The Third Session of the Preliminary Meeting of the Constituent Assembly of India commenced in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi, at Eleven of the Clock, Mr. President (The Hon’ble Dr. Rajendra Prasad) in the Chair.
PRESENTATION OF CREDENTIALS AND SIGNING OF THE REGISTER
The following Members presented their credentials and signed their names in the Register:
1. Sir Brojendra Lal Mitter.
2. Mr. Gopaldas Ambaidas Desai.
3. Mr. P. Govinda Menon.
4. Sir T. Vijayaraghavacharya.
5. Sir V. T. Krishnamachari.
6. Pandit Hiralal Shastri.
7. Mr. C. S. Venkatachar.
8. Mr. Jainarayan Vyas.
9. Sardar K. M. Panikkar.
10. Raja Lal Shiva Bahadur Singh, Rao of Churhat.
11. Mr. Lal Yadhendra Singh.
12. Sardar Jaidev Singh.
13. Sardar Gian Singh Rarewala.
14. The Hon’ble Dr. Kailash Nath Katju.
15. Professor K. T. Shah.
16. Mr. Mahavir Tyagi
17. Mr. Upendra Nath Burman.
18. Mr. P. M. Velayudapani.$
We are meeting just three months after the last session of the Assembly. In the meantime some important events have happened to which I consider it necessary to make a short reference. Before doing that T have to give to the House the sad news of the death of three of our Members :
1. Raja Maheshwar Dayal Seth from U.P.
2. Sir Azizul Haque from Bengal, and
3. Mr. K. L. Mazumdar from Baroda.
The death of the last named gentleman has come as a shock because of the tragic circumstances in which it took place. I understand that he was on his way to attend this Session of the Assembly and the railway compartment in which he was traveling caught fire as a result of which he lost his life. I seek the permission of the House to convey to the members of the bereaved families our sympathy with them in their bereavements.
I may on behalf of the House be permitted to extend a cordial welcome to the representatives of the States who are Attending this Session and I hope representatives of other States will also be coming soon to assist in the great work which this Assembly has undertaken. I need hardly point out that the tremendous task in which we are engaged requires and expects assistance from all sons and daughters of this country whether they are living in States or in British India and whether they belong to one community or another. The future of the country very largely will depend upon the Constitution which we are able to frame and not only the people of this country but people all over the world are watching our efforts with interest not unmixed with anxiety and it is upto us, to whatever class or community and whatever part of India we belong, to make our contribution towards the accomplishment of this task.
News has come from our neighbour and erstwhile partner Burma that a Constituent Assembly has been elected there with objects similar to our own. May I on behalf of the House convey to that august body our greetings and good wishes and our great interest in the accomplishment of the task and the attainment of the object of a free Burma that the people of that country have before them ?
Since we met last the British Government have declared their intention to transfer power to Indians by June, 1948. This has naturally added urgency to our work and we must proceed in a business-like way to draw up our Constitution in as short a time as we can. The British Government is pledged to take preparatory measures for transfer of power in advance and while this is being done on one hand, we must be ready with our Constitution well in advance of the date-line to assume responsibility in accordance with the Constitution framed by us. I am, therefore, hoping that the Assembly will proceed with all expedition. There are undoubtedly difficulties which the Assembly will have to face but if we proceed with determination we shall be able to conquer them.
It will be recalled that the Assembly appointed several Sub-Committees. The Reports of four of these Committees will, I understand, be placed before the House in due course. I suggest that the Assembly should proceed to appoint Committees to formulate the principles on which the Constitution to be framed will be based and when those principles have been approved the work of drafting the Constitution could be undertaken by a suitable agency and finally the Constitution so drafted could be considered in detail by this Assembly. My suggestion to the Assembly will be that the Sub-Committee for framing the principles should be asked to submit its report in time for consideration by the Assembly some time in June or July and after the report has been considered by the Assembly, the drafting could be done and the Assembly itself could meet in September and finalise the Constitution by the end of October. This is roughly the time-table as the Order of the Business Committee and I envisage it. It is necessary that the Constitution should be finalised as early as possible so that there may be time thereafter for the process of transfer to be completed within the time fixed by the British Government. What I have suggested is tentative as developments are taking place and no one can say for certain what steps the Constituent Assembly may have to take to fulfil its functions. We have already defined our objective and the Constitution that has to be framed will naturally have to conform to it.
Whatever the nature of the Constitution that may have to be drafted whether for one undivided India or only for parts of it, we shall see to it that it gives satisfaction to all coming under its jurisdiction. While we have accepted the Cabinet Mission is Statement of 16th May which contemplated a Union of the different Provinces and States within the country, it may be that the Union may not comprise all the Provinces. If that unfortunately comes to pass, we shall have to be content with a constitution, for a part of it. In that case we can and should insist that one principle will apply to all parts of the country and no constitution will be forced upon any unwilling part of it. This may mean not only a division of India but a division of some Provinces. For this we must be prepared and the Assembly may have to draw up a constitution based on such division. Let us not be daunted by the immensity of the task or diverted from our purpose by developments which may take place but go ahead with faith in ourselves and the country which has sent us here. I understand some members would like to say a few words. I request Sir B. L. Mitter to begin.
Sir, I thank you for the cordial terms in which you have welcomed us, the representatives of the States who are here today. I wish more had come in. I have every hope, however, that at the next Session, few of the States’ seats will remain unoccupied. Sir, the Baroda Delegation has suffered a serious loss by the tragic death of one of its members who was on his way to the Constituent Assembly.
Sir, this Assembly is framing the Constitution of Free India. We, the States, are an integral part of India and we shall share the freedom with British India. We, therefore, want to share the responsibility of framing the Constitution.
We are hereby right of being Indians and not by sufference. We claim that we are in a position to make substantial contribution to the common task. A hundred and fifty years of unitary British rule has resulted in a measure of uniformity in British India, but in the States there is still a great variety. Some States are as advanced as British India, where the people are associated with the administration. Some are absolute monarchies. Some are feudal and some are primitive. All these have to be fitted into the Indian Constitution, because our 93 millions of population are included in the Indian total of 400 millions. We do not want to disturb the main design, as indicated in the first Resolution of this Assembly; but we want to introduce a variety in the pattern so that we may fit into it according to our capacity.
We want unity in diversity. I appeal to our British Indian colleagues to exercise a little patience with us. We want to march along with them but the pace has to be regulated without impeding the forward move. We are at one with you in that the Indian Union should be strong in the Centre so that India may hold her head high in the comity of nations. We do not believe in isolated independent existence, which can only weaken the Union. We shall join you wholeheartedly in a spirit of co-operation and not in any spirit or securing special privileges at the cost of the Union. We shall endeavour to make the Constitution develop according to the genius and capacity of the different units, so that the development may be natural and healthy.
Sir, I thank you again.
Mr. President, Sir, following what Sir Brojendra Mitter has so very eloquently said, I also, on behalf of the representatives of States who have joined and taken seats today, wish to express our thanks to you, Sir, for the welcome you have extended to us. This was indeed the day to which we have been looking forward. It is a dream which has come true, for at no time in India’s history has a representative gathering of people who can speak on behalf of the whole of India met and taken counsel. There have been occasions in the past when sections of India have met. We in the States have also been meeting frequently; but never in the history of India, so far as I can remember, has there been an occasion when representatives from all parts of India have met together in order to decide their future. Therefore, I consider that the taking of seats of certain representatives of Indian States today has a symbolic value which far outweighs the actual number of representatives who have joined, or the insignificance of members who have themselves joined. This is indeed a symbol of the unity to come and from the work that begins today, in co-operation between the representatives of the States and those of the Indian Provinces, we can really hope to look forward to the emergence of a Union of India.
Before I proceed to any other matter, I must say a few words of thanks to the work of the Negotiating Committee which made it possible for us to come and sit here. No doubt a Report of that Committee’s work will be made to you in a few minutes and it is not for me to say anything about it, but this much I think I might say that, but for the wisdom, courage and vision with which your representatives approached the question of Indian States, it would not have been possible for those of us who desired from the beginning to actively associate themselves with this work to take our place here. Therefore, on behalf of those of us who are here, I must thank the Negotiating Committee for having made this possible. It is true that we represent only a certain number of States. All of us who represent 93 millions in Indian States have not come here today. But one thing I should like to say, that we are by no means an insignificant minority. We, who have come here, represent no less than 20 million people out of 93 million people of Indian States and those who have formally and publicly announced their intention of joining the Constituent Assembly, form more than another 10 to 15 million people, so that actually when we come to think of it, a very substantial portion of the people of Indian States are represented in the Constituent Assembly today.
I should like to say one thing here and now, that we are not here by any means as a result of coercion or of any pressure that has been placed upon us. There has been no occasion for any pressure or any force to be used in regard to the States. This is a voluntary association that has been made clear from the very beginning. Any person, however highly placed who declares that our presence here is due to coercion or undue influence, I think, speaks without knowledge of facts. To such precious gentlemen, as would advise us to pause on account of alleged coercion, I have to say clearly and unequivocally that their insinuation is an insult to our intelligence. Are we less patriotic in matters connected with India ? Are we less concerned with the future of India that we have to be coerced to take part in a cause in which it is our right and duty to take part ? Therefore, I want to say firmly here and now, that there has been no coercion and it will not be in the wisdom of things or in the interest of things to talk about coercion of one part by the other.
One other point I desire to say. It is not by way of controversy or anything of the, kind. We are not here as a matter of favour. We have a right to be here for the purpose of co-operating in the great task of organising India’s freedom. We consider that we have as much right in that matter as any one else. We are indeed asked by some people to wait and see. This is indeed a strange doctrine, because we can only wait and see what happens to others. Are we to wait and see as indifferent observers what happens Ourselves ? That being so, we consider that organising India’s freedom as much our duty as it is of others. Looked at from that point of view, where can be no question of our waiting and seeing. We want no favour nor do we want to confer obligations. All that we want is that our problems should be viewed sympathetically by this august body in a sense of friendliness as affecting a large part of India. We, on our part, promise in all humility, to work for the betterment of India and for the Union which we all desire to see established. Sir, I thank you.
Mr. President, I am happy in that I have been invited to take part in the deliberations of this historic Assembly. During the last few months, discussions, controversies and negotiations were going on as to whether Indian States should send their representatives to this Assembly; if so, when and how ought they to be selected ? Much of this could have been avoided and the question would have been a most simple one if the question was tackled from the correct perspective, namely, from the perspective of the people of the Indian States.
They had never any doubts in the matter. The hundred millions of people of the Indian States never felt nor do they feel now, that they form an entity or group different from their 300 million brothers and sisters living in what is known as British India. For the last 27 years under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and other great leaders, India had been fighting for her independence. In that fight the people of the Indian States have always taken their due share, The people of the States did not feel nor did they take up the attitude that their lot lies elsewhere.
Now, after 25 years of war, when the nation sits down to frame the future Constitution we feel that it is our duty and our right to participate in the deliberations therefore. The people of the States. Sir, are one in their desire to participate in the Constituent Assembly.
Objections, doubts, questions come not from the people. They come when they do from Dewans, Ministers, Rulers, who by no means, except under the theory of Divine Right, can represent the people. Let me hope, Sir, that before the next Session of the Assembly, all the States would have taken the firm decision to collaborate with all of us and would send their representatives to this House.
In the matter of joining this Assembly as in many other matters, the attitude of my State, Cochin has been unequivocal from the very beginning. The people of Cochin, like the people of all other States, wanted from the very beginning to join this Constituent Assembly and desired that their representative or representatives shall be elected. Cochin has been fortunate in that her Ruler has been of the same view. Long before questions of States’ representation in this Assembly began to be actively considered, on the 29th July, 1946, the Maharaja of Cochin in a message to the Legislative Council said as follows :
“The only other point remaining to be considered is about the Constituent Assembly and the representation of Cochin in it. It has not been settled yet how many representatives Cochin could send to this Assembly However, to set at rest all doubts about the method of representation, I am glad to announce that, after mature consideration, I have decided to allow the people to elect their representative or representatives. This election will be by the Council.”
The above statement was made at a time when the question of States representation had not begun to be actively considered. No State had then said that it would stand independent and would have nothing to do with the Indian Constituent Assembly. Recently some such statements have been made. Cochin’s position remains unchanged even after such attractive doctrines have been dangled before her. Her reaction cannot better be expressed than in the words of the Maharaja himself who, while opening the Aikya Kerala Convention at Trichur the day before yesterday, said as follows :
“Now let me come to the question of Cochin’s relation to the rest of India. This Convention has met here for considering ways and means of establishing United Kerala. The Travancore Government has said that it does not favour this idea and has declared its intention of assuming independence after June, 1948. Its relations with the Central Government are going to be governed by Treaties. You would like to know in these circumstances what Cochin’s attitude is in this respect. I have no hesitation to declare that Cochin would continue to remain part of the mother country. It is joining the Constituent Assembly at one. No word or act of mine shall usher in a day when a Cochinite finds, he has lost the right to call himself an Indian.”
Because we are Indians, Sir, and because we want to share in the destinies of this great country, we have with pleasure and gratefulness accepted your kind invitation to take part in the deliberations of this historic Assembly. Sir, I thank you.
Sir, I am glad to find myself in Delhi today. The old saying was that Delhi is at a great distance. I never felt the truth of it until this occasion. Previously I found Delhi so very near but on this occasion I find it has been very far and I am glad I am able to find myself here today, and I am glad that I am here today on a historic occasion. Cold as the winds that blow in December in Simla, and hard as flint like the rocks over which aeroplanes fly over the Baluchistan hills towards the west, must be the heart of the Indian who is not thrilled today at this sight of this Assembly, the Assembly which I feel certain will go down in history down the corridors of time. My feeling is that though we may come from different provinces and different States we are not here on behalf of any particular part of India; we are members of all India and that is quite clear. It is in that spirit that I feel certain that we shall all do our work here, not on behalf of any parochial interests, not on behalf of any narrow sectarian interests but on behalf of the broad interests of the one nation of India. I do not propose to refer to any local problems here; our local problems ought to be solved locally. This place is for all-India problems, and I do hope that all of us will so put our heads together and so do our work that our children and our grand-children and generations yet unborn, will say, “Our fathers and our grand-fathers sat in the year 1947 at Delhi and framed a constitution which has stood the test of time”, and on which history will say, “Blessed are these men; they did their work and they laid the foundations rightly, and on those foundations will the future history of India evolve”. It is not for us here to take any narrow views; we will take large views, and let us so conduct ourselves that in the future history of India they will say that we did our work properly and that we acquitted ourselves like men, like true sons of India and not true sons of any particular part of India.
I thank you, Mr. President, for the very kind words of welcome you have uttered.
Mr. President, on behalf of the people of the States and in their own language, I thank you for the welcome you have accorded to the representatives of the States.
We, the subjects of the States, had some status up to 1933, for in that year the Government of India Bill did refer to us in the expression ‘The Princes and their subjects‘ . Unfortunately, after that our existence was ignored. No mention of the States subject was made in the Government of India Act of 1935. When Sir Stafford Cripps came to India we were again forgotten. Nor were we referred to in the Cabinet Mission Proposals. We were placed under such circumstances as would have prevented us from sitting and working in this Assembly with you unless the Princes and their Governments decided to associate us with themselves. It is a pleasure that we are today making history. We are sitting together with (the representatives of) the British Provinces and the representatives of the Rulers (of the Indian States). Had not our Rulers come forward to include us among the States Representatives or had not the Negotiating Committees insisted on our being represented (in the Assembly) it was very likely under the conditions in which we were placed at the time that we would not have been here (in the Constituent Assembly). But it is a pleasure to find that we are here in sufficient numbers with you; and we assure you that we will co-operate with you in all possible ways in making the future Constitution not merely in our self-interest but in that of the whole of India. We consider ourselves as parts of India, although some outsiders had raised walls between us. But these unnatural walls are crumbling today, and we hope that within a short time India would be absolutely one single unit. Once again, I thank you.
Sir, I join my friends in thanking you for the very cordial welcome you have extended to us. I represent one of the very big States in Central India, and if the Rewa State had not taken the lead, Central India would have gone unrepresented. I hope, Sir, in a very short period my friends in other States and our neighbouring States will definitely decide to join this historic House. The Rewa State will not lag behind in rendering all possible service to the mother country.
I thank you Sir.
MESSAGE OF GOOD WISHES FROM COORG
The Coorg Legislative Council have passed a Resolution which has been communicated to me by the Chief Commissioner, Coorg, for being communicated to this House. I will read it:
“That this Council resolves to offer its prayerful wishes to the President and Members of the Constituent Assembly of India for the speedy and successful termination of their efforts to prepare an agreed constitution for India and recommends to the Chief Commissioner that these wishes be conveyed to the President of the Constituent Assembly, New Delhi.”
REPORT OF THE STATES COMMITTEE
The next item is the Resolution which will be moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Sir, I beg to move:
“The Constituent Assembly, having taken the report of its States Committee into consideration, resolves that it be recorded. The Assembly welcomes the States representatives who have already been chosen and expresses the hope that other States who have not chosen their representatives will take immediate steps to do so in accordance with the agreed procedure.”
I understand that copies of the Report have been circulated to all the Members; I shall not therefore take up the time of the House in reading that Report. That Report is a brief summary of the activities of the Negotiating Committee appointed by this House. We have tried to make it as precise a summary as possible and it shows what took place and what we did, so that the House may be acquainted with the procedure we adopted and all that was said on those occasions. I might add, however, that if it is the wish of the House and if Members desire to see a fuller report of our proceedings, there is a verbatim Report in existence and this Report can be consulted in the Library of the House. I say this because sometimes all manner of rumours get about and people are misled and sometimes people imagine that we are not trying to put all the facts before the public. We have nothing to hide in this matter; indeed we could not possibly do so from this House; and therefore the verbatim Report of everything that was said on the occasions that we met with the Negotiating Committee of the Princes is available for reference to any Member of the House in the Library. It is too long a report for us to have it printed and circulated, nor is it normally desirable to have such reports published in the public press. But there can be no secret as between the Committee of this House and the Members of this House, and therefore, while that document is not meant for publication, I should like to remind the Members, that it is there to be consulted by any Members of this House in the Library.
The House will remember that this Committee was appointed for a specific purpose–for fixing the distribution of seats of the Assembly not exceeding 93, and for fixing the method by which the representatives of the States should be returned to the Assembly. These were the definite directions given to us and we proceeded accordingly, but when we met the negotiating Committee appointed by the Chamber of Princes, other questions were raised. We were confronted by various Resolutions passed by organizations of the Princes. We informed them that we had no authority to deal with any other matter. Our authority was limited to dealing with these two specific matters. Indeed we went a little further. We said we rather doubted the authority even of the Constituent Assembly to deal with all manner of other matters, that is to say, the Constituent Assembly as it is constituted at present. But in any event we were so anxious to get going, so anxious to remove any misapprehensions that might exist, that some of us had further conversations with them and some doubts that they raised were removed in the course of those conversations; some questions that were asked were answered informally, personally if you likes on our behalf because it was not open to us to go beyond the terms of the mandate that you gave us. You will see a reference to that in the Report that is presented to you, in particular because–I am bound to make this point perfectly clear–a few important points were raised by them in the course of those discussions. As it happened, what I said in reply to those questions had more or less been said by me in this House before or by other Members of this House, and therefore, I had no difficulty in saying it to them because otherwise I would have had this great difficulty of saying anything which the House might not approve, or might disapprove as wrong. All of us have certain views in this matter and on one of the occasions when I addressed this House in connection with the Objectives Resolution, I referred also to the States and to the Princes and made it clear that while I, in my individual capacity, held certain views, those views did not come in the way of my stating what the Constituent Assembly stood for, and what its range of activities was going to be. I said then that, while we were deciding in favour of a Republic for the whole of India, that did not bar any State from continuing the monarchical form of Government so far as that State was concerned, provided, of course, that they fitted in the larger picture of freedom and provided, as I hope that there was the same measure of freedom and responsible government in the State. So when these questions were raised. I had no particular difficulty in answering them because in effect they had been mentioned in this House previously.
What were those questions ? First, of course, was–it was an unnecessary question–as to the scope of our work, that is to say, how far we accepted the Cabinet Mission’s Statement of May 16, 1946. We have accepted it, and we are functioning in accordance with that Statement. There the matter ends. I do not know what future changes may take place and how these changes might affect our work. Anyhow, we have accepted that Statement in its fullness and we are functioning accordingly.
That leads inevitably to another conclusion, viz., that such subjects, as did not come within the scope of the Union, were subjects to be dealt with by the Units–by the States and the Provinces –and that has been clearly laid down in the Cabinet Mission’s Statement. So we said there and we made that clear. What the Union subjects might or might not be is a matter for careful consideration by this House now. But any subjects which did not come within the scope of the Union subjects necessarily are subjects left over to the Units.
Further it was stated that the business of joining the Constituent Assembly or accepting the Scheme or not accepting it was entirely their own. As Mr. Panikkar has pointed out, there was no coercion there can be no coercion either to a State, a Province or to any other part of India, which is participating in this Assembly. There can be no coercion, except, of course, the coercion or compulsion of events and that is certainly a compelling factor and a very big factor which none of us can ignore. So there is no question of compulsion; but at the same time it is true that if certain units or parts of India decide to come in, accepting their responsibilities, they get certain privileges in return, and those who do not come in do not get those privileges as they do not shoulder those responsibilities. That is inevitable. And once that decision has been taken by a Unit, State or other, other consequences inevitably follow, possibly widening the gulf between the two : that is the compulsion of events. Otherwise it is open to any State to do as it chooses in regard to this matter of coming in or not coming in. So that matter has been made clear.
The only other important matter that was raised in this connection was the monarchical form of Government in the States. As I stated in this House previously, in the world today this system of rule by monarchy, whatever good it may have done in the past, is not a system that might be considered to be popular. It is a passing institution : how long it will last I do not know. But in this matter my opinion is of little account. What counts in what this Assembly desires in this matter : what it is going to do : and we have made it clear on a previous occasion that we do not wish to interfere in the internal arrangement of the States. It is for the people of the States to decide what they want and what they do not want. The question, in fact, does not arise in this Assembly. Here we are dealing with Union matters, subjects of fundamental rights and the like. Therefore this question of the monarchical form of Government in the States did not arise here and I told them that so far as we were concerned we were not going to raise that particular subject here.
Lastly, there was the question or rather the misapprehension due to certain words in the Objectives Resolution of this Assembly, where some reference has been made to territorial boundaries being changed. The House will remember that that had no connection with the States as such. That was a provision for future adjustments as they are bound to be Involved. Further it was a provision for suitable units to come into existence, which can be units of this Indian Union. Obviously one cannot have very small units or small fractions of India to form part of the Union. Some arrangement has to be made for the formation of sizable units. Questions arise today and will arise tomorrow even about the division of Provinces. There is very, strong feeling about it. We are discussing today, though for other reasons, about the division of certain Provinces like the Punjab and Bengal. All these have to be considered but this has nothing to do with the provision in the Objectives Resolution. The point has been settled in the Negotiating Committee that any changes in territorial boundaries should be by consent.
Those were the statements I made on behalf of our Negotiating Committee to the other Committee and those statements removed a number of misapprehensions and we proceeded ahead with the consideration of other matters.
Among the other matters was, firstly, the question of the distribution of seats. We decided to refer this matter to the two Secretariats–the Secretariat of the Constituent Assembly and that of the Chamber of Princes. We referred this matter, I think, at 1-30 P.M. one day. Those two Secretariats met, I think, at 3 P.M. the same day and 5 P.M. they arrived at an agreed procedure. That was rather a remarkable thing which is worth remembering. It is true that the rules governing the distribution were to some extent laid down in the Cabinet Mission’s Scheme–one seat per million, that is, 93 seats in all. Unfortunately these matters of distribution are difficult and often arouse great controversies and arguments. Nevertheless these two Committees met together and I am very glad that the Secretariat of the Constituent Assembly was helped by the representatives of the States to come to an agreed solution within two hours. That showed that if we approach any of these apparently difficult problems with good will, we find solutions and we find rapid solutions too. I do not mean to say that that solution in regard to the distribution of these seats was a perfect one. Since the agreement was reached certain objections have been raised and criticisms have been made in regard to the grouping of the States here and there. Ultimately we left it to a sub-Committee–a joint Committee of our Negotiating Committee and the States Negotiating Committee–to consider this matter and to make such minor alterations as they thought fit and proper. Now because of these grouping difficulties, a number of States, which might be represented here, are not here. That is to say, the States concerned want to come in and they are quite prepared to do so but the group has not begun to function. Therefore individually they are prevented from coming in. Only yesterday I was informed that one important State, the State of Cutch, was eager and anxious to come in but they formed part of a group of Kathiawar and other States, rightly or wrongly, and till the whole group gets into motion, they do not know how to come in separately. This is a matter to be considered by the sub-Committee. But the point I want to put before the House is this that in this matter as soon as we came to grips with the subject and gave up talking in vague generalities and principles or rights of this group and that group, we came to a decision soon enough and that is a good augury for our work in future, whether it relates to the people of the States or to the rest of India or to any group in India.
We, who meet here, meet under a heavy sense of responsibility–responsibility not only because the task which we have undertaken is a difficult one or because we presume to represent vast numbers of people, but because we are building for the future and we want to make sure that that building has strong foundations, and because, above all, we are meeting at a time when a number of disruptive forces are working in India pulling us this way and that way, and because, inevitably and unfortunately, when such forces are at work, there is a great deal of passion and prejudice in the air and our whole minds may be affected by it. We should not be deflected from that vision of the future which we ought to have, in thinking of the present difficulties. That is a dangerous thing which we have to avoid, because we are not building for; today or tomorrow, we are making or trying to make a much more enduring structure. It is a warning which the House will forgive me, if I repeat–that we must not allow the passion and prejudice of the moment to make us forget what the real and ultimate problems are which we have to solve. We cannot forget the difficulties of the present because that come in our way all the time. We have to deal with the problems of the present, and in dealing with them, it may be, unfortunately that the troubles we have passed through all these years may affect us, but, nevertheless, we have to get on. We have to take quick decisions and final decisions in the sense that We have to act on them. We have to be realists and it is in this spirit of realism, as also in a spirit of idealism, that I say that our Negotiating Committee approached this task.
The House knows that some of the members of the Committee have been intimately associated with the struggle of the peoples of the States for their freedom. The more I have been associated with that struggle, the more I have seen that it cannot be separated from the all-India problem; it cannot be isolated. It is an essential and integral part of the all-India problem, all-India structure, just as the States are an integral part of India. You cannot separate them. And with all my anxiety to further the progress of the peoples of the States with such strength as is in me in my individual or other capacities, when I met the Negotiating Committee I had to subordinate my individual opinions because I had to remember all the time that I was representing this Constituent Assembly. I also had to remember that, above all, we had gone there not to bargain with each other, not to have heated argument with each other, but to achieve results, and to bring those people, even though they might have doubts, into this Assembly, so that they might come here and they might also be influenced by the atmosphere that prevails here. For me it was the solemnity of the task which we had undertaken, and not to talk in terms of results, or individuals or groupings, or assurances. What assurance do we seek from each other ? What assurance is even this House going to give to anybody in India, except the assurance of freedom ? Even that assurance will ultimately depend on the strength and wisdom of the Indian people afterwards. If the people are not strong enough and wise enough to hold together and proceed along the right path, the structure that you have built may be shattered. We can give no assurance to anybody.
With what assurance have we sought freedom for India all these years ? We have looked forward to the time when some of the dreams that we were indulging in might become true. Perhaps, they are coming true, perhaps not exactly in the shape that we want, but, nevertheless, they will come true. It is in that conviction that we have proceeded all these years. We had no guarantees. We had no assurances about ourselves or about our future. Indeed, in the normal course of events the only partial guarantee that most of us had was the guarantee of tears and troubles, and we had plenty of that. It may be that we shall have plenty of that in the future too; we shall face them. This House will face it and the people of India will face it. So, who are we to give guarantees to anybody ? But we do want to remove misapprehensions as far as possible. We do want every Indian to feel that we are going to treat him as an equal and brother. But we also wish him to know that in the future what will count is not so much the crown of gold or of silver or something else, but the crown of freedom, as a citizen of a free country. It may be that a time may come soon when it will be the highest honour and privilege for anybody, whether he is a Ruler or anybody else, to be a free citizen of a free India and to be called by no other appellation or title. We do not guarantee because we guarantee nothing to anybody, but that is the thing which we certainly hope to achieve and we are certain to achieve. We invite them to participate in that. We welcome those Who have come, and we shall welcome those others when they come. And those who will not come–we shall say nothing about them. But, as I said before, inevitably, as things are, the gulf will widen between those who come and those who do not come. They will march along different paths and that will be unfortunate I am convinced that, even so, those paths will meet again, and meet sooner rather than later. But, in any event, there is going to be no compulsion. Those who want to come, will come, and those who do not want to come, do not come. But there is this much to be said. When we talk about people coming in and people who do not come in, let it be remembered, as Mr. Govinda Menon said, that the people of the States–I say with some assurance and with some authority in the matter–want to come into this Assembly, and if others prevent them from coming, it is not the fault of the people, but breaks and barriers are put in their way. However, I hope that these questions will not arise in the future and that in the coming month or two nearly all the States will be represented here, and, jointly we shall participate in the final stages of drawing up the Constitution.
I am placing this Resolution before the House to record the Report. There has been some argument about this matter too and people attach a great deal of importance to words and phrases and assurances and things like that. Is it not good enough that I have put it to the House ? If it is not good enough, I may repeat what has been stated. Even if that is not good enough, what we have stated is there in the verbatim Report of the meetings; we have nothing to add to it, we shall stand by that. We do not go back. But the procedure to be adopted must be a correct procedure. When this Committee was appointed you asked us to report and we have reported. We had got to do something, and we tried to do that and did it. Now, if this matter was to come up for ratification before this House before it could be acted upon, obviously, representatives of the States who are here now would not have been here. They would have been sitting at the doorstep or somewhere outside waiting for ratification, waiting for something to happen till they came in. That was not the way in which we understood our directions. We understood that we had to come to some honourable agreement and act up to it so that representatives of the States might come in as early as possible. We were eager in fact that they should join the Committees of this Assembly,- the Advisory Committee, the Fundamental Rights Committee, the Union Powers Committee and the other Committees which we have formed. It is not our fault that there was delay. At the very first joint meeting of the Negotiating Committees we requested the States Committee to join quickly, indeed to send their representatives to these Committees of the Constituent Assembly as soon as possible. We were asked for assurance at every stage and there were delays. But the way we have understood your mandate was that we had to go ahead and not wait for ratification of every step that we had taken. We acted accordingly, and I am happy that some of the States’ representatives are here today and I hope more will come. So the question of ratification does not arise so far as this Committee’s work is concerned. The Report is before you. If you disapprove of any single step that we have taken, express your disapproval of whatever might have happened, or otherwise give your directions.
The resolution I have moved is for your adoption. I shall not go into the details in regard to the distribution of the seats and the manner of selection of the delegates from the States. It was a sort of compromise. Naturally it was my desire, as it was the desire of my colleagues that the representative of the States should be elected by the people of the States, partly because it was the right way, and partly because it was the way in which they could be fitted with the other elected elements of this House. On the other hand, I considered it right and desirable that the States governments should also be represented here to bring reality to the picture. The correct way and the right way ultimately will be for the State government itself to be representative of the people and then come in to represent them here. But we have to take things as they are. The States governments, generally speaking, do not represent the people in the democratic sense. In some places they partially represent them. Anyhow, we did consider it desirable that the State governments as such, should also be represented though we would have liked the largest number of representatives to come from the people. Ultimately after a great deal of discussion it was decided that not less than 50 per cent. of the representatives should be elected by the elected members of the assemblies where they exist, or by some other method of election which may be devised. We came to a compromise on this proportion, thought we would have liked the proportion to be higher. Some of the States have actually acted as if the proportion were higher. I submit that this comprise that we came to was an honourable compromise for all parties concerned and I think it will lead to satisfactory results so far as this House is concerned, and I commend the resolution to the House.
The motion is:
”The Constituent Assembly having taken the report of its States Committee into consideration resolves that it be recorded. The Assembly welcomes the States representatives who have already been chosen and expresses the hope that other States who have not chosen their representatives will take immediate steps to do so in accordance with the agreed procedure.”
Members who wish to say anything about this motion may now speak.
(At this stage Dr. Kailas Nath Katju approached the rostrum.)
On a point of information Sir, of the representatives of the States who have come to participate in this House, how many have been elected and how many nominated by the States?
The Secretary will give you this information. In the meantime, Dr. Kailas Nath Katju will please proceed with his speech.
Mr. President, I ventured to come here for a few minutes and address you on this Resolution because I am connected with one of the States in Central India and also with some in Rajputana; and I have made my home in the United Provinces by adoption. I am, therefore, intensely interested in the endeavour which you are making and I venture to congratulate the Negotiating Committee on the great results that have been achieved.
There are a great variety of States, and there are hundreds of them. Some of the States go back and are rooted in the history of our race. Others are of very, recent origin, going back only a century or so and with little of tradition and little of moral authority behind them. I do not wish to pursue this topic at any great length; but I have no doubt in my mind that it is for the good of the States and it is for the good of the people of the States that they should join this great Indian Union of which Pandit Jawaharlal has spoken so eloquently. I have no doubt in my mind that the course of Indian history teaches us that a union of this great country is an inevitability. When I hear of some Provinces or some States or territorial units claiming to be sovereign States or claiming authority for themselves, I wonder whether they have ever considered the drift of Indian history. There is no shadow of doubt in my mind that within the course of the next fifty years, whatever we may do today, or whatever we may say today, the course of events will compel the people to bring about one united Government, one united Centre in India. It is good therefore for the people of the States, it is good for the people of all States, it is good for the Rulers of these States that they should come in and join in this great endeavour. Instead of the Rulers relying upon their so called strength, I think their safety, their integrity and their very existence lies in relying upon the affection, and upon the trust of their own people. If they rely upon that, they may continue, otherwise most of these States will disappear without much regret on the part of their people or on the part of the rest of India. With these words, I commend this Resolution to the care of the House and I should join in the appeal which has been made to every section of the House that in a short time, we will see almost all the States come in and join this Assembly.
Mr. Lahiri desires to know when notice of amendments should be given. He complains that notice of this Resolution was received by him last night. I am afraid it is now too late now for him to give notice of amendment.
I shall now put the Resolution to the House:
The question is:
“The Constituent Assembly having taken the report of its States Committee Into consideration resolve that it be recorded.
The Assembly welcomes the States representatives who have already been chosen and expresses the hope that other States who have not chosen their representatives will take immediate steps to do so in accordance with the agreed procedure.”
The motion was adopted.
I desire to give the information wanted by Mr. Lahiri. Out of sixteen members representing the States who are attending today, five are nominated and eleven are elected.
ELECTION OF ADDITIONAL MEMBERS TO STEERING COMMITTEE
Sir, I consider it my proud privilege to be able to stand here today and move the motion which stands in my name. Before I do so, I may be permitted to express my great joy at the presence of the representatives of some of the Indian States who are here today in our midst on this occasion. My heart-felt and sincere thanks are due to those States which have extended their co-operation and joined us in our work.
With your leave, Sir, I move:
“Resolved that this Assembly do proceed to elect, under sub-rule (2) of Rule 40 of the Constituent Assembly Rules, two additional members to the Steering Committee from among the representatives of the Indian States, in accordance with the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.”
Sir, sub-rule (2) of Rule 40 of the Constituent Assembly Rules lays down the procedure for election of members to the Steering Committee. It says :
“The Assembly may from time to time elect, in such manner as it may deem appropriate, 8 additional members of whom four shall be reserved for election from among the representatives of the Indian States.”
Sub-rule (1) of Rule 40 lays down:
“A steering committee shall be set up for the duration of the Assembly and shall consist of eleven Members (other than the President) to be elected by the Assembly in accordance with the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.”
Sir, I may be permitted to state in this connection that in accordance with these Rulers, eleven members were initially elected top this Committee on 20th January and the Committee has been functioning with these members. According to sub-rule (2), eight additional members are to be elected from time to time out of whom four are reserved for election from among the representatives of Indian States. It is considered desirable at present that only two out of four will be elected now and that the election of the two other members shall be postponed to a future date. We would have been happy had all the four members been elected on this occasion. But we thought it desirable to elect only two members at present and postpone the election of two other members to a subsequent date. When we will be fortunate enough to have a much larger representation of Indian States on this Assembly and all present her. We fondly hoped that some of the leading States like Hyderabad, Travancore, Mysore and some other States would have made up their minds to join us here in our work and co-operate with us. But I am sadly disappointed to find that they are not able to come and see eye to eye with us and that they are still pursuing a policy of “wait and see”. I hope that it will not be before long, that they will follow the noble example set up by States like Baroda, Bikaner, Rewa, Gwalior, Cochin, Udaipur, Jodhpur ans some other States, whose representatives we have here in our midst and send their representatives also to help us in this great task of forging a constitution for this great country. I extend a hearty welcome to those representatives who will be elected to this Committee, to function on this Committee to help us with their advice and guidance in our work. With these words, I commend this motion for the acceptance of this House.
“Resolved that this Assembly do proceed to elect, under sub-rule (2) of Rule 40 of the Constituent Assembly Rules, two additional members to the Steering Committee from among the representatives of the Indian States, in accordance with the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.”
Sir, under sub-rule (2) of Rule 40, four seats have been reserved for election from among the representatives of the Indian States. You have just now been good enough to tell us that today only sixteen representatives are present and seventy-seven are absent. In fairness to the members who are absent, I would suggest that only one seat may be filled today and the other three seats may be filled up later on.
The amendment of Mr. Kamath is that in place of two seats, one seat should be filled by election today.
Sir, the Steering Committee has to work from day to day, and if you keep seats vacant for those people who are not here, it is neither good for them nor for the House nor for the Steering Committee. The work of the Steering Committee does not really Involve matters of high principle, but it is very important work and it does affect the business of the House. I think it is not fair that the places of those who do not come here should be kept vacant and we should go on waiting. Of course I do not want anything to be done which might be injurious to their interests, and therefore any important matter can be raised again. Now that we have a chance to take them in, we should do so. It is open to the House to reconsider any matter of vital importance later. At the present moment it is desirable to give full opportunities to those who will come to take part in the business.
Sir, in view of the assurance given by the Hon’ble Pandit Nehru that the number of seats will be increased at a later date I beg to withdraw the amendment.
I now put the resolution to vote.
The motion was adopted.
Nominations will be received up to 2 P.M. tomorrow and elections, if any, will be held from 4 to 5 P.M. in Room No. 24.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON UNION SUBJECTS
Presentation of the Report of the Committee appointed by the Resolution of the Constituent Assembly of the 25th January, 1947, to examine the scope of Union subjects.
Sir, is it only the presentation of the Report or is a motion being moved ? There is no notice of a motion.
If the Hon’ble Member will wait and hear, he will know what it is.
Sir, I come forward to perform a merely routine and prosaic duty of presenting the Report of the Committee on Union subjects. It is not intended that any motion on this Report should be placed before this House today. This Committee was appointed on the 25th January for the purpose of examining the scope and content of the subjects assigned to the Centre in the Statement of the Cabinet Mission of May 16th and to draw up lists of matters included in and interconnected With the subjects so assigned. The Committee started with a strength of twelve and power was reserved to you, Sir, to nominate ten more, the intention being that some seats should be filled by nomination of representatives of the Muslim League if they came in, and others should be assigned to representatives of the Indian States. As it is, the Muslim League has not so far come in, and as Pandit Jawaharlal explained to you a little while ago, strenuous attempts were made to get the full quota of nominations for representatives of the Indian States being filled in, if possible. But it was not possible to do so. In the later stages of our deliberations, however, we have had the assistance of two distinguished representatives from Indian States.
Now, Sir, I said I was only performing this prosaic duty; I was not going to perform the function which my Hon’ble friend, Mr. Kamath, would have liked me to perform today. Copies of this Report, I believe, have been circulated to Members. It is not, therefore, necessary that I should read the Report; and in connection with mere presentation of reports in a deliberative assembly of this kind it is not usual to make a speech on the contents of such a report except on an occasion such as the one mentioned by Mr. Kamath, for instance, on a motion for taking the Report into consideration. That motion is not to be made today, nor is it intended by those to whom has been entrusted the task of steering the business of this Assembly. It is not their intention that such a motion should be placed before the House during the current Session. There are several reasons why this decision has been taken. In the first place, Sir, the subject is a very important one; it is a vital matter connected with the framing of the Constitution, and it is only desirable that this Report on so important a subject should be read through and studied carefully by Members of this House before it is taken into consideration. And then we have got to remember that the Committee had to work on the Cabinet Mission’s Plan. That Plan contains some very unusual features, the unusualness really resulting from the desire to satisfy the wishes of the Muslim League if it ever decided to come in. The coming in of the Muslim League is not yet officially ruled out; there is still a possibility of their coming in, though the probability is perhaps very small. Should this possibility materialise it would be only just and reasonable that the debate on so important a subject, as the subjects and powers to be assigned to the Union centre, should be held in a House which contains a full representation of the Muslim League. Whether they will come in or not will by definitely known before the June-July Session of this Assembly. And that is one main reason why we are not taking up the discussion of this matter in this current Session.
Then, Sir, there are the Indian States–a number of representatives of Indian States have joined us today but there is a very large number still to come in. Those have not come in because they require time for going through the procedure prescribed for the purpose of choosing them and sending them to this Assembly. The Indian States have got a very vital interest in the matter which is covered by the Report of this Committee, and it is desirable that as full a representation of the Indian States as possible should be in the Assembly before we begin to discuss so important a matter. Thirdly, Sir, there is the question of the present political conversations. The decisions on those conversations are not available yet: they will be available in all probability before we meet again in the June-July Session. The decisions will be of the most important character, and I think the House will agree with me in thinking that those decisions will have very important repercussions on the plan of work which this Constituent Assembly will have to adopt in framing the Constitution for the country if that decision should, as it is feared, take the shape of anything like the division of India into two or more independent States it may become necessary for this Assembly to deviate from rigid conformity to the Cabinet Mission’s Plan. It is unnecessary for me to say now in what directions this deviation might become necessary. The nature of those deviations must necessarily depend upon the political decisions that are taken but apart from such deviations the number of subjects that have to be assigned to the Centre, their scope and content, the definition of a field of concurrent jurisdiction between the Union and the Units, and the relations between the Union and the Units as regards the exercise of legislative and administrative powers, will all be matters which would require a fresh and thorough examination. This examination will so far as I can visualize have to be done in close collaboration between the Committee on Union Subjects and the two Committees which are proposed to be set up in the course of the current Session–one for the purpose of determining the principles of the Union Constitution, and the other for determining the principles of a model provincial constitution. These three Committees will have to work in close collaboration, and it is necessary that before they enter into such collaboration, they must have before them the political decisions that will have been reached before them.
Now, Sir, taking all these facts into consideration, it is, I think, very necessary that the debate on the Report of the Committee on Union Subjects should be postponed beyond this Session, to the next Session, and therefore it is that I am not placing before you any motion for taking this Report into consideration today.
There is one matter about which I think I must ask the permission of the House to approve of what this Committee has done. In the original Resolution appointing this Committee, it was asked to submit its Report before the 15th of April. As a matter of fact, the Committee signed its Report on the 17th of April. I do hope, Sir, that the House will excuse this delay of two days.
There is another matter which I might mention. This Report should not be taken as the final Report of the Committee on Union Subjects. I have already placed before you considerations which will necessitate the matter being reviewed and overhauled by the same Committee in collaboration with other Committees. There are matters, for instance, connected with Indian States, which require perhaps more consideration than it was possible to give them during the time that this Committee met between its appointment and today. The representatives of the States who wish to give us the benefit of their views feel that there are some matters which require further investigation before they could finally commit themselves, and there are also other matters and certain questions connected with the subjects which have been listed in this Report about which greater consideration, it is considered by certain members of the Committee, would be necessary. And apart from that there is looming before us the political decision which will necessitate our overhauling the entire Report if it comes to that, Therefore, Sir, I request the permission of the House to let this Committee submit a further Report if it becomes necessary. With these words, I merely present the Report of the Committee to the House.
The Report has been presented. I think the House will condone two days delay in signing it, and will also give permission to the Committee to submit another Report if it finds it necessary to do so.
This was unanimously agreed to.
When the subsequent Report is presented, may I know whether this Report will also be open to discussion. We have not read even a single sentence of this Report which has been presented to the House.
We are not entering into any discussion on this Report. The Hon’ble Member will read this Report, and we can then discuss it during the next Session.
We will meet at 8-30 tomorrow morning and we will go on until 12-30 when we will adjourn. Any Member who has any amendments to suggest to the Report of the Fundamental Rights Committee should do, so before 5 o’clock this evening. The Report will be taken into consideration tomorrow. The House now stands adjourned until 8-30 A.M. tomorrow.
The Assembly then adjourned till half past Eight of the Clock, on Tuesday, the 29th April, 1947.