Constituent Assembly Debate: Minority Rights—II
Yesterday, Swarajya carried the first part of the debate in the Constituent Assembly over minority rights and special provisions for the “Backward Classes”. We ended when the Assembly, after a heated discussion, broke for lunch on 27 August 1947.
At 3 PM, the members are back in the Constitutional Hall and the debate is about to resume, with Mr President Dr Rajendra Prasad in the Chair.
Mr. President: We shall proceed with further discussion of the items, Sardar Patel.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: Sir, I move the proviso to the first item—”Provided that, as a general rule, there shall be reservation of seats for the minorities shown in the schedule in the various legislatures on the basis of their population;
Provided further that such reservation shall be for 10 years, the position to be reconsidered at the end of the period.”
I move this for the acceptance of the House.
Mr. President: There are some amendments. The first is by Pandit Thakurdas Bhargava.
Pandit Thakurdas Bhargava (East Punjab: General) : With your permission, Sir, I propose to move my amendment No. 19 in List I and not 18.
“That in the first Proviso to para 1 for the word ‘seats’ the word ‘representation’ be substituted.”
I apply to move this amendment as it affords an opportunity to Mr. Munshi to move another amendment which I consider is the right one.
Shri K. M. Munshi (Bombay: General): Mr, President, Sir, I move the following amendment to the amendment of Pandit Bhargava :
“That in amendment No. 19 of List I, dated 25th August 1947, for the word ‘seat’ the word representation’ be substituted”, the following words be substituted: “after the word ‘schedule’ the words ‘and the section of the Hindu Community referred to in paragraph 1A hereof’ be inserted.”
The words of the proviso are these: “Provided that as a general rule, there shall be reservation of seats for the minorities shown in the schedule.”
If my amendment was adopted it would read as follows: “reservation of seats for the minorities shown in the schedule and the section of the Hindu Community referred to in paragraph 1A hereof.”
I have also moved an amendment to No. 85 whereby the item of Scheduled castes is going to be removed to a separate para. No. 1A and not included in the schedule.
The object of this amendment is to clarify the position of the so-called Scheduled Castes. The word ‘minorities’ so far as international treaties and international law is concerned, is only restricted to racial, linguistic and religious minorities. The Harijans, generally known as Scheduled Castes, are neither a racial minority nor a linguistic minority, not certainly a religious minority. Therefore in the interest of exact phraseology this amendment was found necessary. It was only, as members of the House will remember, when the Government of India Act was moved that the definition of ‘minorities’ was so extended by Sir Samuel Hoare as to include every minority which the Governor thought fit to consider as minority. This is a very very mischievous extension of the term and my amendment seeks to clarify the position that so far as the Scheduled Castes are concerned, they are not minorities in the strict meaning of the term; that the Harijans are part and parcel of Hindu community, and the safeguards are given to them to protect their rights only till they are completely absorbed in the Hindu Community.
Another reason is this. and I might mention that that reason is based on the decisions which have already been taken by this House. The distinction between Hindu Community other than Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Castes is the barrier of untouchability. Now, by the Fundamental. Rights which we have accepted, untouchability is prohibited by law and its practice is made a criminal offence under the law of the Federation. We have also accepted in the Fundamental Rights that no public place should be prohibited to anyone by reason of his birth. So far as the Federation is concerned, we have removed the artificial barrier between one section of the Hindu Community and the other.
In view of those facts, any safeguard as a minority, so far as the Scheduled Castes are concerned, is illogical and will possibly prevent their complete absorption in the Hindu fold. I therefore submit that the amendment which I am moving clearly defines the position.
Mr. H. J. Khandekar (CP & Berar: General): Mr. President. my amendment is very simple, and it is – That in Appendix 5 wherever the word “population” has appeared in the proviso to para 1 at the end of para 3 (C), and in para. 5 the following words should be added after that ward: “In the case of the Scheduled Castes according to 1931 census”. I want to tell the House my special reason for moving this amendment. India’s population is increasing day by day. If we review the period between the census of 1911 and that of 1941, we discover that India’s population has reached the figure of 40 crores. I want to place before you a fact which you all know that the Scheduled Castes belong to the lower strata which is in no way behind higher classes, in respect of increasing its numbers. If one child is born to a caste Hindu then four are born to a Scheduled Caste Hindu but it is very sad and surprising that the Population of Harijans has been decreasing since 1931. I do-not know why it is so. When we sought the reason for it, we discovered that in the 1941 Census in the provinces of Bengal and Bihar., some of our Muslim brethren got the Scheduled Castes registered as Muslims on the one hand and Caste Hindus got them registered as Hindus on the other. And this is the reason why ever since the 1931 Census, our population has been continuously declining and in the 1941 census, the strength of Scheduled Castes was less than in the 1931 Census by 2 crores. Therefore I have to place this amendment before you, because the minorities are getting their rights in the provincial and Central Assemblies according to their numerical strength, and if we get our rights according to 1941 census, our representation will be much less.
…Not only I but the whole Harijan community throughout the country loudly proclaimed that our strength as shown in the 1941 Census was wrong and that our representation should not be based on that figure. Now there is no way out except that the mover of this resolution may give us an assurance that census will be taken again, in which case I will be prepared to withdraw my amendment…I am aware that every member of this House has great sympathy for Scheduled Castes. I have heard many speeches. Many leaders sympathise with us, but that is of no use, if it is merely verbal.
People say and I also affirm that we are a part and parcel of the Hindu community. If you oppose this amendment of mine, it will only mean that you are not prepared to give us anything more than what we are getting according to the 1941 census. When you say that they are Hindus and that a few seats less or a few seats more does not make much difference, then I will request that if under the 1931 census we get a few seats more, the House should not hesitate to give us those seats…With these words I hope the Honourable Mover Will accept my amendment.
Shri V. I. Muniswami Pillai: Sir, my friend Mr. Munshi made it clear that the Scheduled Castes form a minority. Still they are not considered to be a minority in view of the fact that they do not come under the three categories of the minorities mentioned. I may tell this House, Sir, till the 16th of May, the Scheduled Castes were considered to be a minority in this respect, but later on when the Cabinet Mission came, by an unknown process they have eliminated the Depressed Classes, I mean the Scheduled Castes, and have taken only the other communities into account. But my friend Mr. Munshi made it clear that since there is the disability for Scheduled Castes, they will be given all the advantages as a minority and they will on no account be deprived of the facilities that are required by them. In that view, Sir, I think my amendment can be accepted. I move.
An Honourable Member: Mr. President, Sir, I would like. to know how an amendment to an amendment could be moved unless the original amendment has been moved.
Mr. President: It is a consequential thing. Therefore I have allowed this opportunity of moving it now.
Shri S. Nagappa: Sir, Amendment No. 88. My friend Mr. Khandekar just now moved that the Census of 1931…
Shri K. M. Munshi: I rise to a point of order. This is with reference to para. 3. Now we are on para. 1 in the schedule.
Shri S. Nagappa: That was moved.
Shri K. M. Munshi: That was an amendment to para. 1. The House is debating at the moment para. 1.
Shri S. Nagappa: I am saying it is a similar amendment.
Mr. President: When we come to that, you can move it.
Shri K. M. Munshi: Sir, I have got another amendment. My amendment No. 2 relates to para. 1. It simply carries out the scheme of the first amendment that I have moved.
Mr. President: That is consequential.
Shri K. M. Munshi: Yes, carrying out the same idea. if you will permit me, Sir, to move formally. The amendment which I move is this: “That the words 7. Scheduled Castes’ be deleted from the schedule and the following para, be added after it: ‘1A The section of the Hindu community referred to as Scheduled Castes as defined in Schedule I to the Government of India Act, 1935 shall have the same rights and benefits which are herein provided for minorities specified in the Schedule to para 1.”
This is consequential to Harijans being removed from the category of minorities and placed as an independent category as a section ‘of the Hindus. I move the amendment.
Mr. B. Das: Sir, I wish to move an amendment to the amendment moved by Mr. K. M. Munshi. He said, “The section of the Hindu community referred to as Scheduled Castes as defined in Schedule I to the Government of India Act, 1935”. I wish to move this amendment: Instead of “defined in Schedule I to the Government of India Act, 1935”, the words “to be defined in the Scheduled to the Union Constitution Act.”
I do not wish the Government of India Act to be repeated. The Committee has gone into the Schedule of the Government of India Act which is referred to, and we can accept it as a Schedule of the Union Constitution Act. This is the amendment I move. The words “Government of India Act, 1935” be dropped and the words “to be defined in the Schedule of the Union Constitution Act” be inserted. That is the amendment I wish to move.
Shri K. Santhanam (Madras: General): Sir, I may offer one remark with regard to the latest amendment moved by Mr. B. Das. If we had prepared a Schedule, then it would have been relevant. Without a Schedule, to refer a matter to a non-existent schedule, I do not think is quite regular. Reference to Government of India Act, 1935 is proper because it gives a concrete reference.
The points which I wanted to make are three. First, in this provision there is the word “legislatures”. I want to know if it is meant that this reservation should be both for the Lower and the Upper Houses. Assume that the reservation is meant only for the Lower House, because, under the constitution which we have adopted, the Upper Houses in the case of the provinces are to be elected on the Irish model while in the case of the Federation, it is to be on the model of the American Senate, elected by the provincial legislatures. I do not think that reservation should have an application to the Upper Houses of the legislatures and I think it may be clarified by saying “various Assemblies”.
Another point which I would like to point out is that this clause should not be made applicable to East Punjab and West Bengal. The conditions there are peculiar as a result of the partition. We do not know exactly what is the distribution of population there today. Unless we know the distribution of population, any such principle as reservation of seats on the basis of population would have unpredictable effects and therefore, until we know exactly the distribution of population in these two provinces, I think this clause should not be made applicable. I think, as a general rule, these two provinces should be treated as exempted from the present Report.
Another point which I would like to impress upon the mover of this amendment is that if in a constituency, a minority community for which reservation is provided is in a majority, that constituency without any reservation should be treated as a reserved seat. Suppose for instance, in a district, Muslims are in a majority and that is a constituency. There are one or two seats. There is no reason why there should be a reservation in that constituency. I think for all practical purposes it should be included in the number of seats reserved…Are you reserving Muslim seats in a constituency where they are in a majority? I think it will be absurd…This will also become very material in certain parts of Bihar and in certain parts of the United Provinces. Therefore, my simple suggestion is, if in any constituency the minority community for which any reservation is made is in a majority, that constituency must be treated as already reserved by the very fact of the majority of the electorate and then the number of seats allotted to that constituency should be deducted from the total reservation. I think this is a detail which has to be worked out with reference to each province.
Rev. S. J. Jerome D’Souza (Madras: General): Mr. President, I should like to make a few very brief general observations on these provisos just presented to this House by Sardar Patel…I know that this question of reservation is something which has troubled the minds of a good many among us here, now that separate, electorates have to be given up; and if there were doubts about giving them up, the extremely cogent and powerful exposition which we heard this morning should set all doubts at rest and should bring even the hesitators that there might be in general agreement with the thesis that separate electorates must go. But, on the other hand, it is not absolutely clear and many here are not convinced that reservation is the happiest substitute for them. This is a compromise and like all compromises there is bound to be an element of illogicality in it.
I say this not because reservation itself is something wrong. There is an impression that reservation is anti-democratic and that it should somehow be got rid of in the course of the next 10 or fewer years. I beg to say that I do not agree with this. Reservation in itself is one way of securing a satisfactory working of the electoral principle. Sir, after all we ourselves in this very House and in our Provincial circles are providing for Upper Houses in which there will be functional representation. In its own way functional representation is nothing else than reservation of a very special kind. You reserve seats for particular interest. The misfortune here is that reservation is made on communal lines and secondly, the reservation being made, the elections to the reserved seat are not made exclusively by those on whose behalf the reservation is made, but by a general constituency by a mixture in the electorates. Therein comes the difficulty and I beg this House to understand that the few misgivings that may have been expressed on this head are due to this and not to any other consideration.
Nevertheless I believe that his principle of reservation with general electorates is a bold experiment though fraught with some risks, nonetheless worth making at this juncture for the satisfaction of all. It cannot be given up, because, if I may venture to remind the majority party in this House, for years together the Congress party has been associated with the demand that there shall be joint electorates with reservation. At this stage to give up reservation as some of my friends wish to do would be in contradiction to the promises held out, if not tacitly at least by implicit agreement. That is one reason why we cannot go back on this and I am most happy once again to say that the way in which the feelings of the minorities have been interpreted in this matter by Sardar Patel have filled us with satisfaction and reassurance and our thanks are due to him.
As I said, we should all be happy if a day would come when reservation could be taken away and I am sure if that other opening, which has been left before this House and before this country, namely that general seats might be contested by members of those classes for whom, reservation has been made, if that yields a certain amount of satisfaction, if a certain number of prominent and accepted people are elected on that basis, I am sure that the minorities will be encouraged at the end of a certain period to give up this reservation. This would dispel whatever fears they may have that under present arrangements people might be chosen to represent them who do not really represent them or who would not interpret their minds as they wish them to be interpreted. I would therefore conclude by appealing to this House to make this great experiment a success by working it in such a way that it satisfies minorities on whose behalf it has been placed here, that the men chosen may be men who would have the courage of their convictions and that the expression of their courageous convictions may not offend or in any other way displease the majority communities and that they would be taken as courageous and sincere people. Such an attitude would provide a safe outlet for feelings which might otherwise be suppressed and go underground, and thus prove an effective safeguard for the working of democracy.
We know that, though democracy of the parliamentary type has succeeded and succeeded remarkably well in England, it has failed elsewhere and it has failed precisely because majority parties or groups have known how to master the machinery of elections, they have known how to dominate public opinion…If, Sir, these things are bone in mind and if a very fair trial is given to this scheme of joint electorates with reservation, it is possible that our country in making this innovation, this bold experiment, might save democracy from one of its obvious dangers and might perhaps set an example for a solution of minority problems which may be accepted elsewhere. I say this knowing well that the chances are not very abundant as to complete success in the sense that I indicated but I do hope that this will not be looked upon as an unpleasant and forced concession made to minorities but that will be worked in the spirit in which it is given in order to give to those minorities the satisfaction for which they have pleaded before you.
Pandit Chaturbhuj Pathak (CI States): Mr. President, my colleague Mr. Khandekar has desired in his amendment that they (Scheduled Castes) should be given representation according to 1931 Census. In this connection I want to say a few words. If instead of 1941 census we give representation to the minorities on the basis of 1931 census, it will have its repercussions on other minorities as well. He has stated that there have been mistakes in the taking of Census because in some places they have been registered as Muslims and at other places they have been registered as Caste Hindus. Because the Muslims have increased their numbers, in this way, they would also like to increase their representation according to 1941 Census. And if the forthcoming census which will take place after 4 years is correct and according to it the strength of the Scheduled Castes increases, Mr. Khandekar will be tempted to suggest that they (Harijans) should be given representation not according to 1931 census, but according to 1951 census. I fall to see how this will be appropriate.
Shri H. J. Khandekar: I only suggest that a Census should be taken before allocation of seats or the allocations should be deferred till the census of 1951, or that our numerical strength be fixed according to the 1931 census. For my community, I will accept representation on the basis of the 1951 census or on one that may be taken now. But the census of 1941 is utterly wrong. Any division on that basis would be grossly unjust to the Harijans.
Pandit Chaturbhuj Pathak: Mr. Khandekar has said that the birthrate amongst Achchuts is high enough but at the census their number has not been recorded as high. The reason for this is that happily they have been enumerated amongst Caste Hindus. Mr. Khandekar has admitted this. It is good. The Caste Hindus themselves have pleaded for good treatment of Harijans and that they should be treated as Caste Hindus. Mr. Khandekar should have no objection to it.
Shri H. J. Khandekar: The Harijans have been counted amongst Caste Hindus only to increase the number of the Caste Hindus. This device has caused no change in the social life of Harijans. Those Harijans who have been classified amongst the Caste Hindus are still in the same deplorable state. Their standard is not the same as that of the Caste Hindus.
Shri Chaturbhuj Pathak: I do not think that when Achchuts are enumerated amongst the Caste Hindus they (at once) acquire the standard of Caste Hindus and they ipso facto get all the rights of Caste Hindus. I have only to submit that I oppose Mr. Khandekar’s resolution to adopt representation on the basis of the 1931 Census. Even in the report submitted, no mention of number is made. It is written there; “On the basis of their population”; i.e., they would get representation according to their population. I support this (the report).
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: Some amendments have been moved to this. One is by Mr. Munshi in which after the word ‘schedule’ he wants to say ‘and the section of the Hindu community referred to in paragraph 1A hereof’. It is only intended for clarity and it makes no substantial change and therefore I propose to accept that amendment.
So far as Mr. Khandekar’s amendment is concerned, I do not think we can accept it because it would not be proper to make a special exception for the Scheduled Castes, that their reservation should be on the basis of one census and that reservation for other minority communities should be on the basis of another census. It would…be an invidious distinction…In the resolution that I have moved, there is no mention of any census. We have simply said ‘on the basis of their population’. Therefore it should be kept as it is. No injustice is being done to any community, and uniformity is also desirable and necessary.
Then Mr. Santhanam has moved an amendment and made two or three suggestions. One is about reservation of seats for the minorities in the various Legislatures. He says it should be ‘various Legislative Assemblies’. I have no objection to accepting that amendment. He made another point that East Punjab should be excluded in Clause 3.
Shri K. Santhanam: And West Bengal also.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: I do not think it is necessary to accept that amendment as they are specifically excluded in clause 3.
His third suggestion was that in a constituency where a minority community are in a majority, the seats must be from the reserved seats. I do not consider the suggestion a proper one. The seats are on the basis of population reserved as a whole and not on a particular constituency. Therefore I do not propose to accept it.
To sum up, I propose to accept Mr. Munshi’s amendment and Mr. Santhanam’s suggestion about putting the words ‘Legislative Assemblies’. I commend the resolution for the acceptance of the House.
Mr. President: I will now put the first amendment, which has been accepted by Sardar Patel to vote.
The question is: “That in amendment No. 19 of List I, dated 25th August 1947 for the word seats’ the word ‘representation’ be substituted”. the following words be substituted:- “after the word ‘schedule’ the words ‘and the section of Hindu community referred to in the paragraph 1A hereof’ be inserted.”
The motion was adopted.
Mr. H. V. Kamath: What about Mr. B. Das’s amendment to this ?
Mr. President: His amendment was that the words ‘Government of India Act, 1935’ be substituted by the words ‘Union Constitution Act’. I think it is a verbal amendment and when the act is actually drafted they will take care to define it in the correct way. Does he press it ?
Mr. N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar (Madras: General): You cannot say ‘Union Constitution Act’. As it stands, there is no schedule. The correct description is what Mr. Munshi has given.
Mr. President: As the Member is not here I will have to put the amendment to the vote of the House. The question is : “That for the words ‘defined in Schedule I to the Government of India Act, 1935’ the words ‘to be defined in the Schedule to the Union Constitution Act, be substituted.”
The amendment was negative.
Mr. President: The next is, Mr. Khandekar’s amendment.
Mr. R. J. Khandekar: I withdraw my amendment.
The amendment was, by leave of the Assembly, withdrawn.
Mr. President: The next is Mr. Munsiswami Pillai’s amendment, that for ‘10 years’ the words ’12 years’ should be substituted.
Shri V. I. Muniswami Pillai: I withdraw it.
The amendment was, by leave of the Assembly, withdrawn.
Mr. President: The question is “That the two Provisos as amended be adopted.”
The motion was adopted.
Mr. President: We now take up the Schedule.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel. I move for the acceptance of the House the Schedule that is put in under para 1. I shall in doing so first read it.
GROUP: A. Population less than 1 per cent in the Indian Dominion omitting States.
- Plains’ tribesmen in Assam (other than Tea Gardens’ tribesmen).
B.-Population not more than 1 1/2 per cent.
- Indian Christians.
- Population exceeding 1 1/2 per cent.
- Scheduled castes.
This Schedule is based on the strength of the communities in order that the relevant provisions in the subsequent sections may fit in and therefore this is merely a formal matter. There is no controversy about it. I therefore move that this Schedule be accepted.
Mr, President: There is only one amendment to this and that is from Prof. Shibbanlal Saksena. Of course it is covered by the amendment which we have passed just now. But it has to be formally dropped, so he may move it.
Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena (United Provinces: General): Mr. President Sir, my amendment is No. 85 and it says that the words “scheduled castes” be deleted from the schedule. The purpose of the amendment is that scheduled castes should not be classed as separate minority but should be treated as an integral part of the Hindu community. My amendment reads-
That from group C of the Schedule to para 1, the words “7 Scheduled castes” be deleted.
I would like to draw the attention of the Assembly to one important declaration. It is this. It will be remembered that Mr. Jinnah has often tried to include the Scheduled Castes in the minorities; and on June 26, 1946, in a letter from Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad to Lord Wavell, and the latter’s reply thereto, Lord Wavell is reported to have said: “…if any vacancy occurs among the seat, allotted to the minorities, I shall naturally consult both the main parties before filling it.”
Mr. Jinnah has thus included the Scheduled Castes among the minorities. But so far as we are concerned, we consider the Scheduled Castes as belonging to Hindus, they are not a minority, they have also always formed part of us. I am glad Mr. Munshi has brought up his amendment, which meets my purpose and I therefore withdraw my amendment, in favour of his.
Shri K. M. Munshi (Bombay: General): Sir, because amendment No. 85 has been moved by Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena I move the amendment standing in my name:- “That in amendment No. 85 of List III, dated 26th August 1947, the words “7. Scheduled Castes” be deleted and the following para. be added after para :-
“1-A. The section of the Hindu community referred to as Scheduled Castes as defined in Schedule I to the Government of India Act, 1935, shall have the same rights and benefits which are herein provided for minorities specified in the Schedule to para. 1”
Shri Lakshminarayan Sahu (Orissa: General) : Sir, on this Schedule I want to say one thing about the aboriginals. I think there should be some provision here so that the aboriginals also may find a place in this Schedule. The fact is, there are two and a half crores of aboriginals in India.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: There is a separate Committee going into the question of the aboriginals and other tribes and its report will come up. The question will be considered when we consider that report.
Shrijut Omeo Kumar Das. (Assam: General) : Sir, I have an amendment No. 57, saying- “That in the Schedule to para. 1, for words ‘Plains’ tribesmen of ‘Assam’ the words ‘Plain Tribesmen of Assam other than tea garden tribes’ be substituted.” Have I to move it now? Or am I to understand that it has been already accepted.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: it has been accepted that the words “Plains Tribesmen of Assam other than tea garden tribes” be substituted for the words “Plains” tribesmen of Assam.”
Mr. President: Yes, he has accepted that.
Shri Lakshminarayan Sahu: Once that is included, cannot I say that the aboriginals should also be included in the Schedule? Sir, the hill tribes of Orissa number fifteen lakhs and form one-sixth of the population.
Mr. President: But you have not given notice of any such amendment. Probably everyone thought that this matter would, anyway, be coming up along with the report of the Sub-Committee which has been appointed. Therefore, no one has given notice of any amendment on this matter. I take it that when the recommendations of that sub-committee are received and if they go counter to what is decided here, it will to that extent act as an amendment.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbbai J. Patel: When the report of that Sub-Committee comes up, the safeguards for the tribes will be included according to that report. Here we have an enumeration of the different classes of minorities according to their strength. Therefore, so far as the Schedule is concerned there is no reason to suspect or doubt anything. Whatever safeguards ate recommended by that Sub-Committee will be provided for. There is no occasion for any doubt.
Shri K. M. Munshi : May I say one word about this? There seems to be some amount of confusion on this point. If you will look. at the Report itself, the position will be made clear. In para. 8 of the Report, it is said: “The case of these tribesmen will be taken up after the report of the Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee is received.” But at the same time, look at para 5. It enumerates the minorities which will be entitled to some rights. So in Group A you find the Words “Plains tribesmen in Assam.” Therefore, what was postponed was not the incorporation of the Plains tribesmen in the Schedule but the safeguards which may have to be extended or altered after the report of this Excluded Areas Committee is received by the House. What is sought to be done now is to complete the Schedule by incorporating `Plains tribesmen in Assam’.
The Honourable Rev. J. J. M. Nichols Roy (Assam: General): I want to ask one question for clarification. It is stated in Group A, item 3 “Plains tribes-men in Assam other than garden tribes”. I understand by the term “other than garden tribes”. It is meant garden tribes working as a labour population in the gardens and not those tribes that have settled in Assam who have had land and property there. Is that the meaning?
Mr. President: I think that is the meaning.
Dr. P. S. Deshmukh: There is an amendment in my name. It reads as follows:
“That in schedule to para. 1, the following be added
‘GRoup D.-Educationally advanced and wealthy minority casts and communities in the various Provinces.
NOTE 1.-It shall be provided that persons belonging to these minorities shall not have the right to contest unreserved seats.
NOTE 2.-A list of these minorities, shall be as determined by each legislature of the existing Provinces.”
The main purpose of my amendment is to safeguard the interests of the very small minorities, who are bound to find it very difficult to maintain their own, once adult franchise is introduced. I mean the highly educated castes and castes and communities that own a very large potion of the wealth of the whole country. At the moment, they are both very powerful. The former monopolized Government services and higher appointments. They are masters of the platform, and the Press is a pretty-maid in their sole keeping. They appear to be the only people who matter and there is nothing that is not within the hollow of their hands if they will it. Education gave them unlimited opportunities—of serving the British interests and discharge their duties so loyally and to such complete satisfaction of their erstwhile masters.
The communities which have lived by money-lending and trade also supplied to the British rulers the sinews of war and all the requirements of peace. if these should now appear to be the only fortunate people in India, nobody need be surprised. The credit of maintaining and sustaining the British rule in India is after all theirs. It could not suit them to join the revolution of 1942 and risk their lives. Whilst some went to jail quietly, others who loved the British less sacrificed everything they had including their lives. Those who sacrificed in this way feel that their interests are not being protected and their sacrifices are not being recognised. There is, therefore, in their opinion, nothing better than mere lip sympathy. That being so, the highly educated and well-to-do are likely hereafter to be much disliked and possibly persecuted.
It behooves us therefore to be prudent and protect their interest by a provision in the constitution. These communities may, for the time being, be very sure of scoring over everybody else either on the score of academic careers or wealth, but I would like to warn them that their calculations may prove to be wrong. They are, I know, likely to question even my motives, but let me tell them that I wish them well.
Mr. H. V. Kamath: May I request you to define the words “highly educated and wealthy”?
Dr. P. S. Deshmukh: I will do it when the amendment is accepted by my Honourable friend. They are, I know, likely to question my motives, but the reason why they should not be permitted to contest other seats is that after all they belong to the worst, parasitic castes and in a real democracy which we are aiming at, it would not be proper that they should have unrestricted and unrestrained right to override the claims of the other people. How else are you going to safeguard these people, in the words of my friend Mr. Tyagi, from annihilation? I think the only way is to give them reserved seats and at the same time keep. them away from other unreserved seats. But, Sir, I know that the sentiments I express and the socialistic bias that I would like this constitution to have is not very popular with the House as it is constituted today. Under the circumstances, I merely wish to make these observations for consideration of the framers of the constitution. I have no desire to move my amendment.
Mr. President: I never thought that Dr. Deshmukh would really move his amendment seriously. I think he does not deserve any protection himself, although he himself belongs to the wealthy and well educated class. I had by chance omitted to call him to move his amendment but I now find that what I considered to be a mistake by chance was really a correct thing for me to do. (Laughter) However, these are all the amendments of which I have notice. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel may say anything if he likes.
The Honourable Sardar Ballabhbhai J. Patel: I did not expect any debate on this; however, it has taken place. I have already accepted the amendment moved by Mr. Shibbanlal Saksena and I now commend the Schedule for the acceptance of the House.
Mr. President: I now put the amendment which has been accepted by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel of Mr. Shibbanlal Saksena.
The amendment was adopted.
Mr. President: I now put Mr. Munshi’s amendment to Mr. Shibbanlal Saksena’s amendment.
The amendment was adopted.
Mr. President: I now put the Schedule as amended to vote.
The motion was adopted.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: The Punjab question we propose to postpone till the conditions in the Punjab are properly ascertained and settled. The question is kept over and I suggest the House may agree to it.
Mr. President : The question of minority rights in Eastern Punjab will be considered separately. I think there is an amendment which says ‘Western Bengal’ also should be added to it. Should. that also be included ?
Shri K. M. Munshi: Amendment No. 24 by Pandit Thakurdas Bhargava relates to Eastern Punjab to which I have moved an amendment (No. 3) just to carry out the intention of the Honourable the Mover.
Mr. President: We take the amendment of Mr. Munshi at this stage.
Pandit Thakurdas Bhargava: My amendment is to (c) of para 3. I lime it. It reads: That in sub-para. (c) of para 3 for the word “seats” the word “representation” be substituted.
Shri K. M. Munshi: Sir, I move the amendment which says
‘That in amendment No. 2; of list I, dated 25th August 1947, for the words
(c) of para 3 for the word ‘Seats’ the word ‘representation’ be substituted:–
(b) of para 3. Delete the words beginning with ‘Sikhs (b)’ etc., to the end and substitute the following:- ‘East Punjab (b). In view of the special situation of East Punjab the whole question relating to it will be considered later.”‘
If my amendment is accepted, the clause will read as follows:”Sikhs-(b). In view of the special situation in Eastern Punjab the whole question relating to it will be considered later.”
This will take the place of the present paragraph.
Mr. S. M. Rizwan Allah (UP: Muslim): Sir, I beg to raise a point of order on this amendment. This is a Report of the Minorities Committee. Different provisions have been laid down in this report about various minorities. So far as the Sikhs ate concerned, no decision has been arrived at in the Minorities Committee Report about them. It Is stated in this Report that the matter about Sikhs will be decided later on. Now an amendment has been tabled to replace a Province instead of Sikhs, and thus in place of a minority an issue about territory is brought in. This is a report for the minorities and has nothing to do with any Province and therefore the amendment is out of order.
Mr. President: I do not think the point of order really arises. As a matter of fact there are other minorities in that Province and the whole question of minorities is held over. So it is quite in order.
Now I put Mr. Munshi’s amendment which is this:-
“(b) of para 3. delete the words beginning with ‘Sikhs (b). The question of minority rights for the Sikhs will be considered separately, and substitute the following.–East Punjab (b). In view of the special situation of East Punjab the whole question relating to it will be considered later.”‘
The amendment was adopted.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J Patel: ‘Muslims and Scheduled Castes.-(c) There shall be reservation of seats for the Muslims and Scheduled Castes in the Central and Provincial Legislatures on the basos of their population.” I move the above clause for the acceptance of the House.
Prof. Shibbanlal Saksena: Mr. President, Sir, as the amendments to Clause 1 by Mr. Munshi and myself have been accepted, it is necessary that in para. 3, the words “and Scheduled Castes” wherever they occur be deleted.
Mr. President: I take it that is a consequential amendment. We have already accepted the definition of Scheduled Caste elsewhere and the same thing will be introduced here.
The amendment was adopted.
Mr. President: I have put only the amendment to vote. The clause, as amended, is now put to vote.
The clause, as amended, was adopted.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: “Additional right to minorities.–The members of a minority community who have reserved seats shall have the right to contest unreserved seats as well.”
This is an item which was hotly contested in the Minority and the Advisory Committee and after a prolonged debate this proposition was passed. As this proposition has been passed at two places, I do not think it will be wise to open another debate on this question. After all. after having a prolonged debate on this question it would be better to pass it as it is. I move this proposition for the acceptance of the House.
Seth Govind Das (CP and Berar: General): Mr. President, as Sardar Sahib has just stated there was a good deal of discussion between the minorities and Advisory Committees on clause 4. Afterwards there was a good deal of discussion among members themselves over this matter. So far as minorities are concerned, there are many minorities which in fact cannot be called as such. For instance take the case of Harijans. They are in fact Hindus; they are not a minority like the Muslims or the Christians. Therefore so far as Harijans are concerned they ought to be treated in one way and the other minorities should be treated in another way.
Harijans have been very much suppressed. This is also a matter which is to be considered separately. In this connection, I want to say that if Sardar Sahib does not take the vote of the House today but postpones it for tomorrow, that will be more appropriate because even now there are many members who want to think over it and are discussing the matter amongst themselves. I desire that this matter be disposed of in such a manner as may give full satisfaction to all members of the House as well as to all minorities. And I do not think that it would be proper to put it to vote today. Therefore, I appeal to Sardar Sahib that he may postpone this matter till tomorrow. There are many other recommendations of this committee which can be considered today.
Mr. R. V. Dhulekar (UP: General): Mr. President, I also beg to request that, as this is a very complex issue, it may be postponed so as to enable us to give fuller consideration to it.
Mr. President: A suggestion has been made that this item may be held over for consideration tomorrow.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: Sir, I have already told the House that this question was debated in the Minority Committee as well as in the Advisory Committee and we had a very full debate. In spite of this, if our friends desire to postpone this question I must resist it on the ground that I see no advantage. We had two full debates. I have said that after the debates the Resolution as is being moved was passed and no advantage is to be obtained by postponing this. I do not think that any debate would be useful. If I thought that there was any possibility of any advantage being gained, I would have agreed, but postponement would not help us at all. This has been passed in two committees not by a very narrow majority and therefore I do not see any advantage. I must say that postponement will simply mean waste of time. I therefore move that this be accepted.
Mr. President: In any case you have to rise at half past four. It automatically has to be postponed.
The Honourable Sardar Vallabhbhai J. Patel: We shall abide by the desire of the House and the ruling of the Chair, but if this is to be put to vote, it will be carried immediately.
Mr. President: But as certain Members have expressed a desire that there should be further discussion, I would not like to disappoint them. They wish to speak about it. We have got a meeting of the Cabinet and some of us have to go there at 5 o’clock. The House stands adjourned till 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.
The Assembly then adjourned till Ten of the Clock on Thursday the 28th August, 1947.
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIA
New Delhi, the 8th August, 1947.
THE HON’BLE SARDAR VALLABHBHAI PATEL,
ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON MINORITIES FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, ETC.
THE PRESIDENT, CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIA
On behalf of the members of the Advisory Committee appointed by the Constituent Assembly on the 24th January 1947 and subsequently nominated by you. I have the honour to submit this report on minority rights. It should be treated as supplementary to the one forwarded to you with my letter No. CA/24/Com./47, dated the 23rd April, 1947 and dealt with by the Assembly during the April session. That report dealt with justiciable fundamental rights; these rights, whether applicable to all citizens generally or to members of minority communities in particular offer a most valuable safeguard for minorities over a comprehensive field of social life. The present report deals with what may broadly be described as political safeguards of minorities and covers the following points-
(i) Representation in legislatures;’ joint versus separate electorates and weightage.
(ii) Reservation of seats for minorities in Cabinets.
(iii) Reservation for minorities in the Public Services.
(iv) Administrative machinery to ensure protection of minority rights.
- Our recommendations are based on exhaustive discussion both in the Sub-Committee on Minorities as well as in the main Advisory Committee. From the very nature of things, it was difficult to expect complete unanimity on all points. I have pleasure in informing you, however, that our recommendations, where they were not unanimous, were taken by very large majorities composed substantially of members belonging to minority communities themselves.
Joint versus separate electorates and weightage
- The first question we tackled was that of separate electorates; we considered this as being of crucial importance both to the minorities themselves and to the political life of the country as a whole. By an overwhelming majority, we came to the conclusion that the system of separate electorates must be abolished in the new constitution. In our judgement, this system has in the past sharpened communal differences to a dangerous extent and has proved one of the main stumbling blocks to the development of a healthy national life. It seems specially necessary to avoid these dangers in the new political conditions that have developed in the country and from this point of view the arguments against separate electorates seem to us absolutely decisive.
- We recommend accordingly that all elections to the Central and Provincial legislatures should be held on the basis of joint electorates. In order that minorities may not feel apprehensive about the effect of a system of unrestricted Joint electorates on the quantum of their representation in the legislature, we recommend as a general rule that seats for the different recognised minorities shall be reserved in the various legislatures on the basis of their population. This reservation should be initially for a period of 10 years, the position to be reconsidered at the end of that period. We recommend also that the members of a minority community who have reserved seats shall have the right to contest unreserved seats as well. As a matter of general principle, we are opposed to weightage for any minority community.
- For two reasons the application of the above principles to specific minorities was considered in detail by the committee. In the first place, it was known to us that minorities are by no means unanimous as to the necessity, in their own interests, of statutory reservation of seats in the legislatures. Secondly, the strict application of the above principles to a microscopic minority like the Anglo-Indian seemed to require very careful examination. We accordingly classified minorities into three groups ‘A’ consisting of those with a population of less than 1/2 per cent. in the Indian Dominion excluding the States, group ‘B’ consisting of those with a population of more than 1/2 per cent. but not exceeding 1 1/2 per cent. and group ‘C’ consisting of minorities with a population exceeding 1 1/2 per cent. These three groups are as follows-
- Plains’ tribesmen in Assam.
- Indian Christians.
- Scheduled Castes.
- Anglo-Indians.-The population of the Anglo-Indian community excluding the States is just over a lakh, that is, .04 per cent. Mr. Anthony on be-half of the Anglo-Indians, contended that the census figures were inaccurate but even admitting a larger figure than the one given In the census, this community is microscopic, and to deal with it on a strictly population basis would mean giving it no representation at all. The representatives of the Anglo-Indians on the committee asked originally that they should have the following representation in the legislatures:-
House of the People 3
West Bengal 3
C.P. & Berar 1
Subsequently they asked that they should be guaranteed two seats in the House of the People and one in each province in which they have representation at present, that is, a total of 8 altogether. After very considerable discussion, in the course of which the representatives of the Anglo Indian community gave full expression to their views, the committee unanimously accepted the following formula, namely, that there shall be no reservation of seats for the Anglo-Indians but the President of the, Union and the Governors of Provinces shall have power to nominate representatives of the Anglo-Indian community, to the lower house in the Centre and in the Provinces respectively if they fail to secure representation in the legislatures as a result of the general election. We wish to congratulate the representatives of the Anglo-Indian community on the committee for not pressing their proposals which would not merely have introduced the principle of special weightage which was turned down as a general proposition by an overwhelming majority but would also have encouraged other small minorities to ask for representation wholly out of proportion to their numbers. We feel sure that by the operation of the formula recommended by us Anglo-Indians will find themselves given adequate opportunity effectively to represent in the legislatures the special interests of their community.
- Parsees.-In the Minorities Sub-Committee, Sir, Homi Modi had urged that in view of the importance of the Parsee community and the contribution, it has been making to the political and economic advancement of the country. Parsees should have adequate representation in the Central and Provincial Legislatures. The Sub-Committee were of opinion that this claim should be conceded. In view, however, of the opinion expressed to him by several members that an advanced community like the Parsees would be adequately represented in any event and did not need specific reservation.
Sir Homi had asked for time to consider the matter.
When the issue came before the Advisory Committee, Sir Homi stated that though the committee had already accepted the Parsee community as a recognised minority entitled to special consideration on the same basis as other minorities in Group ‘A’ he had decided to follow the traditions which the community had maintained in the past and to withdraw the claim for statutory reservation. He assumed that Parsees would remain on the list of recognised minorities and urged that if, during the period prescribed in the first instance for the special representation of the minorities it was found that the Parsee community had not secured proper representation, its claim would be reconsidered and adequate representation provided, if the separate representation of minorities continued to be a feature of the constitution. The Committee appreciated the stand taken by Sir Homi and agreed to his proposal.
- Plains’ tribesmen in Assam.-The case of these tribesmen will be taken up after the report of the Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee is received.
- Indian Christians.-The representatives of the Indian Christians stated that, so far as their community was concerned, they did not desire to stand in the way of nation building. They were willing to accept reservation proportionate to their population in the Central Legislature and the Provincial legislatures of Madras and Bombay. In the other provinces, they would have the liberty of seeking election from the general seat. They were against any weightage being given to any community, but made it plain that if weightage was given to any minority, in Groups ‘B’ and ‘C’. they would demand similar weightage. As weightage is not being conceded to any community. this means that the Indian Christians are prepared to throw in their lot with the general community subject only to the reservation of certain seats for them on the population basis in the Central legislature and in Madras and Bombay.
10 Sikhs.-In view of the uncertainty of the position of the Sikhs at present, pending the award of the Boundary Commission in the Punjab-, the committee decided ‘that the whole question of the safeguards for the Sikh Community should be held over for the present.
- Group ‘c’-Muslims and Scheduled Castes.–The Committee came to the conclusion that there are no adequate grounds for departing from the general formula in the case either of the Muslims or of the Scheduled Castes. Accordingly it is recommended that seats be reserved for these communities in proportion to their population and that these seats shall be contested through joint electorates.
- A proposal was made in the committee that a member of the minority community contesting a reserved seat should poll a minimum number of votes of his own community before he is declared elected. It was also suggested that cumulative voting should be premited. The Committee was of the view that a combination of cumulative voting and a minimum percentage of votes to be polled in a community would have all the evil effects of separate electorates and that neither of these proposals should be accepted.
Representation of minorities in Cabinets
- Some members of the committee proposed that there should be a Provision prescribing that, minorities shall have reserved for them seats in Cabinets in proportion to their population. The committee came unhesitatingly to the conclusion that a constitutional provision of this character would give rise to serious difficulties. At the same time, the committee felt that the constitution should specifically draw the attention of the President of the Union and the Governors of Provinces to the desirability of including members of important minority communities in Cabinets as far as practicable. We recommend accordingly that a convention shall be provided in a schedule to the constitution on the lines of paragraph VII of the Instrument of Instructions issued to Governors under the Act of 1935 and reproduced below.
” In making appointments to his Council of Ministers, our Governor shall use his best endeavours to select his Ministers in the following manner, that is to say, to appoint in consultation with the person who in his judgement is most likely to command a stable majority in the legislature those persons (including so far as practicable members of important minority communities) who will best be in a position collectively to command the confidence of the legislature. In so acting, he shall bear constantly in mind the need for fostering a sense of joint responsibility among his Ministers”
Representations in Services
- A proposal was made to us that there should be a constitutional guarantee of representation in the public services of the minority communities in proportion to their population. We are not aware of any other constitution in which such a guarantee exists and on merits, we consider, as a general proposition that any such guarantee would be a dangerous innovation. At the same time, it is clear to us that consistently with the need of efficiency in administration, it is necessary for the State to pay due regard to the claims of minorities in making appointments to public services. We recommend, therefore, that, as in the case of appointments to Cabinets, there should be in some part of the constitution or the schedule and exhortation to the Central and Provincial Governments to keep in view the claims of all the minorities in making appointments to public services consistently with the efficiency of administration.
The Anglo-Indian members of our committee have represented to us that owing to the compelete dependence of the economy of their community on their position in certain services and their existing educational facilities, their case required special treatment. We have appointed a sub-committee to investigate this question and to report to us-
- The minorities’ representatives in the committee naturally attached importance to the provision of administrative machinery for ensuring that the guarantee and safeguards provided for the minorities both in the constitution and by executive orders are in fact implemented in practice. After considerable discussion, we have come to the conclusion that the best arrangement would be for the Centre and for each of the Provinces to appoint a special Minority Officer whose duty will be to enquire into cases in which it is alleged that rights and safeguards have been infringed and to submit a report to the appropriate legislature.
- We have felt bound to reject sortie of the proposals placed before us partly because, as in the case of reservation of seats in Cabinets, we felt that a rigid constitutional provision would have made parliamentary democracy unworkable and partly bacause, as in the case of the electoral arrangements we considered it necessary to harmonise the special claims of minorities with the development of a healthy national life. We wish to make it clear, however, that our general approach to the whole problem of minorities is that the State should be so run that they should stop feeling oppressed by the mere fact that they are minorities and that, on the contrary, they should feel that they have as honourable a part to play in the national life as any other section of the community. In particular, we think it is a fundamental duty of the State to take special steps to bring up those minorities which are backward to the level of the general community. We recommend accordingly that a Statutory Commission should be set up to investigate into the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes, to study the difficulties under which they labour and to recommend to the Union or the Unit Government, as the case may be, steps that should be taken to eliminate their difficulties and suggest the financial grants that should be given and the conditions that’ should be prescribed for such grants.
- A summary of our recommendations is attached in the Appendix. Yours truly, The 8th August 1947.
VALLABHBHAI PATEL Chairman
- Electorates.-All elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures will be held on the basis of joint electorates
Provided that as a general rule, there shall be reservation of seats for the minorities shown in the schedule in the various legislatures on the basis of their population.
Provided further that such reservation shall be for 10 years, the position to be reconsidered at the end of the period.
Group: A.-Population less than 1/2 per cent. in the Indian Dominion, omitting States.
- Plains’ tribesmen in Assam.
B.-Population not more than 1 1/2 per cent.
- Indian Christians.
C.-Population exceeding 11/2 per cent.
- Scheduled Castes.
- Anglo-Indians.-(a) There shall be no reservation of seats for the Anglo-Indians, but the President of the Union and the Governors of Provinces shall have power to nominate their representatives in the Centre and the Provinces respectively if they fail to secure adequate representation in the legislatures as a result of the general election.
Parsees. (b) There shall be no statutory reservation in favour of the Parsee Community, but they would continue to remain on the list of recognized minorities :
Provided that if as a result of elections during the period prescribed in proviso 2 to para. I above it was found that the Parsee Community had not secured proper representation, their claim for reserved seats would be reconsidered and adequate representation provided should the separate representation of minorities continue to be a feature of the Constitution.
Note.-The above recommendations represent the view taken by the representatives of the Parsee Community.
3.Indian Christians.-(a) There shall be reserved representation for Indian Christians in proportion to their population in the Central Legislature and in the Provincial Legislatures of Madras and Bombay. In other provinces, they will have the right to seek election from the general seats.
Sikhs_(b) The question of minority rights for the Sikhs will be considered separately.
Muslims and Scheduled Castes.–(c) There shall be reservation of seats for the Muslims and Scheduled Castes in the Central and Provincial Legislatures on the basis of their population.
4.Additional right to minorities.-The members of a minority community who have reserved seats shall have the right to contest unreserved seats as well.
- No weightage.-The minorities for whom representation has been reserved will be allotted seats on their population ratio, and there shall be no weightage for any community.
- No condition for a minimum number of votes of one’s own community.-There shall be no stipulation that a minority candidate standing for election for a reserved seat shall poll a minimum number of votes of his own community before he is declared elected.
- Method of voting.-There may be plural member constituencies but cumulative voting shall not be permissible.
REPRESENTATION OF MINORITIES IN CABINETS
- No reservation for minorities.- (a) There shall be no statutory reservation of seats for the minorities in Cabinets ‘but a convention on the lines of paragraph VII of the Instrument of Instructions issued to Governors under the Government of India Act, 1935 shall be provided in a Schedule to the Constitution.
VII. In making appointments to his Council of Ministers our Governor shall use his best endeavours to select his Minister in the following manner, that is to say, to appoint in consultation with the person who in his judgment is most likely to command a stable majority in the legislature those persons (including so far as practicable members of important minority communities) who will best be in a position collectively to command the confidence of the legislature. In so acting, he shall bear constantly in mind the need for fostering a sense of joint responsibility among his Ministers.
RECRUITMENT IN SERVICES
- Due share to all minorities guaranteed.-In the all-India and
Provincial Services, the claims of all the minorities shall be kept in view in making appointments to these services consistently with the consideration of efficiency of administration.
(NOTE.–Appropriate provision shall be embodied in the Constitution or a schedule thereto to this effect.)
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