges of the federal judicature.
Sir, there are many other similar things in the constitution to which I might have referred, as I said, about which I should have felt happier if they were slightly different, but that was not the main purpose of my taking the time of this House and I shall not inflict that upon you. What I particularly wish to suggest, Sir, is about the Preamble to this Constitution. We shall be failing in our duty to our country, to the entire history of our country, to the entire culture and civilization of our country, to the entire ideology of our people if we adopt that bald preamble which we have put into the Draft Constitution.
I should very much like that we should have in it a reference to the Supreme Power which guides the destinies of the whole world. The reason why I make this suggestion is not merely that we have it in many constitutions of the world. It is not on that ground that I make that suggestion. As I said, the entire back-ground that we have in this country demands that we should do it. I will make only one submission about it as I do not wish to take up the time of the House and wish to be as brief as possible. We sit here as representatives of the people of India. Today, in this country, if we were to devise some method of finding out as to what the views of the people are in that matter, I am certain that more than ninety per cent. of our people, if not more, will be staunch believers in God Almighty. They will desire that our failing in our duty as representatives of our people if we, - even if some of us, even if all of us, do not believe in God - I say 'even', I do not say that it is so - but, even if that be so, I respectfully submit that we shall be failing in our duty to our people and to our country whom we represent here, if we do not bring that into the Preamble, because, as I said, more than ninety per cent. of the people of this country believe in God and would like to have a reference to the Almighty in the Preamble. The great point about our culture has been, the great point about our philosophy has been, the great point about our social structure has been that, while we have with complete tolerance allowed unmolested place in society to every school of thought to the atheist and the agnostic, yet, as a whole, as a people, we have always had a strong and fervent belief in the higher Power which guides us. An all pervading, an active and living belief in, and devotion to God, has been, since the very beginning of our long and glorious history, the fundamental basis, the very foundation, the supreme essence of the very life of our people. Mahatma Gandhi's life, the life of the builder of our nation today, was one beautiful, unchequered sermon to that effect. He died with the name of God on his lips. Everyday, he practised Ramdhun and I submit that the glorious impression which our country has made everywhere in the world, in the international circles and gatherings, the great impression which our great Prime Minister has made recently in the Conferences where representatives of all the countries of the Commonwealth were present, is due to the philosophical background of our country, which has in the ultimate shape taken the form of our beloved Prime Minister's present brilliant and soothing policy which we have pursued under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. I submit, Sir, that we will be unjust to our people and to our country if we do not do that. I hope therefore that my friend Dr. Ambedkar and others will consider that aspect and will remedy that defect or omission as I feel it to be.
The other point that I should like to mention is that in our Constitution we should have our own name for our country. I cannot understand our having a Constitution in which our country should be called 'India'. I shall not suggest any particular name; I shall be content with any name which appeals to the whole House. But, what I submit is that it will be wrong to leave India as the name of our country. We may, for some time, if necessary, put down after our own name within brackets 'India'. or say, "(Known in English as India)", as the Irish have done. But, to put down India as the name of our country appears to me to be ridiculous. That is the second point which I wish to bring before this House for its consideration.
The third point, Sir, that, I wish to submit is a little delicate. I hope no friend of mine will misunderstand me. In his speech, our friend Dr. Ambedkar referred to the question of minorities. He referred to the proceedings of the Irish Conferences about partition. But, he forgot that if there was a Cosgrave to say there, "To Hell with your safeguards; we do not want to be ruled by you," there was the entire English Government to back him up. We have none so here now. I am certain that no minority now will genuinely wish to have any such separate State. Therefore, I have got one submission to make. I do not say that we should not provide safeguards for minorities. By all means, we should do so; we should give them every assurance possible, not only in words, but in actual deed; but what I submit, Sir, is that the Article in the Draft Constitution about reservation of seats should have one further clause added to it - I do not want to disturb it - I do not want in any way to take away from it; by all means let the minorities have that reservation. The clause as it stands today, says that the reservation shall automatically go after ten years unless otherwise decided upon. All I want, Sir, is that if the minorities themselves or any section of the minorities themselves desire, even before the lapse of those ten years, to do away with this reservation or special representation, then, that Article of the Constitution should not be allowed to come in the way. As I said, I hope I will not be misunderstood. It is not my desire in the least degree to take away from the safeguards which have been provided; I only want that the possibility of the minorities themselves desiring and deciding to give up that reservation should not be ruled out. I hope, Sir, this will be done.
Then, Sir, I wish to submit that, at the end of our constitution, we should have a provision for a statutory revision of it after a certain period. I know that the provisions for amending the Constitution have been prepared with great thought. But, notwithstanding all that has been said, I still feel that the provision is not of a very easy nature. I should like to make it clear that I am not a believer in very easy provisions for changes or amendments to a Constitution. I firmly believe that it should be a very difficult thing to get through any amendments to a Constitution. But, for the first time at the beginning, for once only, I should like that there should be a Statutory provision in our Constitution that after the experience of a few years, one review will take place, and as a result of that review, any changes which are suggested should be considered and dealt with by the method of simple majority. I should like to have that provision for only once. I am not dogmatic about the details of that suggestion. It may be after three years, five years or seven years. But, my purpose is that after we have experience of three or five years, once at least we should have a statutory review which should be there automatically and then after consulting the experience of people in the provinces and at the Centre, we should adopt whatever changes may be necessary. After that, I should personally like to make the provision for amendments to the Constitution as difficult and as rigid as may be possible. I am anxious, Sir, not to let your bell ring. I shall therefore stop here. These are the few suggestions which I wish to place before the House and i am grateful to you for having given me this opportunity to do so.
Shri R. K. Sidhwa (C. P. and Berar: General): Sir, before we adjourn, may I know the final programme regarding the motion under discussion.
Mr. Vice-President: After tomorrow nobody will have the face to say that more time is wanted.
The House stands adjourned till 10 A. M. tomorrow.
The Assembly then adjourned till Ten of the Clock, on Tuesday, the 9th November 1948.