Report of the States Committee24 April 1947
On 21 December 1946 the Constituent Assembly adopted a resolution setting up the States Committee to confer with the Negotiating Committee of the Princely States and decide how the Princely States could be represented in the Assembly. The six member committee headed by B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya had several influential members such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad among others.
The Committee’s Report gave a detailed account of the negotiations particularly on the two key questions— how would the 93 Assembly seats allotted to the Princely States be distributed among them and what would be the method of selecting the representatives of these States to the Assembly.
It submitted its Report to the Assembly on 24 April 1947 and 4 days later, on 28 April the Assembly officially adopted it after a brief discussion.
1. BY A RESOLUTION of the Constituent Assembly passed on the 21st December 1946, the following members, viz.
(1) The Hon’ble Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru,
(2) The Hon’ble Maulana Abul Kalam Azad,
(3) The Hon’ble Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel,
(4) Dr. B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya,
(5) Mr. Sankarrao Deo,
(6) The Hon’ble Sir N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, were appointed as a Committee to confer with the Negotiating Committee set up by the Chamber of Princes, and with other representatives of Indian States, for the purpose of:
(a) fixing the distribution of the seats in the Assembly not exceeding 93 in number, which in the Cabinet Mission’s statement of May 16, 1946, are reserved for Indian States,
(b) fixing the method by which the representatives of the States should be returned to the Assembly,
and thereafter to report the result of such negotiations. By a further resolution passed on the 21st January 1947, we were empowered to confer with such persons as we thought fit, for examining the special problems of Bhutan and Sikkim, and to report to the Assembly the result of such examination. This report deals only with the negotiations conducted by us in pursuance of the resolution of the 21st December.
2. The first series of our joint meetings with the States Negotiating Com- mittee were held on the 8th and 9th February, 1947. The discussion largely centred on the scope of subjects to be negotiated between the two committees. It was urged by the States Negotiating Committee that there had been no decision yet on the part of the States to enter the Constituent Assembly, and that it would not be possible for them to decide this issue till they received satisfactory assurances on a number of points mentioned in the resolution adopted on the 29th January, 1947, by the General Conference of Rulers (Appendix A). On the other hand, we pointed out that most of those points could only be discussed by a fully constituted Constituent Assembly including the representatives of the States; they were in any case clearly beyond our competence as a committee, our own functions being limited to the matters laid down in the resolution of the Constituent Assembly passed on the 21st December, 1946. But while we were not prepared as a committee to discuss matters going beyond our mandate, we raised no objection to discussing, in a friendly and informal manner as individuals, certain difficulties, and to removing certain misapprehensions which seemed to be causing concern to the Princes. The more important of the points cleared up in the course of these discussions were summarised by Pandit Nehru as follows:
The first thing to be clear about is to proceed with the full acceptance of the Cabinet Mission’s statement. Apart from the legality of that Statement one thing also seems to me obvious, namely, that the scheme is essentially a voluntary one, where no compulsion, except, as I said, compulsion of events, is indicated. No doubt, so far as we are concerned, we accept it as a voluntary scheme where people may join as individuals, as groups, or Rulers or otherwise. We are not trying to force any to join if they do not want to. It is a matter for negotiation throughout.. Now, to go back, apart from the acceptance of the scheme which is basic, some points were raised yesterday. One was about the monarchical form of Government. That question has not arisen at all in the Constituent Assembly nor, so far as we can see, does it arise at all from the statement. But it has been repeatedly stated on our behalf in the Constituent Assembly as outside that we have no objection to it, we accept that, and we do not want to come in the way of the monarchical form of Government at all. This has been made perfectly clear.
Another point that we raised in our discussion yesterday was about some apprehension about territorial readjustments. I tried to point out that the resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly had no reference in the minds of those who framed the resolution or who proposed it there, to any change regarding the States. It has no relation to the States. It was an indication that there will be provision made in the Constitution or in the process of re-grouping units, etc., where some changes may have to be made. It had no reference to changing boundaries. I can concede territorial boundaries being changed for economic reasons, for facilitating governmental purposes, etc., but any such territorial readjustments, we are quite clear, should be made with the consent of the parties concerned, and not be forced down. I say, for the moment we are not thinking in terms of any such thing, but if this question arises, it should be essential that the parties concerned should consent to it.
The scheme, as has already been stated, is a voluntary one, and whether in regard to the entry into the Constituent Assembly or subsequently when the Constituent Assembly decides and comes to conclusions there will be no compulsion, and the States will have the right to have their say at any stage just as anybody else will have the right to have their say at any stage. So the coercive factor must be eliminated from that. In regard to some confusion which has possibly arisen in regard to subjects and powers, we go on what the Cabinet Mission’s statement specifically says. The Cabinet Mission’s statement said: “The States will retain all subjects and powers other than those ceded to the Union.” That is perfectly clear, we accept that statement, we accept that entirely. Generally speaking, those are the matters that came up yesterday in the course of discussion, and perhaps we might proceed on that basis and consider matters now.
We further explained that the Constituent Assembly could not possibly take up the position that they were not prepared to discuss matters with States not represented on the Chamber of Princes Negotiating Committee; or with representatives of State peoples, as that would involve an element of compulsion which was contrary to their conception of the scheme.
3. A general understanding having been arrived at, as a result of the above exchange of views, the States Negotiating Committee proceeded to consider the two matters on which we had been asked to negotiate by the Constituent Assembly. After a preliminary discussion, it was decided that the question of the distribution of the 93 seats should be referred to the Secretariats of the Constituent Assembly and the Chamber of Princes, and their recommendations placed before the next meeting of the two Committees on the 1st March, 1947.
4. In the meanwhile, the Dewan of Baroda had asked for direct negotiation with us on the representation of Baroda in the Constituent Assembly. We accordingly met Sir B. L. Mitter on the 9th February. In the course of our discussion, he made it clear that it was the decision of the Baroda State, both the Ruler and the people, to give the fullest co-operation to the Constituent Assembly in its work and that they were prepared to take steps forthwith for the selection of representatives so that these could take part in the work of the Assembly at the earliest possible date. It was agreed between us and the Dewan that Baroda should having regard to its population, send three representatives and that these should be elected by the Dhara Sabha (the State legislature) on the principle of proportional representation, by means of the single transferable vote, and that only its elected and nominated non-official members should take part in the election.
5. The next joint meeting of the two Committees was held on the 1st March, 1947. At this meeting we urged that H.M.G.’s declaration of the 20th February had introduced an additional element of urgency in our task and that it would be greatly to the advantage of the States no less than to the British Indian representatives in the Constituent Assembly if States’ representatives could join the Assembly during April session. We pointed out that there was nothing in the State Paper of the 16th May which operated as a bar against States doing so. We also suggested that it would be to our mutual advantage if States’ representatives could function forthwith on some of the committees set up by the Constituent Assembly. particularly the Union Powers Committee and the Advisory Committee on fundamental rights, etc. The States Negotiating Committee, however, expressed their inability to take these steps in the absence of a mandate from the General Conference of Rulers whom they promised to consult at an early date.
6. The discussion then turned on the method of distribution of the 93 seats allotted to the States. The Committees approved of the distribution as proposed by the two Secretariats (Appendix B) and authorised the making of such minor modifications as are considered necessary by the parties concerned.
7. After this, we discussed the method of selecting representatives. Various proposals were made and discussed in a joint sub-committee set up for the purpose. Eventually, after a consideration of the sub-committee’s report, the following formula was accepted by both Committees, viz., that no less than 50% of the total representatives of States shall be elected by the elected members of legislatures or, where such legislatures do not exist, of other electoral colleges. The States would endeavour to increase the quota of elected representatives to as much above 50% of the total number as possible.
This formula has since been ratified by the General Conference of Rulers held on the 2nd April. A copy of the resolution passed by the Conference is attached (Appendix C).
We pointed out that in regard to two States, viz. Hyderabad and Kashmir, elections to their legislatures had been boycotted by important organisations representing the people of the States concerned, and the legislatures therefore could not be considered to represent the people as they were intended to do. In the cases of these two States, we suggested that a suitable method of electing representatives for the Constituent Assembly should be devised. The Chancellor said that he would communicate the suggestion to the States concerned.
8. A Committee consisting of the following members: (1) Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya; (2) Sir N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar: (3) Sir V. T. Krishnamachari; (4) Sir Sultan Ahmed; (5) Sir B. N. Rau; (6) Mir Maqbool Mahmood; (7) Mr. H. V. R. lengar was set up to consider the modifications referred to in para 6 above and other matters of detail that might arise from time to time, and to report, if necessary, to the two Negotiating Committees.
We have been informed that the States of Baroda, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Rewa, Cochin and Bikaner have already selected their representatives in accordance with the agreement arrived at. These representatives have been invited to take their seats at the forthcoming session of the Assembly. The States of Patiala, Udaipur, Gwalior and Bhavanagar have also announced that they will take part in the work of the Constituent Assembly.
A. K. AZAD