CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIA - VOLUME IX
Thursday, the 18th August 1949.
Now we come to clause 4 and the consequential part of clause 5. Clause 4 seeks to give extraordinary powers to the Governor-General, in support of which unusual reasons were given by the honourable Member in Charge. Ithought urgency alone would call for haphazard and vacant clause like this. But we are now told that there is no urgency and there is no election in contemplation. If so, clause 4 and the consequential provision in clause 5 can wait. The Honourable the Prime Minister went to West Bengal and later made a declaration that there will be an election in West Bengal, a declaration which was accepted with mixed feelings in different parts of the country. The Ministers in Bengal thought they would have a chance of rehabilitating themselves, but I hear there is an attempt in West Bengal to postpone the election by hook or by crook. I submit that the passing of 'this clause here in this undigested and incomplete form will lead to considerable speculation and suspicion about the motives of Government. Admittedly there is no urgency and hence no immediate need for this clause 4. As pointed out by Dr. Deshmukh this clause which seeks to replace Section 291 of the Government of India Act goes directly against Section 61 of that Act under which 'the constituencies in the various Provinces should be as laid down in the Sixth Schedule whereas under the new proposed Section 291 the entire structure may be broken up. I do not know why on the threshold of democracy it should be thought necessary to arm the Governor-General with these extraordinary powers when there is no urgency. The best thing would be for Government to find out what is needed in West Bengal or elsewhere as regards delimitation of constituencies, preparation of voters' lists, adult franchise, etc. These should be clearly ascertained and concrete proposals placed before the House.
As it is, the House is asked to sign a blank cheque on the understanding that the Governor-General will do the needful. If we could utilise the Governor-General like this the Legislatures and the Constituent Assembly would be useless. I submit that the name of the Governor-General should not be introduced like this to lend weight to an absurdity. The House has the greatest respect for the intellectual and moral qualities of the Governor General. 'But he will act on the decision and advice of his Ministry which may ultimately mean the advice of a Departmental Secretary. When we consider the tremendous constitutional implications of the drastic powers which are sought to be conferred on the Governor-General we should shudder at giving these powers to him. I think he will have to enact a new Government of India Act for interim elections-: in fact he will have to think of a new definition of citizenship,-whether refugees are citizens and should be given votes, etc. All this would take time, and in the meantime mischief-makers will be inclined to argue that this is one way of shelving the election which was announced by the Prime Minister after so much deliberation.
If there is to be election in West Bengal I think it should be held without delay. This is not a general election but an interim one. If the Ministry has lost public confidence the. best' thing is to let them go to the electorate and stay or quit according to the result. As this would be, an emergency election, it should be carried on with the existing voters' lists in the usual manner. if any changes are thought necessary or desirable the House should be told in what way they are necessary and should be given an indication about electoral rolls, joint or separate electorates, reservation of seats, whether there should be fresh voters' lists, etc. There is no harm in allowing this matter to wait till the House is given something concrete so as to enable it to come to a proper and correct decision in the matter.
The powers asked for are of a very revolutionary character. I do not wish any more to take up the time of the House over this but I should think that this procedure of asking for powers without any necessity would create a very bad impression and would supply some amount of justification for adverse criticism of the government. The best way to establish democracy is to allow people to make mistakes and to learn from experience.In those circumstances, as is now admitted there is no urgency about clause 4. This clause-the most debated one-should be withdrawn. It has received Opposition from different sections of the House and I believe even those honourable Members who are not taking part in the debate are mentally not satisfied with the justice or propriety of this clause. In view of the fact, that there is no urgency, I believe no action is contemplated. Everything is in the air and this clause also should be left in the air. I submit that there is plenty of feeling outside the House that all is not well in the House and therefore in order to allay their fears, which may not be fully justified, we should be allowed to proceed in a systematic and constitutional manner and not be asked to say ditto.
The Honourable Shri Satyanarayan Sinha (Bihar: General) : Sir, the question may now be put.
Dr. P. S. Deshmukh : Sir, on a point of order, may I point out that the amendments have not yet been moved.
Mr. Vice-President: The amendments are for the clauses. The question is
"That the question be now put."
The motion was adopted. The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar: Sir, during the debate on this motion several honourable Members have concentrated their attention on clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill, and even in respect of clause 5 the brunt of their opposition is to item (a) of that clause. The main charge levelled against the provisions contained in these clauses is that an ostensibly democratic government has adopted the most undemocratic method for trying to get legislation through this House, which really confers autocratic powers on some individual. That is not the way in which this particular Bill should be viewed. These clauses provide for a state of things which may emerge and which may justify the dissolution of an existing provincial legislature and the ordering of a fresh elect-ion to get new members into that legislature to take the place of those that are now there. Now what will be the justification for the dissolution of that particular legislature ?
Honourable Members have so often referred to West Bengal in the course of their speeches that I would only refer to one particular circumstances which perhaps more than any other might justify the dissolution of that provincial legislature, and that is that that legislature is not functioning in an honest democratic way, perhaps. This is only the kind of thing that could be said by those who are in favour of the dissolution. That democratic legislature is broken into groups which are warning with each other and the administration of the province has been endangered by the fact that it is not functioning in the proper democratic way. Let us suppose that dissolution is ordered. The motive for that dissolution can only be that in the place of a legislature, which is not functioning in a proper democratic way, we want to get together a legislature which will be less undemocratic or perhaps more democratic than the present one. The only way in which such a new democratic legislature can be constituted is to base it on the votes of the electors. This electorate has undergone several changes after the Government of India Act, 1935, as adapted, came into operation. If we are going to hold a general election it is necessary that certain changes will have to be made in particular matters connected with the holding of elections, Such matters may even relate to the composition of the legislature. Let me draw the attention of the House to the fact that after the Government of India Act, 1935, was enacted, and elections were held and legislatures came into being, we have changed the composition for instance, of the West Bengal Legislature. That was done by the power that was vested in the
Governor-General of the time for adapting the Government of IndiaAct, 1935. That was the first attempt at changing what was put into the constitution in a Schedule. Now after having made that change power was given to the Governor-General to make modifications or amendments even in what was put into the adapted Act.
Let me also refer to the fact that before the Act was adapted there was a provision in the original Act of 1935 which vested power in His Majesty by orders in Council to make modifications in these various schedules relating to the composition, franchise, holding of elections, etc., in the schedules' to the Act what are we doing now ? We have got now a legislature which has got to function until, say, the 26th January next, and you will remember that in the Draft Constitution there is a provision that the provincial legislature in being at the time of the commencement of the new Constitution will continue to function as the provincial legislature during the transitory period between the coming into force of the Constitution and the holding of regular elections under the new Constitution. We must have a legislature if we want to act in a democratic way in the coming year, even in West Bengal, by the, time we, for instance, bring the new Constitution into force. That has got to be done somewhere between the date on which the dissolution is ordered and 26th January next.
If changes have to be made in the Schedule for the purpose of holding the elections, there ought to be power in the bands of somebody to make the changes. We are vesting the power in the hands of the Governor-General. This is not a new thing. Under the Government of India Act this sort of thing is being done. It is only following what we put into the Act when it was adapted and what we have been acquiescing in all these months. What is there after all wrong in putting these powers into the hands of the Governor-General ? The Governor-General has to act on advice. All Members are aware of that fact. If that advice has to be given, it is preferable in the circumstances which exist in West Bengal or which may come to exist in other provinces that that advice is given to the Governor-General by the Centre and not by the provincial Ministers to their Governor, the legislature which has got to be dissolved. Therefore it is, I think, justifiable that these powers should be vested in the Governor-General rather than in anybody else.
I was rather struck by the strong language which MY honourable Friend Mr. Kamath allowed himself to use I can understand the strength of that language. But I am afraid he was rather inclined to look at the thing from a level which had no relation to existing facts or facts as they will exist between now and the 26th January. I would be at once with him if we were going to make this the normal feature of the Constitution. It will be a very wicked thing to do so. But we have got to recognise the fact that, if elections have to be held, these changes have to be made and it is 'not easy to convoke the Assembly again in its constitution-making aspect for the purpose of making These amendments in time to allow of electoral rolls being prepared on the basis of these amendments and elections being held.
Shri H. V. Kamath: May I know, Sir, what is the difficulty in bringing such amendments before the Assembly for the consideration of the Governor-General ? We can sit for some time longer to consider them.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyanger : The honourable Member is perhaps not aware as to how things are done. We cannot put amendments before the House unless we consult responsible people in West Bengal as to what should be done. That is the democratic way of doing things.
Shri H.V. Kamath : You may take your own time.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyanger : It the honourable Member wishes me to put a series of amendments before him out of my own brain, that will not be democratic.
Shri H. V. Kamath : I am sorry I have been misunderstood. I did not mean that. I wanted to ask him what difficulty there
is in the way of bringing up this measure for consideration of the House at a later date when the matter has been finalized.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyanger :The only difficulty as that this House is a constitution-making body. If the programme we have all in view is carried out, we will cease functioning for constitution-making, purposes practically finally within the next fortnight and we shall be meeting again only for the purpose of passing the third reading. I cannot say whether this will be in October or even in January. We cannot afford to take the risk of its not meeting for the purpose of holding an election which may, on political grounds, be absolutely necessary to hold in time for the purpose of creating a legislature which will be in existence on 26th January. That is the reason why we have come to this meeting for the purpose of getting the power to do so. That is the real answer to Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad.
There were points which Dr. Deshmukh made for which I have the greatest respect Ms main point was that there is a fundamental proposition embodied in Section 61 of the Government of India Act and that under this Bin. we are taking power to do something which might enable the Governor General to over-ride the provision of that section. Now let me point this out : Section 61, when it was enacted in 1935, referred to the composition of each provincial legislature, in Schedule V. That composition had to be changed when Partition took place. The method that was then adopted was That the Governor-General adapted Schedule V. This involved very substantial changes and the altered Schedule came to be identified with the provisions of Section 61. There was a change in Section 61 as originally enacted in the then Constitution. Now what are we proposing to do ? It may be that it will become necessary for us to change that composition once again. We are giving power to the Governor-General to make such, changes as may be necessary in the Constitution by an amendment of Section 61 and Schedule V if he is advised that that is the proper course to take. There is nothing in it which can justify its being characterised as a constitutional monstrosity-language which my honourable Friend Mr. Kamath too often indulges in. There is nothing unconstitutional about it. We want a change. We adopt the best method, the proper method, the method in the circumstances which would be fully justified if we vest this power in the Governor-General.
Now, the other point that he mentioned was : What is to become of the Schedules ?'When the Governor-General issues these orders he will take the provisions of the existing section 61 and of the Schedules into consideration and see what changes are necessary in them. Those changes could be brought about merely by amending them. If they are to be brought about by repealing them or portions of them, we will repeal them and substitute other things. It is only a question of how the thing will be drafted in order to make the changes that may be necessary.
The other point he made was that in certain cases where the composition of this Assembly has to be changed, power has been taken to nominate persons instead of providing for elections. I suppose he also meant that this kind of thing has been done in regard to the Bombay legislature also. 'Nat may be so. The point for consideration so far as we are concerned is this We give power to the Governor-General to amend. the rules and regulationsrelating to elections, to constituencies, to the method of election, to the franchise and so on. There is nothing, which dictates to the Governor General that he should not do this or that. If you have any confidence in your own Government then you ought to see to it that they do not adopt methods which are not acceptable to you. If they do adopt such methods you must adopt such measures as will make them do what you really want them to do in such circumstances.
That is no argument against vesting these powers in the Governor-General. There is no direction that he should nominate persons to Abe
legislature. There is no direction either way. As a matter of fact, nomination is not mentioned in this clause. It refers mostly to elections. The only thing it does is it puts it in the power of the Governor-General to determine the composition of the legislature.
Now, I think I have answered the main points, but there is one thing which, I am afraid, honourable Members are a little touchy about and it is this : they do not want the Governor-General, advised by the Executive, to do this without reference to the legislature at all, and I think I agree with them that whatever is done under the powers that are now being taken should be placed before the legislature so that it may have an opportunity of seeing whether these powers have been properly exercised, and from this point of view I am willing to accept Dr. Deshmukh's other amendment, if it is slightly modified in this form:
"Every Order made under sub-section (1) of this section shall, as soon as may be after it is made, be laid before the Dominion Legislature."
If this is acceptable to Dr. Deshmukh, I am prepared, if be moves it, to accept it. I :think that in the circumstances the House will not insist on this Bill-which is a simple Bill-being sent to a Select Committee and more time of this Honourable House being unnecessarily spent on this, time which could probably be better devoted to our dealing with the main Constitution.
Dr. P. S. Deshmakh: I would beg leave to withdraw my motion.
The motion was, by leave of the Assembly, withdrawn.
Mr. Vice-President: The question is
"That the Bill further to amend the Government of India Act, 1935, be taken into consideration by the Assembly at once."
The motion was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President: Now we will consider the Bill clause by clause.
The question is :
"That clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
The motion was adopted.
Clause I was added to the Bill.
Mr. Vice-President : The question is:
"That clause 2 stand part of the Bill."
The motion was adopted.
Clause 2 was added to the Bill.
Mr. Vice-President: The question is
"That clause 3 and part of the Bill."
Prof. Shibban Lal Seksena (United Provinces General) I want to on clause 3An. Honourable Member : The question has already been put. He cannot speak now.
Pandit Hirday Nath Kunzru (United Provinces: General): It is only fair that you should allow Mr. Shibban Lal Saksena to speak. He got up in his seat before the question was put.
Mr. Vice-President : I am sorry, I did not notice the Member. I shall be very glad to permit him to speak.
Prof. Shibban Lal Seksena : I thank you very much for having given me an opportunity to speak on this clause. Sir, this clause makes provision......
Shri S. Nagappa: How can the honourable Member speak when you have put the question and the motion has been adopted by the House ? If he wants, he can speak at the third reading stage.
Mr. Vice-President: I gave him permission to speak.
Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena: This clause makes an amendment to the Government of India Act to provide for the solution of the Refugee problem which is a consequence of the Partition. Everyone knows that the most explosive problem, before the country, is the relief and rehabilitation of the refugees and the restoration of or compensation for the property left by them in Pakistan which is known as evacuee property there. I am glad that this amendment has come even at this late hour. In fact it ought to have come at the very beginning after the Partition was effected. Still, I am glad that the amendment has come. I wish to point out, Sir, that so far as the problem of the refugees is concerned, the problem is still unsolved and is practically where it was. Although crores of rupees have been spent and are still being spent for its solution, anybody who goes out in this city or anywhere in the country will be sorry to see that the problem of the refugees has not been tackled properly. I do not mean that any one particular person is responsible for it. The problem is a huge one. I only want to say that we have not succeeded in solving it. These two new amendments will in fact bring the problem into the Concurrent list. Last. year we impressed upon the Ministry for Relief and Rehabilitation the need for empowering the Central Government to carry out their schemes according to their plans. They 'always complained that whatever plans they made they were not able to carry out because the provinces were unwilling to carry out their suggestions. The provinces tried to put a limit on the numbers of refugees they would take and so on and so forth, with the result that this most explosive problem is still not on the way to solution.
I therefore think, Sir, that now that we have taken powers for the Central Government in this regard and have put it in the Concurrent List, the Centre Will evolve some plans by which they can tackle this problem, so that this will very soon become a problem of the past. The, refugees have no shelter; nor have they employment. Eighty lakhs of people uprooted from their homes and coming to this land of hope and promise have raised a big problem. It requires effort which is commensurate with it. I only hope that this problem will now be tackled with a determination to solve it in the shortest possible time. Let us make a plan according to which this problem will be solved in six months or nine months. I think that this provision in the Bill is a very welcome provision. I do hope that no provincial government will stand in the way and that this problem will very soon become a problem of the past.
Then, Sir, I come to clause 3 of the Bill dealing with the Evacuee property. This is a most difficult problem and a problem also of great delicacy. I wish our Government had taken a stronger attitude in the matter. I do not want to repeat all that has appeared in the Press' about what is calledthe weakness of our Government in this matter, but I wish to voice the sentiments of the million s of people in this country and they are not satisfied with the manner in which the problem is being tackled. According to availabel figures, while about two hundred crores worth of property has been left by people who have gone to Pakistan, about fourteen hundred crores worth of property has been left by our nationals on the other side in Pakistan and yet we do not know how we are going to get back that property. I am glad that this item is going to be included in the Concurrent List which I treat as an assurance that Government will make some plans by which it will be possible for us to get back the property. But that inclusion is not sufficient. I hope when the Parliament meets, we shall see some Bill which shall be in fulfilment of the promise and hope which this amendment in the Constitution raises among the minds of the people. I hope that his will only be a reduce to the solution of the problem. I have always held the view that we have been trying to appease Pakistan a little too much and we have even sacrificed the interests of our people who have come from there and we have not done what we ought to have done for them up to now. I know that our refugee friends have become destitute in these two years and they have spent the last penny which they had brought with them and if we do not go about trying to settle this question of the property left by them in Pakistan seriously, it will become a problem which will become almost insoluble. I hope these amendment s in the Constitution which are already very late in coming, will fulfil the hopes raised in teh public mind. I only hope of that the honourable Minister who is in-charge of this Bill with the help of the honourable Member in-charge of this Department will see to it that this big problem is solved without further avoidable delay.
(Shri Mahavir Tyagi rose to speak.)
Prof. N. G. Ranga: (Madras: General): How long is this to be prolonged?
Shri Mahavir Tyagi (United Provinces: General): I will not take long mr. Ranga need not be afraid of me. I agree with the main clauses of the Bill. Sir, I only want to emphasise that while these subjects are being centralised and powers are now being taken by the Centre, it was time that the Honourable Minister had thrown some light as to what the scheme was. In fact I only want to bring on record that there is a feeling in the country, which I think is quite justified, that all those persons who have come from Pakistan, they have not come of their own choice or of their own free-will,. They are here because as a result of freedom and partition and were subjected to all sorts of hardships. The politicians here on this side of the country had agreed for liability moral and legal of the people residing here in this part of the country, that they must make good the losses of those who had to come from Pakistan. Now it is no use taking to the Centre the work of rehabilitation or relief unless you come out with some plans of rehabilitation, and any whether you are going to give them only the loafer's bread or give them daily do or give them a fair compensation. If the Centre fails to realize the values of the property left in Pakistan, it is a failure of the Government and not of the individual. I would suggest, even though in the present financial circumstances of the Government the suggestion may look ridiculous -but oftentimes truth looks ridiculous, but all the same it remains a truth--I feel that even if 50 per cent, of the losses were made good by the Government, if they take the liability upon themselves to make good the losses of the refugees or displaced persons who have come here, the Government would have done their duty. In cases of war, Governments have undergone heavier debts. Why should this Government not bear this debt both moral, human and legal' This debt is the price of freedom; and should the refugees or the displaced persons be made to pay the price of India's freedom, or should India pay the price ? The refugees have dearly paid the price of India's freedom in the shape of their property. In the beginning the leaders raised slogans in this very House and appealed to the displaced hordes : "Do not kill. Do not create a riot. Do not create disturbances; let the matter be decided on the higher level, the ministerial level, on Governmental level; we, promise to take up the issue for you". But, now when peace has been established all promises seem to be going into a drift. No result has come so far. I do not accuse the Central Government for that. May be that the Pakistan Government did not keep its word or there are other reasons which we do not know. Pakistan obviously does not intend to fulfil any promise and even if they make further promises, they will not fulfil them. It is their plan and policy; then, why should we subject ourselves to their policy ? I therefore wish to bring on record the demand of the people that the properties of those refugees or displaced persons who have come to India must be estimated and the Government must give their word or the Constituent Assembly must give its verdict that the Nation will shoulder the liability to make good the losses. If not to the fullest extent at least to the extent of 50 per cent. of their losses immediate payment should be made either In cash or in bonds. This is the demand of the people who are displaced and I think morally it is a right demand and absolutely a justified demand. Whatever the financial condition of the Government may be, as the subjects relating to evacuee properties and rehabilitation are now being centralized. let the Centre give, an assurance that they intend to make good all the assets left in Pakistan. It is for this Government to realise the value of these assets from Pakistan, and settle the accounts with them. The Pakistan could take from us as heavy a sum as fifty-five crores of rupees even during their fight with us in Kashmere. In the same manner we must shoulder this liability which is ours and ours alone. I think this is very justified and when the Centre is taking over the subject, they must, finally decide 'as to whether they are prepared to take over the liability. We cannot depend on the promises made by Pakistan.
My honourable Friend Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar is universally respected for his sincerity and his truthfulness here in this House though I know that he is a diplomat of the biggest diplomats and he would never give full expression to what he feels or what he is really doing, but we have full trust in his negotiations. He could never let us down. What could he do? The other party is cleverer still. I do not want to attribute any motive to Mr. Ayyangar. The Government have probably done their best; but no rents are forthcoming. We, from this side, have been sending rents on the properties, even of their Premier every month or year. We did it because we want to show off to the world that we are honest and that we will keep our promises. It is all quite right. But, even then, in spite of all our profession and practice the world knows us to be dishonest, because Pakistan's propaganda has dominated, and our truth has been over shadowed by their untruth. This is the position today.
That apart, Sir, I wish to once again repeat and emphasize that the Government must come forward and fulfil their moral duty by these displaced persons, must share their losses and must make them good either in cash or in bonds to these people who have left their properties in Pakistan, and must realise from Pakistan either through force of negotiations, or throughforce of sword or bullet. If the neighbour goes dishonest, it is not for us to look blank and say; "you are dishonest". Our Flag could be pulled down by them; they might commit any kind of excesses or any breaches of faith with us, we are always behaving like international gentlemen. We do not want to be international gentlemen; we are better as ordinary men at home. My submission is having all these things in view, we must now make it clear. The whole situation will be eased if the Honourable Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation row says that the Government takes all property, over, and it will later on make it good from Pakistan when their trade balance is adjusted. If that is the position, I wholeheartedly support Mr. Ayyangar.
Mr. Vice-President: The question is:
"That clause 3 stand pat of the Bill."
The motion was adopted.
Clause 3 was added to the Mill.
Mr. Vice-President : The motion is
"That clause 4 form part of the Bill."
Amendment No. 1 of Mr. K. Hanumanthaiya is ruled out as a negative amendment. I call amendment No. 2 by Mr. S. V. Krishnamurthy Rao,
(Amendment No. 2 was not moved.)
Kazi Karimuddin : Mr. Vice-President, I move:
"That in clause 4, in the proposed Section 291, after the words 'any of the following matters' the words 'subject to confirmation by the Parliament within two months of the date of addition. modification or reveal referred to above' be inserted."
Sir, I have no desire to repeat the arguments which I had advanced at the time of the consideration of the Bill. I have only to say that the arguments advanced by the Honourable the Minister Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar in regard to investing the powers on the Viceroy, are not very convincing. After these powers are given to His Excellency the Governor-General, is there anything in the Bill by virtue of which he is responsible to the legislature or to the people ? Clause 4 does not lay down, if he uses these powers rightly or wrongly or in case any abuse, is made, what is the remedy upon to Parliament or to anybody. By this amendment, I have to submit, the Governor-General has to report for confirmation to Parliament when Parliament meets after these powers are used. Therefore, I submit, Sir, that this amendment be accepted.
Dr. P. S. Deshmukh: Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I do not propose to move amendment No. 4; but I will move amendment No. 5. The amendment of which I had given notice stands as follows :
"That in clause 4, in the proposed Section 291, the following be added at the end:-
'All orders issued by the Governor-General under this Section shall be placed before the Constituent Assembly of India (Legislative) in due course."
I would beg your permission,
Sir, to Filter it so as to read as follows it is only a verbal alteration and I hope you will kindly permit it........
"That in clause 4, the proposed Section 291 be regarded as sub-section (1.) of section 291, and after sub-section (1) as so re-numbered, the following be added :-
(2) Every order made under sub-section (1) of this section shall as soon as may so after it is made, be laid before the Donminion Legislature.'"I am very glad that the Honourable Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has at least been pleased to accept this amendment. This will at least give an opportunity to the legislature to review it and to express its views on whatever orders are passed by the Governor-General in respect of the matters that have been mentioned in Section 291 as now proposed. The criticism, as he (Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar) has admitted, is quite relevant and correct that the powers are certainly most extensive. It may be that there is no intention probably of utilising them. But, it is quite possible for instance, for the Governor-General to say on any fine morning that all the provincial legislatures shall hereafter be composed of only nominated members. There is nothing to stop him from issuing an order like this which will have the effect of abolishing all the chambers of legislature in the provinces, and of removing all the elected members from their seats and from their positions and substituting in their places any people that the Governor-General, or anybody to whom he may delegate these powers, may choose. The Deputy Commissioner of a District may be asked to nominate the representatives who will sit as members, of the legislature. Anything could be done. The power is so wide; it is tantamount to saying that all the powers under the Government of India Act are handed over to the Governor-General so that there will be no necessity for any debate to take place, or for any legislature to exist. If some Members of this House are angry about it, I think that _anger is not absolutely unjustifiable. I do not want to take the time of the House on this any longer as the whole position is clear to every Member of the House. I move this amendment and since I have already been given an assurance by the Honourable Mr. Ayyangar, that he approves of it, I hope the House will also accept it.
Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena: Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I am glad that the Honourable Mr. Ayyangar has agreed to accept the amendment of Dr. Deshmukh. But, I do not think that it satisfies all the objections that have been raised in this House.
First of all, I am not quite clear as to what is the meaning of laying before the Parliament. Will the Parliament be able to discuss those orders, amend them or to revise them in any manner ? That is the main problem. Secondly, what will happen if they disapprove of them ?
Then, Sir, in his reply to the objection raised, by my honourable Friend, Mr. Kamath, and others why he could not bring forward a Bill at a later stage, after having a conference with the Ministers of West Bengal and other province, incorporating only those amendments to the Constitution as are necessary, he said that this Assembly will finish the second reading of the Constitution in September, and it may not meet till January for the third reading. Even if that be so, I am sure the Assembly will meet as Parliament sometime in November and theme is no reason why it cannot be converted for a day in the beginning, or in the middle of the session, into the Constituent Assembly to amend the Government of India Act. My only objection is this. I know the Government can get through this House any Bill that they bring forward; but, that would at least remove the criticism against them that it has not been discussed by the House.
By giving the Governor-General these powers which are almost dictatorial, he can alter the composition of the chambers, he can delimit the constituencies, be can disqualify persons and alter election rules in some manner. Such powers should not be given to any individual as a matter of principle even bough it may be expedient at the present moment. This will be a bad precedent. Besides, we as Members of the Constituent Assembly are thereby depriving ourselves of the fundamental powers which the nation has reposed inus. I know there might not be any great difference between the Governor General's actions and ours, but it creates a bad precedent. I have never heard such a Bill being presented before any House, and I therefore think that this is something which must be resisted. Still if the honourable Minister tells us that Dr. Deshmukh's amendment,means that this House will be empowered to discuss, to vary and amend the, orders passed by the Governor-General as they are laid before the House, then I think that will be something at least to take the sting out of it; but if even that is note done, then I think I must oppose this clause and I would wish that this does not form part of the Constitution.
Prof. K. T. Shah (Bihar: General) : Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I feel it necessary to raise my voice in strong protest against this clause. The honourable the Mover has taken exception to the description of this clause as a 'constitutional monstrosity." I bow to his great mastery of the mysteries of English etymology, and therefore accept what he has said may be justified in his own knowledge. Speaking for myself Sir, I would like to characterise this clause as a constitutional absurdity an intellectual dishonesty, and a moral inequity.For. every word of this clause, and every item and sub-items enumerated below amount only to this : that the constitutional rights and authority of the Legislature are to be destroyed, and in their place the authority of the Governor General who, as I said, is only a facade is to be put up. The Governor-General is only for, the sake of the name. There would be somebody else,-perhaps his Advises,-presumably the Prime Minister, or the colleagues of the Prime Minister, or perhaps some secretary of any of these exalted gentlemen, who will draft the actual Order, even if the policy underlying it be that of the Government. The Governor-General according to this section will take the place of the entire Legislative body in reference to the items mentioned in this article. He may at any time pass any such order. I do not know what is meant by the term 'at any time'. If by 'at any time is meant the intervening period between now and the date when this Constitution comes into operation-and I would be charitable and assume that there is no intention of denying the operation of the Constitution, or precluding its coming into operation-why is it not stated explicitly? I want to know what is meant by the term 'at any time. If you wish to restrict it to the interval or the transition period under which we are at present and the date when this Constitution will formally come into operation, why do you not state so in this article a clear limitation of the. time during which only such an order can take place ?
Because you have omitted to give any clear limitation, I feel it necessary to give the characterisation I have given of this article. There seems to be a certain mental reservation about the operation of this article, which cannot but be regarded as lacking in intellectual honesty.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar : May I say one word? I think as the honourable Member has thrown doubts on the intellectual honesty of the persons responsible for this measure, it is necessary that I should say a word of personal explanation. That is the only way in which I can intervene so that this thing might be scotched immediately. What is the mental reservation that anybody could have about the use of the words 'at any time. Mr. K. T. Shah knows as well as I do that the Government of India Act, 1935, will be repealed by the new Constitution, and if that new Constitution is going to come into force on the 26th January next or it may be earlier or a few days later, the fact will remain that this 1935 Act could not continue in force after the new Constitution comes into force unless the House by a vote, keeps it in force-that is a different matter. But the Government cannot keep it inforce. So for the words "at any time" in this particular Bill, the outside limit for it is the 26th January next or some date on which the 'new Constitution comes into force. What mental reservation could there be and how dare he attack the intellectual honesty of the authors ?
Shri Jaspat Roy Kapoor (United Provinces : General) : Professor Shah never sees the, obvious I
Prof. K. T. Shah: Yes, Mr. Shah is physically short-sighted, but he is able to see meanings which are not visible to others.
I accept the explanation the honourable Mover has given with regard to the date. But I still maintain that in that case it would have been much more clear is it had been stated pending the coming into operation of this Constitution'; and to that extent then we would be quite aware that this is only for the transitional period, and would be judged by its transitional character. That not being stated I feel it necessary to point out an omission that there is something improper. The Constitution itself has said in more than one place either on the date this Constitution comes into force', or some. such phrase which makes the time-factor perfectly clear. We would then be fully aware of the time as to when that particular provision will come into operation.
I now go on further to give illustration of my argument, of my general. thesis in connection with this article, and show how the article is likely to operate-perhaps unintentionally and inadvertantly--in a manner that may not have been intended by the authors and sponsors of this proposition.
The first item on which the Governor-General may make any order in relation to any legislature of any province seems to me to suggest, for instance, that all that we are trying to do by this Constitution to evolve a common pattern of the Constitution may be broken. Let it be even for the transitional period; but even so the uniformity, the unity even of the constitutional Organisation of this country may be impeded and interrupted. If it is for the transitional period the evil will be during that period but it will be still evil all the same.
Then it goes on to say that the order may relate to the "composition of the chamber or chambers of the legislatures." I do not understand what is meant by the composition of the chambers. Do you mean by composition, the various representative capacity of the members of the Chambers ?
An Honourable Member: Their strength.
Prof. K. T. Shah : Well, if it is the strength, then I am afraid it would go much farther than may be intended by the authors of this clause. If "everything" is to be included in composition, even strength of the legislature, it may even amount to the denying of the representative fullness of the population of that province, or of those provinces to which the order may relate. And if that be the intention, then I urge in all humility that it cannot be constitutionally proper.
Then supposing that it relates only to the, various ways in which the present provincial legislatures have been constituted, the various interests that are represented therein, the various sections of the population which are almost cross-represented there, if these are to be meant, and if any order is to relate to the altering of that composition, then, I am afraid some fundamental alteration will be made by order of the Government, and not by the legislature. This in itself is objectionable to me. This fundamental change may be, for instance, that the composition may become class composition and not popular composition. The basic principle as I have understood it, of the present Constitution that we are drafting in this body is that there should be as far aspossible, one vote for one man and that there should be uniform popular representation, at least in the lower chamber. If that is the principle, and if this order can go to the extent of altering that position, so that the entire body can be made only representative of certain interests and certain elements and not all the population, then I think it would be taking away the very basic idea of the new Constitution we are drafting, and even if that is confined only to the transitional period-though that is not clear in this legislation-even then it would be, at the time the Constitution is being completed, almost on the eve of the Constitution coming into operation, it may deny the very basic idea of the Constitution, and to that extent, it seems to me that it is an absurd proposition to put forward at this meeting in this House. It seems to me constitutionally highly absurd to make any such change at this time of the day.
It may also affect the qualifications of the voters and of the candidates. What action is meant therein, I fail to understand. Is it proposed that even the existing very limited franchise should be altered by the order of the Governor-General ? Is it intended that the ten or twenty per cent. that are at present enfranchised amongst the adult population to vote would be denied the right to vote, by a simple executive order of the Governor-General, an order which is neither considered by the Legislature nor approved by it, and certainly not with the authority of the people behind it ? I consider the language of this sub-clause to be much too sweeping, I consider the implications of this sub-clause much too widespread and too far-reaching for us to pass it light-heartedly, as if it means nothing more than a change in qualification of residence or location or something of that kind. Unless this sub-clause, is clarified by an explanatory, paragraph being added to it, there seems to be the possibility of mischief which I trust the authors of this clause will seek in time to avoid.
It has been said, Sir, that the new Constitution we are drafting is likely to prove a paradise for lawyers. Here is another illustration of it. Even in the transitional period to which alone we are assured on such high authority it relates, even during this period, there are going to be provisions which Will provide ample occupation and fortune to lawyers. I hope it is not the intention of the Drafting Committee to put in language which may be twisted and changed and made to mean something which they themselves did not mean at the time that they drafted the clause.
There is also suggestion that the order may relate to the qualifications of the candidates. What is meant by that, I do not know. This again is very wide and very general and as such I hesitate to accept it. I very strongly apprehend that any order of this character even during the transitional period may quite possibly go far beyond the intentions of the Draftsmen. I know that one need not reduce it to such absurdities as to suggest that by laying down qualifications of the candidates, the Governor-General by order may refuse permission or a candidate to stand. I take it is not the intention to enable orders to be passed imposing new restrictions, new conditions and qualifications which are not in accordance with the basic idea of the Constitution we are now drafting. I trust it is not also the intention of the authors to make provisions even for the transitional period which may run fundamentally counter to the basic ideals of this new Constitution; for the basic ideal of this Constitution is the ideal of equality and that the new governmental machinery and the various constitutional organs will be founded on what is called adult franchise. If that is so, then any attempt by the back-door so to speak, by the order of the Governor-General or the Governor even during the transitional period to restrict the qualifications or in any way touch the qualifications of the voters and of the candidates is not proper. If you wish to indicate anyparticular qualifications, if you wish, for instance to abolish the separate communal electorates, why not say so quite openly? Why not make it perfectly clear, that what is intended is not anything that would reduce the scope of representation, not to put any limitation on the voting public, but to remove a particular evil which has caused so much misery and which has cost so dearly to this country, that it shall be eliminated even during the transitional period by order of this character. I repeat that the expression used should be such as would convey the intentions quite clearly.
Amendments have been suggested, that the, order should be placed before Parliament for approval or for some kind of postmortem examination. I do not feel satisfied with such attempts at bringing in Parliament. It is the basic and inherent right of Parliament to pass legislation and Parliament should never abdicate this right in favour of the Governor-General or anybody else. I do not think a fundamental provision of this character should, at this day when we are all sitting to draft a liberal Constitution be accepted, because it denies the authority of the legislature and makes the executive sacrosanct and gives it powers which may even touch the life of the legislature. I mention this point particularly because although we are assured on very high authority that this is only for the transitional period, still it may be quite possible that the very life of the new legislature in any province might also come under restriction of this order. Provisions of this character empowering the executive will be an abdication of the authority of the legislature of the country. As I said the whole plan of uniformity, the pattern of standardisation and unity of the country may be imperilled by legislation of this kind and our apprehensions cannot be removed by the plea that it is only a temporary measure. The whole idea, to my mind, is inimical to the fundamental ideals and concept of the Constitution.
I know these are remarks which may not be very palatable; these are points I know which have been made, from one angle or another, time and again in this House and have not met with the approval of this House. Therefore, even if it is a cry in the wilderness, I think it my duty to raise my voice of protest against this Bill.
The Honourable Dr. B.R. Ambedkar : Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I find from the speeches to which I have listened so far that there is a great deal of misunderstanding as to what this particular Bill, particularly clause 4 of it, proposes to do. I think it is desirable at the outset to tell the House what exactly is intended to be done by Clause 4.
In order to put the House in a proper frame of mind-if I may say so without meaning any offence-I should like to draw the attention of the House to the wording of Section 291 of the Government of India Act as it was in operation before it was adapted after the Independence Act. Now I shall read just a few lines of that Section 291.
"In so far as provision with respect to matters hereinafter mentioned is not made by this Act. His Majesty in Council (and I want to emphasise these words. His Majesty in Council) may from time to time make provision with respect to those matters or any of them. etc.....etc."
The first thing that I would like to draw the attention of the House is this that in clause 4 of this Bill the matters which are enumerated from (b) to (i) are exactly the matters which are enumerated in the old Section 291. Therefore, it has to be understood at the outset that this clause, clause 4, is not making any fundamental change in the provisions contained in the original Section 291. The matters for which the Governor-General is going to be given powers by the provisions of the new Section 291, as embodied in this Bill, are the same which were given by the original Section 291 to His Majesty in Council. (An Honourable Member : No. ) I hope that this will be now clear to everybody and I do not think there can be any doubt on it, for anyone who compares the different clauses in this Bill and in the original Section 291 will have all his doubts removed.
The question, therefore, may be asked as to why is it that we are now, giving the power to the Governor-General. The difficulty, if I may say so, is this. Somehow when the Government of India Act, 1935, came to be adapted after the Independence Act, there was, in my judgement, at any rate, a slip that took place and that slip was this, that this power which originally vested in His Majesty in Council, logically speaking, ought to have been transferred to the Governor-General, because the Governor-General under the Dominion law stepped into the shoes of His Majesty in Council. But, unfortunately, as I said, what happened was this that in adapting this Section 291, the power which we are now giving to the Governor-General was given to the local Legislature, I will read that adapted Section 291. I ask my friends who have been agitating over this to read the section as adapted. This is how it reads :
"In so far as provision with respect to matters herein mentioned is not made in this Act in relation to any Provincial Legislature, provision may be made by Act of that Legislature in respect to those matters or any of them, etc....etc."
It has now been discovered that that was an error, that really speaking, when the section was adapted at that stage, the Governor-General should have been endowed with those powers, because those power under the provisions of Section 291 were vested in His Majesty in Council and not in any local legislature. What we are doing by this Bill is merely to restore the old position as it existed under the unadapted Section 291. I, therefore, want to submit that any criticism which has been levelled by any Members of the Assembly that political motives is absolutely unwarranted. All that we are trying to do is to correct a slip that had taken place then.
I come to the next point, namely, the addition of the words "the composition of the Chamber or Chambers of the legislature." I quite agree..................
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh : May I ask one question, Sir ? Does not the alteration of the words "in so far as provision with respect to matters hereinafter mentioned is not made by this Act", the omission of these words and making of these provisions applicable to .........
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar : That is what exactly I am explaining. As I said, the only difference that will now be found between the original article 291 as unadapted and the proposed new clause is this that it is proposed by this new article to give power to the Governor-General to alter the provisions with regard to the composition of the Legislature. I admit that that is a change.
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh : Oh, yes; that is quite true. I admit without any kind of reservation that that is a change which is being made. Now the question is why should we make that change. The reason why we have to make the change in order to give the Governor-General the power even to alter the composition is to be found in the situation in which we find ourselves. Honourable Members will remember that there has been a considerable shifting of the population on account of partition. The population of East Punjab is surely not in any stereotyped condition. Refugees are coming and going. On the 1st April the population numbered so much, six months thereafter it may number something quite different from what it was then. Similarly with regard to West Bengal and many other provinces where refugees have been taken by the Government of India under their scheme of rehabilitation or the refugees themselves have voluntarily travelled from one area to another. Obviously you cannot allow the provisions contained in the Fifth and Sixth Schedules with regard to the numbers in the legislature to remain what they were when we know as a matter of fact that the population has lost all relation to the numbers then prescribed in the Schedules. It is, therefore, in order to take into account the shifting of the population that power is given to the Governor-General to alter even the Schedules which deal with the composition of the legislature.
I hope my honourable Friends will now understand that in giving this additional power of making an order with regard to the composition of the Chamber or Chambers the intention is to permit the Governor-General to make an order which will bring the strength of the different legislatures in the provinces affected to suit the numbers in those provinces. There is no nefarious purpose.
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh : You had two full years to rectify this position.
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar : That is a different matter. I am only explaining why these provisions are being introduced by this new clause.
I have said that the other provisions are merely reproductions of what is contained in the original Section 291. This power is not being taken for a wanton or an unnecessary purpose nor is it intended to be used for anything other than a bona fide purpose. Therefore, having regard to these circumstances my submission is that clause 4 is a perfectly justifiable proposal, both from the point of view of conferring these powers, which originally vested in His Majesty in Council, to be vested in the Governor-General who is his successor and to give him additional power to alter the composition, because the pattern of the numbers in the different provinces have changed from the 15th August 1947. I quite realise that there has been an error in the Statement of Objects and Reasons where unfortunately a particular reference has been made to West Bengal. I should like to assert that this clause has been intended as a general provision which may be used by the Governor-General for rectifying any of the matters with regard to any province, not particularly West Bengal; and I think that was again somehow a slip which ought not to have taken place. Members of the House have picked up that particular wording of that particular clause where a point reference has been made to West Bengal in order to charge the Government with malafide, with having some kind of a bad motive towards the legislature in West Bengal. As I said, it is nothing of the kind. These clauses are general; they may be used if a situation arises which calls for their use in West Bengal. They may be used for my province of Bombay where probably today, at any rate, no such circumstance appear. Therefore, from that unfortunate statement-if I may say so- no conclusion ought to be drawn that there is any kind of underhand dealing so far as this clause is concerned.
Shri Suresh Chandra Majumdar (West Bengal : General) : Is it not possible to drop the words "West Bengal" ?
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar : I have been telling my honourable Friends that the Statement of Objects and Reasons is not a part of the Act and therefore, there can be no amendment moved to the deletion of any word or clause or sentence in the Statement of Objects and Reasons. As soon as this Bill becomes an Act, that Statement of Objects and Reasons will be thrown into the dustbin. It is different from a Preamble and I want Members of the House to concentrate on the Preamble where there is no such reference to West Bengal. Therefore, my submission is that there is really nothing to quarrel with in this particular clause. In the first place it restores the original provision as it existed in the government of India Act, 1935 in its unadapted condition, and secondly it proposes to give power which it has become necessary to give because of the altered position in the provinces.
An Honourable Member : Sir, I move that the question be now put.
Shri H. V. Kamath : Sir, on a point of order, Dr. Ambedkar has raised fresh points which we wish to discuss, and under rule 33 of our Rules you may hold that there has not been sufficient debate, and so refuse to accept this motion for closure.
Dr. P. S. Deshmukh : But Dr. Ambedkar is not the Minister in charge.
Mr. Vice-President : Yes, that is so; and the Honourable Member Mr. Kamath has had ample opportunity to speak on this clause. I therefore accept the motion for closure.
The question is :
"That the question be now put."
The motion was adopted.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar : Sir, I do not think I need make any elaborate reply to the debate on this particular clause. Dr. Ambedkar has very fully explained the wording of this particular clause vis-a-vis the terms of Section 291 of the government of India Act, 1935, as unadapted, as well as with the terms of Section 291 of the Act as adapted. So far as that particular matter is concerned, if we look at the old Government of India Act, His Majesty in Council under Section 308 was also given the power to make amendments of the same nature as are contemplated in this new Section 291. It is unnecessary for me at this late stage to elaborate this particular point. The fact that remains is that an unduly excited view has been taken of the danger to democratic principles that this particular clause is supposed to involve. I am afraid that all the fears that have been expressed are absolutely and unduly exaggerated.
As for the mention of West Bengal I quite agree that we might have omitted the reference to West Bengal. But if West Bengal has been referred to in the Statement of Objects and Reasons it is only by way of illustration. I think in one place it is said "Should an election be ordered in West Bengal Legislature or any other province" and in another place it is said that if something is done in connection with, for example, West Bengal and so forth. But is perfectly clear even from the Statement of Objects and Reasons, apart from the terms of the Bill itself that the Bill does not apply to West Bengal in particular. It is a Bill which, both by the Statement of Objects and Reasons and the terms of the Bill itself, refers to provinces in general. Wherever in any province conditions develop which require the holding of general elections these powers will come into play and I do not see why the conditions of West Bengal, whether today or as they may develop in the near future, should be taken as being specifically referred to by this particular Bill and that this Bill is intended to apply to West Bengal and no other province.
So far as the amendment of Dr. Deshmukh is concerned, that very order made under this particular clause should be laid before the legislature, I have already accepted it in the altered terms in which he has moved it.
I only wish to say one word as regards another edition of this amendment which was moved by my Friend Kazi Karimuddin. He said that any order passed under this section should get the affirmative approval of the legislature within two months before it can become operative. If we accept that amendment we might as well give up this Bill, because what is intended is a provision for a period which is not likely to exceed five or five and a half months and if we are going to place an order which the Governor-General may pass two months hence and wait for another two months to get the affirmative approval of the legislature before it becomes operative, then practically there will be no time either for the preparation of electoral rolls, much less for the holding of any election before the new Constitution comes into force. Sir, I would ask my honourable Friend who moved that amendment not to press it. I think the purpose is served by my acceptance of Dr. Deshmukh's amendment.
As to how the legislature can make its own views known or effective the only thing that I can say in reply is that when an order of that kind is placed before the legislature it is open to any member of the legislature to make a motion or move a resolution as regards the content of that order and the House is at liberty to express whatever it considers its views to be. That the only thing that could be done in the circumstances of the present situation. We may take it that after an order is passed by the Governor-General, say in September or October, if it ever comes to be passed at all, then it will be placed before the legislature during the November session and if it happens to be passed later, it would come before the January session. I think that is the utmost that could be done for the purpose of satisfying that particular principle.
Shri Mahavir Tyagi : Sir, may I put one question ? How do they intend to apply the law to one province or another ? How does Bengal come in ? What fault has it committed so as to have been brought into this Bill ?
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar : Bengal is not mentioned in the Bill at all.
Mr. Vice-President : The question is :
"That in clause 4, in the proposed Section 291, after the words 'any of the following matters' the words 'subject to confirmation by the Parliament within two months of the date of addition, modification or repeal referred to above' be inserted."
The amendment was negatived.
Mr. Vice-President : The question is :
"That in clause 4, the proposed Section 291 be re-numbered as sub-section (1) of Section 291, and after sub-section (1) as so renumbered, the following be added :-
"Every order made under sub-section (1) of this section shall, as soon as may be after it is made, be laid before the Dominion Legislature."
The amendment was adopted.
Mr. Vice-President : The question is :
"That clause 4, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
The motion was adopted.
Clause 4, as amended, was added to the Bill. Clause 5, was added to the Bill.
The Title and Preamble were added to the Bill.
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar : Sir, I move :
"That the Bill, as amended, be passed."
Shri H.V. Kamath : Sir, on a point of Order, I invite your attention and that of the House to rule 38 (S) Sub-rule (2) of the Constituent Assembly Rules as amended on the 31st May 1949. That sub-rule provides that if any amendment to the Bill is made any Member may object to any motion being made on the same day "that the Bill be passed." Under this rule I object to the motion (interruption) unless the President of course allows the motion to be moved.
Mr. Vice-President : The amendment adopted is a very formal one. I allow the motion to be placed before the House as made by the Mover.
Shri H.V. Kamath : Sir, the speech of my honourable Friend Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar in reply to the debate has left me completely unrepentant and unconvinced. The amendment that has been adopted by the House mellows, to a very infinitesimal extent, the monstrosity of this part of the measure, namely Section 4 of the Bill before the House. Dr. Ambedkar has come to the rescue of his colleague Mr. Ayyangar as, I am sure, he is in honour and duty bound to do. After all our Government is a united team. One Minister must help another in weal or woe, and in joy or sorrow. But Dr. Ambedkar's defence of the measure has raised fresh difficulties and doubts in my mind. Referring to Section 291, the unamended 291, he pleaded before us that we have merely restored the status quo ante of this provision. That is to say, instead of His Majesty's Government which obtained before the adaptation of the Government of India Act, we have now got the Governor-General, with of course the Cabinet or the executive. But I wonder whether Dr. Ambedkar with his eye for details and nuances overlooked a certain portion of Section 291. We have been told that it was a slip. With the reputed efficiency of the Law Department it has taken two years for them to detect this slip, and only when the West Bengal problem came to the force and they were worried slip another slip and still another slip; and I am confirmed in my view that we are standing on a slippery slope.
Now coming to this, Section 291 I would invite Dr. Ambedkar's vigilant attention to its wording as it stood before the adaptation and to Section 4 which we have adopted today.
Shri M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar (Madras : General) : Sir, on a point of order, may I know if it is open at the third reading to go into the merits of a particular section ? And the honourable Member is repeating what he said at the second reading.
Shri H. V. Kamath : I am sorry Mr. Ayyangar did not listen to me when I was speaking on the second reading. Otherwise I dare say he would not have said that I am repeating my arguments.
Shri M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar : He ought not to repeat the arguments of others also.
Shri H. V. Kamath : I would only tell Mr. Ayyangar, 'Physician, heal thyself'. Dr. Ambedkar mentioned that this is on a par with the adapted Section 291. But Section 291 specifically stated : 'In so far as with respect to ........................... So the provision there is, 'so far as provision is not made...................His Majesty can by order in Council do.............." But this new clause gives unfettered power to the Governor-General. "The Governor-General may at any time by order make such amendments as he considers necessary by or under the provisions of this Act." There is nothing in it which says "In so far as provision is not made..............." This is a very serious omission. I do not know how one can defend that slip. The other slip was with reference to West Bengal in the Statement of Objects and Reasons. I am sure the Bill, before it came before the House, must have been scrutinized by the Law Ministry. I wonder whether Dr. Ambedkar scrutinized it or some Under Secretary did so. Anyway the responsibility is that of the Law Minister. The argument adopted by him with regard to Section 291 and with regard to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, has no meaning. It is not an argument which should weigh with the House. He has put that argument forward to give succour to his colleague. Government does not seem to be working as a team. Somebody drafts a Bill and when it comes before the House, but not earlier, Dr. Ambedkar puts forward a laboured defence. This is not the way a Cabinet should function. They must work like a team. Otherwise they will have no face to show to the world. I hope in future they will put up a better show in this House so that the world may think better of them.
The last thing I would like to say is that the amendment moved by Dr. Deshmukh and accepted by the House provides that the Orders made by the Governor-General shall be laid before the Legislature as soon as may be. Mr. Ayyangar in his reply to the debate said that the difficulty is because we cannot get the Assembly to meet often or long enough to consider the orders of the Governor-General. That is a very lame argument. The other day, when a particular article relating to the summoning of the Assembly in the future set-up was being discussed, Dr. Ambedkar gave the assurance, when we raised the objection regarding the interval of not more than six months that should elapse between the sessions-- that six months was too long an interval and then the maximum laid down might become the minimum,___Dr. Ambedkar gave the assurance that the Assembly in future would meet more often. If that could be done I see no reason why, soon after the second reading, we cannot convert ourselves into a legislature and by that time the Law Department could get busy with the Governor-General's orders, etc. Unless there is some sort of cussedness or refractory attitude on the part of some people towards the House, this could easily be arranged.
Lastly, I urge that whatever comes before the Dominion legislature under this Act in due course, I hope the Assembly will have the power not merely to say Okay to a fait accompli but also to consider and approve and amend or reject whatever orders have made by the Governor-General. If this Parliament is going to be divested of that power, I for one will not be a party to such a wicked transaction. I hope this will be borne in mind. The amendment is silent on that point. It says : The amendment will be placed before Parliament. For what purpose, God alone knows. I hope parliament will have full power to consider the whole matter at every stage and accept or reject it as it likes. I feel that this Bill has been rushed through, and Section 4 adopted after only a sight modification. It mellows the monstrosity somewhat but it does not remove the odious nature of the provision. I hope that, when the matter comes up before the House in a month or two, this Assembly will have full power to scrutinise all the Orders made by the Governor-General under this Act, and amend or reject them.
Shri T.T. Krishnamachari : I move that the question be put.
Mr. Vice-President : Does Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar wish to say anything ?
The Honourable Shri N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar : I do not think I have anything to say.
Mr. Vice-President : The question is :
"That the Bill further to amend the Government of India act, 1935, as settled by the Assembly, be passed."
The motion was adopted.
The Bill, as settled by the Assembly, was passed.
Mr. Vice-President : The House will now adjourn till 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.
The Constituent Assembly then adjourned till Nine of the Clock on Friday the 19th August 1949.