Gandhis and Nehrus are our freedom fighters, no one remembers those Hamidullah Khans and Jayachamaraja Wodeyars who sacrificed everything when promised something, that something far less than their sacrifices and even then, the promises stood reneged. Well, why did we cheat them, then? It’s not as if the money is huge. It is slightly less thanthe interest accured on the treasury of the princely states in Madhya Bharat – just one of India’s twenty odd provinces.

The capacity for mischief and trouble on the part of the Rulers if the settlement with them would not have been reached on a negotiated basis was for greater than could be imagined at this stage. Let us do justice to them; let us place ourselves in their position and then assess the value of their sacrifice. The Rulers have now discharged their part of the obligations by transferring all ruling powers and by agreeing to the integration of their States. The main part of our obligation under these agreements, is to ensure that the guarantees given by us in respect of privy purse are fully implemented. Our failure to do so would be a breach of faith and seriously prejudice the stabilisation of the new order.

And what transpired regarding the cancellation –

In the 1967 election, several rulers had joined the Swatantra Party headed by C. Rajagopalachari, and many of them defeated Congress candidates. Indira Gandhi was, therefore, determined to abolish the Privy Purses. On June 25, 1967, the All India Congress passed a resolution to abolish them. The Constitution (Twenty-fourth Amendment) Bill, 1970 was introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha by a majority of 332:154 votes, but it was defeated in the Rajya Sabha by 149:75. Having failed in Parliament, Indira Gandhi asked President V.V. Giri to derecognise all the rulers. This derecognition was successfully challenged by N.A. Palkhivala before the Supreme Court in the historic Privy Purses case. Indira Gandhi’s landslide victory in the 1971 election enabled her to amend the Constitution that abolished the Privy Purses and extinguished all rights and privileges of the rulers. In Parliament, Indira Gandhi stated that the concept of Privy Purses and special privileges were incompatible with an “egalitarian social order.”

The speech.

Sir it has been may endeavour to keep the house fully informed of our policy and the developments in respect of the States. Apart from the statements I have made on the floor of the House from time to time, I laid before the house in July last year a White Paper on States in which was set out in detail not only the policy pursued by the Government of India towards the States but also the various agreements and Covenants entered into with the Rulers were reproduced. In March last I placed before the House another detailed report on the policy and the working of the Ministry of States. Now that the process of integration of the States has been completed I propose to place before the House next month another State Paper which will contain a comprehensive review of all the developments which have taken place in respect of the Indian States since this Government was called upon to face the problem of States.

The amendments which are now being proposed concerning the provisions of the Constitution applicable to the States, embody the results of the bloodless revolution which within a remarkably short period, has transformed the internal and external set up of the States. The fact that the new Constitution specifies only nine States in Part III of Schedule I is an index to the phenomenal progress made by the policy of integration pursued by the Government of India. By integrating 500 and odd States into sizeable units and by the complete elimination of centuries-old autocracies, the Indian democracy has won a great victory of which the Princes and the people of India alike should be proud. This is an achievement which should resound to the credit of any nation or and by the complete elimination of centuries-old autocracies, the Indian democracy has won a great victory of which the Princes and the people of India alike should be proud. This is an achievement which should resound to the credit of any nation or people at any phase of history.

As the House is aware, when the States entered the Constituent Assembly of India, it was thought that the Constitution of the States would not form part of the Constitution of India. It was also understood that unlike the Provinces the accession of the States to the Indian Union would not be automatic but would be by means of some process of ratification of the Constitution. In the context of those commitments and the conditions then obtaining certain provisions were incorporated in the Draft Constitution, which placed the States in certain important respects on a footing different from that of the Provinces.

As a result of the policy of integration and democratization of States pursued by the Government of India since December 1947 the process of what might important developments in this direction have been the extension have been the extension of the legislative authority of the the Dominion over the States and the federal financial integration of the States. The States had originally acceded in respect of the three subjects of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications only. With the formation of the Unions the legislative power of the Dominion Parliament was extended in respect of the Unions of States to all matters specified in the Federal and Concurrent Lists except those relating to taxation. The content of the accession of the State of Mysore was also likewise extended.

The gap in the financial field has now been filled by the arrangements which have been negotiated with the States on the basis of the recommendations made by the Indian States Finances Enquiry Committee. The fundamental basis of this scheme is that federal financial integration of the States is a necessary consequence of the basic conception underlying the new constitution of the Union of India – that of Provinces and States as equal partners. The scheme, therefore, is based upon complete equality between the Provinces and States in the following respects :-

1. The Central Government should perform the same functions and exercise the same powers in States as in Provinces ;

2. The Central should perform function through its own executive organizations in States as in Provinces ;

3. There should be uniformity and equality in the basis of contributions to Central resources from Provinces and States;

4. There should be equality of treatment as between Provinces and States in the matters of common services rendered by the Central Government, and as regards the sharing of divisible federal taxes, grants-in-aid, `subsidies’, and all other forms of financial and technical assistance.

The fact that these far-reaching changes in our fiscal structure are being introduced with the full concurrence of the States is in itself a great tribute to the excellent work done by the Indian States Finances Enquiry Committee under the chairmanship of Sir V.T. Krishnamachari, who brought to bear on this important problem his vast experience in Indian States.

These important developments enabled us to review the position of the States under the new Constitution and to remove from it all vestiges of anomalies and disparities which found their way into the new Constitution as a legacy from the past.

When the Covenants establishing the various Unions of States were entered into, it was contemplated that the constitutions of the various Unions would be formed by their respective Constituent Assemblies within the framework of the covenants and the Constitution of India. These provisions were made in the covenants at a time when we were still working under the shadow of the theory, that the assumption, by the Constituent Assembly of India, of the constitution-making authority in respect of the States would constitute an infringement of the autonomy of the States. As however, the States came closer to the Centre, it was realised that the idea of separate Constitutions being framed for the different Constituent units of the Indian Union was a legacy from the Rulers’ polity and that in a people’s polity there was no scope for variegated constitutional patterns. We, therefore, discussed this matter with the Premiers of the various Unions and decided, with their concurrence, that the Constitution of the States should also form an integral part of the Constitution of India. The readiness with which the legislatures of the three States in which such bodies are functioning at present, namely, Mysore, Travancore and Cochin Union and Saurashtra, have accepted this procedure, bears testimony of the wish of the people of the States to eschew the separatist trends of the past.

In view of these important developments it became necessary to recast a number of the provisions of the Constitution in so far as they related to the States. The amendments we are proposing have been examined by the Constitution-making bodies of Mysore, Saurashtra and Travancore and Cochin Union. Some of the modifications proposed by these bodies have been incorporated in the amendments tabled before the House. Others have been dropped as a result of the discussions I have had with the representatives of these Constituent Assemblies.

It is a matter of deep regret for me that it has not been possible for us to adopt a similar procedure for ascertaining the wishes of the people of the other States and Unions of States through their elected representatives. Unfortunately we have no properly constituted legislatures in the rest of the States; not will of India emerges in its final form. We have, therefore, no option but to make the Constitution operative in these States on the basis on the basis of its acceptance by the Ruler of the Rajpramukh, as the case may be, who will no doubt consult their Councils of Ministers. I am sure neither the honourable Members representing those States in this House nor the people of the States generally, would wish that the enforcement of the Constitution in these States generally, would wish that the enforcement of the Constitution in these States should be held over until legislatures of these States, when, constituted under the new Constitution, may propose amendments to the Constitution. I wish to assure the people of these States that any recommendations made by their first legislatures would receive our earnest consideration. In the meantime, I have no doubt, that the Constitution framed by this House, where all the States except one are duly represented, will be acceptable to them.

In view of the special problems with which the Government of Jammu and Kashmir is faced, we have made a special provision for the continuance of the constitutional relationship of the State with the Union on the existing basis. In the case of Hyderabad State the acceptance of the Constitution will be subject to ratification by the people of the State.

As the House will see, in several respects the Constitution as it now emerges, is different from the original draft. We have deleted such provisions, as articles 224 and 225 , which imposed limitations on the Union’s legislative and executive authority in relation to States in the federal sphere. The entries in the legislative List, which differentiated between the States and Provinces have likewise been dropped. The legislative and executive authority of the Union in respect of the States will, therefore, be co-extensive with its similar authority in and over the provinces. Subject to certain adjustments during the transitional period, the fiscal relationship of the States with the Centre will also be the same as that between the Provinces and the Centre. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court will now extend to the States to the same extent as in the case of the Provinces. The High Courts of the States are to be constituted and will function in the same manner as the Provincial High Courts. All the citizens of India, whether residing in States or Provinces, will enjoy the same fundamental rights and the same legal remedies to enforce them. In the matter of their constitutional relationship with the Centre and in their internal set-up the States will be on a par with the Provinces.

I am sure the House will note with gratification the important fact that unlike the scheme of 1935, `our new Constitution is not an alliance, between democracies and dynasties, but a really union of the union of the Indian people built on the basic concept of the sovereignty of the people. It removes all barriers between the people of the States, and the people of Provinces and achieves for the first time the objective of a strong democratic Indian built on the true foundation of a co-operative enterprise on the part of the people of the Provinces and States alike.

As the House is acquainted with trends of developments affecting the States it is not necessary for me to explain to the House the various amendments which have been tabled. There are two or three matters, however, about which I should like to make a few observations.

One of these is the proposed article 306-B. As the House is aware, the States, as we inherited them, were in varying stages of development. In most cases the advance had to be made from the starting point of pure autocracy. Having regard to the magnitude of the task, which confronted the Governments of the Unions in the transitional period, and to the fact that neither the Services inherited by them nor the political organizations, as they existed there, were in a position to assume, unaided, full responsibilities of the administration, we made a provision in some of the Covenants that till the new Constitution came into operation in these Unions, the Rajpramukh and the Council of Ministers shall, in the exercise of their functions, be under the general control of the Government of India and comply with the instructions issued by that Government from time to time. The stress of the transitional phase is likely to continue for some years. We are ourselves most anxious that the people of these States should shoulder their full responsibilities; however, we cannot ignore the fact that while the administrative organization and political institutions are to be found in most of the States in a relatively less developed state, the problems relating tot he integration of the States and the change-over from an autocratic to a democratic order are such, as to test the mettle of long-established administrations and experienced leaders of the people. We have therefore, found it necessary that in the interest of the growth of democratic efficiency, the Government of India should exercise general supervision over the Governments of the States till such time as it may be necessary.

It is natural that a provision of this nature which treats States in Part III differently from Part I States should cause some misgivings. I wish to assure the honourable Members representing these States, and through them the people of these States that the provision involves no censure of any Government. It merely provides for contingencies which, in view of the present conditions, are more likely to arise in Part III States that in the States of other categories. We do not wish to interfere with the day-to-day administration of any of the State. We are ourselves most anxious that the people of the States should learn by experience. This article is essentially in the nature eof a safety-value to obviate recourse to drastic remedies such as the provisions for the breakdown of the constitutional machinery. It is quite obvious that in this matter the States, e.g., Mysore and Travancore and Cochin Union where democratic institutions have been functioning for a long time and where Governments responsible to legislatures are in office, have to be treated differently from the States not conforming to these standards. In all these cases our control will be exercised in varying degrees according to the requirements of each case. The proviso to the article gives us the necessary discretion to deal with each case on its merits.

I hope this statement which embodies our considered policy will allay any apprehension which the Governments of any of these States may have concerning this article.

Another matter about which I would like to remove misgivings is the proposed amendment to article 3. This amendment places the States in Part III on the same footing as the States in Part I in respect of territorial readjustments. The Constituent Assembly of Mysore recommended to us that the article as already adopted by this House, which provides for prior consent of the House, should remain unaltered. We have not found it possible to agree to the suggestion for the simple reason that in such matters there should be no differentiation between Part I and Part III States. I, however take this opportunity of assuring the representatives of Mysore State that whether the article provides for consultation or consent of the legislature of the affected State, the wishes of the people cannot be ignored either by the Central Government or legislature. After all, we are a democracy; the main sanction behind us is the will of the people and we cannot act in disregard of public opinion.

I now come to the proposed article 267-A in respect of which some explanation is necessary. The Government of India have guaranteed to the Rulers of merged and integrated States payment of privy purses as fixed under the terms of the various Covenants and Agreements of Merger. Article 267-A give constitutional recognition to these guarantees and provides for this expenditure being charged on the Central Revenues subject to such recoveries as may be made from time to time from the Provinces and States in respect of these payments.

I shall first deal with the financial aspect of these arrangements. In the past, in most of the States there was no distinction between the expenditure on the administration and the Ruler’s privy purse. Even where the Ruler’s privy purse had been fixed no effective steps was not, directly or indirectly, charged on the revenues of the State. Large amounts, therefore, were spent on the Rulers and on the members of the ruling families. This expenditure has been estimated to exceed twenty crores of rupees per year.

All the agreements of merger and covenants now provide for the fixation of the Ruler’s privy purse which is intended to cover all the expenses of the Rulers and their families including the expenses of their residences, marriages and other ceremonies, etc. The privy purse guaranteed under these agreements in less than the percentage for the Deccan States under the award given by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Shri Shankerrao Deo and Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya. It is calculated on the basis of 15 per cent, on the first lakh of average annual revenue of the State concerned ten per cent, on the next four lakhs and seven and a half per cent above five lakhs, subject to a maximum of ten lakhs. The maximum figure of ten lakhs has been exceeded only in the case of some of the major States, which had been recognised as viable and the amounts fixed in such cases are payable during their life-time only. The total annual privy purse commitments so far made amount to about Rs. four and a half crores. When the amounts guaranteed to certain Rulers during their life-time are subsequently refixed the total annual expenditure in respect of privy purses will amount to less than Rs. four crores.

Under the terms of the Covenants and the agreements entered into by the Rulers privy purses are payable to the Rulers, out of the revenues of the States concerned and payments have so far been made accordingly. During the course of the discussions with the Indian States Finances Enquiry Committee, it was urged by most of the States that the liability for paying purses of Rulers should be taken over by the Centre on the ground that privy purses have been fixed by the Centre; privy purses are political in nature; and similar payments are not made by the Provinces. Apart from these considerations, the position has definitely changed since the execution of the Covenants. In the first place, so far as the merged States are concerned, with their total extinction under the new Constitution of India, as separate entities, the basis of liability for privy purse payments guaranteed to the Rulers of the States will undergo a change, in that the States, from the revenues of which privy purses are payable, would cease to exist. Secondly, the term “revenues of the State” has now to be viewed in the context of the federal financial integration of States. This integration involves a two-fold procession, of `functional’ partition of the present composite State Governments, and the other of `merger’ of the partitioned `federal’ portions of the State Governments with the present Central Government. It follows, therefore, that when the federal financial integration becomes effective, the liability in respect of privy purse payments should strictly speaking be shared on an equitable basis by th functional successors to the Governments of merged and integrated States, that is, the Central Government, on the one hand, and the Governments of Provinces and States on the other. Having regard to all these factors, we have decided that the best course would be that these payments should constitute a charge on the Central revenues, but that, at the same time, provision should be made for the recovery of such contributions from the Governments of the States, during such transitional period and in such amounts as may be considered appropriate. These recoveries are to be made in accordance with the scheme for financial integration of the States.

I have already stated that the privy purse settlements made by us will reduce the burden of the expenditure on the Rulers to at least one-fourth of the previous figure. Besides, the States have benefited very considerably form the process of integration in the form of cash balances inherited by them from the Rulers. Thus, for instance, the Rajpramukh of Madhya Bharat alone has made over to the Union large sums of money yielding interest sufficient to cover a major portion of the total privy purses of the Rulers, who have joined this Union. So far as the assumption of the part of the burden by the Centre is concerned, we must remember that this arrangement flows as a consequence of the financial integration of the States, which will have an effect of lasting character on the economy of this country. The fiscal unification of India will patch up the disruptive rents in the economy of India which rendered effective implementation of economic policies in the Provinces impossible. Thus, for instance, in the matter of income-tax evasion alone, which has been a serious matter in recent years the gains from federal financial integration will prove very substantial. From the financial point of view, therefore, the arrangements we have made are going to benefit very materially the economy of this country.

I shall now come to the political and moral aspect of these settlements. In order to view the payments guaranteed by us in their correct perspective, we have to remember that they are linked with the momentous developments affecting the most vital interests of this country. These guarantees form part of the historic settlements which enshrine in them the consummation of the great ideal of geographical, political and economic unification of India, an ideal which for centuries remained a distant dream and which appeared as remote and as difficult of attainment as ever even after the advent of Indian independence.

Human memory is proverbially short. Meeting in October, 1949, we are apt to forget the magnitude of the problem which confronted us in August, 1947. As the honourable Members are aware, the so-called lapse of paramountcy was a part of the Plan announced on June 3, 1947, which was accepted by the Congress. We agreed to this arrangement in the same manner as we agreed to the partition of India. We accepted it because we had not option to act otherwise. While there was recognition in the various announcements of the British Government of the fundamental fact that each State should link up its future with that Dominion with which it was geographically contiguous, the Indian Independence Act released the States from all their obligations to the British Crown. In their various authoritative pronouncements, the British spokesmen recognised that with the lapse of paramountcy, technically and legally the States would become independent. They even conceded that theoretically the States were free to link their future with whichever Dominion they liked although, in saying so, they referred to certain geographical compulsions, which could not be evaded. The situation was indeed fraught with immeasurable potentialities of disruption, for some of the Rulers did wish to exercise their technical right to declare independence and others to join the neighboring Dominion. If the Rulers had exercised their right in such an unpatriotic manner, they would have found considerable support from influential elements hostile to the interests of this country.

It was against this unpropitious background that the Government of India invited the Rulers of the States to acceded on three subjects of Defence, External Affairs and Communications. At the time the proposal was put forward to the Rulers, an assurance was given to them that they would retain the status quo except for accession on these subjects. It had been made clear to them that this accession did not also imply any financial liability on the part of the States and that there was no intention either to encroach on the internal autonomy or the sovereignty of the States or to fetter their discretion in respect of their acceptance of the new constitution of India. These commitments had to be borne in mind when the States Ministry approached the Rulers for the integration of their States. There was nothing to compel or induce the Rulers to merge the identity of their States. Any use of force would have not only been against our professed principles but would have also caused serious repercussions. If the Rulers had elected to stay out, they would have continued to draw the heavy civil lists which they were drawing before and in large number of cases they could have continued to enjoy unrestricted use of the State revenues. The minimum which we could offer to them as quid pro quo for parting with their ruling powers was to guaranteed to them privy purses and certain privileges on a reasonable and defined basis. The privy purse settlements are therefore in the nature of consideration for the surrender by the Rulers of all their ruling powers and also for the dissolution of the States as separate units. We would do well to remember that the British Government spent enormous amounts in respect of the Mahratta settlements alone. We are ourselves honouring the commitments of the British Government in respect of the pensions o those Rulers who helped them in consolidating their Empire. Need we cavil then at the small-purposely use the word-small-price we have paid for the bloodless revolution which has affected the destinies of millions of our people.

The capacity for mischief and trouble on the part of the Rulers if the settlement with them would not have been reached on a negotiated basis was for greater than could be imagined at this stage. Let us do justice to them; let us place ourselves in their position and then assess the value of their sacrifice. The Rulers have now discharged their part of the obligations by transferring all ruling powers and by agreeing to the integration of their States. The main part of our obligation under these agreements, is to ensure that the guarantees given by us in respect of privy purse are fully implemented. Our failure to do so would be a breach of faith and seriously prejudice the stabilisation of the new order.

In commending the various provisions concerning the States to the House I would ask the honourable Members to view them as a coordinated over-all settlement of a gigantic problem. A particular provision isolated from its context may give a wholly erroneous impression. Some of us might find fault with what might appear as relies of the previous autocratic set up. I wish to assure honourable Members that autocracy in the States has gone, and has gone for good. Let us not get impatient with any particular term which might remind us of the past. The form in which the Rulers find recognition in the new Constitution of India, in no way impairs the democratic set up of the States. The Rulers have made an honourable exist; it now remains for the people to fill the breach and to derive full benefit from the new order.

I take the liberty to remind the House that at the Haripura Session the Congress in 1938 defined its objective in respect of the States as follows :-

“The Congress stands for the same political, social and economic freedom in the States as in the rest of India and considers the States as integral parts of India and considers the States as integral parts of India which cannot be separated. The Purna Swaraj or complete Independence, which is the objective of the Congress is for the whole of India, inclusive of the States, for the integrity and unity of India must be maintained in freedom as it has been maintained in subjection. The only kind of federation that can be acceptable to the Congress is one in which the States participate as free units, enjoying the same measure of democratic freedom as the rest of India.”

I am sure the House will agree with me when I say that the provisions which we are now placing before the House embody in them full achievement of that objective.(Cheers)

Advertisements