Constituent Assembly Debates

Fundamental Rights and Citizenship: Discussion in J&K Constituent Assembly

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

On November 7, 1951, Revenue Minister Mirza Afzal Beg moved resolution in Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly for appointment of an Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

The resolution was put to discussion, following which Mirza Afzal Beg spoke on the merits of the resolution which was passed in the Constituent Assembly.

Below is the transcript of speeches of various members:

Mr. Assad Ullah : Yes Sir, this motion concerned the fundamental rights of man. Rousseau who was the spiritual father of the French Revolution had said: “Man is born free, but everywhere we find him in chains, the chains are not of political tyrants but of social obligations”

It is said that man is by very nature born free. Freedom of writing and speech are his birthrights and he has the freedom to take to any calling which he would take to. If a man would loaf about or take to any calling which is not in keeping with the liking of he society or its organization, even then he can say that he is free to take to any occupation of his liking. Nobody can obstruct his freedom. The matter of the fact is that the rights which have been given to a man by nature are molded in the society. The freedom is allowed only to the extent where it does not prove harmful to the Society.

At another place Rousseau says “will and not force is the basis of the State”. It is only the public opinion which is the basis of responsible Government. You cannot thrust anything on any man. Naturally every man has got some personal aspirations which are styled as personal will. He also entertains certain group wills which concern his family and neighbours and along with these he has also certain aspirations concerning the society which are styled as a general will if all these personal group and general will are systematized into a collective shape, they would form the basis of any democratic Government. This would constitute an organization where the voice of the oppressed could not be suppressed and either the voice of such a man could prove harmful to the public. Therefore, in any organization which would be set up in this manner, personal freedom would be guaranteed in every respect leading to the growth of the public opinion. This results inevitably in the freedom for both the individuals and the society. On the other hand if a State is established where life and property of either and individual or a class could not be safe, such a state will not be state of angles but a state of brutes, such a state cannot last but will fall at once. I would like to sound a note of advice to those gentlemen whose names have been proposed for this Committee that while keeping in view the right of association or other birth rights they should see that the public opinion and the class are not opposed to each other. With these words I support this motion.

Krishan Dev Sethi: The motion which has been put forth sufficiently explains the duties of this Committee. So far as it concerns the matter that every man should have the freedom of writing, speech adopting any occupation of his choice it cannot be possible for one to take to a calling of his liking units means are devised to this end. For instance a man given the right to adopt an occupation according to his will but in the absence of any prospect of earning his livelihood thereby how can he be enabled to fulfill his desire. He has first to be provided a livelihood and then can adopt a calling of his liking. What would the freedom of writing and speech avail unless a man has received education.

Therefore, I would commend to the consideration of the Hon’ble Members of the Committee that while keeping in view the problem relating to the right of writing speech and the other human rights they should think as to what should be the means which would enable a man to adopt an occupation according to his wishes. It is an essential right for a man to be provided with livelihood, means of education and opportunities to benefit from the medical service. This Committee should deliberate upon all such problems as are calculated to benefit a man. With these words I support the constitution of the committee.

Ghulam Nabi Wani: Hon’ble President. While supporting the Hon’ble mover I would like to state that he has thrown sufficient light on the motion. The deeper the consideration, which this august Assembly may bestow on this motion the more advantageous, it will prove for the public. For the consideration of the civic rights it is necessary to keep under consideration the backwardness of the public. For the consideration of the civic rights it is necessary to keep under consideration the backwardness of the public. With these brief words I support the motion of the Hon’ble mover.

Sardar Harbans Singh: The motion of the mover has been debated upon for a long time. I would like to submit briefly that some sentiment has been imported into the discussion in the House. I believe that the fundamental rights and the civic obligations cannot be divorced from each other. No Government can ignore the fundamental principles adopted by any other Government. If anybody likes to take poison I think no Government would allow him to do so. Several such questions have been decided by the High Courts in India. The Committee should consider all the interpretations given on the subject of the freedom of writing and speech. They should try to understand what freedom means in actual sense of the term. So far as the definition of freedom is concerned, the real object of the definition as it strikes me is that the freedom of any one should not come into conflict with that of any one else. Similarly the freedom of writing, speech or profession should not interfere with that of any other person. The Russian constitution lays down: – ‘Every person in the country is guaranteed the right to work’  but the Indian Constitution lays down : – ‘Efforts would be made to give work to all citizens in the State’

If we embody a guarantee in our constitution that every person would be provided with work and if the work is not provided I think this guarantee would lead to complications. This is worth consideration and the committee shall have to see at the time of writing the report that every citizen is assured the right of freedom of speech, occupation and religion. I would also request the committee that while framing their own constitution they should take into consideration the current provisions on fundamental rights in the constitutions of the leading countries and the interpretations of different High Courts so that the political edifice of our country may stand on solid foundations and the people of this country may become prosperous. With these words I support the Hon’ble mover’s motion.

Bhagat Ram Sharma: Hon’ble President, today a very important committee on whose working depends the existence of the citizen of this country is being constituted. The committee has to decide about fundamental rights of human beings. A man is nothing without rights and the first of them is the right to live and for this existence three or more rights are required which can be called fundamental rights. The right to food comes first, keep a man without food and shower on him all other kinds of freedoms; they will all be in vain. That man will run away from all these freedoms and run after food. Before a decision is taken regarding the rights the committee should consider it as of top-most importance that every body gets food. I do not say that food should be doled out to man food for eating; cloths for wearing and a hut for residence are essential for every man.

I do not think that food should be given, as alms but every man should have so much right as to be able to earn his livelihood by work. In a society where this human right is denied even if there be freedom of writing and speech, I think all that would be meaningless. I would request the Hon’ble Members of this committee that they should devote there attention to this and grant every body the right to work which could yield him a reasonable wage to enable him to feed and cloth himself and provide shelter for himself. We hope that this committee would not deny this right. With these words I support the Hon’ble mover.

The President: Before the Hon’ble mover begins his reply to the debate, I would request him to read out the Resolution again.

Mirza Afzal Beg: Sir, that will be when I conclude my speech. Before I rise to reply to the remarks made by various Hon’ble Members on this motion, I beg to offer my personal explanation with regard to one made by one of the Hon’ble members. When I mover the motion I proposed an amendment with regard to the proposed last two names of this committee. On making that submission to the House I suggested two other names for substitution. I explained to the House why I made that proposal, but the amendment was disallowed. There was no question of wearing mind when mind when I suggested the amendment. Before I move my amendment I fully realized the utility of the members of the committee. Day before yesterday certain events took place on the floor of this House and that is why I have proposed substitution for the last two names of this committee.

This morning came another important question before the House that besides being a member of this committee the Hon’ble member will have to do a good deal of spade work in preparing material for the compensation committee. Moreover, his name is again being proposed for the second committee in which besides, working as a member he shall have to work as Secretary to that committee and it will be a great burden on him and I think that he needs relief. I have made the previous selection with open eyes and today I again with open eyes propose the name other members with due respect to Hon’ble members previously proposed. I beg to propose that M/S Hakim Habib Ullah and Abdul Gani Trali be substituted for M/s Mir Qasim and Assad Ullalh respectively.

I have already said the question of Rights of Citizenship is the question of world importance but some complications have been attached to it, new complication that has arisen in how a man losses his right of citizenship in a country where he was born and lived for a series of years and what would have happened to his right of citizenship had he abandoned his own home land and domiciled in some foreign country and in due course of time he again would have claimed the rights of Citizenship in his own land in accordance with the law of his country. This question will have to be examined carefully and assure the Hon’ble members who have made every adequate and valuable suggestions that such suggestions as well as other suggestions which he will come across in framing the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship will be given adequate and due consideration. We shall make such a definition of the Fundamental rights and Citizenship as will safeguard the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and also the rights of the people too so that any body who comes across these principles laid down in our Constitution may proud of them. In regard to fundamental rights to which a reference has been made on the Floor of the House that is equality before law, irrespective of nationality, religion, race of birth, no person, however, high born; no person wherever born, no person with whatever qualification or caste will be treated discriminately. Everybody will be treated equally before Law and the supremacy of Law shall always prevail. A person may belong to any caste, creed or colour but he shall have to bow before  Law without any distinction or discrimination. Secondly, our fundamental right will bear out that no discrimination shall be tolerated on the grounds of religion. (Cheers)

We want to bury, bury deep, all these feelings of hatred and spite created on the ground of faith and religion in Jammu and Kashmir and no such discrimination, which existed heretofore on the basis of religion, shall be tolerated. (Cheers).

May I remind you, sir, that the question of fundamental rights was the main reason for which we struggled hard during the last twenty years under the able and inspiring leadership of Sher-I-Kashmir and suffered troubles and tribulations. We want ahead with a banner under which all communities relied round and stood firm like a back. I may assure you. sir, that the foundation of our constitution will absolutely be non religious and of secular character which any civilized country may feel proud of.

Now I beg to the House that the resolution as amended may be passed. In the amended form the personnel of the Committee will be as follows:

  1. The mover as Chairman and ten other members.
  2. Mr. G.M.Hamdani,
  3. Mr. Chuni Lal,
  4. Mr. Abdul Gani Goni,
  5. Mrs. Mani,
  6. Mr. Mubarik Shah,
  7. S. Kulbir Singh,
  8. Mr. Mansukh Rai,
  9. Mr. Kashuk Bakula,
  10. Mr. Hakim Habibullah.
  11. Mr. A. Gani Trali.

The President: Before I put the resolution to the House I would enquire whether any member of the House has any objection to the amendment proposed by the mover.

Voices: No, No.

The President: I would now put the Hon’ble Mr. Beg’s resolution to the House. Those who are in favour may raise their hands. Nobody is against. The Resolution is carried.


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