Sir, I would like to draw the attention of the nodal Ministry to the fact that there is a need for a Central enactment to ensure reservation strictly having a penal provision whereby. The executives defaulting in maintaining reservations at all levels are to be punished. Their accountability and responsibility should be fixed for wilful violation of the reservation policy. I think almost all the State Governments have already enacted it with a penal provision to the extent that any officer who defaults in implementing the reservation policy is to be penalised with a heavy fine.
I introduced a Bill in this respect, when I was a Minister in the West Bengal Government. So, there is an enactment with a penal provision to the extent that any officer who violates the reservation policy should be fined by the courts. That will also adversely affect ACR too. That is why, the officers have to take care of the proper implementation of the reservation policy.
It is my humble suggestion that I think Central this Government will take note of this and also to introduce a similar Bill regarding reservation policy. The Central Act would have lost its force deemed to be repealed and it would not have any locus standi with nonest of Reservation Policy.
Sir, with these few words, I support the amendment moved by the hon. Minister before this House.
MR. SPEAKER: Shri Prakash Ambedkar is the last speaker. Please conclude in two minutes as we have to send this Bill to the Rajya Sabha also.
MR. SPEAKER: No, already 21 Members have participated in the discussion.
SHRI SANSUMA KHUNGGUR BWISWMUTHIARY (KOKRAJHAR): Sir, I may also be given a chance to participate in the discussion. (Interruptions).
MR. SPEAKER: No, please. This is a very important Bill.
SHRI PRAKASH YASHWANT AMBEDKAR (AKOLA): Sir, I rise to support the amendment moved by the hon. Minister. Every ten years, a similar Bill is being moved to extend the reservations in Lok Sabha and Assemblies by ten years. At the beginning, it was necessary to decast the Parliament itself, and with that intention, that is, to decast the Parliament, the reservation policy was introduced in the Constitution. Fifty years have passed, the society has moved forward, and we have landed ourselves into a system where we see casteism on wane but castes becoming stronger day by day. This is the social analogy which we are facing today. If we continue with the present system that we have, then we will be landing ourselves in a static state where neither those from the reserved category nor those from the general category have any chance of coming together. There is no attempt in this country, which is a heterogenous mass, to evolve itself under some common platform. Time and again, the situation is changing where, in the beginning, the Government machinery was used to settle the reservation policy, and now, what we see is that the courts are being used to settle the reservation policy.
Sir, it is time that we wake up to the social realities in this country. I know that the reservation has to continue because the attitude of the masses has not changed. But we have to give an opportunity to the masses also to change their attitude. I would welcome the hon. Minister's offer for a detailed discussion on the issues of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, but I think not only the Government but also those who are in the Opposition, will have to come forward to see how we are going to overcome this dichotomy in which the Scheduled Castes claim themselves as Scheduled Castes and the general class remains as general class. This is a division in the society which, I think, we have to win over.
As I see the situation today, which is going from bad to worse, it is not because of the casteism but because of the caste being stronger. At the beginning of the Constitution, we decaste the parliamentary system. Today, it is necessary that the political parties are decaste. Except myself and Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde, I do not find anyone either being contested as a general candidate or being set up by the political parties. This is the attitude. The attitude of the political parties has to change now. I see a situation where masses are changing but the political parties are reluctant to change. Therefore, there has to be some means by which we can force the political parties to change their character itself. But I do not think we are having means whereby we are going to change the masses. It is only the attitude as to how you look into the situation, how you look at the issues that is going to change the society. If we do not bring about a change in the attitude, I see confrontation developing in the country itself.
May I express my concern regarding the privatisation in the economic sector that is taking place, which is supported both by the Congress and the BJP? In the days to come, the entire public sector is going to become private sector. I see two different things in this: (i) in the private sector, there is no reservation at all and (ii) if the entire public sector becomes private sector one day, indirectly we will be taking away the reservation benefits. There is a social change taking place in the Parliament itself, though it is slow. The proportion of the downtrodden is increasing day by day. We are following the liberalisation policy. What is the effect of the liberalisation policy? The effect of the liberalisation policy is that the economic power of the Parliament is being diminished day by day. We are facing a new situation in the times to come. If there is a total separation of economic power and political power and if there is a character change, a social change in this whole House itself, the House will be deprived of the economic power. They will be left only with the political power which has no meaning in the real sense at all. It is time that we sit and debate over this before the situation develops to such an extent that it becomes out of control.
Lastly, may I raise another issue? As I said, caste is becoming more stronger day by day. Are we not to follow the social mobility at all? Caste has a stigma, as it had in the Eighties when the use of the word `Harijan' was banned by the Government itself because it reflected upon certain parts of communities.
If you want social mobility in this country, if you want different societies to come together, I think it is time that we decide that the use of the word 'caste' will also be banned in this country. If you start referring to them as different communities, we go into a wider plane where a community does not mean any detachment or it does not mean any privilege to anybody.
We have to move out, upwards and if we have to move upwards, if we have to give social mobility, I do not think, just merely extending reservation by ten years we are going to achieve anything.
It was in the year 1952 when the father of this Constitution, Dr. Ambedkar made a demand to the Government to kindly make a process where the reservation is done away because he knew that one day these reservations are going to become in itself a hindrance to development. I know that today there is a confrontation in the judiciary and other places. Let us move along a social mobility plan, a social mobility where we bring communities together, we bring this heterogenous mass together and bring a feeling of oneness.
With these words I thank you and also support the Bill.
MR. SPEAKER : Now the hon. Minister to speak.
SHRI SANSUMA KHUNGGUR BWISWMUTHIARY (KOKRAJHAR): Sir, are we not Members of this august House?
MR. SPEAKER : You are also a Member of this House. Please take your seat.
SHRI SANSUMA KHUNGGUR BWISWMUTHIARY : Then why are we not allowed? ...(Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER : Now the hon. Minister to speak.
THE MINISTER OF LAW, JUSTICE AND COMPANY AFFAIRS (SHRI RAM JETHMALANI) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have heard with rapt attention the very informative, erudite and passionate speeches of 20 Members who have participated in the discussion on this Bill this afternoon. I would have taken a long time to deal with all those speeches and the points that have been raised. But we are all working today under constraints of time. I propose to be very brief; but not so brief as to show disrespect for the points that have been made in this House.
Sir, summarising and surveying all the 20 speeches, three things emerge with complete unanimity. The first is that the original compulsions which compelled the Constitution-makers to provide for reservations both for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and to some extent for the Anglo-Indian community continue. There has been some divergence of opinion. Some Members have said that nothing has been achieved ever since the reservations were instituted. Others have said, and my sister there has even arithmetically calculated and said that there has been ten per cent fulfilment of the dreams of the Constitution-makers.
But, Sir, whatever these differences, they have all agreed that even indignities and atrocities of the basest kind which disfigured the social scene in India many years ago still continue to disfigure many parts of the Indian landscape.
The second matter on which we are all united is that the benefits of reservations are confined to a select few and they have not percolated down to the vast majority of those who have suffered for centuries in this country.
Therefore, there has to be a wider base for the spread of the benefits of reservations in the future. It seems that we are all united on this that the Bill must be passed. I am grateful to the House for this unanimity, but kindly do pardon me for taking a few more minutes of the time of this august House to make a comment, and a very brief one, on some of the points raised.
Sir, we all Members who take our seats in this House take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution of India. It is the Constitution of India which talks of human dignity and brotherhood. It is the Constitution of India which talks of the equality of all irrespective of caste, creed, colour or religion. It is a little unfair to characterise those who solemnly swear by the Constitution as Manuwadis. I liked the speech of my sister Kumari Mayawati. It was one of the most delightful speeches that I have heard from her, but if she said it in good humour, then, I will not even take the trouble of combating this assertion. But we are not Manuwadis, we are Ambedkarwadis.
SHRI RAM JETHMALANI: I have repeatedly declared my personal testament in this House. ....(Interruptions) I have repeatedly declared before this House that I consider Dr. Ambedkar not only as the architect of our Constitution, but in my personal life - both in social life and political life - I consider him my guide, friend, philosopher and of course a beacon light.
I do not wish to go into the wounds of the past. I do not wish to score political points. Some Members doubtless tried to make political points, but I do not wish to make any. I could seize upon the confession that was made that nothing had been achieved in favour of the backward classes, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Some Members of the Congress Party said it. I could have said : `Yes, this is true' and then, I could have turned the tables and said : `But we never have been in power for the last fifty years'. I do not wish to do that and it is no use going into the past. Let us now concentrate on future.
Sometimes, a brief reference to the past may be necessary to evaluate the problems that perplex us and to find out the solutions of these extremely complex problems.
Sir, Manusmriti is considered by some at least as a scripture and yet, I think, it is a tribute to the generosity, the catholicity, the rationality, and the secularism of the Indian mind, particularly the Hindu mind, that they have allowed their scriptures to be repealed by the Constitution of India and they have allowed their scriptures to be repealed by the laws made by the Parliament of this country. Shall we all unite together and unanimously pass a law proscribing those parts of Manusmriti which are inconsistent with the Constitution and the law of this land? ...(Interruptions) We will be willing, but please bear in mind that there are some adventitious disposable elements in the Hindu religion which we have been trying to get rid of for the last so many years. There are such disposable and adventitious elements in every faith. Are the followers of all faiths prepared to join in this crusade that it is the ultimate republic religion of India which will prevail over all other denominational religions? Join together in this great venture and that will be your greatest contribution to the establishment of a secular and unified society.
Sir, a reference was made by the very venerable friend Geetaji. She talked of the predominance of "Saraswati" over "Lakshmi". I whole-heartedly support it. The real problem, if you ask me, is the problem of education. If you give intensive education of the highest kind to all sections of the society, and particularly those who have suffered from centuries of oppression, you will have solved the major problem, and that is the key to the solution of all other subordinate problems.
To the Members of this House, Mr. Speaker, I am known as a practitioner of law, and now I have been temporarily a Minister of Law. But basically I am a teacher of law. I teach even now in three universities. In the National Law School of India, which has now turned out to be the Harvard of India, we have a system of reservations for the Scheduled Castes. We admit the Scheduled Caste students every year. We admit them even though they have less marks in the qualifying examination. I myself have gone and taught those young boys; I have taught them and given them intensive training for three months, and those young boys from the Scheduled Castes have surpassed every other student, and in every test that has been prescribed, they have outclassed the students of the so-called higher castes.
My friend from the Shiv Sena, my colleague here, very rightly talked about the anger which sometimes is produced by reservations. Yes, I agree that there are some people who have the vanity to think that they are persons possessed of merit, and they become angry when the system of reservation does them out of a job. But I think, those who are thus angry must realise two things: that merit itself is not a matter of excellence or a matter of birth in a particular family. Ultimately, what is `merit' and who has defined `merit'? Dr. Saroja was asking me to define `merit'. Doctor, I confess my inability to define `merit'; merit cannot be defined except by your social attitudes. After all, is a successful lawyer greater than a successful sweeper? How do you answer this question by any inference or criteria? No, it is a question of social attitude. We have been trained to think that a lawyer is a slightly better person than a sweeper. In some societies, possibly, it could be the other way; the social attitude might be different.
Reservations, my friends, are not a system of poverty alleviation; they are a system of compensation for historical wrongs, just as in Hindu law, we have a rule that a father's debts must descend upon the son, and the son is under a pious obligation to discharge the debts of his father. The present generation, the people of so-called merit, who are angry about reservations, must learn that the present society will have to pay for the sins of our ancestors. But this anger should not be left to continue for long. We have already continued it beyond the original contemplated period of ten years. We have increased it to 20, 30 or 40 or 50 years, and now, today, we are increasing it to 60. I suggest that within the next ten years, if we put together our entire moral, spiritual, and material resources, I have no doubt that given proper implementation of the safeguards for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, we should be able to achieve within ten years what we have not achieved during the last 50 years.
SHRI SANSUMA KHUNGGUR BWISWMUTHIARY : It is impossible.
SHRI RAM JETHMALANI: But I require your cooperation. I said, Mr. Speaker, that in my private capacity, not as a Minister of Law and Justice, I intend to call a big convention where those of you who want to come will come and those who have been denied today to speak freely, we will hear them for days together. We will sort out the problems, and we will find the solutions.
But there must be an honest conviction and pledge that you must carry out those resolutions with perfect candour, perfect industry and perfect honesty.
Some of my friends referred to legislation. Yes, my good friend Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has given us a model. He gave this model when he was a member of the previous Cabinet -- and not when he is a member of this Cabinet -- of which he was a distinguished member himself. He did produce a model piece of legislation. I can only promise that I have not had a look at it but I would certainly look at it and we would seriously consider what is today being done by purely Resolutions of the Government and by official memoranda, whether or not it should be converted into statutory obligations. That is what Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has asked for and I promise that we would look into it.
My friend, the distinguished Professor talked of `Mansikta ka vikas karo'. Character cannot be legislated. Character has to come out of your own education; it has to come as a result of some little flash of light in your conscience. Law will not do. You are right in saying that in this country we have used the Scheduled Castes as pawns and also as vote banks in some instances, utilized them but never did things for them which they really deserved and which ought to have been done long long ago.
I do not wish to make a political argument today. My friend, the representative of the Samajwadi Party very rightly talked about corruption as being the ill of this nation. It was heart-rending to hear from him that direct testimony of an eye witness, that even in the matter of implementation of the safeguards for the Scheduled Castes there is gross corruption and the grossest kind of corruption. I am one with all Members of this House who have a commitment to removal of corruption. But corruption can only be removed if, first of all, there is vigorous law enforcement where law must not hang limp when it is faced with people who occupy the upper decks of our political life. Pledge yourself today to rigorous enforcement of the law relating to corruption and at least pledge that no one in his personal life shall seek any advantage by the practice of corruption and corruption will go and with it will improve the condition of the Scheduled Castes and the people belonging to the weaker sections of our society.