Constituent Assembly Of India - Volume VII
Dated: January 08, 1949
Mr. Vice-President: May I suggest that the Resolution will bear not the time, but the date?
Shri Mahavir Tyagi: That is good, so that evening may also be included in the morning.
Well, Sir, as I said, this is merely an expression of our desire that we are anxious to issue instructions to the Provincial Governments so that they may be ready with whatever preliminary work needs to be done in connection with the preparation of the electoral rolls. The electoral rolls will not be ready and cannot be prepared by an authorisation of the kind which the Resolution seeks to do. The orders of Government are necessary for that. This Resolution is therefore an innocent one. It only gives the provincial governments and the Central Government the authority of the Constituent Assembly to go ahead with the preliminary work necessary for the preparation of the electoral rolls. Hence, without going into details, if we limit the scope of the Resolution to the necessities of the case, we require only the first two paragraphs of it. Only when we attempt to go into details, difficulties arise. For instance, as my friend stated, the citizenship clause has not been adopted. Even if we sit till midnight, it cannot be done. Under this Resolution, the authorities can prepare village or Mohalla electoral rolls without naming as of this or that constituency. The constituencies can be delimited only later on. The electoral lists now prepared will help also the delimitation of the constituencies later on. The rolls thus prepared will be preliminary to the real work that lies ahead. The spirit of the Resolution cannot be found fault with. It only informs the country that we are anxious to start the elections. Let us not go into detail sat this stage. To depend on these incomplete and ineffective details will be something like "driving a peg in the sky and hanging our hopes on it". (Interruption.) Sir, I am inclined to yield to this interruption.
Shri H. J. Khandekar: May I ask for information what value will this Resolution have when we have not passed article 292 which deals with the minority question, reservation for the minorities, and so on?
Shri Mahavir Tyagi: The question of minorities does not arise at all. This Resolution will only enable the Governments concerned to prepare the list of adults everywhere.
Shri H. J. Khandekar: The seats are reserved for the minorities on population basis and if the voters lists are complete without census how can you distribute the seats for minorities on population basis?
Shri Mahavir Tyagi: This difficulty will not arise at this stage. I know there has been no delimitation of constituencies. Only the work of collecting the names of all adults in the villages and towns is meant by this resolution. These registers of electors will be attached to various constituencies as soon as they are described and delimited.
Shri H. J. Khandekar: Sir, the Honourable Shri Tyagi has not followed me.
Mr. Vice-President: I am afraid I cannot permit this discussion. Mr. Khandekar may read out those points in the course of his speech.
Shri Mahavir Tyagi: I am submitting, Sir, that the preparation of the 1st of adults does not come either in the way of reservation or delimitation of constituencies. This Resolution only enables the Government to prepare report of general list of all adults resident in different localities. Therefore it is a very innocent Resolution and may be adopted as amended by my amendment. With these few words I support the proposition, subject to my amendment.
Mr. Vice-President: Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena may now move the amendment. I can allow him only five minutes.
Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena (United provinces: General): Mr. Vice-President, I beg to move.
I should like to say, Sir.......
Mr. Vice-President: I should like to suggest that you leave out the word 'Permanently as it has been dealt with by another Member.
Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena: Sir, we have fixed January 1st 1949 as the date with reference to which the age of the electors is to be determined. We have stated that the elections shall be held in 1950. They may be held as late as December 1950. Therefore if we adopt the date proposed for the age, we will be excluding all those men who would become qualified to vote on 1st January 1950. I feel that we should not disenfranchise a large number of persons in this way. About a crore of persons who will be 20 Years of age on 1st January 1949 will become 21 Years of age on 1st January 1950, and we should not disenfranchise these people for the first election.
Then, I agree with Mr. Tyagi that this Resolution is not a direction to the Governments. We cannot override the provisions of the Constitution which we have passed. We have not passed as yet the provisions relating to delimitation of Constituencies. So at present we should say `areas'. We can prepare the rolls for areas and afterwards, when we have passed the Constitution, we can group these areas together into constituencies. At present we should use the word 'area' instead of `constituency'. That will be much more helpful and also accurate. When the `constituencies' are not there you cannot frame the rolls for them. But you can enrol voters in each area. The difficulty is greater for the minorities. Seats may be reserved for them and if they do not know what the constituencies are in which such seats have been reserved for them, it will not be very helpful to them. By merely passing a Resolution of this kind we cannot form constituencies. I therefore think that the word area should be substituted for constituency.
Then I come to the filing of declarations. Many of our refugee friends are not literate and may have to seek the aid of petition writers to make and file applications. That means money and expense to them. I think that the man who seeks to vote in any area should simply say: I want to reside in this area. That should be enough to qualify him for the vote.
There should not be any filing of applications. Merely signifying the intention to beside should be enough. I do not think there should be any difficult procedure for this purpose. If you ask a villager who is not a literate person to file an application like this, other people will exploit him and make money. That is why I say that mere signifying one's intention to reside in the constituency should be enough for his enrolment.
Then, Sir, the word `already' is there. We have not passed article 149, and so the word `already' is not strictly opposite. Therefore it should be removed.
There is another point which Mr. Tyagi raised that this Resolution of ours cannot have any legal force. I think there is much to be said about that. What we have passed in article 67, clause (6), is that "The election to the House of the People shall be on the basis of adult suffrage; that is to say, every citizen who is not less than twenty-one years of age and is not otherwise disqualified under this Constitution or under any Act of Parliament on the ground fanon-residence, unsoundness of mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice shall be entitled to be registered as a voter at such election."Now, Sir, we are not constituted as the Parliament and therefore the Resolution has no right to say that only such and such men will be included in the rolls and not others. I think this resolution is only a sort of direction. As such, it will have no legal effect, unless an Act is passed that men who are of unsound mind or who have committed crime shall not be voters. I think this should be properly studied by Dr. Ambedkar, so that we may not be faced with any difficulty over this.
With these words, I commend this amendment to the House.
Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava: Mr. Vice-President, Sir it is very unfortunate that a Resolution of this kind should be debated so hastily in this House. I got a copy of the resolution only at about eight in the morning today and when I came here, I tabled amendments on which I want to speak. But I have now found many more difficult problems in this Resolution and I would beg of you kindly to permit me to speak when the resolution is being discussed or permit me now to give in detail all my objections on this subject. If you permit me to speak on the whole Resolution now, I will finish my speech now.
Mr. Vice-President: You can use you discretion.
Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava: My submission is that the subject matter of this Resolution is one which as a matter of fact should have been contained in an Act of the legislature. In the first place, Sir, as has been pointed out by Mr. Tyagi, I doubt very much whether a resolution of this character will have any legal force in the sense that an Act will have. We have already passed article 67, clause (6). In clause (6) we have laid down that the disqualifications for electors must be either under this Constitution or under an Act of Parliament on the ground of on-residence, unsoundness of mind, crime or corrupt or illegal practice. So far as the question of disqualification on the basis of non-residence is concerned, I am afraid that paragraph (3) and (4) of this resolution trespass on sacred ground which ought to be covered only by an Act of Parliament. We cannot by a resolution say that a person should declare his intention to live in a constituency to be included in the electoral roll of that constituency. That has no binding force.
Similarly in regard to persons of unsound mind. I find that if this Resolution is given effect to, those persons of unsound mind who have already been so declared by a competent court will not be included, but those persons of unsound mind who have not been declared will have to be included. The Act of Parliament contemplated in article 67, clause (6), may be passed in 1950 or 1949. We are anticipating that Act. How can you fix by a mere resolution the date 1st January 1949 or say "unless he has resided in that constituency for a period of not less than 180 days in the year ending on the 31st March 1948"? My submission is that only an Act of Parliament can fix such dates. A resolution cannot fix those dates.
Similarly, the present law about naturalisaiton and citizenship is in force. We cannot by a resolution do away with those laws. Those Acts, have got the force of laws and a mere resolution cannot do away with them. My sub-mission is that this Resolution is against the present law and the principles contained in article 67, clause (6).
Apart from this, Sir, unless you pass the citizenship clause, you cannot have an electoral roll of citizens. When the constituencies have not been delimited, I doubt very much if the words "resided in that constituency" have got nay meaning. After all, till the constituencies are delimited, we cannot know whether a person will reside in this constituency or that constituency. Now the population basis is seventy-five thousand and it will be very difficult to find out, when the electoral rolls are being prepared, whether a person lives in constituency A or constituency B. My submission is that everything in this Resolution seems to put the cart before the horse, because the constituencies have not been defined so far, the citizenship clause has not been passed. It may be said that by way of preparation some kind of register may be prepared, but the word used is 'electoral roll'. Then, if it is to be prepared, it does not require any resolution. I understand that since the last eight months this preparation is going on. Are the electoral rolls already prepared illegal? If they are not illegal, this Resolution is unnecessary, and if they are illegal, they cannot be made legal by passing this Resolution. My submission is that it would have been better if we had not brought forward this Resolution which has got no binding force as compared with the law in the form of an Act of Parliament.
Now, Sir, with regard to the particular amendments that I have submitted for you consideration, the words in sub-clause (4) are: "file a declaration of his intention". We have just been told by the Honourable the Prime Minister that when the enumerator-by that I take it we mean the person who is in charge of the preparation of the electoral roll-goes to a village, he should obtain a declaration from those refugees. Now, Sir, I want this Resolution to make two things clear. Number one is that no stamp will be charged from them. Number two is this. The person in charge of the preparation of electoral rolls should go to the villages and get the declarations there. Now a mere declaration by howsoever a prominent or high authority will not be enough. After all, it will be the provincial governments who will have to do this job. They may not be able to send patwaris or enumerators who are in charges of these rolls to each village and it may be that these refugees may have to spend Rs. 2 each and come to the headquarters and get the declaration made. They are illiterate people. They will be put to all sorts of untold sufferings. Many of the members of this House are fully aware that if such kind of declaration is to be filed, it may be that many people may extort some sort of illegal gratification from these people and only allow them to put the declarations and become voters if those persons are paid something. These difficulties have to be encountered. My submission is, if you want to have a rule of this kind, you must see that all kinds of faciliteis are extended to the refugees either by executive order or by embodying them in this Resolution, so that there will be no difficulty in regard to these refugees. These refugees are a sort of special charge of the Government of India and all kinds of facilities must be given to them.
Now, Sir, I have given notice of another amendment also, relating to the date, 31st March, 1948. My humble submission is that this Resolution is not competent to fix this date, but if any date is to be fixed, I would humbly, suggest that the date may be the same as in clause (2). Is January 1949 or 31st March, 1949 may be the date so that the right of a citizen who is a citizen up till today, up till31st March, 1949 or up till 1st January 1949 may not betaken away. There is no reason why, so far as he is concerned, the question of residence should come in his way. My submission is that this date may be the same, or it may probably be 31st March 1949 because I do not think that before March 1949 the orders or the subject matter of this Resolution will be put into effect, and until this is effected, we should put the date as late as possible. There is no sense in putting this date 31st March 1948 so as to exclude many people or to put obstacles in the way of many people. My submission in regard to both these amendments is that they may be accepted by the House.
Mr. Vice-President: There is an amendment in the name of Mr. Nagappa. In view of the explanation already offered by Pandit Nehru, does he still insist on moving his amendment?
Shri S. Nagappa: Yes, Sir. I beg to move the amendment that stands in my name, namely:
My reasons are these. We know that in our country only10 or 12 per cent are literates. Now, "filing a declaration" means what? If it is "making" a declaration, it is a different thing. Supposing an officer goes to a person, if he records the declaration made by the person, I can understand it. But filing a declaration means, it must be a declaration in writing. Now, I am glad that the honourable the Mover made it clear that one need not affix any stamp, but that does not take away the burden of filing a declaration in writing-writing it, getting it signed and filing it before the officer concerned. So my point is, if you want to delete, delete the whole clause. Otherwise, there is my alternative amendment. I would like to move it also with your kind permission, namely, to say "if he files or makes a declaration". If we put it that way both the literate and the illiterate people may have the chance of getting themselves enrolled as voters.
Mr. Vice-President: May I point out to the honourable Member that this has been already accepted by Dr. Ambedkar?
Shri S. Nagappa: If it is accepted, well and good. In that case, where is the necessity for me to move it, if you say are accepting it?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: I have heard the honourable Member and I have heard others also. I have understood all their arguments and I think a repetition of their arguments, so far as I am concerned, is quite unnecessary. I have understood them already.
Mr. Vice-President. The Resolution is now open for general discussion.
Seth Govind Das: *[Mr. Vice-president, Sir, I am not a lawyer not do I intend splitting hairs. I would like only to say something regarding the objects and motives that lie behind the Motion which has been placed before us.
There are two kinds of Members in this House. One class consists of those who are also connected with the public life outside this Constituent Assembly and the other, I maybe excused for saying so, consists of those who are connected only with this Assembly. I am prepared to accept that the electoral rolls of he present and prospective voters are being prepared. I concede that even without this Motion there would have been no hindrance in that work. But at the same time I would like to say that, in spite of the preparation of the electoral rolls, the slow progress of this Constituent Assembly in the completion of its work and the delay occurring in the framing of our Constitution are such as have given birth to different kinds of misconceptions about us in the minds of the people. I have got some connection with the public life outside this House and I therefore know what is being said outside. Some people say that those who are Members of this Constitutent Assembly or of the Legislative Assembly as also those who are our Ministers in the Centre or in the provinces, are determined to stick to their places and to delay the elections as long as possible. Some people say that if we intend giving the right of vote to every citizen who is 21 years of age, elections cannot be held until the census of 1951 and an umber of other preliminaries have been completed. Others hold that it would not be possible successfully to hold elections if these are to be held after the principle of adult franchise has been adopted. I would like to emphasis the fact that all such misconceptions and sentiments which are prevailing in the whole of the country would be totally removed by this Motion. By adopting this Motion we would be proving that we are not anxious to delay the elections. We also make it clear to the people that the elections are possible on the basis of adult franchise. I do not know why it is said that such an election cannot possible be held. It is no doubt true that the country has a huge population, as also a very large area. But even though I accept that the country is large and that every person of 21 years will have the right of vote, I am not ready to accept the proposition that elections on that basis can not be held here. The main argument advanced by some people in support of this proposition is that the number of voters would be so large, polling booths would be so many and the numbers of persons required to control these booths would be so huge that it would simply be impossible to hold the elections successfully. I consider such fears to be entirely ridiculous. Even though all the citizens of this country are not literate, we can have able persons who can maintain orderly voting at these polling booths. If assessors can be summoned to sit in the law courts, such educated persons as are not government employees can be summoned to work educated at the polling booths. We should concentrate our view on the object and moves behind this Motion. We should not be splitting hairs. It is not desirable for us to give too much attention to the question of syntax-of the appropriateness of the colons, semi-colons and commons. This is a Motion and not a Bill or a draft legislation. The Government expresses only its intentions by means of such motions, and it is usually made in order to give some assurance to the people. The Objects of this Motion is to give a message to the governed and the public, or rather to give an assurance to the people that though we are here, yet we are not anxious to remain here for ever. Through this Motion we wish to make it clear that we believe in true democracy; we wish to express that even after granting franchise to all such countrymen of ours as are twenty-one years of age, we are determined to hold elections in 1950. This Motion has been brought before the House with these objects and sentiments and I support this Motion because I entirely agree with those objects and entertain the same sentiment. I support the original Motion. After this Motion has been adopted all the apprehensions prevailing in the minds of the people of this country would be totally removed and anew hope would begin to fill their hearts. I would like to remind you of the days when the Constituent Assembly started functioning. The country appeared to be full of a new life, and people took great interest in the proceedings of the constituent Assembly. But the work of the Assembly has gradually become so prolonged that people have begun forming funny ideas about it and have not much interest in the daily proceedings of the Assembly. By adopting this Motion it would be proved that we wish to hold elections in 1950, and we also make it clear that we want to frame the Constitution as early as possible and in this way we remove the apprehensions of the people. If we look therefore to the objects of the Motion and consider the motives lying behind it, we will have to agree that the acceptance of this Motion is quite necessary, if not for legal purposes, for the realisation of these objects and satisfaction of these sentiments. I support the motion.]*
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam (Madras: General): Sir, I do not want to take up the time of the House to any considerable extent. The exact effect of this Resolution should be realized. I do not think it will have the same validity as the clauses of our Constitution. I think the effect will be something like a declaration on a provisional basis for preparation of electoral rolls. As soon as a Constitution has been formally brought into force, the electoral rolls prepared under these provisions will have to be duly ratified by the rules and the authorities under the new Constitution. All that it means is that the authorities which will have to do it will take note of the fact that this was passed by the Assembly and they will try to see that no changes are made, or only the most necessary changes are made in the electoral rolls prepared under these provisions.
Sir, I think the difference in the dates between clauses (2) and (3) are not only unnecessary but embarrassing. The Prime Minister explained that the date of 31st March 1948 in clause (3) is intended to conserve the electoral rolls that have already been prepared under the directions of the Government of India. That is a legitimate purpose, otherwise the whole electoral roll will have to be changed.
In clause (2), all people who attain the age of 21 years up to 1st January 1949 will have to be included. I shall just give an indication of the numbers involved. I think every year 10 million people attain, the age of 21 years from the age of 20. The average age in India is 30. Therefore, in every age group, especially in the middle age groups, there will be 10 million people involved. Therefore, by putting 1st January 1949, in clause (2), we include at least 75 per cent, of those 10 millions: that is, 7 1/2million new voters will have to be brought into the registers already prepared. That means a complete overhaul of the electoral registers. Therefore, if we want preparation of new electoral rolls, we should adopt the suggestion of Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava. Let us take 31st March 1949-that will have the merit of giving the franchise to people qualifying up-do-date. Otherwise if we want the maintenance of the old registers let us have 31st March 1948 in clause (2) also. We need not then add to the registers in any large numbers. Therefore, there should be some coordination between these two clauses.
In clause (4), there has been much argument about the word "permanently". The intention was that the refugees should declare their intention to reside in India permanently, while they could reside in a particular constituency for some time. That is the intention. Even a citizen is not expected or required to reside in any constituency permanently. A citizen is required to reside only for a period of six months before a particular date. Therefore, I do not think that in the case of refugees some new and onerous condition is being put forward. All that is meant is that he should declare his intention to reside in the constituency; but he should also declare his intention to reside in India permanently.
One more point, Sir, is-I think it is even more important than the preparation of electoral rolls-that the Delimitation Commission should be appointed as early as possible. It may be argued that the preparation of electoral rolls will have to precede the delimitation. I do not think it is correct because on the basis of adult franchise, delimitation has to be based on the population and not so much on the electoral rolls. Therefore, the two processes can proceed simultaneously and I do suggest to the Government of India that they should immediately appoint-if necessary from instructions from the President of the Constituent Assembly-a Delimitation Commission, so that the entire work of constituencies will be over by the end of this year, so that the final preparation of the electoral rolls and the appointment of other agencies for thee lections can be proceeded with expeditiously.
There is also another consideration which requires the appointment of the Delimitation Commission as soon as possible. Even in the preparation of electoral rolls, the final printing and other matters will have to be taken up only constituency by constituency. Now, according to the provisions we have already adopted, every constituency must have approximately the same number of people. Therefore, unless the constituencies are delimited, we will not know the area for which the electoral rolls will have to be prepared. That means that the final preparation will have to wait for the delimitation of the constituencies. This should be proceeded with as soon as possible. Sir, I hope that these points will be considered by those who have to give effect to this Resolution. As I pointed out at the beginning, this Resolution is in the nature of provisional directions to the Government of India on behalf of the Constituent Assembly to prepare the spade work. The final directions will have to be given by the President or such authority as will come into existence after August 15th next, if fortunately we are able to put the Constitution into force by that date.
Mr. Mohamed Ismail Sahib (Madras: Muslim): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, it is true that preparations for elections and carrying on of the elections have been delayed. Much as we may regret this delay, I do not think that a resolution of this sort will in any way be a proper compensation for this delay. As I see this Resolution, I find many difficulties crop up. From the very wording of this resolution, I find that this delay cannot be cut short, as the matter stands. First of all, the resolution says in its first clause "that no person shall be included in the electoral roll of nay constituency" and then (a) and (b) and so on. But we are not told who is to be included; it puts the matter in a negative way. How those who prepared the electoral rolls are to proceed is not said here positively. Then, Sir, the only positive clause here is No. (4). There it says: "That, subject to the law of the appropriate legislature, a person who has migrated into a province or Acceding State on account of disturbances" and so on "shall be entitled.....". That is the only positive clause here. And we are not told who are he persons who are to be included in the electoral rolls otherwise. It has to be made clear. Then again, the dates given in clauses (2) and (3)are such that they will disenfranchise the vast number of people who would otherwise be entitled to vote when the elections actually take place. Sir, it is said in defence of these dates that if we adopt any further dates, the preliminary electoral rolls that have already been prepared would be disturbed and upset. On that account I urge that millions of people ought not to be disenfranchised. The authorities may adopt in the place of these dates other dates, whatever may be the inconvenience in the preparation of the electoral rolls, because the franchise of the people is surely more important than the inconvenience that may be caused to the authorities concerned, who are engaged in the preparation of electoral rolls. Here, Sir, for determining the age, the date 1st January 1949 is given. It will not at all be difficult for determining the age if, say, a date such as the 1st January 1950 or even the 31st March 1950 is taken as the basis. That must be done, though it may cause some inconvenience in the matter of correcting the electoral rolls that have already been prepared.
Then again, Sir, for residence the date is fixed as the 31st March 1948. That can very conveniently be fixed as 31st March 1949, because in this case, those who prepare the electoral rolls must know where a person has actually resided in a particular place or constituency up to a particular period. Therefore, I think we cannot adopt the same date as we adopt as the basis for determining the age. However, this date can be changed into 31st March 1949.
Then again, in clause (4) I spoke of the difficulties which are confronted in the matter of this resolution. There is one phrase, in this clause (4). It says: "That, subject to the law of the appropriate legislature...". Here the honourable the Mover of the Resolution evidently has in mind the procedure that is to be adopted in this matter. But the phrase, as it stands, means that the appropriate legislature may even change the meaning of this clause, and may even change the phraseology. There is nothing here in this Resolution to say that the appropriate legislature shall not do anything to affect the franchise of the people concerned here in clause (4). Therefore, that has to be made clear. What is contemplated here must be made clear by making the phraseology of this clause clearer; that is, we have to make it clear that it is only the procedure that is intended, not the law itself, and the meaning of this Resolution shall not be tampered with or shall not be affected by any legislation that may be resorted to hereafter.
Then again, there is a lot of force in what some of the movers of the amendments said, with reference to certain words and phrases in this Resolution. It was pointed out that the word "already" refers only to the provisions that are passed before this Resolution is passed. If this word is retained here, that would really lead to a lot of contention and controversy. Therefore, there is no harm.......
Mr. Vice-President: May I say that the deletion of word "already" has been accepted?
Mr. Mohammed Ismail Sahib: So far so good.
Then, I do not know what the honourable Mover or his representative is going to do in the matter of this citizenship. There must be some instruction as to who should be included. Here you have said who should not be included in the electoral rolls. There must be some positive instruction as to who should be included.
Then again, I think there is a great deal of force in the contention that the Resolution cannot have legal force. The Honourable Mr. Santhanam explained that this is not meant to have any legal force or authority at all and that it is only for the purpose of facilitating the preliminary work of the preparation of electoral rolls and preliminary work of preparing for the general elections. It may be so. But, in course of these preparations, certain things might crop up. Certain people may go to a court of law, for example, for example, for including their names or for setting aside the exclusion of their names. What force will this Resolution have and what will be the position of those contestants and what will be the position of this Resolution? That has also to be seriously considered. That is why I said that the delay which we want to compensate for cannot in any way be abrogated by such a Resolution as this. We would have done very well to expedite the passing of the Constitution and then taken up this question of conducting elections.
The Honourable Shri Satyanarayan Sinha (Bihar: General): Sir, the question may now be put.
Mr. Mohamed Ismail Saheb: Then, again, Sir, the question was raised with regard to the minorities.
An Honourable Member: There are no minorities.
Mr. Mohamed Ismail Saheb: It may be said that this question can be gone into after the preparation of electoral rolls, and that the electoral rolls can be so arranged, or can be so changed as to suit the provisions that may yet be passed by this honourable House. But, that would also lead to a lot of difficulties and inconvenience, and thereby we are not saving any time at all. That is what I wanted to say. Now, the whole point in bringing forward this Resolution is to avoid any great delay. My question is, are we really doing that?
The Honourable Shri Satyanarayan Sinha: Sir, I again move that the question be now put.
Some Honourable Members: No, No.
Mr. Vice-President: I would like to know the view of the House with regard to the closure motion just moved.
The Honourable Shri Satyanarayan Sinha: You may put it to vote, Sir.
Mr. Vice-President: I am putting to vote the closure motion.
The question is:
The motion was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President: Dr. Ambedkar.
May I suggest that you read the resolution in the accepted form before you reply?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: Yes; I will indicate the changes that I am going to accept.
Shri Deshbandhu Gupta: May I know, Sir, before Dr. Ambedkar proceeds to reply whether you have given any ruling on the point of order raised by me. I had raised a point of order that, unless the word "already" goes, this Resolution will be of no use because article 149...
Mr. Vice-President: I think the word "already" has already been omitted.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: Mr. Vice-President, Sir, with your permission, I propose to reply to the debate on behalf of the mover of this resolution.
Before I proceed to deal with the detailed amendments, I should like to propose myself certain amendments in the Resolution as was moved by the Mover.
The first amendment that I propose is, to delete the word "already" from paragraph 2.
My second amendment is to delete clause (a) from sub-clause (1), and delete also the letter and brackets "(b)" in the beginning of the second sub-clause, so that sub-clause (1) will read thus:
Then, in paragraph (4), I propose to make the following amendments. For the words "subject to the law of the appropriate legislature" in line of that paragraph, my amendment would be "notwithstanding anything in paragraph(3) above". In line 5 of that paragraph, for the words "a constituency", substitute the words "an area".
In the same line of the same paragraph, after the word "files", add the words, "or makes".
For the word "constituency" in the last line of the same paragraph, substitute the word "area".
These are my amendments. I shall briefly explain my amendments. The amendment which I have moved to drop the word "already" meets the point of order that was raised by Shri Deshbandhu Gupta.
Shri H. V. Kamath: On a point of order, Sir, has Dr. Ambedkar moved fresh amendments? In that case, there should be a discussion on those amendments. I want your ruling, Sir.
Mr. Vice-President: There is a Latin proverb which I learnt years ago.
The letter of the law killeth but the spirit giveth the life.
Shri. H. V. Kamath: In this Assembly, Sir, we have to observe as far as possible, the letter as well as the spirit of the law.
Mr. Vice-President: I am going by the spirit of the law. I do not care what rule I break.
Shri. H. V. Kamath: May I say, Sir,.......
Mr. Vice-President: Will the honourable Member kindly resume his seat?
Shri H. V. Kamath: This is a desperate procedure, Sir, That is all I can say.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: Sir, as I said, it is quite true that the word "already" raises the complications which Mr. Deshbandhu Gupta mentioned and it is only right that his objection should be removed by the deletion of the word "already".
With regard to the second amendment dropping clause (1), it seems to be quite unnecessary, because, the purport of that clause is embodied in paragraphs (3) and (4).
With regard to my next amendment to substitute the words "notwithstanding anything in paragraph (3) above" for the words "subject to the law of the appropriate legislature", my submission is that the original words were really unnecessary and inappropriate in a clause of that sort. Sub-clause (4) is really an exception to clause (3).That matter has been cleared by my amendment.
With regard to the word "constituency" I have substituted the word "area" in order to meet the criticism that at the stage when the rolls are prepared there are no constituencies and all that a man can indicate is an area, not a constituency, because, constituencies are not supposed to be in existence then.
My amendment for the addition of the words "or makes" meets the criticism that has been made that there are many people who are illiterate, who may not be in a position to sign an application and file it before a particular officer. The addition of the words "or makes" permits an oral declaration to be made either before a District Magistrate or before an officer who is preparing the electoral rolls. I think that objection is fairly met.
I will now take into consideration the other amendments which have been moved to this Resolution.
Shri L. Krishnaswami Bharathi: May I suggest one amendment to the Mover that his reason for amending 'constituency' in Para. (4)...
Mr. Vice-President: You cannot tell it to the House. You can tell it to Dr. Ambedkar.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: I am prepared to make the necessary consequential changes. As I said, I will turn to the other amendments and I take the amendment of my Friend Mr. Tyagi. If I understood him correctly, he had no objection to the Resolution in its general terms. What he wanted was that the details should be deleted. It seems to me that the position taken by my Friend Mr. Tyagi indicates that he has confusion in his mind about what the objective or the aim of the Resolution is. The aim of the Resolution is merely to make a declaration that it is the intention of this Assembly that as far as possible, election may be held sometime in 1950 but the object of the Resolution is to convey some positive directions to the authorities in charge of preparing the electoral rolls which is the basis of all elections. It would be futile and purposeless merely to make a declaration that this Constituent Assembly desires that the election should take place in the year 1950 without giving the directions to the authorities concerned in the matter of preparing the electoral roll. Because unless the electoral rolls are prepared in time sufficiently before the date of thee lection, no election can take place at all. The second part of the Resolution contains directions to the various authorities and unless the directions are embodied in the Resolution, the Resolution is merely a pious declaration which means nothing. It is setting out an objective without setting out the methods and the instruments by which that objective can be carried out and I think my friend Mr. Tyagi will understand that really speaking the part of the Resolution which he wants to omit is more important than the part of the Resolution which he wants to retain. Now I come to the amendment of my friend Mr. Hanumanthaiya.
Shri Mahavir Tyagi: What is your view about the word already'?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: I have already said that I would delete it. Coming to the amendment of Mr. Hanumanthaiya, he wants to omit the words `in the year 1950'. His argument has a good deal of sense behind it, because according to him if this Constituent Assembly were to make this declaration by this Resolution fixing 1950 as a target and if for some reason, either connected with the preparation of electoral rolls or some other circumstances, it becomes impossible to have elections in 1950, the Assembly would be placed in a somewhat difficult position. The Assembly might be accused of treating this as a trifling matter when as a matter of fact it is of great substance. But at the same time in view of what the Mover of the Resolution said that there is a certain amount of feeling in the country that we are not going as fast as we ought to in the passing of this Constitution, that our procedure is more leisurely, more dilatory and that is due to our not being very serious in having an early election, it is to remove that sort of feeling in the country that it is necessary to fix some target date and it is from that point of view that the retention of the words `in the year 1950' becomes necessary. Of course, if reasons justified the postponement of the date, it would but be necessary for the Assembly to postpone the date of elections; and I am sure about it that if the Assembly is in a position to place before the country grounds which are substantial and which are not mere excuses, the country will no doubt understand the change and the postponement of the date.
Now my friend Mr. Saksena wants that instead of the 1st Jan. 1949 the date 1st Jan. 1950 be substituted. Mr. Bhargava wants that for 31st March 1948, the date 31st March 1949 be substituted. Now having regard to what has already been done, it is not possible to accept either of these amendments. Mr. Saksena's amendment, if I understood him correctly, has the object that there ought not to be a considerable time lag between the date on which the electoral roll is prepared and the date on which election is held. In other words, the electoral roll must not be very stale and out-of-date. Now it seems to me that if our election is going to take place in 1950, the electoral roll which is prepared on the basis of the voter's qualification as his being an adult on 1st January 1949 cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be deemed to be a stale roll. My Friend Mr. Saksena must be aware of the fact that all electoral rolls generally lag behind the date of election by one year.
Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena: It will become two years old
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: Therefore if persons who are entitled to be voters in the electoral rolls on the basis of their single solitary qualification which we have, viz., his being a man of 21 years of age on the 1st January 1949 and if the election takes place in the year 1950 on some date not possible to prescribe, I think it cannot be said that the electoral roll will be a stale roll.
Now I am coming to the amendment of Pandit Bhargava. He wants that the date of 31st of March 1949 be substituted. it is not possible to accept that amendment because in the expectation of the election taking place in the year 1950, instructions were already issued to the various Provincial Governments on the 1st March 1948 to proceed to prepare the electoral rolls on the basis of adult suffrage. It seems tome that if we accept the amendment of Pandit Bhargava, we shall have to waste all the work that has already been done by Provincial Governments on that basis. I do not think there will be any waste of work already done, because all those who on the 1st January, 1948 would be adults, would be added on to the roll that has already been prepared.
The Honourable Shri K Santhanam: Is it not necessary also to change the date 1st January 1949 to 31st March 1948,in sub-para. (2)?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: No, I do not think so.
Now, I come to the amendment of my friend Mr. Chaudhari. It seems to me that he is asking for something which is quite impossible, if not ridiculous. He says that every person who is of unsound mind should be deprived of his vote. We all agree that unsound persons should not be included in the voters' list. But the question remains as to who is to determine whether a person is of unsound mind or not. It seems to me that unless the qualification which is introduced in this motion says that a person can be excluded from the electoral roll only when he has been adjudged to be of unsound mind by some impartial judicial authority, seems to be the soundest proposition. Otherwise, to give the authority to a village Patwari not to enter a certain person in the electoral roll because he thinks that he is of unsound mind is really to elevate a cabin boy to the position of the captain of a ship, and I think it is not possible to accept such an amendment.
My friend Mr. Kamath raised some question with regard to a clause that was passed the other day, in which in addition to unsoundness of mind, certain other disqualifications were mentioned, particularly those relating to crime.
Shri Deshbandhu Gupta: Will all the inmates of lunatic asylums be included in the electoral rolls, in the first instance?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: I do not know the case of other provinces, but so far as Bombay is concerned, unless the Chief Presidency Magistrate declares a person to be of unsound mind no lunatic asylum would admit him.
Mr. Vice-President: Yes, that is the case in Bengal.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: And it seems to be the case in Bengal also. It is there in the Lunacy Act.
Now, with regard to the question of crime all that I need say is this that the Drafting Committee, in using the word `crime' in that particular article, was merely reproducing the provision contained in the Sixth Schedule of the Government of India Act, and I do not think that the Drafting Committee had anything more in mind than what is stated in that article. According to that article, the commission of a crime is not by itself any disqualification. The disqualification is only when a person is punished and detained in imprisonment. It is during the period of imprisonment that he loses the right to vote. That point can be further accommodated when we come to the additional disqualifications mentioned in the article to which Mr. Kamath referred.
Shri H. V. Kamath. Am I to understand that grounds of crimes, corrupt or illegal practices etc. of which a person may be convicted in the past will not act as a disqualification or bar to his registration as a voter?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: Yes, and those willed prescribed by Parliament.
Mr. Vice-President: I am going to put to vote the amendments which have been moved in this House, one by one. The first one is that standing in the name of Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhari. And he has two amendments. I am putting them to vote, one by one. The question is:
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: Then I put the second part. The question is:
"That in sub-paragraph (4) the word `permanently' occurring in line 6 be deleted.
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: I know that schoolboys on the eve of the vacation behave not always wisely.
The next amendment is that of Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava. The question is:
But this is covered by what Dr. Ambedkar has accepted.
Then his other amendment is that is that in paragraph3, for the words "31st March 1948", substitute the words "31st March 1949".The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: Then we come to the amendment of Mr. Hanumanthaiya.
Shri K. Hanumanthaiya: Sir, I seek permission of the House to withdraw my amendment.The amendment was, by leave of the Assembly, withdrawn.
Mr. Vice-President: Then we come to the amendment of Mr. Nagappa. But that is covered by Dr. Ambedkar's amendment and so it will not be put to vote.
Then there is the amendment of Mr. Tyagi.
Shri Mahavir Tyagi: Sir, I request leave of the House to withdraw my amendment.The amendment was, by leave of the Assembly, withdrawn.
Mr. Vice-President: Then comes the amendment of Prof. Saksena seeking to substitute 1st January 1950, for the words 1st January 1949.
The question is:
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: The second part has been accepted by Dr. Ambedkar and therefore need not be voted on. Then we come to the third part. But that is also covered by Dr. Ambedkar's amendment.
But he has a further amendment to the effect.
The question is:
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: Now, I put the Resolution, as amended by Dr. Ambedkar's amendments, to vote. Does the House want me to read it out?
Honourable Members: No, no.
Mr. Vice-President: So the question is:
The motion, as amended, was adopted.
DRAFT CONSTITUTION -(Contd.)
Mr. Vice-President: Now we come to article 149. I think there has been sufficient discussion on this article and Dr. Ambedkar will now reply.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: Mr. Vice-President, Sir, in reply to the debate on article 149, I wish, first of all, to make clear my position with regard to my own amendment which was No. 2255. I want the permission of the House to withdraw this amendment; and in lieu of that Iaccept amendment No. 2249, as amended by amendment No. 48 of List II by Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad.
I also accept amendments Nos. 62 and 66 of List IV by Sri T. T. Krishnamachari, amendment No. 2252 as modified by the amendment No. 67 of Shri Shibban Lal Saksena.
Now, Sir, so far as the general debate on the article is concerned, it seems to me that there are only two points that call for reply. The first point is with regard to the census figures to be adopted for the purpose of the new elections. A great deal of argument was concentrated by many speakers on the fact that the census in certain provinces is not accurate and does not represent the true state of affairs so far as the relative proportions of the
* Resolved that instructions be issued forthwith to the authorities concerned for the preparation of electoral rolls and for taking all necessary steps so that elections to the Legislatures under the new Constitution may be held as early as possible in the year 1950.
Resolved further that the State electoral rolls be prepared on the basis of the provisions of the new Constitution agreed to by this Assembly and in accordance with the principles hereinafter mentioned, namely-
communities are concerned. I think there is a great deal of force in such arguments and, if I may say so, there is enough testimony which one can collect from the Census Commissioners' Reports themselves to justify that criticism. I had intended to refer to the statements made by the Census Commissioners on this issue. But, as there is no time, I think I had better not refer to them. Further, the large majority of the members who have spoken on this subject know the facts better than I do. I only want to ad done thing and that is that if any people have suffered most in the matter of these manipulations of census calculations by reason of political factors, they are the Scheduled Castes (Hear, hear). In Punjab for instance, the other communities are trying to eat up the Scheduled Castes in order to augment their strength and to acquire larger representation in the legislature for themselves. These poor people who have been living mostly as landless labourers in villages scattered here and there, with no economic independence, with no support from the authorities,-the police or the magistracy,-have been, by certain powerful communities, either compelled to return themselves as members of that particular community or not to enumerate themselves at the elections at all. The same thing has happened to a large extent, I know, in Bengal. For some reason which I have not been able to understand, a large majority of the Scheduled Castes there refused to return themselves as Scheduled Castes. That fact has been noted by the Census Commissioners themselves. I therefore completely appreciate the points that have been made by various members who spoke on the subject that it would not be fair to take the figures of that census.
An Honourable Member: What about Assam?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: It may be true of Assam also. I am not very well acquainted with it. As I said I fully appreciate the point that to take those census figures and to delimit constituencies or allocate seats between the different constituencies and between the majority and minority communities would not be fair. Something will have to be done in order to see that the next election is a proper election, related properly to the population figures of the provinces as well as of the communities. All that I can do at this stage is to give an assurance that I shall communicate these sentiments to those who will be in charge of this matter and I have not the least doubt about it that the matter will be properly attended to.
Sir, if the Members who are interested in it are not satisfied with the assurance that I am giving now, they can at some stage-it is not possible to do it now-move an amendment to article 149 permitting the President to have an interim census, if he deems it necessary, taken, for the purpose of removing the grievances to which they have referred. In fact, I have with me a draft which might be considered at a later date. Some such draft like this may be considered: "Provided further that the initial representation of the several territorial constituencies of the legislative assembly of any State may be determined in such other manner as the President may by order direct." That would be general enough and would deal with the difficulty which has been pointed out.
An Honourable Member: Why do you not move it now?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: There is no time for it now. If Members are not prepared to rely upon the assurance given by me some such motion may be moved at the appropriate stage.
With regard to the point raised by my honourable Friend Prof. Saksena in amendment No. 64, I may say that I wholeheartedly support it. I think the proviso he has sought to introduce is a very necessary one. The House will remember that it deals with weight age in representation. We have, in this Constitution, eliminated all sorts of weight ages. Weight age to all minorities we have eliminated. Weight age to territories in the representation in the Central Legislature we have eliminated. Weight age between representatives in British India and representatives of Indian States we have eliminated. I think therefore that it is only right that the same principle should apply to representation in legislatures. I therefore accept that amendment.
Sir, I do not think there is any other point worthy of consideration or calling for reply. I therefore recommend to the House the acceptance of article 149, as amended.
Mr. Vice-President: I am now going to put the amendments to vote one by one.
The question is:
The amendment was negatived
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment No. 2248. The question is:
"That clause (3) of article 149, be deleted and the following be substituted:-
The Amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President: There is a short notice amendment to amendment No. 2249 by Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava.
Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava: I would like to withdraw it, Sir.The amendment was, by leave of the Assembly, withdrawn.
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment No. 48 of List II. The question is:
The amendment was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President : Amendment No. 62 of List IV. The question is:
The amendment was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President: Then we come to amendment No. 2252 as amended by a short notice amendment of Mr. Bordoloi which reads:
The amendment was adopted
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment No. 66 of List IV. The question is:
The amendment was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President: Dr. Ambedkar wanted the leave of the House to withdraw his amendment No. 2255. Is that permission given?
Honourable Members: Yes.
he amendment was, by leave of the Assembly, withdrawn.
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment no. 49 of List II. It is blocked.
Then we come to amendment No. 2256. The question is:
The amendment was negatived
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment No. 35 of list I.
he amendment was, by leave of the Assembly, withdrawn.
Mr. Vice-President: Amendment No. 67 of List IV. The question is:
he amendment was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President: There is an amendment to amendment No. 67 but it is blocked.
Prof. Shibban Lal, do you want me to put your amendment No. 2263 to the vote? It has been amended by No. 67.
Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena: It is not necessary to put it to vote now.
Mr. Vice-President: I shall now put the article in its present form to vote. The question is:
"That article 149, as amended, was added to the Constitution.
The amendment was adopted.
Article 149, as amended, was added to the Constitution.
Mr. Vice-President: There is one announcement which has got to be made. I have received definite information and instructions from our President that he would like to have the next session of the Constituent Assembly on Monday, the 16th May. Under rule 19 of the Rules of Procedure, the President enjoys the power of fixing the date but he cannot adjourn the House for more than three days. I therefore seek the permission of the House to make this announcement formally.
Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra: But why does he want to fix the date before hand?
Mr. Vice-President: I am sorry. I cannot give you the reason.
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam: The date may be fixed by a motion put before the House and carried.
The Honourable Shri Satyanarayan Sinha: Sir, I move that the House do adjourn to the 16th May next.
The motion was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President: The House stands adjourned to Monday, the 16th May. The Assembly then adjourned till Monday, the 16th May 1949.