Thursday, the 18th August 1949.
The Constituent Assembly of India met in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi, at Three of the Clock in the afternoon, Mr. "vice-President (Shri V.T. Krishnamachari) in the Chair.
Mr.Vice-President (Shri V.T. Krishnamachari: : I have been asked by the Honourable the President to say how sorry he is that he is unable to attend the Assembly today as he hag been advised medically to take complete rest. He hopes to be back on Sunday and attend the, Assembly from Monday onwards. He trusts that the Members will excuse his absence. I am sure that all of us wish him a speedy recovery. (Cheers).
I call upon Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar to move his Bill.
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT, 1935 (AMENDMENT) BILL
Shri H. V. Kamath:(C.P. & Berar: General) : On a point of Order, Sir, That point of Order is three-fold. Firstly, I would invite the attention of the House to Rule 38-A of the Constituent Assembly Rules of Procedure and Standing Orders as amended up to 31st May 1949. That rule refers to "any member desiring to propose any amendment to the Indian Independence Act, 1947, or any order Rule or other instrument made thereunder or. to the Government of India Act 1935 as adapted under the said Act etc. etc." I would appeal to the House to read closely the language and the wording of this rule. It refers to 'the Government of India Act, 1935, as adapted under the Independence Act, 1947'. Now the Bill before us which you just a few, minutes ago called upon the Honourable N. Gopala swamy Ayyangar to move before the House refers to sub-section (1A) of Section 8 of the Government of India Act, 1935. I have secured from the library a copy of the, Government of India Act, 1935, as adapted under the Indian Independence Act, 1947.
Shri B.Das (Orissa: General): We have the precedence of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookherjees Bill which was introduced and passed in this House the same day.
Shri H. V. Kamath : Mr. B. Das may support or oppose me when he is called upon to speak. I have tried to find out what sub-section (1-A) of Section 8..........
Shri S. Nagappa (Madras: General) : Mr. Vice-President, Sir, on a point of Order. As the Honourable Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has not moved the Bill yet the point of Order cannot be raised before the Bill is moved.
Shri B. V. Kamath: My point of Order arose because you called upon him to move it.
Mr.Vice-President : Will Members resume their seats and let the Member proceed ?
Shri H. V. Kamath: I am raising the point of Order with regard to the introduction of a Bill in the House.The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (Bombay : General) : Surely there is no motion before 'the House.
Mr. Vice-President: Let Mr. Ayyangar move the motion.
Shri H. V. Kamath : I am objecting to the introduction itself.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar (Madras: General) : Mr. Vice-President, my motion is a very brief one and I do not want my honourable Friend Mr. Kamath to wait longer at the rostrum than may be necessary. My motion is
That I beg to move for leave to introduce a Bill for further amending the Government of India Act 1935. as adapted."
Maulana Hasrat Mohani (United Provinces: Muslim): Sir, I beg to oppose...
Mr. Vice-President: Mr. Kamath.
Shri H. V. Kamath : I thank you very much for having given me this opportunity of clarifying the point of Order that I have raised. The first point was that reference to sub-section (1-A) of Section 8 of the Government of India Act, 1935 is not at all clear. I have got a copy of the Act as adapted and I find there is no sub-section..................
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar: May I ask the Member whether his contention is that there is no sub-section (1-A) ?
Shri H. V. Kamath : Yes.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar: May I supply him with an up to date copy of the Act ?
Shri H. V. Kamath: Mr. Ayyangar may supply me a copy, and I shall be grateful to him. I got this from the library.
Mr. Vice-President : Apparently Mr.
Kamath's copy is not up to date.
Shri T. T. Krishnamachari (Madras: General) : This is a formal motion and it is customary according to Parliamentary practice not to oppose the motion.
Shri H. V. Kamath : I was not opposing. This is a point of Order. I hope there is only one Chairman in this House. I hope I shall not be interrupted or called to order by any other honourable Member.
The second part of the point of order is this, that rule 38(a), sub-rule(ii) lays down that the period of notice of a motion for leave to introduce a Bill under this rule shall be fifteen days, unless the President allows the motion to be made at shorter notice. But there is nothing in the Order Paper or in the foot-note thereto to show that the President has waived that rule and has allowed this motion to be made at shorter notice than fifteen days. I have got the Order Papers here and there is nothing' in them or in the foot-note to say that the President has waived this rule.
Mr. Vice-President: I have allowed this motion to be made at shorter notice.
Shri H. V. Kamath : Then it is all right.
The third part of the point of Order is this. This Bill which Mr. Ayyangar has sought leave to introduce in the House comprises two entirely different matters. One relates to Section 8 (a) and the other to Section 291 (a) evacuee property-and something about provincial legislatures respectively. I think this is one Bill relating to two diametrically opposite matters, and so it should not be introduced as a single Bill in the House. Two separate Bills may be introduced and not one Bill comprising both these matters.Shri T. T. Krishnamachari: Why, why?
Shri H. V. Kamath : Why ? It is for Mr. Krishnamachari to say how it can be when he speaks later on. Well, Sir, this is the third part of my point of order. I have raised this three-fold point of order with regard to the motion for leave to introduce the Bill.
Shri R. K. Sidhva (C.P. & Berar : General) : I want to reply to the point of order.
Mr. Vice-President: I am asking Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar to do so.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar : The Honourable Mr. Kamath raised three objections. Two of them have been disposed of already. He was mistaken in thinking that there was no sub-section (1-A) of Section 8 of the Government of India Act, 1935, and I myself made him drop that objection like a hot potato.
With regard to the second objection, that has been met by your saying that you have given permission for this motion even though fifteen days' notice has not been given; and you have got the right to give that permission, under the rules as they stand. So these two objections have been disposed of.
The third objection is familiar to those who have got to deal with courts, particularly criminal courts-misjoinder of charges. Unfortunately we are not now before a court of law where we can say the charges against the person are not properly made, or have been joined in a wrong way. The only thing that I have got to say is.........
Shri H.V. Kamath:On a point of order Sir, Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar is very far from correct.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar :I am afraid I did not quite catch what the honourable Member said just now, but that of course does not matter. I need only point out that the Bill is a Bill for amending one Act, and that is, the Government of India Act. Even if I had to amend one hundred Sections of that one Act, I am entitled to bring in one single Bill.
Mr. Vice President:I rule out the point of order raised by Mr. Kamath.
The motion for leave to introduce the Bill is now before the House.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani: Sir, I have to oppose this motion.
Mr. Vice-President: The Member is not allowed to make a speech.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani: I request you to give me an opportunity to oppose this motion of giving leave to introduce the Bill.
Mr. Vice-President: The member can say, "I oppose" and sit down. The question is:
"That leave be granted to introduce a Bill further to amend the Government of India Act,1935."
Maulana Hasrat Mohani:I oppose that he should not be allowed to......
Mr. Vice-President: Ihave already put the question.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani:Am I only to vote and not allowed to speak, and say what is my purpose in opposing it?
Mr. Vice President: You will get an opportunity later.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani: Ido not want it to come to the stage of consideration. I want to oppose it now. I do not want leave to be given to him. This thing must be decided first.
Mr. Vice President:The House will decide it. I want to put the motion to the House. The question is:
"That leave be granted to introduce a Bill further to amend the Government of India Act,1935."
The motion was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President:Leave is granted. I now call upon Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar:Introduce the Bill.
Mr. Vice-President:The Bill is introduced.
I hereby direct that the publication of the Bill in the Gazette of India as required by Rule 38(c) be dispensed with.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar:Sir, I beg to move that the bill which has been introduced be taken into consideration.
The Bill is a simple one. It deals with two matters, broadly speaking. The first matter relates to evacuee property and the relief and rehabilitation of displaced persons. The second part relates to the taking of power to the Governor-General to issue orders, for regulating any general elections in a province that may be decided on before this Act, namely, the Government of India Act,1935, gets repealed.
Now, with regard to the first subject, honourable Members must have been following the negotiations that have been taking place between India and Pakistan as regards the custody, management and disposal of property left by displaced persons in the Dominion in which they were residing originally and from which Dominion they have passed on to the other Dominion for permanently settling there.
Now, so far as evacuee property is concerned, the present law is that the legislation should be provincial. We have an Ordinance in force in the Centrally Administered Areas issued by the Central Government. In each province and in each of some of the States there are Ordinances or laws which have been enacted by the appropriate authority for dealing with this matter within their respective jurisdictions.
Now, this multiplicity of law-making authorities for dealing with a subject which requires uniformity of legislation is an inconvenience which this Bill seeks to rectify. We have hitherto had laws or Ordinances issued by the respective legislative authorities in order to get over the difficulty in the existing Government of India Act. We have addressed Provincial and State Governments to clothe the Central Government with authority by a resolution passed in accordance with Section 103 of the Government of India Act to enact legislation that may be necessary for dealing with this matter. Some of them have sent up resolutions from the appropriate legislature. Others have not. Some of them have issued ordinances; others have passed Acts of Legislature. But we have not got a uniform law applying throughout the country so far as evacuee property is concerned. Evacuee property is to be found almost everywhere in the country because it is really property belonging to persons who on account of the setting up of the two Dominions have made up their minds to leave India to go to Pakistan and settle down there.
There is also another aspect of the matter to be taken into consideration. Negotiations are carried on between the two Dominion Governments and it is desirable that the Dominion Government should be able legislatively to deal with this matter fully. As a matter of fact, Pakistan enacts all its legislation with regard to evacuee property at the Dominion level, and as honourable Members must have noticed Ordinances and orders under Ordinances have been issued in fairly quick succession in Pakistan during the last few weeks. It is necessary that one authority like the Dominion Government here should be in a position to deal with the situation created by such legislation on the other side with promptitude and with the assurance that that legislation will be implemented throughout India. Those are really the reasons why we wish to vest this power in the Dominion Government for the purpose of enacting the appropriate legislation.
We, however, recognise that, in regard to certain details of the administration of evacuee properties, it is desirable that provinces and States should have the discretion to enact legislation or issue orders which would supplement or fill lacunae in the legislation that may be enacted by the Centre. So it has been decided that this Bill to legislate in regard to the custody, management and disposal of evacuee property should be a subject for legislation which should be included in the Concurrent List of subjects and that you will find is provided for in clause 5 (b) of this Bill-the last of the five clauses. It seeks to add to the concurrent List the following two subjects:
"31B. Custody, management and disposal of property (including agricultural land) declared by law to be evacuee property.
31C. Relief and rehabilitation of persons displaced from their original place of residence by reason of the setting up of the Dominions of India and Pakistan."
There is one other matter in connection with this particular part of the Bill to which I should like to draw the attention of the House. You will find that clause 3 of the Bill seeks to add two clauses to sub-section (I A) of Section 8 of the Government of India Act. It practically repeats what is contained in clause 5 (b). The reason why we have to put these two items in sub-section (I A) of Section 8 is that in the legislation that we may decide to enact on this question we should be at liberty to provide for the exercise of Central executive authority in relation to these subjects. If we entered these items in the Concurrent List alone, this executive authority will not be attracted to the Centre and, as you will remember, because this House itself passed the necessary amendments to Section 8 which enabled the Central Government to take power of this kind in regard to other subjects, it is necessary that we should include it in Section 8 in order to be able to provide for the exercise of central executive power even in the provinces in relation to these subjects. As honourable Members are aware we want uniformity even in the implementation of the law that we may enact. We want also the authority to exercise executive authority in regard to the implementation of schemes of relief and rehabilitation which my honourable Colleague, the Minister for Rehabilitation, wishes to see implemented in the various provinces and which are really financed from the Centre.
So much, as regards evacuee property and relief and rehabilitation.
The other part of the Bill refers to the substitution of a new section for Section 291 of the Government of India Act. As honourable Members are aware, the present Section 291 provides that, in case no other provision exists in the Government of India Act or has been made under the provisions of that Act, the Provincial Legislature is given the discretion to enact legislation in regard to a number of matters which are mentioned in existing Section 291. Now what we are attempting to do is this. I wish to make it clear at this stage that the introduction of this Bill and the inclusion of this particular clause that the Bill does not amount to the announcement of any decision as regards to holding of general elections in any province. We have got another four or five months more before we shall bring the new Constitution into force. But during this interval situations might develop in a province or in more than one province for which an appropriate remedy might be the ordering of a general election even under the existing Government of India Act. In case such a contingency should arise, we wish to be in a position to hold those elections with the appropriate modifications as regards composition of the legislature, franchise, delimitation of constituencies, methods of voting and so on. We wish to take the power to enact these things by orders issued by the Governor-General, and that is why we are putting in this clause 4. If you compare this clause with Section 291 of the existing Act you will find that there are two differences, those being contained in item (a) relating to composition of the Chamber or Chambers of the Legislature, which I believe does not exist in Section 291, and in item (j) which relates to matters ancillary to any such matter as aforesaid. All the rest of the items is a repetition of what is contained in the existing Section 291.
I have already stated, and I have said in the Statement of Objects and Reasons, that no final decision has been taken in regard to the holding of general elections in any province up to now; but it is quite possible that such a decision might be taken or might in fact be forced on those who are responsible for looking after these things between now and for instance the 26th January 1950. If such a contingency should arise we wish to be in a position to make the necessary amendments in the existing rules and regulations, even it may be in the existing provisions of the Government of India Act itself, so that we might bring those elections into conformity with the state of things as it exists today.
If, for instance, we decide to hold general elections in West Bengal or East Punjab, it would be impossible for us to ignore the claims of people who have migrated from West Pakistan into East Punjab or from East bengal into West Bengal for being included in the electoral rolls and for being considered for election to the legislature that might have to be constituted as a result of the general elections. It may also be necessary for us to carry out modifications in the delimitation of constituencies. As honourable Members are aware, we have constituencies based upon separate electorates in these provinces and it would not be right for us, after all the decisions we have taken on the Draft Constitution, to hold general elections even under the Government of India Act,1935, on the basis of separate electorates. It may be necessary for us so to read just the electorates as to make them conform to the general principles we have agreed to already; and I wish to warn honourable Members that what is said in the Statement of Objects and Reasons about joint electorates with reservation of seats has only been said by way of illustration. There is no decision that joint electorates should be combined with reservation of seats; it will be a matter for consideration when the Governor-General comes to issue his amendments, rules and regulations, in what way the general principle of joint electorates could be given effect to without involving an amount of chaos and confusion that might result otherwise. So I wish honourable Members to take it from me that that particular reference to reservation of seats does not represent any decision of Government and it does not mean that when the Governor-General comes to issue his amendments, rules and regulations, this reservation of seats will be provided for. The greater likelihood is that every attempt will be made to give effect to the decision which has been taken by this Constituent Assembly as regards the new Constitution.
So with that explanation I think I have given sufficient indication as to why this legislation has become necessary. Both the matters provided for in this legislation are matters which cannot afford to wait; they have got to be implemented under the provisions of the present Government of India Act, 1935. They cannot brook delay, and therefore it is that I am troubling this Constituent Assembly, this particular session of which will perhaps be the only one at which an amendment of this sort could be moved, before we find it necessary to give effect to what is contained in this legislation. It is for that reason that I am asking the House to take this Bill into consideration.
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh (C.P. & Berar : General):Mr. Vice-President, I amy say at the very outset that I do not wish to enter into any controversy so far as the provisions in the proposed clause 3 of this Bill are concerned. My remarks and observations are going to be confined to the proposed change in Section 291 of the Government of India Act. In spite of the fact that I changed my seat for the sake of hearing Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar carefully-(I hope I have heard him at least to the extent of 75 per cent and I hope also that I have been able to listen to most of what he had to say)-yet I do not feel convinced that it is necessary to take the House by surprise in the way the Bill seeks to do and to place such extensive and unheard-of powers in the hands of the Governor-General.
Here the proposal is to change Section 291 of the Government of India Act and to substitute it with the one that has been embodied in this Draft Bill. I do not know whether the persons who drafted this Bill were conscious of the existence of another section in the Act of 1935, viz., Section 61. In the whole of the speech that was delivered by my honourable Friend I did not find any mention of what was going to be done to Section 61, which refers to the composition of the various chambers in the provinces. There is no suggestion in this Bill whether that section will go : there is no suggestion in the Bill whether this section is going to be altered in any way. This section is a very important section inasmuch as it not only refers to the composition of all the chambers in the provinces but it has as many as three extensive schedules which are governed by this particular section.
The first schedule that is governed by this section is Schedule1. Schedule 5 is exclusively governed by section 61 and Schedule 6 which is based on and result of schedule 5 to 9 are very important provisions proceeding from Section 61. I do not know if it is the intention of this Bill to do away with every thing that exists in Section 61 as well as the schedules referred to by one and to give the Governor-General a blank cheque not only so far as elections are concerned-I am not at all concerned about the elections to which repeated reference was made by my friend : I do not mind if the decision with regard to West Bengal has not been taken. It would not worry me if it has. What matters to me and should matter to the House is what is the exact position so far as these schedules are concerned : whether they are considered to be wiped out : whether the Governor-General after the passing of this Bill will or will not have the authority to alter the composition of any of the existing legislatures including both the chambers wherever they exist ; whether he can without any further reference to the Parliament issue an order so as to alter anything that forms part and parcel of the schedule. That is one question which I would like to ask my honourable Friend. I would also like to tell him that the structure of Section 291 has been so completely altered from the one that existed before and still exists up to this moment as part of the Government of India Act, 1935, and I would ask him whether it excepts and renders nugatory all the provisions so far as Section 61 is concerned.
In this particular Bill which is before the House the beginning sentence of Section 4 reads :
"The Governor-General may at any time by order make such amendments as he considers necessary, whether by way of addition, modification, or repeal, in the provisions of this Act or of any Order made thereunder in relation to any Provincial Legislature with respect to any of the following matters.........."
Then the various categories are mentioned. The beginning portion of Section 291 as it stands reads :
"In so far as provision with respect to the matters hereinafter mentioned is not made by this Act."
That is to say the original Section 291 gives residuary power to His Majesty in Council for supplying those omissions and making such orders so as to fulfil the other purposes of the Act. As against this, the section is going to be altered in such a way as to make the existence of Section 61 absolutely meaningless and if the section goes the schedules also cannot remain. Therefore I want to ask what is the contingency, what is the crisis or emergency that has arisen on account of which the Governor-General is going to be empowered to interfere with the composition or the very existence of the chambers in the provinces and all the various matters that have been mentioned here. I would like to ask my honourable Friend this question, because he has made no mention of Section 61. He has not mentioned why it is necessary to clothe the Governor -General with all these powers. My submission to the House is that the dignity of the House and the esteem in which it has been held by people is already suffering a great deal. We are passing all manner of legislation and making and passing many amendments to Acts or moving Bills with much less consideration than the public think they deserve. It will be in the fitness of things if I respectfully ask the honourable Members of this House to see that we do not give more powers to the Governor -General than are absolutely necessary unless the honourable Member will convince us that unless this Bill is passed some great calamity is likely to befall. So far as the elections are concerned, even supposing we are faced with a crisis in West Bengal and elections are necessary, I do not think there will be any difficulty in holding the elections. But is it necessary for that only purpose to threaten even the composition or the very existence of the provincial legislative chambers and leave them to the sweet -will and good intentions of the Governor-General himself?
What is the crisis or emergency that is making us do this? I do not think that there is such a crisis or emergency that it is necessary that Section 61 should not be there, that the schedules should be replaced by anything that the Executive Government of the country will propose at any time. Instead of this, why not examine the whole position and frame the new schedules and then place them before the Members of this House? I believe the honourable Members of this House are entitled to be taken into greater confidence than has been the case in this matter. Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar merely said that no decision has been taken regarding the elections. That makes us ask all the more as to what then is your intention in placing all these powers in the hands of the Governor-General. If you are going to interfere with the schedules, with all the electioneering rules that are in existence today, why not say so and give some indication to the House and to the country as to the exact change you propose? Why keep us and the country in the dark and give us a surprise and take to yourself your possible power? The constitution and composition of the chambers of the provincial legislature are not small matters. They are matters over which years were spent. It is down on record that the Round Table Conference was not prepared to leave it to the sweet-will of the members of the Parliament. They wanted those schedules to be drafted before them. They were not prepared to leave it to His Majesty's Orders in Council. The schedules were drafted in collaboration, in the Round Table Conference in the select committees and other committees. Those schedules were not prepared by one single individual. They took months and years; and here you are by one stroke of the pen wanting to take the authority to alter them in any manner whatever. Even the composition of the chambers is not sacred to you.
I am prepared to give another instance as to why my apprehensions are thoroughly justified. This Government, Sir, is being carried on in the most arbitrary manner possible. We have had hasty legislation brought in and rushed through because we have a majority in the House and we, humble Members, could not withstand the majority opinion.
There are also so many other things that are being done. I have been searching for the last three days to find if there has been any Bill or other measure brought before this Assembly by which dozens of nominated members from the Indian States can be made members of the respective Provincial Legislatures. As many as 37 per cent of the Members of the Bombay Legislative Assembly are not to be nominated members.
Mr. Vice-President :Will the honourable Member confine his remarks to the motion on the Paper?
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh:Yes Sir. But if I may point out respectively I am speaking strictly on the motion. I am submitting that the wide powers are absolutely unnecessary. The nominations that have been made on behalf of the Deccan States and Baroda are not based either on the popularity or the character, qualifications or the position of those people in society. Even though no regular election was held for selecting members to represent the merged States like the Chattisgarh States in C.P. on this Constituent Assembly, an electoral college consisting of the members of the municipalities, the local boards or Janapadas was formed. In this case there was at least a show of election for the purpose of representation of those areas on this Assembly. Even this system is not being made use of for the selection of members of the Legislative Assembly from the Central Provinces and Berar. Neither such a show of elections is being made so far as Kolhapur, Baroda etc. are concerned. Under what section of the Government of India Act these arbitrary powers of un-fettered nominations are being exercised nobody knows. An item of news appeared in the papers recently to the effect that 27 members have been already nominated on behalf of Baroda. If that is the way things are done without any provision therefor, I looked in vain in the Constituent Assembly Act, 1 of 1949, for a provision -how can we agree to give the Governor-General or other authority power to nominate members to the full-fledged Legislatures of Provinces? My submission therefore is that after the way in which we are acting and utilising the powers conferred or not conferred, I think we are entitled to look with apprehension at a Bill of this nature trying to take every possible power so far as election, franchise, qualification of candidates etc., are concerned. Even the Orders-in-Council, promulgated by his Majesty the King not in his individual judgement but after careful consideration and in conformity with the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament of Great Britain, may be replaced in any way that the Governor-General likes. Please see the Orders issued under Section 291 of the Act of 1935, as it stood. I do not agree that by one Act we should take away the entire power conferred by the Government of India Act and leave it all in the hands of the Governor-General. I do not think the country is faced with any grave situation in this respect necessitating an Act of this kind. We have not been told about the urgency of this measure or even about its necessity. If my honourable Friend convinces me that such an emergency has arisen, that all these rules must be thrown into the melting pot and the Governor-General must be made the sole repository of all power, I would consent to this measure.
Sir, I do not propose to move my motion. But if honourable Members think that without moving my motion I should not have offered my views on this measure, which after all may not be accepted by the honourable Member in charge, I would move my motion.
Mr. Vice-President: The honourable Member may move his motion.
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh : Then I move :
"That the Bill further to amend the Government of India Act, 1935 be referred to a Select Committee consisting of:
The Hon'ble Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
The Hon'ble Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar.
Shri K.M. Munshi.
Pandit Hirday Nath Kunzru
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava
Shri M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar
Shri B.M. Gupte.
Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra.
Shri H.V. Kamath.
The Hon'ble Shri Mohan Lal Saksena.
Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhury.
Shri Jagat Narain Lal.
Shri K. Hanumanthaiya.
Dr. Bakhshi Tek Chand.
Dr. P.K. Sen.
Shri B. Das and
I would also like to suggest that the Committee may be directed to report on or before the 22nd August,1949. I would be glad if this motion is accepted. The Bill deals with many fundamental points which ought to be considered more carefully. I will be happy if this motion is agreed to.
Mr. Vice-President :Shri B. Das may move his motion. I see that the honourable Member is not in the House. The motion is not therefore moved.
The next motion stands in the name of Mr. B. Pocker.
Kazi Syed Karimuddin (C.P. & Berar : Muslim)My amendment is there, Sir.
Mr. Vice-President :The amendment of Syed Karimuddin is a dilatory motion. It is therefore out of order.
Mr. Pocker may move his alternative amendment. His main amendment is out of order because there is no provision in the Constituent Assembly Rules for circulating Bills for eliciting public opinion. He may therefore move his alternative amendment.
Mr. B. Pocker Sahib (Madras : Muslim)Sir, of course I have to bow to your ruling whether the motion is out of order or not. But I submit.......
Mr. Vice-President :Your motion is out of order under rule 38-D. Will you please move your alternative amendment?
Mr. Pocker Sahib : I am just submitting, Sir, that these rules of the Constituent Assembly are not exhaustive. Therefore on the ground that the rules do not provide for circulating Bills for eliciting public opinion, this motion of mine cannot be said to be of order. Sir, in the absence of any express provision it is the fundamental principles which governs parliamentary procedure that you have to apply and allow me to move that amendment and not rule it out of order on the ground merely that the rules do not make any express provision for it. The rules, as I said, are not exhaustive, and you know, Sir, that the Constituent Assembly has been constituted for passing the Constitution and that the provision in the rules thereof for moving of Bills and such other matters are not so exhaustive as are generally provided for by rules of procedure in Parliament. Therefore, in so far as the rules are not exhaustive, general principles should govern this case. I would appeal to you to reconsider the matter and allow me to move the first part of my amendment also.
Mr. Vice-President :I am afraid I cannot reconsider the matter. The rules are quite clear.
Mr. B. Pocker Sahib :If that is so, I bow to your ruling. I have only to make a few remarks so far as the Bill is concerned, before formally moving the motion for referring it to a Select Committee. I am rather surprised why Government should have taken to this course of springing on this august body a Bill which practically provides for an Interim Constitution before the Constitution is framed. In my opinion, Sir, the Bill is uncalled for and unnecessary and it is an autocratic measure which ought not to be passed by this House. I ask, what is the justification for bringing in a Bill of this nature at such short notice and without giving any opportunity for the people of the country to know what is going to be done here with reference to this matter?
The Bill consists of two parts; the first portion is intended to make a uniform law as regards the management and disposal of evacuee property, but the more important portion of the Bill is Section 4 which practically imposes an interim Constitution of a very autocratic nature on the country behind the back of the people, without their knowing what is going to be done here and without making any provision for giving an opportunity to the public to express their views on a matter which vitally affects them. The provision is that Section 291 of the Government of India Act should be substituted by this new section and this new section has the effect of transferring all the powers which Section 291 gave to the provincial legislatures, to the Governor-General. In fact, it seeks to make the Governor-General the Czar of India in the interim Period before the Constitution is passed. There is nothing which he cannot do with this power vested in him. I submit that no occasion has arisen for giving such autocratic powers to the Governor-General and depriving the legislature of the power which was given to it by the Government of India Act. Now, what I ask is what are the reasons which have prompted the Government in bringing a measure of this autocratic nature. The objects and reasons are laconic; nor was the speech of the Honourable Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, who is generally very lucid, very convincing to justify the passing of this autocratic measure. Why should all the legislative powers which vest in the provincial legislatures be vested in the Governor-General at present? He has not stated any reason which justifies such a measure. He made a passing reference to West Bengal. We are all aware of the state of affairs in West Bengal and we do hope that the Government will with an iron hand put down such tendencies and retrieve all this havoc which is being done by the Communist Party there. If the Government manage things properly, they can control the situation and I do hope that they will control the situation in West Bengal and in any other part of India where it might arise, but no such crisis has arisen in any other part of the country. Now, the question is why should a measure like this be passed? Well, there is a saying in Malayalam which says_____
"Elikku vendi Illum chuduka"
which means "Burn the house in order to destroy the rat". The rat is doing mischief and therefore burn the house so that the rat also my be burnt. This is not wise and it is unbecoming of this Government to resort to a measure like this. What I would ask is, has the Government considered the public opinion in this matter which purports to substitute an interim Constitution before the new Constitution is passed by this House, by making not merely any modification in the powers of the legislature but transferring the whole power from the legislature to the Governor-General, that is the executive. Is this justifiable? Has the Government taken any steps to find out what the public opinion is on this matter? Is this a matter in which the Government will be justified in acting in this autocratic manner? As has already been pointed out by the previous speaker, it is not merely the powers mentioned in Section 291 that are conferred on the Governor-General but also the very constitution of the legislative chambers, as to whether it should be one or two, or how it should be constituted. Everything rests with the Governor-General. This is a step which the Government will not be justified in taking particularly without taking any steps to elicit public opinion. It is for that purpose that I gave the first part of my motion but you have ruled it out of order and I bow to your ruling. All the same I cannot but say that the Government is not in the least justified in bringing a measure like this without giving an opportunity to the public to express their opinion, and that too in a sudden manner like this.
Of late I have noticed a particular attitude on the part of the Government. They forget that they are there to govern the people on democratic basis. They have thrown to the winds all democratic principles and they think that they can do as they like because for the present they have got the backing of a majority in the legislatures. This is a false idea that the Government is entertaining. The Government ought not to forget that they have to respect democratic principles and they should not behave in a manner which throws to the winds all democratic principles. They should take the public into their confidence and they should take the members of the legislature into their confidence before resorting to a measure like this. Therefore, Sir, I submit that there is no necessity, no justification for passing a measure like this, by which the powers of the provincial legislatures are bodily transferred to the Governor-General. This is absolutely uncalled for and autocratic.
As regards the second part of the motion, you know that a motion to that effect has already been made and therefore I do not wish to propose further names. I support that motion.
Shri H.V. Kamath :Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I have no hesitation whatever in saying that clauses 4 and 5 (a) of the Bill before the House are a constitutional monstrosity. I repeat, Sir, bearing in mind all that is happening around us today and in spite of what is happening in the country today, that this part of the Bill is nothing short of a constitutional monstrosity. I would like to sound a note of warning, a note of caution to this Sovereign Assembly. It is with deep regret that I have to say so, and the House will pardon me when I tell them and remind them that this sovereign body is being treated with scant regard by those in power. It is not at all pleasant for me to say so. I have noticed during the last few months the manner in which our Constitution, our Draft Constitution has been sought to be dealt with, sought to be revised and altered and in some placed retrogressed. This Bill before the House today bears the very same impress, the impress of the man in power caring little or nothing at all for those that legislate, not merely legislate, for those that are called the founding fathers of a country. It is, Sir, a very poignant and regrettable day for me today to resist with all the power at my command, to resist with all the resources that I am capable of, the last two sections of the Bill, namely Sections 4 and 5 (a) of the Bill moved by my honourable Friend, Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar.
The House will bear with me when I remind them when I bring to their notice in what ways and in what manner this part of the Bill strikes a retrograde note, a reactionary note, even as compared with that piece of legislation___the Government of India Act,1935-- which was at that time and even later on, condemned, not merely by those leaders of ours today but by many others too in our country. My honourable Friend, Dr. Deshmukh has laid his finger on Sections 61 and 291 of this Act. Even this reactionary Government of India Act-- it was dubbed reactionary by most progressive thinkers, by most progressive leaders in our country-- and even this Section 291 of this Act does not divest the Provincial Legislatures of any power with respect to those matters specified in that section.
Now Section 291 is sought to be amended by clause 4 of the Bill moved by Mr. Ayyangar. Clause 4 includes besides the matters mentioned in Section 291 the composition of the chambers of a legislature, and the crux of the matter is this. The vital point which honourable Members should note is that the men in power have no regard for the dignity of this House, they have no regard for the sovereignty of this House. I would invite them to look closely on this aspect of the measure before us : not merely have the Provincial Legislatures been divested of any right with regard to those matters mentioned in Section 291, not merely has this Constituent Assembly been divested of all power with regard to the above matters concerned in Section 291 of the Government of India Act, not merely that, we are going not one step backward, but perhaps one hundred steps backward and our men in power do not realise that they are going backward and that is what pains me. Mr. Ayyangar's speech was cold and lifeless.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar :I thought the honourable Member did not hear it.
Shri H.V. Kamath:The reason for it is that only the vibrations of a warmer body could have reached me. The cold vibrations were not powerful enough or were not long enough to reach me. I wish to state that I am labouring under a handicap because many of the precious things that he said were unheard by me, at any rate. Heard melodies are sweet, but what was unheard was perhaps sweeter than what was heard, and the speech that he made in while moving this Bill was absolutely unconvincing. There was not even a note of apology for what the Government of the day decide to do today, not even trying to excuse themselves on the score either of an emergency or lack of time, and not even trying to excuse themselves for good or for ill-- I believe more for ill than for good, they are trying to go back and trying to enact a retrograde measure. Perhaps Mr. Ayyangar, who is in charge of the Bill is not aware in his heart, may be he is aware in his head, of the fierce movement that raged in this country against the Government of India Act; and it does not occur to him, to his heart, to at least sound a note of apology, to come before this House and say : "There is such and such a thing. We have no other go; I am sorry for this". I however do not expect that, because he was one of those persons who was not immediately affected by the movements for freedom in this country.
Now let us peruse the Statement of Objects and Reasons. The paragraphs are unnumbered and therefore I cannot quote the number of the paragraph : it is perhaps just an omission or slip or an over-sight; I shall only refer to the paragraph which deals with this part of the Bill before us. The House will see that it speaks of a hypothetical case. From first to last, it is a hypothetical case laid before us. If you pursue the language of this paragraph which as I have already said is hypothetical, you will see that these clauses are an insult to this House, are an insult to the sovereignty and dignity of this House. I do not want to mince my words; the language of even the Statement of Objects and Reasons is absolutely derogatory to the dignity and sovereignty of this Assembly. "Should it become necessary", it may be perhaps, probably, etc. etc.....Hardly, Sir, have I come across not merely in this country, but in other countries which have professed to be democratic, a Bill of this nature, a vital Bill of a fundamental character being rushed through the legislature in this fashion. It is a day of sadness for me, when we in this House are being trifled with in this fashion by the men in power. I hope better counsel will dawn upon the men in power and I hope wisdom will dawn even upon the wise men. I hope even now the so-called wise men will see better sense and mend their ways.
Coming to the other aspects of this Bill, I would only like to say that the men in power seek to convert or rather treat this House as a legislature whenever it suits their convenience; and whenever it is not needed for their purposes, they go in their own way. The other day, I had occasion to point out that an Ordinance which lapsed after six months, might have been easily brought before this House which was then sitting and enacted into law, and should not have been renewed. With great regret, I have to say, on many occasions the British observed better standards. I am sorry to say that we, Sir, with all our professions of democracy-- and this touches my heart most-- profess to treat the Legislature as a sovereign Body and when it does not suit us, it is nothing at all. That is the worst part of it. That Ordinance was renewed without reference to us. The House was sitting then; it could have been converted into a legislature and we could have been asked to consider that and pass a law; it could have been done within an hour or so. But today, because there is some other purpose they have come before us with this Bill. It is a sad episode. I do not know how other Members feel about it; but I, Sir, feel very said indeed.
Then, I think, Dr. Deshmukh has referred to the power being vested in the Governor-General, with regard to the altering of the composition of the Chamber or Chambers of any provincial legislature. Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar, if I heard him aright when he moved the Bill, referred to West Bengal, and to the things that are happening in West Bengal. The Statement of Objects and Reasons refers not merely to West Bengal, but to any other province. It is disgusting that such a language of a purely hypothetical or casual nature should be used in a Bill of this nature, in the Statement of Objects and Reasons. Are we not entitled to more regard from these men in power? If they do not want to give better regard and respect, I personally would like the Assembly to be wound up and the men in power take all the power into their own hands, the Governor-General or his Cabinet, whoever it is. I do not want this body to be mocked at. The men in power make a mockery of this body; this is what pains, angers us. But what avails anger? What can we do? The men in power are callous, impervious to our protest, to our indignation; there seems to be no way out. I am sorry that I have used strong language; but my heart has been deeply stirred and I cannot but use the language that I am using. The composition of the Chamber or Chambers which even Sir Samuel Hoare did not include in Section 291 and which was included in separate sections, Section 61 and the 5th schedule,-- all that has been included in this jumble of powers that is sought to be vested in the Governor-General. I hope there is no ulterior motive behind it. I hope that the Governor-General or the Government is not seeking to pack or unpack the provincial legislatures to suit their own ends and their own requirements.
Then, Sir, I would have liked very much that every one of the matters that is referred to in this Section 291 might have been brought before the House for its approval. But that was not to be. Right from the franchise, the qualifications for election as a member, up to the apex, the composition of the Chamber or Chambers, powers are vested in the Governor-General. Government's intention may be very good in bringing this Bill before the House. I do not question the intention of Mr. Ayyangar. But, as the adage goes, the way to Hell is paved with good intentions : intention may be good, but if the intentions are not implemented in the proper spirit, I for one, cannot foresee what is in store for our country. Slowly we are going down the slippery slope, whether to perdition, or perhaps disaster, or the sabotage of democracy, I cannot say. But, the way in which we are going stirs me deeply and I hope we in this House will be awake to the realities of the situation and stop the rot before it is too late. I would plead with Mr. Ayyangar and the men in power,--though of course in this House they are not Ministers and every one is a member in this House,--and the men in power.....
An Honourable Member :Today.
Shri H.V. Kamath :Yes, today they are men in power here-- to revise the Bill, to refer it to a Select Committee and to see that at least the powers vested in the Governor-General are not arbitrarily exercised, or at least as a safeguard that any changes made in the Government of India Act, be brought before this House for its approval. That at least would preserve the façade of democracy-- that is I suppose the aim of our Government. The spirit, the kernel of democracy is being discarded leaving the empty shell behind, and I hope that Government will not continue in their ways and will be wise-- they are today wise in their own conceit,-- but I hope they will be wise before tragedy overtakes us and they will treat this House with greater dignity, regard and with due consideration for its sovereignty.
There is another point. The Governor-General has been invested with the power in regard to the delimitation of territorial constituencies for the purpose of election under this Act. The Parliament or this Assembly will have no control over whatever the Governor-General might do in this regard. I am very much concerned over these matters included in clause 4. It may be that today in a particular province you have some trouble and you have some difficulty, but what is happening today is not the only thing which a Constitution does contemplate. The constitution lays down that the President may proclaim, before assuming extraordinary powers, an emergency. Now without a Proclamation of Emergency the Governor-General is assuming today various powers to himself which were not envisaged by the framers of the Government of India Act. There is no indication in the Bill that even the major alterations that might be made regarding these matters will be brought before this House for approval. If that were done it would have been something, because otherwise the suspicion is natural in the minds of many if this were passed as it is, that Government might so alter the composition of the Chambers and so gerrymander the constituencies as to suit their own purpose. I for one look upon this with great anxiety, and the House will be seriously mistaken and will be failing in its duty if at least they do not register their protest at the passing of such a constitutional monstrosity. I refer only to clauses 4 and 5 (a) of the Bill.
One last point and I have done. I hope that this House has got an eye on the welfare of our country. I hope we are acting or moving in this Assembly in that spirit, that we are representatives of the whole nation and considerations of party will not weigh so much with us. I do not know how other honourable Members feel about this, but at least I hope, and pray to God that we may be enabled to act in this spirit, that we stand for the nation and not for a party, and I hope the House will so move in this matter that the world outside-- our own compatriots outside will say of us that none here was for a party but all were for the nation. I therefore appeal to the House, and to Mr. Ayyangar who is piloting this Bill to bestow more consideration on this measure, to have greater regard for the House and enact such legislation that we, who are framing the Constitution for a Sovereign Democratic Republic will not be falsified or will not go out with a lie in our soul and we may not be exposed to the contempt and mockery of our fellow-men.
I would only say in the end that the Preamble to the Constitution tells us definitely that the Constitution is for a Sovereign Democratic Republic, but the way I see things being done lately tells me that there is something wrong, somewhere, something rotting somewhere. Either we stick to the one or to the other. If we try to continue our profession of building a Sovereign Democratic India and also try to go in the way we are going today, I think that all will not be well with us, and our nation will not attain that prosperity, that dignity in the comity of nations which all of us here have at heart. I appeal finally to the House not to pass this measure in such a hasty manner and-- if it is sought to be rushed-- at least to register its protest against clauses 4 and 5 (a) of the Bill.
Kazi Syed Karimuddin :Mr. Vice-President, the Bill is presented by Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar for whom I have the greatest respect, who is known for mathematical accuracy, sincerity of purpose and fairness. But in this Bill I find everything is indefinite, everything is vague and we do not know where we are going and for what purpose we are enacting the Bill. It is very surprising that this Bill has been presented by a man who is known for mathematical accuracy as I have said. In the statement of Objects and Reasons it is stated that--
"Should it become necessary that a general election under the Government of India Act,1935 in West Bengal or any other province has to be ordered at any time. Special provision may have to be made for the extension of the franchise to those displaced persons from Pakistan who have settled or intend to settle permanently in India. It may be that these elections would have to be held on the basis of joint electorates with with reservation of seats."
On the preliminary speech made at the time of moving this motion and at the time of consideration of this motion the honourable Member did not state at all why there is an occasion for holding election in West Bengal or where is the occasion for joint electorates with reservation of seats when this Assembly has already decided that there will be no reservation of seats except in the case of Scheduled Castes. I do not know why, if the Government thinks that this principle of reservation of seats is a pernicious principle, it wants to introduce this principle, especially when this Constituent Assembly has already decided that there shall not be any reservations for any community, except the Scheduled Castes. Further it is stated that no decision has been taken about an election in West Bengal. I know that crimes of violence and........
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar :May I draw the attention of the honourable Member to what I said in the course of my speech, so far as that particular matter is concerned? I think it is too late in the day for him to say that the Government or myself have blessed this idea of joint electorates with reservations.
Kazi Syed Karimuddin :But in the Statement of Objects and Reasons, there is the mention. I will read it again .....
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar :May I say that there is no need to read it? I read it out and explained why it was put in there.
Kazi Syed Karimuddin :It is there said-- "Should it be necessary to hold elections in West Bengal......" I know crimes of violence and dastardly attacks are rampant in West Bengal. But is that the only reason for holding the election? Is it because of these crimes that the elections are to be held? Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has not stated before us where is the occasion for investing these powers regarding elections, and for what purpose are the elections to be held. Now it should be stated on the floor of the House as to whether the Government of West Bengal is bungling and the elections are to be held for placing a new government in place of the present government, or whether the Government of India wants to test popular opinion there, to see whether it is faithful to the Congress Party and the Congress Government or to any other party. If the first proposition is correct, that it is only because of the crimes of violence and dastardly attacks which are being made on the peaceful citizens of Bengal, then the remedy is not the holding of elections, but to put down the anarchy that is prevailing. If, on the other hand the holding of elections is to test popular opinion in West Bengal, whether it has faith in the present system of government or not, then you have to introduce election based on adult franchise, and not.........
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar :May I rise to a point of order, Sir? I do not think a debate on this Bill should be converted into a debate on the West Bengal political situation. After all, what is contained here is simply to take power for it, in case it became at any time necessary to hold general elections. I have clearly explained the position and it is premature for us to discuss that situation here.
Kazi Syed Karimuddin :There is a reference made in the Statement of Objects and Reasons, and it is very necessary to see if such powers should be invested in the Governor-General or not. So, my submission is that the taking of powers to hold elections in West Bengal is premature, unless the reasons are placed before this sovereign body. If you want to test popular opinion, why make hurry and hold the election on a limited basis, when the Government of India has assured us that general elections will take place in 1950? Holding the elections now is only to defeat the popular cry, and there can be no other possible reason why elections are to be rushed; unless, of course, it is admitted that the present government is bungling and it has to be removed, in Bengal.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyanger:I have never said that elections are to be held.
Kazi Syed Karimuddin :You say. "In case........."
Now, the second thing is this. Section 291 gives such absolute powers to the Governor-General that even the emergency powers that you have given to the President are nothing compared to these. Under the Government of India Act, the Governor-General is only a constitutional head. It has been stated that there is no emergency, there is no crisis and there is no urgency. Then why, instead of enacting laws under Section 93 and the enactments regarding elections why all these powers are being given to the Governor-General, it is difficult to understand. The power to amend, to repeal, and modify and provision of this Act or any order passed under this Act is to be given to the Governor-General. I say such a provision is most undemocratic. Any Act of the Parliament will always be amendable by the Governor-General and any order passed in this House can be repealed, modified or amended by the Governor-General. In other words, it will mean that the Governor-General can over-ride any order and he can make any amendment. Therefore, my submission is that before clause 4 is accepted by this House, we should know why all these powers are assigned to the Governor-General.
Regarding clause 3 of this Bill, I have nothing to say. Displaced persons who have come from Pakistan have suffered terribly, and those who have left India cannot have it both ways, of living there and also deriving the benefits from the property left in India. But one defect of investing the executive Government with powers is exhibited in the recent Ordinance in the United Provinces. In twelve districts in the U.P. property of all Muslims is inalienable. There is a ban on the alienation of the property of those who have made India their home. This is one of the defects of authorising the executive to the extreme, and this is my main objection. When you authorise the executive to amend or repeal the laws made by Parliament, then what happens is seen in the U.P. Whatever laws you pass, whatever orders you make, whatever restrictions you lay on the property of those who have left India-- and I hold no brief for them--, but for those who have made India their home, are such laws to be passed as have been passed by the executive in the U.P.? Can it be said that with regard to the attitude of Pakistan and in view of the property left by Muslims here, will you treat the Muslims here as a guarantee for the property left over there? The powers you want to invest the Governor-General which are of a very sweeping character, are unprecedented and undemocratic. Such powers should not be given and I am entirely opposed to this Bill, and I oppose it.
Mr. Vice-President :Mr. Biswanath Das.
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh :May I move my other amendment before Mr. Biswanath Das speaks?
Mr. Vice-President :That will come up when the individual clauses are taken up.
Shri Biswanath Das(Orissa : General) : Sir, I am amazed and upset at the speeches and the way in which the discussion is being carried on, over this Bill. Sir, we have been told that the Bill is vague. I do not know how it is so. The Bill proposes to make provisions under two heads. The first relates to evacuee property, and the second to any anticipated election in West Bengal. On these questions, the provisions are clear, distinct and are quite normal. I do not see any abnormality in any of these provisions that are set out and that are sought to be amended, in the Government of India, Act,1935, as adapted. Sir, it specially pains me to hear from my honourable Friend Dr. Deshmukh that we are functioning as a single party. True it is mainly so. But is it a sin? Is it a sin, after all to have a House mostly of one party? That is the natural course of things in democracy and democratic institutions. The very fact that we ourselves are running the Government and playing the role of opposition goes to prove the highest democratic traditions maintained by the Congress. Sir, even a casual look into the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly, either in framing the Constitution, or on the parliamentary side, will prove beyond doubt the highest traditions of such democracy maintained by the Congress Party. The very fact that my honourable Friends Mr. Kamath and Dr. Deshmukh always raise their voice of protest, though Congress members, without being interfered or hindered by the party goes to prove the highest traditions of democracy maintained by the Congress and its official section who today run the Government. Under these circumstances, I do not see how my honourable Friends would be justified in speaking of one-party rule. At least this aspect of the criticisms comes with the least fairness to themselves and to the party to which they have the honour to belong.
Sir, my honourable Friend Mr. Kamath, for whom I have always have affection, speaks of the monstrosity of the provisions of the Bill. I pause to hear from him wherein lies the monstrosity of the proposals.
Shri H.V. Kamath :Clause 4; nothing else.
Shri Biswanath Das :I am thankful to him, if it is his view that the teeming millions of evacuees who have been uprooted and migrated from Pakistan should have no representation or franchise; if that is so, certainly it is a monstrosity! But I think the opposite holds true in this case.
I recollect what has been done in Pakistan. This change has already been done in Pakistan both in the Centre as well as in the West Punjab. Therefore, there is nothing to call it a monstrosity of the Constitution. I hope my honourable Friends will not hereafter use similar expression, because the very fact that we have declared, that our leaders have thought of declaring themselves to abide by the wishes of the popular verdict goes to confirm the opinion, namely, that the Congress is the greatest democratic body and the greatest democratic institution that you have in the world.
Sir, much has been said about the elections in West Bengal. I do not agree with my honourable Friends' declaration that they would dissolve the Bengal Ministry and have fresh elections. I do not see any basis, much less any justification for the same. One single bye-election is not a test of the confidence or non-confidence of the people. If the confidence of the people in the Congress organisation is the test, I think we have amply demonstrated it. In my own province we have, soon after the election in Bengal shown to the world that even today we carry the confidence of the rural masses, the millions and crores of rural masses who constitute the people of India. Sir, not only in the Assembly bye-election......
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh :Nobody ever questioned it.
Shri Biswanath Das :The general election in one district and bye-election in several district boards have demonstrated beyond any semblance of doubt that the Congress still carries the confidence of the masses.
Mr. Vice-President :I do not think these remarks are relevant in view of what the honourable Member has said-- that no decision has been taken on that point.
Shri Biswanath Das :I am glad if no decision has been taken regarding Bengal bye-election, but the statement issued by the Honourable the Prime Minister soon after his visit to Calcutta goes to show that they are at least thinking loudly in terms of dissolving the Assembly and ordering elections. That is why it is a relevant point. I shall, however, be brief in my remarks in regard to that matter. Furthermore, the recent district board elections in Madras have proved to the hilt that even in the province of Madras Congressmen have not at all agree with our leaders and I am very glad to be assured that that decision is not final.
Sir, much has been said about democracy. I do not know wherein anything has been done in the course of the Bill to affect the democratic notions of the people, or the democratic notions as they are realised and understood by Congressmen. If composition of differences and leaving everything to the will of the people means democracy, both these are being satisfied in full within the four corners of the Bill.
Sir, regarding evacuee property the Government have been negotiating with the Pakistan Government. Sub-clause (1) of paragraph 1 reads : "Property has been left behind in either Dominion by those who have migrated to the other. This is being called evacuee property. It has to be taken over, managed and disposed of according to any agreement reached between the two Dominions". They propose to have further negotiations in this regard. There cannot, therefore, be any objection in this regard from any quarter. I for myself feel that strong measures in this regard are necessary to ensure rehabilitation of evacuees who have migrated from Pakistan. To me it seems that the Bill is a necessity and that it should be passed without much discussion, and the sooner you do it the better for all.
Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad (West bengal : Muslim) :Mr. Vice-President, Sir, this House has been treated to a number of shocks, but this is the rudest shock that I have so far experienced. This Bill has raised all this controversy because it has mixed up two independent points-- one good and the other thoroughly bad. So far as evacuee property clauses are concerned, nothing need be said. So clause 3 and the second part of clause 5 may be accepted.