Constituent Assembly Debates

Hakim Habib Ullah 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 Hakeem Habib Ullah, Constituent Assembly member

Hakim Habib Ullah: Mr. President, the report of the Compensation Committee has now come up for discussion before the House. Much has been said about it by the Hon’ble Members of the House. It seems that almost all the Members of the Committee are unanimously of the opinion that no compensation should be given to those landlords whose land has been confiscated and transferred to the actual tillers.

These landlords have acquired sufficient produce, advantages and many other things from their lands. Justice does not demand that any compensation should be awarded to these landlords. So far as this opinion is concerned, I agree that the report of the Committee is acceptable to all the members of the House. It is true that the peasant has remained under the grips and clutches of the landlords and has not been able to lead a prosperous life in this world. It is true that the property belonged to the peasant and not to the landlord. It is great injustice that the hard earned income of tiller should be exploited by a landlord. I think these persons should not be given any kind of compensation because for a considerable time they got all sorts of advantages from the land. But I want to draw the attention of the House to one main thing which the Hon’ble members of this House have not taken into consideration. It concerns all those landlords who were in possession of the land but due to certain circumstances were not in a position to get the produce of the land. From a perusal of the report I have not been able to find out if any thing will be given to such persons. I would like to quote on example. There is a certain person known to me who occupied some land against cash payment, for a long time. During all this period due to certain circumstances he could not derive any advantage out of it. The money which he spent on this land could not be got back. This means that he has undergone a loss of, say Rs. 2, 3 or 10 thousands, spend by him for the purchase of this land. I agree that no compensation should be given to those who have derived considerable advantage from the land but a separate provision should be made in the report for the landlords who could not get any profit from their lands.

The second thing is, that I have found some contradictions in the report. On page 32 (Urdu it is written): “No question of recovering the price of lands from them does arise. As a State with limited resources we are too poor to pay compensation from out of the State revenues. The financial liability will be of a very serious nature and payment itself will prove incalculably mischievous. Apart from these considerations there is no moral, economic or social basis for compensation. We therefore, recommend that both on principle and policy, the payment of compensation to the expropriated proprietors is not desirable.”

This is a nice thing indeed. In the first few lines the committee says that no compensation should be given to them. So far as this is concerned I agree with it. But a few lines that follow contradict it. From these lines, it appears that compensation should be given to them. (Cheers).

So, I may request the committee to clear the ambiguity of the report. On the one hand they are of the opinion that compensation should not be given to the landlords because they have acquired considerable profits and on the other hand they allege that the Government is not in a position to pay compensation on the ground that the financial position of the Government is not satisfactory. The report contains contradictory recommendations. Does it mean that they are ready to pay if they become financially well of? But such should not be the case.

Compensation should not be given to the landlords because they have achieved sufficient advantage by the acquisition of the land. With these words I strongly second the report submitted by the Committee before the House.


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