Constituent Assembly Debates

Isher Devi Maini 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 Isher Devi Maini, Constituent Assembly member

Isher Devi Maini: Mr. President, I support the Land Compensation Committee which has been presented in the House by Hon’ble Mirza Afzal Beg. Our worthy Bapu treated Harijans as super-souls. It is through the efforts of Mr. Beg that these Harijans have emerged as the owners of the land under the Big Land Estates Abolition act. Mr. Beg also like me tries to follow Bapu. To give land to the tillers is very pleasant. It should be recalled that Manu Ji had also distributed land among the poor. They had felt pleased. Our Sher-i-Kashmir is also known as a religious man by the whole world and his mission is that land belongs to tillers, or to him who works on it. This is a good mission. He has made up his mind to make it a reality. While he was in the Jail he thought out good plan and schemes for the betterment of his brother countrymen. Almighty entrusted him with the completion of these plans and schemes.

Today all these good plans are before us. Our Sher-i-Kashmir is trying to win over he Pakistani’s and raise the standard of living of the poor. He is feeding the poor and in return they are praying for him. But we must also do something worthy. Maharaja Gulab Singh had gifted away the land to some persons but you have returned it to the real owners. This is right; it ought to have been so. This law is applicable in the case of those persons also who, ten years hence’ have purchased this land and since then have earned a lot form it. But in case of those persons who have borrowed money from banks or their relatives and have purchased land form which they have been expropriated without deriving any profit out of it, would it not be bittern if such Banks or such relatives are asked to abandon their claims. So far as religious institutions are concerned a committee may be appointed to look into the matter. In this connection I shall submit that for this Committee there should be more women members because women usually go to Mandirs for Pooja.


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