Constituent Assembly Debates

Chuni Lal Kotwal on ‘land to tillers’: Constituent Assembly debates

A group photograph of the Members of the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir

The Government of Jammu and Kashmir headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as Prime Minister carried out land reforms in 1950 through Big Landed Estates Abolition Act. The ‘land to tillers’ triggered the question of compensation to the landlords which was not provided in the original Act. This question was left to the Constituent Assembly to decide.

The Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, in November 1951, framed a Committee under Revenue Minister Mirza Afzal Beg to decide this question. In March 1952, the Mirza Afzal Beg committee presented its report before the Constituent Assembly which was put to debate by the members. Following thorough discussion and speeches by almost all members, the Constituent Assembly approved the Committee’s suggestions that no compensation was to be paid to big landed landlords whose land was expropriate and distributed among the tillers.

Below is full transcript of the speech by Chuni Lal Kotwal, Member Constituent Assembly

Chuni Lal Kotwal: Sir, the world passed through different stages, and the present stage through which we are passing is a common man’s age. The period of aristocracy just preceded it. The landlords, despots or chakdars were being helped in every possible way by the old autocratic and despotic regime. That regime made laws for their benefit and shaped the society according to their needs. That was the time when this aristocratic and despotic regime usurped land form the poor peasants, and gave it to big landlords and chakdars through one stroke of pen. A law was made to this effect. The people were so ignorant and down trodden that they could not raise any objection against it. When the society was not benefited in any way buy such laws, naturally such circumstances arose which were responsible for revolution. Our Sher-i-Kashmir gave us a lead in this bloodless revolution. It is only because of his right had sincere lead that we are today enjoying this position. The laws passed by aristocratic regime are not considered worthwhile today. The time has changed.

The time must now provide the common man with all the convenience and necessities. Our leaders and representatives demanded abolition of Big Landed Estates. A committee was appointed for this purpose. Mr. Beg worked as its Chairman. Now this Committee has presented a report. We have to see the desirability or otherwise of the payment of compensation and we must calmly and seriously think over it. We have also to convince the opposite block. This is a fact that when Big Landed Estates were abolished, those who were affected by it kept quite. They might have realized that their possession is based on injustice and tyranny. They realized that the laws passed by the popular Government are just and for common good. Of course, some persons think that as they have inherited this land form their grandfathers so they must receive compensation. but majority of such affected landlords realize that they deserve compensation morally. Let me submit that morality existed even in old times, but its lessons were only read not acted upon. The principles of morality were only cramped and were never followed practically, sympathetic treatment towards the poor used to be preached, but all the same they were robbed of every thing and their exploitation continued. All this was deemed justified according to the laws of the day. Human values are changing. The values of human life are really different in the common man’s age, and both the peasant and the landlord are aware of it. The landlord feels in his heart of hearts that exploitation of a poor peasant is unjust and undesirable. So far as the question of maintenance of the expropriated landlords is concerned it is solved by the 182 kanals of land left with them. They should learn to work over it and forget luxurious life. It is then alone that they can live and maintain themselves properly. The age of remaining idle is over. In think that 182 kanals of land is more than sufficient for the maintenance of one family. The Socialist Party of India after considering all the circumstances have recommended 20 to 25 Beghas of land for the maintenance of one family. If these Zamindars will work on this land properly they can surely live a happy life. Now there remains the question of orphans, aged and others. Let me submit thatsuch questions create hurdles and complicacies. In my opinion these 182 kanals of land cover everything. The poor kisan cannot afford to spend for his two meals; thee is no arrangement for the education for his children, they along for medical aid, and our friends dream of the compensation. I wish they could only realize as to who deserves help. To base the foundation of modern society on equality is necessary for the betterment and progress of mankind. The report under discussion is also a step towards it. With these words I support the report as presented (Cheers).


The Dispatch is present across a number of social media platforms. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for exciting videos; join us on Facebook, Intagram and Twitter for quick updates and discussions. We are also available on the Telegram. Follow us on Pinterest for thousands of pictures and graphics. We care to respond to text messages on WhatsApp at 8082480136 [No calls accepted]. To contribute an article or pitch a story idea, write to us at [email protected] |Click to know more about The Dispatch, our standards and policies