<b>XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, <i> Session II (Winter Session) </i> </b>
XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II (Winter Session) Friday, December 3, 1999/Agrahayana 12, 1921 (Saka )


Type of Debate: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BILL
Title: Introduction of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 1999. (Amendment of article 58, etc.)

TEXT :
15.44 hrs.

SHRI KIRIT SOMAIYA (MUMBAI NORTH EAST) Sir, I beg to move for leave to introduce a Bill further to amend the Constitution of India.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Motion moved:

"That leave be granted to introduce a Bill further to amend the Constitution of India."

SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL (CHANDIGARH): Sir, my opposition to the introduction of this Bill emanates from the fact of law that it is not within the competence of this House or of the other House to enact an amendment to the Constitution which has the effect of altering its basic features. The Constitution of India, which was the result of hardwork of freedom fighters ____________________________________________________________________________

*Published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part-II, Section 2, dated 3.12.99.

who had sacrificed the best of their lives for the Independence of this country, who could visualise what the Independent India had to be like, made no distinction between any class of citizens. The most important article of the Constitution, which I would term as article 19, guarantees certain fundamental rights to the citizens. It begins with the following words:

"All citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression; to assemble peaceably and without arms; to form associations or unions etc."

The six most important Fundamental Rights which article 19 accords to the Constitution refer to the words "all citizens of India." Ever since the promulgation of the Constitution, it has been working that way. Now, my friend has come forward with an amendment to suggest that the posts of the President of this Country, the Vice-President and that of the Prime Minister should not be held by all the citizens. He wants to exclude a particular class of citizens whom he calls not "natural born citizens." I do not know how he has used the words "natural born citizens." If he has used the words "by birth or by acquisition of citizenship under the Citizenship Act, that is a different matter...(Interruptions)

SHRI G.M. BANATWALLA (PONNANI): Nobody is artificially born...(Interruptions)

SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL : Though the words used are like that, that is not my basic objection. I wish to bring to the notice of this august House the first point that I have made very briefly. Besides, I would like to refer to Rule 294 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. It talks of the formation of a Committee on Private Members' Bills and Resolutions. It says as to what are the functions of the Committee. The first function of the Committee is as. Rule 294(1) says:

"The functions of the Committee shall be to examine every Bill seeking to amend the Constitution notice of which has been given by a private member, before a motion for leave to introduce the Bill is included in the list of Business."

My objection is two-fold. One, that an amendment like this cannot at all be brought about and we are not competent to make an amendment like this which makes distinction between different classes of citizens. The matter does not rest here. The Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Bill, as you would appreciate, is always read with the Bill. Please permit me to say that the hon. Member has cast aspersion on the House, on the residents and the citizens of this country. Every day, we hear the hon. Ministers from the other side talking of the ongoing process of liberalisation as if it is the Magna Carta of the country, as if there is nothing beyond that.

Here, what we find, in the Statement of Objects and Reasons, quite objectionable is the following sentence. I quote:

"Given the enormous role that money has come to play in the political life of the country, there will be temptations for these corporations to use the power of their money to influence political development in India."

Then, he berates the foreign print media which has begun, according to him, to make inroads into our country, though, my opinion is, it cannot make any inroads into our country. Then, he says:

"These developments are fraught with grave consequences for India's sovereignty. Sooner or later, these foreign economic and cultural interests can be expected to make efforts to influence India's decision-makers to formulate policies which may not be in national interest."

He further says:

"In the changing global scenario, it will not be beyond the capacity of foreign interests to manipulate a situation to project a person who is not a natural born citizen of the country and whose patriotism may be in doubt."

He goes on to add further:

"They hold in their hands decision-making powers which can take the country to wars or make compromises on the nation's security. Any person whose patriotism is untested should not be trusted with the fate of one-sixth of humanity."

These are the reasons given in the Statement of Objects and Reasons which have motivated the hon. Member to move his Amendment. I have serious objections to these points enumerated here. If any citizen, under the law of the country, contests an election and the people vote him or her to power to represent them in Parliament, then, according to the law, the President has the right to appoint somebody as the Prime Minister. But we know that, according to the system, the leader of the party or the conglomerate or the alliance, as the present alliance is, which enjoys the confidence or the majority of the House of the People is called upon to be the Prime Minister. The system is working well. There is no reason to doubt or to have some sort of suspicion in the mind excepting some paranoia which may be, in fact, the real reason for a thought like this. That is the first serious objection which I have to this Bill.

Sir, in our system if we feel that if these three important positions of the country can be excluded from those people who are not citizens by birth for the reasons that we doubt their integrity, commitment and patriotism, how can we have people as the Speaker who is not a citizen of the country by birth or the Chief Justice of India who is not a citizen by birth? This is outrageous.

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN (BALASORE): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, I am on a point of order.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN : Sir, Rule 72 (1) says:

"If a motion for leave to introduce a Bill is opposed, the Speaker, after permitting, if he thinks fit, brief statements from the member who opposes the motion ..."

But he has been speaking for the last 5 to 10 minutes. It is not a brief statement.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: He has given notice and I have allowed him.

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN : He has given notice. That is all right. But he is making a lengthy speech.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: No; it is not a point of order.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Swain, he is arguing his case.

... (Interruptions)

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN : Sir, it has become a lengthy discussion. (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER : It is not a lengthy discussion; he is arguing his case.

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN : There is a provision for full discussion also.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: That provision will not apply here.

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN :He is saying that it is beyond the legislative competence of the House. If you want, then you can allow a full discussion on this matter, so that we will also participate. It is not that only one Member can speak and others will just listen. I want a ruling from you on this matter. (Interruptions)

SHRI P.C. THOMAS (MUVATTUPUZHA): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, he is arguing on the legislative competence. It can be argued and the constitutional propriety can also be argued. (Interruptions)

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN :Let hon. Deputy-Speaker allow everybody. We are also willing to put forth our views. (Interruptions) We are prepared for a full discussion on this matter. (Interruptions)

SHRI KIRIT SOMAIYA : Sir, they are so much afraid and that is why they are raising objections to the introduction of this Bill. (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Hon. Members, Shri Somaiya and Shri Swain, nothing will go on record.

(Interruptions) *

_____________________________________________________________________________

*Not recorded.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: You must hear me.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Swain, I have asked you to listen to me.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Nothing will go on record.

(Interruptions) *

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Do not interrupt.

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SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN : Sir, we are prepared for a discussion. .. (Interruptions) We are willing to argue with him. ... (Interruptions) He goes on speaking for ours. ....(Interruptions)

PROF. RASA SINGH RAWAT (AJMER): There should be some limitation.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Swain, I have given the floor to him to put forward his case. Then, I will ask the mover to give reply. Thereafter I will follow the other steps.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: I am on my legs.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: This is not the way. This is Private Members' business. Let there be a healthy discussion. Everything should be conducted in a healthy manner.

Now, let me ask him to conclude. His case is over. Now, I will ask the mover to give reply.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Other hon. Members will not get a chance.

_____________________________________________________________________________

*Not Recorded.

SHRI PRIYA RANJAN DASMUNSI (RAIGANJ): For your information, I was born in East Pakistan. And I have a right to be in this House under the Constitution of India. ... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Swain, nothing will go on record. I have to take a serious note of your utterances.

(Interruptions)*

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: What is this?

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MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Swain, I have to warn you.

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Prof. Rawat, this is not the way. I have to warn you. Behave yourself well. This is not the way to behave in this House. I am conducting the House. He is putting forward his case. I will ask the mover to give reply. In the meantime, how are you coming forward without my permission?

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Nothing will go on record.

(Interruptions) *

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN (BALASORE): I have quoted the rule. ... (Interruptions) I have got every right to speak.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: You cannot challenge the ruling of the Chair.

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MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Nothing will go on record.

(Interruptions) .*

SHRI P.C. THOMAS : This is a very important hour for the Private Member's business. ... (Interruptions)

SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL : I am prepared to show the extent of intolerance like our friends from the other side. ... (Interruptions)

______________________________________________________________________________

*Not Recorded.

This brings me to the last point, that is, Rule 294(1). I have cited it earlier also. I submit that in the absence of any Constitution (Amendment) Bill moved or sought to be moved by a Private Member being brought before the Committee, it cannot be introduced.

It cannot be introduced here, before the Committee on Private Members has had an opportunity to examine the Bill. There is a specific provision for this in Rule 294(1).

Sir, I would seek your indulgence to this Rule again.

"(1) The functions of the Committee shall be--

(a) to examine every Bill seeking to amend the Constitution notice of which has been given by a private member, before a motion for leave to introduce the Bill is included in the list of business;..."

Thereafter it has to examine all Bills after introduction, etc. which I am not concerned with at the moment. The Committee on Private Members Bills and Resolutions has not yet been constituted. But this is the secondary objection that I have. My first and the fundamental objection was the constitutional one.

SHRI G.M. BANATWALLA (PONNANI): It is a very valid point, Mr. Deputy-Speaker Sir. How did this Bill come to us without being examined by this Committee?

SHRI KIRIT SOMAIYA : When the Committee is not in existence, the House gives the permission... (Interruptions)

SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL : Sir, I will just conclude by briefly reiterating the two aspects. One is the constitutional aspect and the intention that go with that as is manifest from the Statement of Objects and Reasons appended with the Bill. The second is the bar of Rule 294(1)(a), that is, till the Bill has been examined by the Committee, it cannot be taken up in the House. In view of this, my submission is that the introduction of this Bill has to be rejected.

SHRI G.M. BANATWALLA : Read sub-clause (d) also.

SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL :That will be done subsequently.

SHRI G.M. BANATWALLA (PONNANI): You just read it.

SHRI PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL : It says:

"(d) to examine every private member's Bill which is opposed in the House on the ground that the Bill initiates legislation outside the legislative competence of the House, and the Speaker considers such objection prima facie tenable;.."

But the basic and fundamental thing is the constitutional one.

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Interruptions)

SHRI KHARABELA SWAIN : The United States of America's constitution makers should be asked about it because they have also mentioned about natural born citizen... (Interruptions)

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In that Constitution also it is clearly mentioned

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The United States of America's Constitution provides:

"That no person except a natural citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of adoption of this Constitution shall be eligible for the post of Office of the President, neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall have not attained..."

16.00 hrs.

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Shri Kirit Somaiya, he has raised two objections. Firstly he said that among citizens, you cannot discriminate; that will be the violation of the basic structure of the Constitution; and in that case, this House cannot transact this. This is the first point that he has raised. Secondly, he has said that there is a Committee on Private Members' Bills; the screening part and approval are done by the Committee on Private Members' Bills; that Committee is not yet constituted and, therefore, this cannot be transacted here. He has raised these two points. You may kindly mention about those two points.

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"The Constitution provides that no person except a natural-born citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution shall be eligible to the Office of the President."

... (Interruptions)

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Let him place his case. Why are you interrupting him?

... (Interruptions)

SHRI KIRIT SOMAIYA : I would like to give the example of Peru also. Here it says that only natural born Peruvians are eligible for the Office of the President.

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That is number one. ... (Interruptions)

SHRI P.C. THOMAS : It should be defined in the Bill. ... (Interruptions)

SHRI KIRIT SOMAIYA : I have definied it in the Bill. You kindly go through that. It has been clearly mentioned as to what is meant by `natural-born citizen'. ... (Interruptions)

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