A staunch advocate of labour rights, Diwan Chaman Lall was born on 30 October 1892. He did his schooling in Rawalpindi. He then pursued a degree in jurisprudence at Jesus College, Oxford and eventually completed his law degree at Middle Temple, London.
Role in India’s Independence Movement
Lall was not directly involved in India’s freedom struggle. However, he was one of the most influential leaders in organising workers’ rights movements and voicing the concerns of the labour class in India.
In 1920, Lall founded the All-Indian Trade Union Congress. He contributed significantly to the development of the Trade Union movement in India. He was the President of many trade unions including the All India Telegraph Workmen’s Union, All India Press Workers’ Union, the All India Postal, and various Railway unions.
In 1929-30 Lall played a crucial role in giving recommendations to the Whitley Commission – he recommended raising the minimum age of employment to 13. He then led India’s delegation at the International Labour Conference (Montreal) in 1946.
Lall participated in electoral politics as well. He was a member of the Central Legislative Assembly twice (1924 to 1931 and 1944 to 1946). Lall was also a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly (1937 to 1945).
Contribution to Constitution Making
In 1946, Lall was elected to the Constituent Assembly from East Punjab representing the All-India Trade Union Congress party. However, he resigned after two years. He spoke on the voting rights of people who migrated to India after the partition.
Lall continued to be active in politics post-independence. He served as the Indian Ambassador to Turkey (1949 to 1950). Lall was a member of the Rajya Sabha for three terms (1952 to 1956, 1956 to 1962, and 1962 to 1968).
During his term as a Rajya Sabha member, Lall introduced a private member bill to amend provisions on obscenity in the Indian Penal Code (1963). In the bill, he proposed to exempt works of art, or publications meant for research, science, or literature from the applicability of obscenity provisions. The amendment was passed in 1969.
An eminent leader of the Trade Union movement in India, Lall passed away on 12 November 1973 and is still remembered for his contribution to the labour movement.
An avid writer, Lall has written many books. One of his most popular books is ‘Coolie: The Story of Labour and Capital in India’ published in 1932 which highlighted the plight of the working class population in India.
- Lall highlighted that after the Radcliffe Award, the communal demographics of India had altered. Therefore, he suggested a proportional increase in the number of members representing the Hindu and Sikh communities in the Constituent Assembly