Constituent Assembly Debates

Moti Ram Baigra 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 Moti Ram Baigra, Member Constituent Assembly

Moti Ram Baigra: Sir, before I support the report of the Land Commission, I want to submit a few words. This was an issue which we, today, have settle with courage. Land is a natural wealth. Nature wanted people to exploit land……

G.M. Sadiq (President): this House is adjourned today. We shall now meet on Saturday 29th March 1952 at 11 of the Clock.


Moti Ram Baigra: Sir, I had submitted the other day that on setting up of the land Compensation Committee, the only question before it was whether compensation should be paid or not. No other question was included in the terms of reference of the Committee. I have examined this report. In chapter II of the report it is mentioned under the head “Acceptance of the Constitution of India does not imply acceptance of the principle of compensation.” That—

“While the Indian Government with its vast resources might be in a position to pay compensation for Lands acquired by it the Kashmir Government fully conscious of their limitations must needs deal with their problems in their own way in the larger interests of the Country……

Sir, that was not the point here. The National Conference has observed that some individuals have unduly and unlawfully taken possession of the and of our country. It was on account of this that the National Conference came into being, land to be allotted to those who are its actual tillers. The conditions of the country took a turn after a prolonged struggle and a Provisional Government of the National Conference was set up under the Leadership of Sher-I- Kashmir and when, this Government prepared a plan for transfer of land to the tiller according to the basic slogan of the National Conference the big landlords of the country raised the question of compensation. Accordingly, when the Constitute Assembly was established, this Committee was appointed only to report with respect to the desirability of paying compensation or otherwise. The question was not that we had no money and consequently could not pay compensation. We fought the election on the basis of “no compensation to landlords.”’ If we say that we have no money at present, the landlords will demand that they be paid their dues by instilments within a period of twenty years, and in this manner we shall have to face great difficulties. Shortcomings of this nature are present in the report by reason of which it becomes difficult to support it in-toto. Under the head” investigation into the arguments for no compensation” in chapter 2 the report of the Committee reads as follows:-

“………..The reason advanced by the tillers in general and the various progressive institutions of the State are based on the fact that the rightful claimant of the land is he who actually tills it……….”

On the question of non payment of compensation a large number of landlords is with us. I cannot understands as to how the question of compensation could arise when the majority of the people have decided in favour of “ no compensation.” Any reference made to India in regard to this problem isquite uncalled for. The problem of payment of compensation in India was of quite a different nature, but in our country the National Conference fought the election on the basis that compensation shall not be paid to the expropriated landlords.

There, of course, exists a law according to which compensation is paid, but such compensation is paid for the lands acquired by the Government for the public use i.e construction of roads and digging out of canals. In the present circumstances the lands that were wrongfully taken into possession by a certain class have now been wrested back, and restored to the original owners. How are they entitled to compensation? The report which has been submitted needs some changed. I would request the Hon’ble Members to please thoroughly consider the report submitted by the Committee, as ultimately it has to take the shape of a law. The Government are not acquiring these lands for public use but these lands are being transferred in the ownership of the actual tillers. It is for the Legislative Assembly to see if there are such cases which need consideration.

Assadullah Mir:- Sir, under section 36 of the Rules of Business and Procedure, repetition is not allowed. The Hon’ble Member has been repeating the same arguments which have already been advanced by the mover and other Hon’ble Members. I would request the Hon’ble Member not to indulge in repetitions.

Pandit Bhagat Ram Sharma: Sir, if any Hon’ble Member repeats things in order to develop his arguments he may not be restrained from doing so, Hon’ble President: I may inform the House that I have not taken notice of this point of order.

Moti Ram Baigra: In this report it has also been remarked that the tillers to whom lands have been recorded are extremely poor and oppressed and consequently the question of realization of compensation from them does not at all arise. The question before the Committee was not as to where from the money for compensation will come and how to pay. It was not necessary for the Committee to investigate the sources. I would, therefore, request that the report may not be passed as a whole but be discussed by parts. I hope that the House will consider this point. I support only that the part of the report in which it has been recommended that compensation should not be paid. The rest of the report, I think, is irrelevant.


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