Constituent Assembly Of India -Volume IX
Dated: August 12, 1949
The Constituent Assembly of India met in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi, 'at Nine of the Clock, Mr. President (The Honourable Dr. Rajendra Prasad) In the Chair.
Sardar Bhopinder Singh Man (East Punjab: Sikh) : Sir, in the definition of citizenship' which covers- fairly extensive ground the view-point of Hindu and Sikh refugees has been met to some extent by the Drafting Committee whom I congratulate on that account. But, as usual, a weak sort of secularism has crept in and an unfair partiality has been shown to, those who least deserve it. I was saying that the Hindu and Sikh refugees view-point has been met to some extent, but not wholly. I do not understand why the 19th July 1948 has been prescribed for the purpose of citizenship. These unfortunate refugees could not have foreseen this date; otherwise they would have invited Pakistan knife, earlier so that they might have come here earlier and acquired citizenship rights It will be very cruel to shut our borders to those who are victimised after the 19th July 1948. They are as much sons of the soil as anyone else. This political mishap was not of their own seeking and now it will be very cruel to place these political impediments in their way and debar them from coming over to Bharat Mata. Our demand is that any person, who because of communal riots in Pakistan has come over to India and stays here at the commencement of this Constitution, should automatically be considered as a citizen of India and should on no account be made to go to a registering authority and plead before him and establish a qualification of six months domicile to claim rights of citizenship. There may be victims of communal frenzy in our neighbouring State hereafter; it is not only a possibility but a great probability in the present circumstances. Any failure of the evacuee property talks may lead to a flare-up against Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan, and we must have a clause that these people will in no case be debarred from coming over and becoming citizens of this Union.
Article 5-AA lays down in the beginning.
The purpose of this clause will be completely nullified, because we who are refugees, due to this exchange of population which necessarily involves exchange of property. will be put to serious trouble. 'This securing of permit from the Deputy High Commissioner's office, I can assure you, is a cheap affair in its actual working. Besides these permits when they were issued, they were issued for various other purposes commercial trade, visiting, purposes etc. and never at any rate for citizenship. We should not give citizenship merely on the ground that a person is in a position to produce this permit, which he can secure from the Deputy High Commissioner's office somehow or other. I feel that if at all the permit system was intended to confer benefits of citizenship, then a particular authority specifically constituted for that purpose should have been there and that authority should have realized at the time of giving the permit the implication that this is not simply a permit to enable a person to visit India for trade or Commerce but, that it will entail along with it citizenship rights also. Apart from that, let us see how this will adversely affect evacuee property. Very recently an Ordinance has been promulgated throughout India that the property of a person who has migrated to Pakistan after March 1947 win accrue to the Custodian-General of India and that property will be, to that extent, for the benefit of the rehabilitation of refugees. The Indian Government is already short of property as it is and it is unable to solve the rehabilitation problem. The difference of property left by Indian nationals in Pakistan and the one left behind by Muslims, in India-this difference of property cannot be bridged. Pakistan has not given you a satisfactory answer how it is going to re-pay that difference. Naturally, our policy should have been to narrow down this difference of property. This clause, instead of narrowing down that difference, will widen it. Thus, while on the one hand we are unable to help refugees, on the other hand we are showing concession after concession to those people who least deserve it. I am told that these permits will be granted only in very rare cases. I am told that only 3,000 of them have been granted. Now, I do not know how much property will be restored back to those people who will come under this permit system-may be a crore or may be much less-a few lakhs. My point is this: that this property which will eventually go to these permit-holders will go out of the evacuee property and out of the hands of the Custodian-General and the very purpose of the Ordinance which you recently promulgated will be defeated.
The securing of a chance permit from the Deputy High Commissioner's office or any other authority should not carry with it such a prize thing as citizenship of India, or that the holders be considered to be sons of Bharat Mata. I will cite one instance. Meos from Gurgaon, Bharatpur and Alwar not very long time ago, on the instigation of the Muslim League, demanded Meostan and they were involved in very serious rioting against the Hindus-their neighbours at the time of freedom. Right in 1947 a serious riot was going on by these Meos against their Hindu neighbours. These Meos, under this very lax permit system, are returning and demanding their property. On the one hand, we are short of' property and on the other hand, concessions are being given to them. This is secularism no doubt, but a very one-sided and undesirable type of secularism which goes invariably against and to the prejudice of Sikh and Hindu refugees. I do not want to give rights of citizenship to those who so flagrantly dishonoured the integrity of India not so long ago. Yesterday, Mr. Sidhva gave an argument that this proviso will not only cover Muslims who had gone to Pakistan and will return later on, but also other nationals, e.g., Christians. But may I inform him that there is not a single Christian living in India who has gone over to Pakistan and who will come back later on?
It is only certain Christians now finding themselves living in a theocratic State and finding things were uncomfortable that will come in. It is not the case of those Christians who are gone over and then will come back, whereas this proviso relates to those people who were once nationals of India but at the inauguration of Pakistan went over to Pakistan for the love of it.
I certainly grudge this right and concession being given to those people who had flagrantly violated and dishonoured the integrity of India, but, however, if Mr. T.T. Krishnamachari, or the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, or better still, Mr. Ayyangar who daily carries on such protracted, patient and fruitless negotiations with Pakistan, can promise to us a certain strip of Pakistan territory to India in lieu of this increase of population and release of property, I will certainly not press my amendment.
Mr. Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib (Madras : Muslim) : Mr. President, Sir, there are three amendments which stand in my name, amendments Nos. 120, 125 and 126. The purpose of my amendment No. 125 is to deal with cases of displaced persons who have come from Pakistan to India and who may file their applications after the commencement of this Constitution. The definition, as it has been placed before us, does not deal with the question of grant of citizenship to persons after the commencement of this Constitution except in the case of persons who are living overseas. But it has been stated by Dr. Ambedkar that this will be left to the Parliament. As has been pointed out by my honourable Friend Mr. Kapoor in between the date of the passing of this Constitution and the enactment by Parliament which might take five or ten years, there may be cases cropping up for decision whether a certain person is a citizen of India or not. The purpose of my amendment No. 125 also is similar. It is to give an opportunity to persons to file petitions for enrolment as citizens even after the passing of this Constitution.
Amendment No. 126 reads as follows:-
That in amendment No. 1 of List 1 (Third Week) of Amendments to Amendments for the proposed new article 5-C, the following be substituted:-
Article 5-C deals with the question of continuation of the citizenship acquired on the date of the passing of this Constitution. I submit that 5-C is unnecessary. A man once declared a citizen on the date of passing of the Constitution will continue to be so unless Parliament disqualifies him. Therefore, 5-C to my mind is unnecessary. On the other hand, what is necessary is to say who would be entitled to citizenship after the passing of this Constitution. That is more important, that is necessary. For that purpose, I have suggested amendment No. 126, in order to give a complete picture of citizenship not only on the date of the passing of this Constitution but even afterwards, until such time as the Parliament may pass a legislation abrogating it or varying it or doing whatever it wanted to do. I submit that this amendment is necessary in order that you might determine who will be the citizens even after the passing of this Constitution.
So, amendments Nos. 125 and 126 are meant to fill the lacuna which I find in this article. It is stated by Dr. Ambedkar that we are not legislating now for the future, that is why, we are not laying down any qualifications to deal with cases of persons who might become citizens after the passing of this Constitution. My submission is that many persons who might, under the qualification laid down in this definition, become citizens or be entitled to citizenship, will be left out and we will not be in a position to help them until the Parliament passed an enactment.
Sir, with regard to amendment No. 120 I have suggested that the explanation to the proposed article 5 be deleted. The explanation reads:-
The explanation is found in the amendment given notice of on 6-8-49. When subsequently Dr. Ambedkar moved a revised amendment to articles 5 and 6, although this explanation was deleted its place was taken by article 5-AA which is in effect the same thing as the explanation. Now, Sir, I wish that this explanation or this 5-AA is deleted altogether. I do not want that our dealing with the subject of displaced persons must be undignified. It is enough if we have stated what qualifications persons should have, who have been displaced. That has been dealt with in 5-A. That is enough. I do not see any reason why, we should make mention of displaced persons from India to Pakistan who might return. The other qualifications are there. In this respect, I submit that it must be noted that persons who migrated from one Dominion to another whether it is from Pakistan to India or India to Pakistan did so under very peculiar and tragic circumstances. If persons migrated from Pakistan to India, as has been suggested in many amendments, they did so on account of disturbances, civil disturbances or fear of disturbances. What applies to them might equally apply to persons who migrated from India to Pakistan. I do not see any reason why we should make such an invidious distinction.
Sir, now I would like to refer to two or three points discussed yesterday. Yesterday, the discussion centered round two topics. The first was that the definition of citizenship was too easy and cheap, and Dr. Deshmukh even said that it was ridiculously cheap. Another Member remarked that it was commonplace and easy. Those were the remarks made by some honourable Members. It was Dr. Deshmukh who said if a foreign lady visiting India gives birth to a child say, in Bombay, her child will be eligible for citizenship of India. Such an interpretation, making the provision look ridiculous, is correct. The condition of domicile is very important. Domicile in the Indian territory is a pre-requisite for citizenship. The other conditions are that the claimant or his parents should have been born in India and been here for five years. Therefore, the interpretation put upon the provision by Dr. Deshmukh is not at all correct. In support of his observations he quoted the instances of the United States of America, Australia and South Africa. He said, "Look at those countries. They do not give citizenship rights to Indians even when they have been in those countries for thirty or thirtyfive years." May I put him the question whether we should follow their examples? Can we with any reason or pretence tell these persons : "Look here, you have not given citizenship right to Indians living in your countries for decades?" Can we complain against them if we are going to deny them citizenship rights here? Let us not follow those bad examples. There are persons in India owning dual citizenship. We in India are having dual citizenship. Whether it is possible or not, shall we now follow these retrograde countries like Australia in the matter of conferring citizenship rights and say that citizenship will not be available except on very very strict conditions? It is very strange that Dr. Deshmukh should contemplate giving citizenship rights only to persons who are Hindus or Sikhs by religion. He characterised the provision in the article granting citizenship rights as ridiculously cheap. I would say on the other hand that his conception is ridiculous. Therefore, let us not follow the example of those countries which we are condemning everywhere, not only here but also in the United Nations and complaining that although Indians have been living in those countries they have not been granted citizenship rights there.
Now, Sir, my view is that I should congratulate the Drafting Committee for having brought out this article in this form. My criticism with regard to it is that it is not complete. In the first place, it does not deal with cases of persons who might claim citizenship after the passing of this Constitution till such time as Parliament decides the question.
My second point with regard to this is that in articles 5-A and 5-AA there are two defects. Article 5-A says that any person who has come to India from Pakistan must have a certificate. I ask, why? Why do you want a certificate. You have stated that if a person is born in India as defined in the 1935 Act he is a citizen of India. Why do you want a certificate from him when he returns to India?
Shri M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar (Madras : General): Why did he go to Pakistan?
Mr. Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib: He did not go there. He was there. I am speaking of a person who was in Pakistan and is returning.
Shri M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar: When did he return?
Mr. Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib: He was a citizen of India when Pakistan was included in India under the 1935 Act. I am speaking of a person who has been living in Pakistan which formed part of India and wants to return. Why do you want a certificate from him? Why do you want that he should reside here for six months? Why do you expect him to file a petition and be here for six months? He is an Indian and comes down here, not voluntarily, but under very tragic circumstances. He comes over to India because he could not live there on account of civil disturbances or for fear of civil disturbances. I do not want that any certificate should be produced by a person who comes from Pakistan to India.
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam(Madras : General) : It is only from those who would return after 19th July 1948 that a certificate would be needed.
Mr. Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib: I know that. It does not make any difference at all. The question of a person who migrates from Pakistan to India is a very touchy question. People have become excited over it and also sentimental and aggressive. It is all unnecessary for us. Let us calmly consider this matter. What is the difference between a person who has gone away to Pakistan under the same and similar circumstances as those which compelled persons remaining in Pakistan to migrate to India? I can understand the cases where people went away to Pakistan or came back to India in order that they might live in Pakistan or Hindustan. There may be instances where for reasons of service, persons who are employed in the provinces of Pakistan coming back to India. There are cases of that kind. Sir, it is correct that when partition took place, when the June 3rd Agreement was entered into by both parties, it was expected that the minorities would remain where they were in the two Dominions and safeguards would be given to them. That was the honest expectation, that was the honest undertaking, but what happened was that after the transfer of power there was a holocaust, there were disturbances, there were tragedies which compelled persons to migrate. Now, Sir, when these were the circumstances, is there any justification for us to draw any distinction-I would go to the length of saying any discrimination-between those persons who migrated to India and those who migrated to Pakistan under the same circumstances? Let us not forget what during his life-time Mahatma Gandhi was preaching. What did he say? He invited the persons who had gone to Pakistan to return to their homeland. So, Sir, let us look at this matter calmly. I know there are many persons who are affected in this Assembly, who have lost their houses, who have lost their property, who have lost their professions, their status, everything. I know they are really affected. They are really touchy about this matter, but let us calmly think over these matters. Let it not be said that because certain Members of this Assembly were hard hit on account of the Partition and were in a very bad mood, in their bad mood they have passed this article 5-AA. So far as it goes, it is tolerable, as, if a person wants to resettle, he can made a citizen; but the real point is about those people who come back -I do not know whether people are coming back. I am very much surprised to hear that such persons who are coming back may be traitors. The arm of the law should be so strong that it must be able to get at any man who becomes a traitor. What would you do if one of your men becomes a traitor, a Communist and tries to overthrow the Government? So, to say those people coming to India might become traitors and therefore, they should not be allowed to come back, that is no reason at all. With this temperament you will never become strong. That kind of psychology should be shunned, must be got rid of. Moreover, we are only legislating for the present. Parliament may in its discretion, if it thinks it to be necessary, deprive any person of his citizenship and expel him. Parliament is supreme in this matter. Therefore, I do not see any reason why you should make a distinction between persons who go from here to Pakistan and persons who come from Pakistan.This is based on pure sentiment and does not inspire confidence not only among those persons but also amongst others. I would conclude by saying, let us consider this matter calmly and if we think that Mahatma Gandhi's teachings were correct, let us not go against his teachings and legislate like this, making a distinction between these two sets of people.
Mr. President: There are one or two amendments. Notice of one of them was given rather late yesterday by Mr. Krishna Chandra Sharma, but I would permit Mr. Sharma to move it. There is another amendment, notice of which was given today by Mr. Jai Sukh Lal Hathi. I do not think I can allow it. It has come too late. Mr. Krishna Chandra Sharma.
Shri Krishna Chandra Sharma(United Provinces : General) : Sir, I do not propose to move it.
The Honourable Shri Jawaharlal Nehru ( United Provinces : General) : Sir, I wish to support the proposals made by Dr. Ambedkar as well as the amendment which Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has proposed. All these articles relating to citizenship have probably received far more thought and consideration during the last few months than any other article contained in this Constitution.
Now, these difficulties have arisen from two factors. One was of course the partition of the country. The other was the presence of a large number of Indians abroad, and it was difficult to decide about these Indians whether they should be considered as our citizens or not, and ultimately these articles were drafted with a view to providing for these two difficulties. Personally, I think that the provision made has been on the whole very satisfactory. Inevitably no provision could be made, which provided for every possibility and provided for every case with justice and without any error being committed. We have millions of people in foreign parts and other countries. Some of those may be taken to be foreign nationals, although they are Indians in origin. Others still consider themselves to some extent as Indians and yet they have also got some kind of local nationality too, like for instance, in Malaya, Singapore, Fiji and Mauritius. If you deprive them of their local nationality, they become aliens there. So, all these difficulties arise and you will see that in this resolution we have tried to provide for them for the time being, leaving the choice to them and also leaving it to our Consul Generals there to register their names. It is not automatic. Our representatives can, if they know the applicants to be qualified for Indian citizenship, register their names.
Now I find that most of the arguments have taken place in regard to people who are the victims in some way or other of partition. I do not think it is possible for you to draft anything, whatever meticulous care you might exercise which could fit in with a very difficult and complicated situation that has arisen, namely, the partition. One has inevitably to do something which involves the greatest amount of justice to our people and which is the most practical solution of the problem. You cannot in any such provision lay down more or less whom you like and whom you dislike; you have to lay down certain principles, but any principles that you may lay down is likely not to fit in with a number of cases. It cannot be helped in any event. Therefore, you see that the principle fixed fits with a vast majority of cases, even though a very small number does not wholly fit in, and there may be some kind of difficulty in dealing with them. I think the drafters of these proposals have succeeded in a remarkable measure in producing something which really deals with 99.9 per cent of cases with justice and practical commonsense; may be some people may not come in. As a matter of fact even in dealing with naturalization proceedings, it is very difficult to be dead sure about each individual and you may or you may not be taking all of them. But the chief objection, so far as I can see, has been to the amendment that Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has moved to the effect that people who have returned here permanently and in possession of permanent permits shall be deemed to be citizens of India. They are rejected and presumably their presence is objected to because it is thought that they might take possession of some evacuee property which is thus far being considered as an evacuee property and thereby lessen the share of our refugees or displaced persons, who would otherwise take possession of it.
Now, I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding about this matter. Our general rule as you will see in regard to these partition consequences, is that we accept practically without demur or enquiry that great wave of migration which came from Pakistan to India. We accept them as citizens up to some time in July 1948. It is possible, of course, that in the course of that year many wrong persons came over, whom we might not accept as citizens if we examine each one of them; but it is impossible to examine hundreds of thousands of such cases and we accept the whole lot. After July 1948, that is about a year ago, we put in some kind of enquiry and a magistrate who normally has prima facie evidence will register them; otherwise he will enquire further and ultimately not register or he will reject. Now, all these rules naturally apply to Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs or Christians or anybody else. You cannot have rules for Hindus, for Muslims or for Christians only. It is absurd on the face of it; but in effect we say that we allow the first year's migration and obviously that huge migration was as a migration of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan. The others hardly come into the picture at all. It is possible that later, because of this permit system, some non-Hindus and non-Sikhs came in. How did they come in? How many came in? There are three types of permits, I am told. One is purely a temporary permit for a month or two, and whatever the period may be, a man comes and he has got to go back during that period. This does not come into the picture. The other type is a permit, not permanent but something like a permanent permit, which does not entitle a man to settle here, but entitles him to come here repeatedly on business. He comes and goes and he has a continuing permit. I may say; that, of course, does not come into the picture. The third type of permit is a permit given to a person to come here for permanent stay, that is return to Indian and settle down here.
Now, in the case of all these permits a great deal of care has been taken in the past before issuing them. In the case of those permits which are meant for permanent return to India and settling here again, a very great deal of care has been taken. The local officials of the place where the man came from and where he wants to go back are addressed; the local government is addressed, and it is only when sufficient reason is found by the local officials and the local Government that our High Commissioner in Karachi or Lahore, as the case may be, issues that kind of permit.
Shri Gopikrishna Vijayavargiya (Madhya Bharat) : What is the number of such permits?
The Honourable Shri Jawaharlal Nehru : I have not got the numbers with me but just before I came here, I asked Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar; he did not know the exact figures and very roughly it may be 2,000 or 3,000.
Now, normally speaking, these permits are issued to two types of persons. Of course, there may be others but generally the types of persons to whom these are given are these. One is usually when a family has been split up, when a part of the family has always remained here, a bit of it has gone away, the husband has remained here but has sent his wife and children away because of trouble etc.; he thought it safer or whatever the reason, he continued to stay here while his wife and children want to come back, we have allowed them to come back where it is established that they will remain here throughout. Normally, it is applied to cases of families being split up when we felt assured that the family has been here and have no intention of going away and owing to some extraordinary circumstances, a bit of that family went away and has wanted to come back. It is more or less such general principles which have been examined and the local government and the local officials have recommended that this should be done and it has been done. That is the main ease. Then there are a number of cases of those people whom you might call the Nationalist Muslims, those people who had absolutely no desire to go away but who were simply pushed out by circumstances, who were driven out by circumstances and who having gone to the other side saw that they had no place there at all, because the other side did not like them at all; they considered them as opponents and enemies and made their lives miserable for them and right through from the beginning they expressed a desire to come back and some of them have come back. My point is that the number of cases involved considering everything, is an insignificant number, a small number. Each individual case, each single case has been examined by the local officials of the place where that man hails from; the local government, having examined, have come to a certain decision and allowed that permit to be given. Now, it just does not very much matter whether you pass this clause or not. Government having come to a decision, any person after he has returned, he is here; and having come here, he gets such rights and privileges, and all these naturally flow as a consequence of that Government's decision. It is merely clarifying matters. It does not make any rule. Suppose a question arose in regard to a very little or an insignificant property is concerned, not only because of the principles involved; but also because a certain family or a part of a family was split up but otherwise here held on to the property, so that the family that came back came to the property which is being held by the other members of the family and no new property is involved. No new property in involved and if some new property is involved, it is infinitesimal. It makes no great difference to anybody. From a person coming here after full enquiry and permission by the Government, after getting a permit, etc., certain consequences flow even in regard to property. If these consequences flow, if he is entitled to certain property, it is because he is a citizen of India and the local Government has decided, whether it is the East Punjab Government or the Delhi Government or the U.P. Government. You do not stop them by not having this amendment or by having it. You can stop them, of course, by passing a law as a sovereign assembly. It is open to you to do that; but it does not follow from this. I would beg of you to consider how in a case like this, where after due enquiry Government consider that justice demands, that the rules and conventions demand that certain steps should be taken in regard to an individual,- I do not myself see how-without upsetting every cannon of justice and equity, you can go behind that. You may, of course, challenge a particular case, go into it and show that the decision is wrong and upset it, but you cannot attack it on some kind of principle.
One word has been thrown about a lot. I should like to register my strong protest against that word. I want the House to examine the word carefully and it is that this Government goes in for a policy of appeasement, appeasement of Pakistan, appeasement of Muslims, appeasement of this and that. I want to know clearly what that word means. Do the honourable Members who talk of appeasement think that some kind of rule should be applied when dealing with these people which has nothing to do with justice or equity? I want a clear answer to that. If so, I would only plead for appeasement. This Government will not go by a hair's breadth to the right or to left from what they consider to be the right way of dealing with the situation, justice to the individual or the group.
Another word is thrown up a good deal, this secular State business. May I beg with all humility those gentlemen who use this word often to consult some dictionary before they use it? It is brought in at every conceivable step and at every conceivable stage. I just do not understand it. It has a great deal of importance, no doubt. But, it is brought in in all contexts, as if by saying that we are a secular State we have done something amazingly generous, given something out of our pocket to the rest of the world, something which we ought not to have done, so on and so forth. We have only done something which every country does except a very few misguided and backward countries in the world. Let us not refer to that word in the sense that we have done something very mighty.
I do not just understand how anybody possibly argue against the amendment that Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar has brought forward. To argue against that amendment is to argue definitely for injustice, definitely for discrimination, for not doing something which after full enquiry has been found to be rightly done, and for doing something which from the practical point of view of numbers or property, has no consequence. It is just dust in the pan. In order to satisfy yourself about that little thing, because your sense of property is so keen, because your vested interest is so keen that you do not wish one-millionth part of certain aggression of property to go outside the pool, or because of some other reason, you wish to upset the rule which we have tried to base on certain principles, on a certain sense of equity and justice. It will not be a good thing. I appeal to the House to consider that whether you pass this amendment of Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar or not, the fact remains that this policy of the Government has to be pursued and there is no way out without upsetting every assurance and every obligation on the part of the Government, every permit that has been issued after due enquiry. Again, so far as this matter is concerned, please remember that the whole permit system was started some time in July 1948, that is to say after large-scale migration was over completely. To that period, from July 1948 up till now, this amendment refers to in a particular way, that is to say, it refers to them in the sense that each such person will have to go to a District Magistrate or some like official and register himself. He cannot automatically become a citizen. He has to go there and produce some kind of prima facie proof, etc., so that there is a further sitting. He has to pass through another sieve. If he passes, well and good; if not, he can be rejected even at this stage. The proposals put forward before the House in Mr. Gopalaswami Ayyangar's amendment are eminently just and right and meet a very complicated situation in as practical a way as possible.
Shri Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar (Madras : General): Mr. President, after the lucid exposition of the subject by Dr. Ambedkar in his introductory remarks and the very clear statement of policy and principles by the Prime Minister, I do not propose to take the time of the House with a long speech. I may explain briefly what I consider to be the main principles of the articles that have been placed before the House.
The object of these articles is not to place before the House anything like a code of nationality law. That has never been done in any State at the ushering in of a Constitution. A few principles have no doubt been laid down in the United States Constitution: but there is hardly any Constitution in the world in which a detailed attempt has been made in regard to the nationality law in the Constitution. But, as we have come to the conclusion that our Constitution is to be a republican constitution and provision is made throughout the Constitution for election to the Houses of Parliament and to the various assemblies in the units, and for rights being exercised by citizens, it is necessary to have some provision as to citizenship at the commencement of the Constitution. Otherwise, there will be difficulties connected with the holding of particular offices, and even in the starting of representative institutions in the country under the republican constitution. The articles dealing with citizenship are, therefore, subject to any future nationality or citizenship law that may be passed by Parliament. Parliament has absolutely a free hand in enacting any law as to nationality or citizenship suited to the conditions of our country. It is not to be imagined that in a Constitution dealing with several subjects it is possible to deal with all the complicated problems that arise out of citizenship. The question has been raised regarding what is to be the status of married women, what is to be the status of infants or in regard to double nationality and so on. It is impossible in the very nature of things to provide for all those contingencies in the Constitution as made by us.
Then one other point will have to be remembered regarding citizenship. Citizenship carries with it rights as well as obligations. There are obligations also upon the Government of India in regard to their citizens abroad.
Another point that will have to be remembered in this connection is this. While any law as to nationality or citizenship may carry with it certain international consequences, it is not easy to provide against what may be called double citizenship. The various International Conferences found it very difficult to formulate any principle which can remove altogether the principle of double citizenship. It arises out of the fact that primarily it is for each Nation to determine its nationality law and its law of citizenship. At the same time it has its international consequences, e.g., the Continental law as to citizenship is not the same as the English law and on account of that certain conflicts have arisen.
Therefore, there is no use of our attempting in any Constitution and much less in the present Constitution which is now making a tentative proposal in regard to citizenship to deal with the problem of double citizenship or double nationality. All these considerations have been kept in view in these articles that have been placed before the House. I shall just briefly refer to the principles underlying each one of these articles.
As against article 5 (1) a point has been made by some of the speakers that it concedes the right of citizenship to every person who is born in the territory of India and that is rather an anomalous principle. I am afraid the critics have not taken into account that our article is much stricter, for example, then the Constitution of the United States. Under the Constitution of the United States if any person is born in the United States he would be treated as a citizen of the United States irrespective of colour or of race. Difficulty has arisen only with regard to naturalisation law. We have added a further qualification viz., that the person must have his permanent home in India. I am paraphrasing the word 'domicile' into 'permanent home' as a convenient phrase.
Then clause (c) of article 5 takes notes of the peculiar position of this country. There are outlying tracts in India like Goa, French Settlements and other places from where people have come to India and have settled down in this country, regarding India as a permanent home, and they have contributed to the richness of the life in this country. They have assisted commerce and they have regarded themselves as citizens of India. Therefore, to provide for those classes of cases it is stated in clause (c) that if a person is continuously resident for a period of five years and he has also his domicile under the opening part of article 5, he would be treated as a citizen of this country. Then towards the end it is stated that 'he shall not have voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State. If a citizenship is cast upon a person irrespective of his volition or his will, he is not to lose the rights of citizenship in this country but if on the other hand he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another State, then he cannot claim the right of citizenship in this country. That is the object of the latter part of article 5.
Article 5A is intended to provide for all cases of mass migration-if I may use that expression-from Pakistan into India and to provide for that class of persons who have made the present India as their home. Now they are in our country and want to make this their home. We do not in that article make any distinction between one community and another, between one sect and another. We make a general provision that if they migrated to this country and they were born in India as defined in the earlier Constitution, then they will be entitled to the benefits of Citizenship. That is the import of article 5A, clause (a). Clause (b) provides for registration of migrated people. Certain safeguards are provided for in clause (2) so as to make it quite clear that the authorities accept the migrated people as bona fide citizens of this country. That is the object of this clause. There is also a provision to the effect that no registration shall be made unless the person making the application has resided in the territory of India for at least 6 months. Therefore, there are two safeguards, (1) there will be registration and (2) no registration shall be made unless the applicant has resided in the territory of India for at least six months before the date of application. If article 5-A stood by itself it would mean that even if persons went to Pakistan with the deliberate intention of making Pakistan their permanent home, and re-migrated to India they might be entitled to the benefit of 5A. In order to provide against that contingency 5AA is proposed which reads as follows:-
There is no use dealing with this in the abstract. If a person has deliberately and intentionally chosen to be the citizen of another country, after the question had arisen, after Pakistan had been declared territory independent from India, then there is no point in conceding citizenship right to such a person. But this proviso takes note of this important fact that the Government of India have permitted a certain number of people to come and settle down here after being satisfied that they want to take their abode here and in no other country, and that they look upon this country as their own. Having given that assurance, it would be the grossest injustice on the part of the Government of India now to say that they are not entitled to the rights of citizenship of India. The proviso safeguards the dignity, the honour and the plighted word of the Government of India by saying that such a person will be entitled to the benefits of citizenship. This is an exception to the general rule, under article 5AA, namely, that if a person deliberately, voluntarily and intentionally migrated to Pakistan, he shall not be entitled to claim the right of citizenship of our country. It is our duty to respect the plighted word of the Government of India. That is the object of the proviso.
There is some confusion in the minds of some people as if the rights to property were in some way related to citizenship. There is no connection whatsoever, either in international law or in municipal law between the rights of citizenship and the rights to property. A person has no particular rights to property, because he belongs to a particular country. Many of our nationals have property in the United States, in Germany, in England and in several other countries, but these do not depend upon their being the nationals of those countries. Nationality or citizenship has nothing to do with the law of property. At the same time, the exigencies of a situation may require property to be controlled. For instance, during a war, the conditions may require the State to exercise some control over enemy property or the property of foreigners. That is not to say that the property of the foreigners or the enemy has been confiscated. No principle of international law, no principle of comity of nations recognizes this principle.
In article 5-B, we have made provision for those of our nationals who are outside India, in the Strait Settlements and in other places. They are anxious to retain their connection with the mother-country. They may or may not have acquired some rights to qualify them for citizenship in those States but in those cases in which they are born in this country or if they are the children or grandchildren or persons born in his country, they are to be given the right of citizenship. They had left this country long ago and gone to another country, because we were not able to provide them the necessary means of livelihood-at least not under the British regime. (Let us hope that our record would be better). But they are anxious still to retain the links with the motherland, they have sentimental attachment to this country and are anxious to continue as citizens of our country. They also will be entitled to citizenship. That is the object of article 5-B.
As has been pointed out by the Prime Minister on more than one occasion, we have arrived at the present draft after a number of meetings, and a number of conferences at which different view-points were sought to be met. Of course, it is not possible to satisfy everyone, and it is not possible to arrive at a formula which will satisfy everyone affected.
We are plighted to the principles of a secular State. We may make a distinction between people who have voluntarily and deliberately chosen another country as their home and those who want to retain their connection with this country. But we cannot on any racial or religious or other grounds make a distinction between one kind of persons and another, or one sect of persons and another sect of persons, having regard to our commitments and the formulation of our policy on various occasions.
With these words, I support the articles as placed by Dr. Ambedkar and also the amendments moved by my Friends Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar and Shri T.T. Krishnamachari.
Shri Brajeshwar Prasad (Bihar : General): Mr. President, Sir, I rise to support the articles moved by Dr. Ambedkar; and I want especially to accord my hearty approval to the proviso moved by Shri T.T. Krishnamachari and accepted by Dr. Ambedkar now and which has been incorporated in the articles moved by Dr. Ambedkar. This article and especially that proviso is a tribute to the memory of the great Mahatma who worked for the establishment of good relations between Hindus and Muslims. Sir, the proviso invites all the Muslims who left this country, to come back and settle in this country, except those who are agent provocateurs, spies, fifth columnists and adventurers. I wish, the proviso had been more wide. I wish all the people of Pakistan should be invited to come and stay in this country, if they so like. And why do I say so? I am not an idealist. I say this because we are wedded to this principle, to this doctrine, to this ideal. Long before Mahatma Gandhi came into politics, centuries before recorded history. Hindus and Muslims in this country were one. We were talking, during the time of Mahatma Gandhi that we are blood-brothers. May I know if after partition, these blood-brothers have become strangers and aliens? Sir, it has been an artificial partition. I think that the mischief of partition should not be allowed to spread beyond the legal fact of partition. I stand for common citizenship of all the peoples of Asia, and as a preliminary step, I want that the establishment of a common citizenship between India and Pakistan is of vital importance for the peace and progress of Asia as a whole.
Sir, the proviso has been attacked by Shri Jaspat Roy Kapoor on the ground that it will provide an opportunity for spies and adventurers to come to this country. But my view is that Muslims of this country are as loyal to the State as Hindus. On the other hand, I agree with the statement made by the Prime Minister at a different place that the security of India today is menaced not by Muslims but by Hindus.
Another point that was raised by my Friend Shri Jaspat Roy Kapoor was that we must have proper regard for the economic consequences of the proviso. I wish this argument had not been raised. We are not a nation of shopkeepers; we cannot dethrone God and worship Mammon. Whatever the economic consequences may be we want to stand on certain principles. It is only by a strict adherence to certain moral principles that nations progress. The material development of life is no index to progress and civilization. I do not think it is politics or statesmanship to subordinate sound political principles to cheap economics. I see no reason why a Muslim who is a citizen of this country should be deprived of his citizenship at the commencement of this Constitution, specially when we are inviting Hindus who have come to India from Pakistan to become citizens of this country. People who have never been in India but have always lived in the Punjab and on the frontier have come and become citizens of this State; why cannot a Muhammadan of the frontier be so when we have always said that we are one?
It has also been asserted that it was the fact of partition that was responsible for mass migration. I do not agree with that proposition. The late lamented Mr. Jinnah stood for the principle of exchange of population. We disagreed. The implication of our rejection of that demand was that the fact of partition would have no bearing on the question of loyalty of Muslims of this country. Partition or no partition, the Mohammedan will remain loyal to this country. That was the meaning of the rejection of the demand of Mr. Jinnah. And how can we say that the fact of partition was responsible for mass migration? It must be realised that it was the riots and the disturbances in certain parts of the country which were responsible for mass migration. Even now the relations between the two Governments have not become stabilised ; and it is only with the establishment of good relations between the two States that there can be security and people who belonged to this country and were citizens of this country would come back and settle in this country.
Maulana Mohd. Hifzur Rehaman (United Provinces : Muslim): *[Mr. President Sir, article 5 as amended by Dr. Ambedkar is before us in its present form. So far as I have seen and examined it I understand that sufficient efforts have been made to explain at considerable length the rights of citizenship which are due to a person in the capacity of a citizen. Two things have been kept in view. On one hand provision has been made that a citizen should be entitled to those rights which are due to him as a citizen. On the other hand the other thing has also been kept in view and it has been considered that in case any person tries to become a citizen by unlawful means, necessary safeguards must be provided against that. I think this step is praiseworthy and to me it appears desirable. In this connection the principle and policy which have been laid out by honourable the Prime Minister and honourable Shri Gopalaswami Ayyangar gives us great satisfaction. In spite of this I feel the absence of two things and I desire to draw the attention of the House towards these.
Of course details are not available regarding those people who have come with permanent permits. But it has also been explained now that those people who have come with permanent permits will be regarded as citizen in a certain way. The other thing which deserves our attention is that perhaps in the date which has been mentioned here no notice has been taken of the notification of the Government of India in which from time to time the government offered facilities to those coming from Pakistan. In article 5 three or four clauses have been made which do not impose restrictions and conditions, and these have been accepted and these four classes will be considered as citizens in this way. Further in 5A where it has been laid down as to who else will be considered as citizen, it has been said that those people who have come before 19th July, 1948, will be regarded as citizens. But those who have come later on have got to get themselves registered by applying. The condition of registration has been made necessary here. I want to say that the date which is mentioned in the notification issued by the Government of India is 10th September. It is made clear therein that they should also be regarded as citizens, provided the local authorities declare their permits as valid and recognize them. I would also say that, as regards those who have come with permanent permits or in any other capacity, this should have also been included in this amendment, if the Government of India in their notification have given this facility that those coming upto 10th of September shall be regarded as the citizens of India.
In the first amendment, instead of 1st August, 1948, 19th July , 1948, should not have been included. It would have been more just if 11th September should have replaced 19th July so that everybody should have availed of the utmost time for securing the right of citizenship. This would have meant that according to the date referred in the notification, issued by the Government of India, those people who would have come till 11th September should be regarded citizens without any condition.
The next question is this, that those who have come with permanent permits shall have to fulfill the condition of registration for their recognition as citizens. In this connection I submit that it has been made clear that the enquiries will be made about those people who have come here from the 19th July to the 11th September and after that they will be considered to be the citizens of India. In my opinion the restriction that has been imposed on them is quite unjust and that it goes against justice and fairplay. We know very well and the House also is aware of the fact, that those who are given permanent permits can be recognized citizens only when the bona-fides of the permit holders are enquired into and that conspirators and cheats or those who have come to consolidate their business are not among them. First of all, the local authorities enquire into their details and then given them permits. In other words the local authorities give a permit only when they are completely satisfied and in no way before it. If over and above all this, the restriction of registration is imposed on them I will say that it is far from just. Therefore, I say that it has not been made clear whether, to acquire the right to citizenship, such a person has only to apply for registration: or is this also essential, that after the submission of such application, the local officials should make inquiries about it, and get him registered only if they are completely satisfied, otherwise they would have the right to reject his application? You know well that thousands of men have come back to Indian Union by now. A large number of them had come back soon after the disturbances. Of course there are people also who came back rather late, because they had difficulties in getting their permits. They were obliged to come late, for the simple reason that they could not get their permits in time. We have had experience that those persons who after coming back from Pakistan applied to the local officials for their permanent residence in Indian Union, and cancellation of their permit under the notification of the Government of India, were not made permanent residents and their permits were not cancelled within the fixed period.
It is our experience that the administration often creates such difficulties. Such people were assured in various ways by the District Magistrates concerned that their cases were under inquiry and that their applications were with the police for investigation and after receiving the report they would be informed about the acceptance or rejection of their applications. But what came out was this, that even after the lapse of three or four months they did not receive any reply. And when the Government of India issued another notification then the District Magistrates of various Provinces, without informing such persons about the acceptance or rejection of their applications, asked them to go back in view of the said notification. In this way the applications of those persons were rejected, who had come here with one, two or three months permit for the purpose of acquiring permanent citizenship : and instead of granting or rejecting their request, they were asked to go back at once. By doing so, not hundreds but thousands of people were put to difficulties and these people were not given even ten or fifteen days time. The result of this was that many persons in U.P., East Punjab and other Provinces were arrested on the ground that they were going back after the expiry of the fixed period. In fact no action was taken on the applications of those persons who had come here to acquire the right of citizenship and had stayed here for two or three months.
At last Government of India issued another notification. And after that these applicants were referred to this notification and were asked to go back. They requested for ten or fifteen days time, but they were not given even that much time. And any one who over stayed with a view to repeat the request was sent to jail. Some persons are still locked up in jails. In regard to those persons who have come here with permanent permits and registration is required only for the recognition of their citizenship, it seems reasonable to some extent if they are required to make any application only for their registration. But this thing should be clarified here, that they would be required only to apply for registration and thereupon they would be registered as citizens. This Constitution which you are framing here ought to be such that it should not create any difficulty for anybody.
If we do not clarify this point here and now, there may be injustice. Is it fair that after the submission of an application a second enquiry should be made and at the expiry of the enquiry the applicant should be informed as to whether he would be registered or not? I consider it against justice and I think that it would create good many difficulties for thousands of bona fide citizens.
By giving them permanent permits you have allowed them to come and live here. But in this Constitution which you are framing here, you are forcing them to apply for registration. On these applications local officials would make enquiry and after that they would tell them whether they are fit to be registered as citizens or not. Do you, know that thousands of Meos who had left their houses on account of the disturbances have come back? If they are treated like that, would it be fair? For this reason it ought to be clarified in 5-AA, and the condition for registration should be so fixed that local officials may not have the power to cancel it. After this article has been promulgated and this principle has been accepted a declaration, in most clear terms, should be made, and a notification issued to the effect that no registration would be cancelled. This formality would have to be undergone only for the sake of compliance with the rules. They should get them registered as they have come afterwords, but it, in that, a loop-hole for making an enquiry about them is left, then I am totally against it. Surely, it needs to be amended and revised to afford an opportunity to those people, who were residing here but due to disturbed conditions had gone away and have now returned back not to dispose of their property etc., but to settle down here again. All sorts of facilities in this respect should be given to the poor, to the Meos, and to those, who were residing in different parts of India. These will include not only Muslims, but non-Muslims also--like Christians. If that is not done, then they would have to face many difficulties, they will have to suffer at the hands of local officials. Hence, I want that it should contain these two amendments to the article 5A which should be so amended that the last date fixed by the Government notification, i.e., 19th July, should be changed to September 11, 1948. Though this change makes a difference of only a month or a month and a half yet that would enable thousands of people to acquire the rights of citizenship, which they ought to get.]
My second amendment is:-
Mr. President:*[Maulana Sahib, no such amendment has been tabled.]
Maulana Mohd. Hifzur Rehaman :*[That is so. I did not put any such amendment, but I had drawn the attention of some Members of the Drafting Committee--Dr. Ambedkar and Shree Gopalaswami Ayyangar-towards that. As a result of my talk with them the present amended article regarding the permanent permit holders has been put forth in place of the previous one. I feel that lacuna in it, but now no other course is left open to me except this that I give vent to my feelings here and draw the attention of the Drafting Committee to it. If any legal course is yet left open they they ought to reconsider it.
However, about the other thing I would particularly say this much that if you have included these people in this article then they are citizens of India though they had gone away during the time of disturbances. The local government and local officials, after enquiry have accepted these men as Indian citizens according to their rules. Now, these men should not be bound by these conditions, i.e., unless they get themselves registered they cannot become Indian citizens and they would lose their citizenship rights if they fail to get themselves registered within six months. What I want to emphasise is this that there are too many people, who are unaware of all these things. Surely, it is not incumbent upon everyone to be aware of all these things, yet here no opportunity has been given to such people to easily acquire citizenship rights.]
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava (East Punjab : General) : *[Will Maulana Sahib say in what sense men, to whom permits have been given, are to be regarded as citizens?]
Maulana Mohd. Hifzur Rehaman : *[Under the prevalent laws.]
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava: *[No. Never in that.]
Maulana Mohd. Hifzur Rehaman :[Surely, they have been accepted as such, and the District Magistrates have taken them to be Indian citizens.]
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava:*[They are not residents.]
Maulana Mohd. Hifzur Rehaman :*[No. They are. I have got legal proofs with me, wherein, it has been stated in writing that they are the citizens of the Indian Union, and that they have been accepted as such in accordance with the Government of India notification. District Magistrate have stated this in writing on the permits.
Therefore, I want you to see the difficulties which they have to face as Indian citizens. So far the residents of India are concerned, you have not fixed any condition as binding on them. However, if they are likely to migrate from here, there is a separate law for them. Otherwise ways have been provided for the cancellation of their citizenship rights. But local officials should in no case be vested with powers to cancel the citizenship rights of those, who through these permits have been accepted as citizens of India. I would regard that as against all canons of justice. I want these two rights should be given to these men.]
Pandit Hirday Nath Kunzru (United Provinces : General ) : Mr. President, the question of citizenship has been before the Assembly since 1947. When the question was discussed in that year the tests laid down for the determination of citizenship were criticised by the Fundamental Rights Committee on two grounds, namely, that they were either too narrow or too wide. The draft before us is much fuller than that which the Fundamental Rights Committee could lay before us in 1947, yet we find that it has been subjected to criticism on the same old grounds. Dr. Ambedkar very lucidly explained yesterday the provisions of the final Draft laid before us. So far as I can judge from the discussion that has taken place, very little criticism has been urged against article 5. Similarly, with the exception of Prof. K.T. Shah, no speaker, or hardly any speaker has criticised the provisions of article 5B . Criticism has been concentrated on article 5A.
I shall briefly deal with the criticisms urged against articles 5 and 5B before dealing with the position of those who regard article 5A as making it too easy for people to be regarded as citizens of India. The first thing that I should like to say in this connection is that the Draft only lays down who shall be regarded as citizens of India at the commencement of this Constitution. There is nothing permanent about the qualifications laid down in the articles 5 to 5C. Article 6 makes it absolutely clear that notwithstanding the provisions of these articles, Parliament will have power to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters relating to citizenship. Any defects that experience may disclose can therefore be easily rectified.
With this preface, I should like to refer very briefly to what was said in criticism of clause (a) of the proposed article 5. One of the speakers, I believe Dr. Deshmukh, said that if the article was retained as it was then the son of a person born while his mother was passing through India would become an Indian citizen. This is a complete misreading of this article. The very first condition laid down in the opening words of this article is that the subsequent provisions apply only to people who have their domicile in the territory of India. Consequently the son born to a traveller from abroad, who is passing through India cannot ipso facto become a citizen, cannot by virtue of his birth in India become a citizen of India. Can a man, by reason of his birth here, be supposed to have acquired the domicile of this country?
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh (C.P. & Berar : General) : Nobody said that.
Pandit Hirday Nath Kunzru: Well, one of the speakers said that.
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh: I never said that.
Pandit Hirday Nath Kunzru: Well, if Dr. Deshmukh is clear on that point or has modified his opinion on that point, I gladly concur in the view that he now holds on this point.
Dr. P.S. Deshmukh: I do not think my Friend listened to my speech with any care.
Pandit Hirday Nath Kunzru: I was in the House when the honourable Member spoke, but I may have misunderstood him, I may not have heard him correctly. In any case it seems from what Dr. Deshmukh has stated that there is nobody in this House that has anything to say against article 5.
Now I come to article 5C. Prof. K.T. Shah was probably thinking of the Indians in Malaya when he gave notice of the amendment that if the municipal law of any country did not require that a man should renounce the citizenship of the country to which his ancestors belonged before acquiring the rights of citizenship in that country, there was no reason why our law should prevent him from claiming Indian citizenship. I have taken a great deal of interest in the position of the Indians residing abroad since we got a copy of the Draft Constitution. It has been my endeavour since then to enable Indians living abroad living at least in certain places, to be regarded as Indian citizens without fulfilling difficult conditions. I can say with perfect confidence that article 5C has been so drafted as to take into account the rights of the people whom probably prof. K.T. Shah had in mind when he sent in the amendment that I have just referred to. Obviously we cannot allow a man whose ancestors settled down in another country two hundred years ago, to be still regarded as an Indian citizen. There must be some limit to the time during which the descendants of people who were Indians could be regarded as Indians even though they were living outside India. Article 5C lays down that "any person who, or either of whose parents or any of whose grand parents, was born in India as defined in the Government of India Act, 1935, as originally enacted, and who is ordinarily residing in any territory outside India as so defined, shall be deemed to be a citizen of India" if he has fulfilled certain conditions. Now, the condition laid down is that he should get himself registered as a citizen of India by the diplomatic or Consular representative of India in the country where he is living. It thus seems to me that article 5C takes full account of the just rights of Indians living not merely in Malaya, but also in other countries where some doubt has been cast on the position of Indians who have been resident there for a long time. If there are among them any persons who still regard themselves as Indian citizens, they will have an opportunity of claiming Indian citizenship under article 5C. If anyone does not take advantage of the provisions of article 5C to get himself registered as an Indian citizen, then that ought to be a proof in the eyes of the authorities of the country where he is living that he is not an Indian citizen but a citizen of the country of his adoption.
*Translation of Hindustani Speech.