Reservation Based on Religion is Anti-Constitution
Dr Makkhan Lal, Distinguished Fellow, VIF (2015 - 2017)

For the last several years under the vote-bank politics and for the short term gains political parties and leaders have been vying with each other for the reservation for the Muslims.

Some parties ruling in some States have gone ahead announcing the reservation for the Muslims within the already existing reservations for various castes of Hindu Society, despite the fact that Islam denies existence of caste system within its fold and a large number of Muslim communities are already enjoying reservation having being included in various castes of Hindus. Every-time an election is announced, be it of a State Assembly or the Parliament approach, the clamour for reservation for Muslims increases. Several times in the past separate reservations enacted in the name of religious denominations have been struck down by Courts and the latest is the Judgment delivered by Andhra Pradesh High Court declaring 4.5% sub-quota for the Muslims within 27% quota for the OBCs as unconstitutional. Predictably, the Central Government appealed for a stay of Andhra Pradesh High Court’s judgement. After hearing the matter argued by the Attorney General of India, Mr. Ghulam M. Vahanvati, the Hon’ble Supreme Court declined to stay Andhra Pradesh High Court’s judgement and indeed made indicting comments on the Government that there is no rationale and justification for 4.5% sub-reservation for the Muslims within the 27% quota for the OBCs. . The bench, comprising of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar criticized the government for the way it had handled the "complex" and "sensitive" issue. The apex court had also expressed its "unhappiness" that the Centre was blaming the High Court when it had itself failed to produce documents to support its case.

It is now high time that we see the issue in the light of Constitution and debate that took place in the Constituent Assembly.

Before the framing of the present Constitution was undertaken, partition of India of India took place purely on the religious grounds. The feeling that Muslims are a separate nation and that they have nothing in common with Hindus as propounded by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and subsequently pursued by most of the Muslim leaders finally laid the foundation of Pakistan through the routes of reservations in the services, separate electorates in the legislatures and other elected bodies and special provisions in terms of minority institutions and special laws. Naturally, once the independence came about and the framing of the Constitution of India commenced, these questions concerning Muslims came to the forefront.

Proposal for the Reservation for Minorities

The question of reservations for minorities was discussed in great detail in the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly appointed an Advisory Committee comprising of more than 50 members to look into the question of reservation to the Minorities as well as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe. The Committee included representatives of Muslims as well as other minorities. The Chairman of this Committee was Shri S.C. Mookerjee, a Christian. Some of the Members representing the interests of Muslims were Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Samad Khan, Hifzur Rehman, Syed Ali Zaheer, Abdul Quiyum Ansari, Chaudhari Khaliquzzam, Saiyid Jafar Imam, Haji Abdul Sathar, Haji Isaq Seth. Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel were also its members.

After discussing for five days, between 21 July and 27 July 1947, the issues for the consideration of the sub-Committee were formulated as follows:

  1. Representation in the Legislature; joint vs. separate electorate and weightage;
  2. Reservation of seats in the cabinets;
  3. Reservation in public services;
  4. Administrative machinery to ensure protection of minority rights (partly covered by making certain fundamental rights justiciable.)1

The discussions on these issues in the sub-committee continued till 27 July 1947. Finally, the sub-committee submitted its report to the Advisory Committee on 27 July. The report said that there shall be no “separate communal electorates for elections in the Legislatures.”2

The Sub-Committee made following recommendations on all four issues:

(i) That all elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures will be held on the basis of joint electorates with reservation of seats for certain specified minorities on their population ratio. This reservation shall be for a period of ten years at the end of which the position is to be reconsidered. There shall be no weightage. But members of the minority communities for whom seats are reserved shall have the right to contest general seats;

(ii) That there shall be no statutory reservation of seats for the minorities in Cabinets, but a convention on the lines of paragraph VII of the Instrument of Instructions issued to Governors under the Government of India Act, 1935, shall be provided in a Schedule to the Constitution;

(iii) That in the All-India and Provincial Services the claims of minorities shall be kept in view in making appointments to these services consistently with consideration of efficiency of administration; and

(iv) That to ensure protection of minority rights an Officer shall be appointed by the President at the Centre and the Governors in the Provinces to report to the Union and Provincial Legislatures respectively about the working of the safeguards.

However, with regard to the fourth point i.e. administrative machinery to ensure protection of minority rights, the committee recommended that the best machinery for ensuring the implementation of the guarantees and safeguards provided for the minorities in the Constitution was for the centre and each of the units to appoint a special Minority Officer charged with the duty of enquiring into allegations of infringement of safeguards and of reporting to Parliament or the appropriate Legislature. The committee also accepted the suggestion regarding the provision to set up a statutory commission, the scope of whose inquiry would be wider than the safeguards of the recognized minorities. 3

Recommendations in the Constituent Assembly

The reports of the Advisory Committee on the reservations for the minorities were considered by the Constituent Assembly on 27 and 28 August 1947. While introducing the report Sardar Patel said:

“I am happy to say that this report has been the result of a general consensus of opinion between the minorities themselves and the majority. Therefore, although it is not possible to satisfy all, you will see that this report has been the result of agreement on may points ; and wherever there has been disagreement the recommendations have been carried by a very large majority, so that except on one point the report is practically an agreed report. It may be that there are some who are not satisfied on some points, but we have to take into consideration all points of view and feelings and sentiments of the minorities, big and small. We have tried as for as possible to meet the wishes of all the miorities.”4

Once the recommendations of the Advisory Committee were taken up in the Constituent Assembly and when the debate began, B. Pocker (a Muslim Leaguer from Madras) moved an amendment which asked for the continuation of the separate electorates for the Muslim community. This was supported by another famous Muslim Leaguer, Chaudhuri Khaliquzzaman. Their demand was that the proportional representation with the joint electorates was not acceptable to them and that the provision of separate electorate in the Central and Provincial Legislature and other elected bodies should be provided in the Constitution, as has been the case so far since 1919. Both of them made very emotional but communal speeches.5 Mr. Pocker did not even mind giving even a veiled threat to the Constituent Assembly. He said:

“One other point I would like to mention is this. The Muslim Community is well-organised…. At present Muslims are strong and well-organised. Now, if they are made to feel that their voice cannot even be heard in Legislature, they will become desperate. I would request you not to create that contingency…. I say in spite of the great differences of opinion that exist today, granting of separate electorates to the Muslims and allowing Muslims to have their voices heard in the Legislature so as to enable them to act hand in hand with the Congress will be the best method. I do not want to be more explicit on the point because I know that Hon’ble Members understand me when I say this.”6

Many prominent leaders like P.S. Deshmukh, V.I. Muniswami Pillai, F.R. Anthony, Rohini Kumar Chaudhury, S. Nagappa, R.K. Sidhwa, Jaipal Singh, M.S. Aney, M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, Jaspat Roy Kapoor, Mohamed Ismail Sahib, Balkrishna Sharma, Prof. Sibban Lal Saksena, Mahavir Tyagi, and many others spoke on the issue.7 Due to constrain of space it may not be possible to quote all. But it is worthwhile to quote Govind Ballabh Pant and Sardar Patel whose speeches reflect the mood of the Constituent Assembly. Pant termed the proposal of separate electorates and reservation in services etc. as suicidal:

“… If they are isolated forever, they can never convert themselves into a majority and the feeling of frustration will cripple them even from the very beginning. What is it that you desire and what is your ultimate objective? Do the minorities always want to remain as minorities or do they ever expect to form an integral part of part of a great nation and such guide and control its destinies? If they do, can they ever achieve that aspiration and that ideal if they are isolated from rest of the community? I think it would be extremely dangerous for them if they segregated from the rest of the community and keep aloof in an air-tight compartment where they would have to rely on others even for the air they breathed….

“Further, what is your ultimate ideal? Do you want a real national secular State or a theocratic State. If the latter, then in this Union of India a theocratic State can only be a Hindu State. Will it be in your interest to isolate yourself in such a manner?…Will anything be more dangerous than that….

“In democracies one should care less for himself and more for others. There cannot be any divided loyalty. All loyalties must exclusively be centered round the state. If in a democracy, you create rival loyalties, or you create a system in which any individual or group, instead of suppressing his extravagance, cares not for larger or other interests, then democracy is doomed.”8

Thus, it can be seen that as mild and politically as wise as Govind Ballabh Pant not only was on his persuasive best but also had harsh words to say in the matters of reservation on the basis of religion. Replying to the debate on 27 August 1947 and addressing the issue of separate electorates, Sardar Patel spoke in the Constituent Assembly squarely and frankly:

“I am sorry to learn that this question was taken seriously because when this question came before the Advisory Committee, there was not so much debate as I heard here today. My friends of the Muslim League here who moved this amendment and supported it took it for granted that they had a duty to perform in a sense. They had been pressing for separate electorate and enjoying it for long time and felt that they should not leave it all of sudden, but just move the motion and have a vote of House. But when I heard the elaborate speeches I thought that I was living in the ages in which the communal question was first mooted. I had not the occasion to hear the speeches which were made in the initial stages in which this question of communal electorates was introduced in the Congress; but there are many eminent Muslims who have recorded their views that the greatest evil in this country which has been brought to pass is the communal electorate. The introduction of the system of communal electorates is a poison which has entered into the body politic of our country. Many Englishmen who were responsible for this also admitted that. But today, after agreeing to the separation of the country as a result of this communal electorate, I never thought that this proposition was going to be moved seriously, and even if it was moved seriously, that it would not be taken seriously. Well, when Pakistan was conceded, at least it was assumed that there would be one nation in the rest of India – the 80 per cent India – and there would be no attempt to talk of two nations here also. It is no use saying that we ask for separate electorates, because it is good for us. We have heard it long enough. We have heard it for years, and as a result of this agitation we are now a separate nation. The agitation was that “we are a separate nation; we cannot have either separate electorates or the weightage or any other concessions or consideration sufficient for our protection. Therefore, give us a separate State.” We said, “All right, take your separate State”. But in the rest of India, in 80 per cent of India do you agree that there shall be one nation? Or do you still want the two nations talk to be brought here also? I am against separate electorates. Can you show me a free country where there are separate electorates? If so, I shall be prepared to accept it. But in this unfortunate country if this separate electorate is going to be persisted in, even after the division of the country, woe betides the country; it is not worth living in. Therefore, I say, it is not for my good alone, it is for your own good that I say it, “Forget the past. One day we may be united. I wish well to Pakistan. Let it succeed. Let them build in their own way, let them prosper. Let us enter into a rivalry of prosperity, but let us not enter into that rivalry that is going on today in the land of Pakistan. My friend the mover of the amendment says the Muslim community today is a strong-knit community. Very good: I am glad to hear that, and therefore I say you have no business to ask for any props, (cheers). Because there are other minorities who are not well- organised, and deserve special consideration and some safeguards, we want to be generous to them. But at the same time, as you have enjoyed this to a certain extent for a long time and you may not feel that there is discrimination, we agree to reservation according to population basis. Where is that kind of reservation in any other free country in the world? Will you show me? I ask you. You are very-well organised community. Tell me, why do you behave like a lame man? Be a bold and strong man, as you are well-organised and stand up. Think of the nation that is being built on this side. We have laid the foundation of a nation…. Therefore I say, and appeal to you. “What are you doing”? Think about it. Do you expect any one man in this country outside the Muslim League who will say ‘Let us now also agree to separate electorates’? Why do you do this? If you say “We want now to have loyalty” on this side of this nation”, may I ask you “Is this loyalty.” Are you provoking response of loyalty form other side? I have no intention to speak on this, but when the mover of this amendment talked such a long time and it was supported by the Leader, then I felt that something is wrong again still in this land. Therefore, my dear friends, I ask you “Do you want now peace in this land? If so do away with it.... I appeal to you ‘let us at least on this side show that everything is forgotten’.”9

On 28 August 1947 Sardar Patel again spoke to the Constituent Assembly replying to the amendment motions moved in the Constituent Assembly in favour of separate electorates and reservation on the basis of religions:

“Sir, I am sorry to see that so much time has been taken on this amendment which I thought was going to be withdrawn and on which there would not be much debate….

“So far as the amendment moved by the representative of Muslim League is concerned, I find that I was mistaken in my impression and if I had believed this, I would certainly not have agreed to any reservation at all. (Hear, Hear). When I agreed to the reservation on the population basis, I thought that our friends of the Muslim League will see the reasonableness of our attitude and allow themselves to accommodate themselves to the changed conditions after the separation of the country. But now I find them adopting the same methods which were adopted when the separate electorates were first introduced in this country, and in spite of ample sweetness in the language used there is a full dose of poison in the method adopted. (Hear, Hear)….

“Now, this formula has a history behind it and those who are the Congress will be able to remember that history. In Congress history this is known as Mohammad Ali formula. Since the introduction of separate electorates in this land there were two parties amongst the Muslims. One was the Nationalist Muslims or the Congress Muslims and other the Muslim League members, or the representatives of the Muslim League. There was considerable tension on this question and at one time there was practical majority against this joint electorate. But a stage was reached when, as was pointed out by the mover of this amendment in Allahabad a settlement was reached. Did we stand by that settlement? No. We now have got the division of the country. In order to prevent the separation of the country this formula was evolved by the nationalist Muslims, as a sort of half way house, until the nation becomes one; we wished to drop it afterwards. But now the separation of the country is complete and you say let us introduce it again and have another separation. I do not understand this method of affection. Therefore, although I would not have liked to say anything on this motion, I think it is better that we know our mind perfectly each other, so that we can understand where we stand. If the process that was adopted, which resulted in the separation of the country, is to be repeated, then I say: Those who want that kind of thing have a place in Pakistan, not here (Applause). Here, we are building a nation and we are laying the foundation of One Nation, and those who choose to divide again and sow the seeds of disruption will have no place, no quarter, here, and I must say that plainly enough. (Hear, Hear). Now, if you think that reservation necessarily means this clause as you have suggested, I am prepared to withdraw reservation for your own benefit. If you agree to that, I am prepared, and I am sure no one in this house will be against the withdrawal of the reservation if that is a satisfaction to you. (Cheers). You cannot have it both ways. Therefore, my friends, you must change your attitude, adopt yourself to the changed conditions. And don’t pretend to say “Oh, our affection is very great for you”. We have seen your affection. Why talk about it? Let us forget the affection. Let us face the realities. Ask yourself whether you really want to stand here and cooperate with us or you want again to play disruptive tactics. Therefore when I appeal to you, I appeal to you to have a change in your heart, not a change of tongue, because that won’t pay here. Therefore, I still appeal to you: ‘Friends, reconsider your attitude and withdraw your amendment”. Why go on saying “Oh, Muslims were not heard; Muslim amendment was not carried”. If that is going to pay you, you are mistaken, and I know how it cost me to protect the Muslim minorities here under the present condition and in the present atmosphere. Therefore, I suggest that you don’t forget the days in which the agitations of the type you carried on are closed and we begin a new chapter. Therefore, I once more appeal to you to forget the past. Forget hat has happened. You have got what you wanted. You have got a separate State and remember, you are the people who were responsible for it, and not those who remain in Pakistan. You led the agitation. You got it. What is it that you want now? In don’t understand. In the majority Hindu provinces you, the minorities, you led the agitation. You got the partition and now again you tell me and ask me to say for the purpose of securing the affection of the younger brother that I must agree to the same thing again, to divide the country again in the divided part. For God’s sake, understand that we have also got some sense. Let us understand the thing clearly. Therefore, when I say we must forget the past, I say it sincerely…. There must be reciprocity. If it is absent, then you take it from me that no soft words can conceal what is behind your words. Therefore, I plainly once more appeal to you strongly that let us forget and let us be one nation.”10

Speaking on the issue Dr. S. Radhakrishnan said:

“Before we put down the decisions, let us have some introductory sentences and make it clear that it is not our desire in this house to have these minorities perpetuated. We must put an end to the disruptive elements in the State. What is our ideal? It is our ideal to develop a homogenous democratic state – that is why we have provided for fundamental rights, we allow no discrimination in public employment, we say, it is s secular State…. So we must declare our objective – that it is our desire to set up here a homogenous, democratic and secular State and those devices which were hitherto employed to keep the different sections of society apart have to be scrapped….

“What is our objective? Do we want to keep these minorities over all India as separate entities in the State? Have we not suffered enough? Are not the tragic happenings of the Punjab directly traceable to the development of disruptive tendencies and deliberate indoctrination? These are not the acts of God but the acts of man. You will find that in the I.N.A. or in the Indian Army where we wished to develop loyalty to a single State we succeeded; where we wished to disrupt a State we have succeeded. It is therefore time for us to put our foot down on all disruptive tendencies and take care to work for other aims and say that it is not our desire to maintain these minorities as minorities.” 11

The Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, and Tribals and Excluded Areas met on 24 February, 1948. In order to come to a quick, reasonable and expeditious solution for the problems, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar suggested that a small committee may be appointed. “He proposed that the committee should consist of: The Hon’ble Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, as its Chairman; the hon’ble Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru; the Hon’ble Dr. Rajendra Prasad; Shri K.M. Munshi; and the Hon’ble Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The suggestion was agreed to. It was also agreed that the report the report of this special committee should come up before the Advisory Committee for their consideration.” 12 This sub-committee submitted its report to the Constituent Assembly. No favour was found for the reservation in services or in electorates on the basis of religion. 13

Final debate in the Constituent Assembly

The above said report was finally discussed by the Constituent Assembly for two days – 25 and 26 May 1949. The recommendations as adopted by the Assembly were included in the Draft Constitution. It is be worthwhile and even eye opener to for us all to see the debate that took place in Constituent Assembly on this report of the sub-committee. 14 Due to space constraint it is not possible to quote the debate in detail but a few representative quotes below sum up the mood and feeling of the Constitution makers.

Sardar Patel: “… The Committee considering the whole situation came to the conclusion that the time has come when the vast majority of the minority communities have themselves realised after great reflection the evil effects in the past of such reservation on the minorities themselves, and the reservations should be dropped.”

After Sardar Patel’s speech a large number of members spoke overwhelmingly against any reservation on the basis of religion. Some of these are quoted below:

Z.H. Lari (United Provinces: Muslim): “… the Constitution should contain no provisions which would have the effect of isolating any section of the people from the main stream of public life. I concede that a minority must aspire to be an integral part of the nation.”

Mr. Naziruddin Ahmad (West Bengal: Muslim): “… at the very outset, I desire to declare that I am in complete and wholehearted agreement with the Resolution (Hear, hear)…. I think that reservations of any kind are against healthy political growth. They imply a kind of inferiority. They arise out of a kind of fear-complex, and its effect would be really to reduce the Muslims into a statutory minority. Then, again, Muslim reservation is psychologically linked up with separate electorates, which led to so many disasters. Therefore I should submit that to carry on reservation would only serve to perpetuate the unpleasant memory of those separate electorates and all the embitterments that accompanied them. I submit that it will be bad even for ten years…. I therefore submit that reservation for Muslims would be undesirable…. Sir, reservation is a kind of protection which always has a crippling effect upon the object protected. So for all these reasons, I should strongly oppose any reservation for Muslims…. Those of my honourable friends who think that there should be reservations, have their eyes on the past. They are looking behind. But our eyes, the eyes of the Indian Muslims, should be facing the future. We should have a progressive outlook.”

Begum Aizaz Rasul (United Provinces: Muslim): “…. I have from the beginning felt that in a secular state … the reservation of seats for minorities to me seems meaningless and useless…. To my mind reservation is a self-destructive weapon which separates the minorities from the majority for all time. It gives no chance to the minorities to win the good-will of the majority. It keeps up the spirit of separatism and communalism alive which should be done away once and for all… I feel that we Muslims should pave the way for not only the introduction but the strengthening of a secular democratic State in this country. The only way in which we can do it is by giving up reservations….”

Muhammad Ismail Khan: “I am very glad that this decision has been taken and I welcome it. Why? Because’ this reservation of seats would only keep alive Communalism and would be ineffectual as a safeguard for the Muslim minorities or for the matter of that for any other minorities.… We are doing all this not for ourselves, but for the future generations of Muslims in this country…. Moreover we desire that our State should be non-communal and secular. Here is an opportunity and we should grasp it. Let us not stand in the way of the emergence of a really secular and non-communal State.”

Jawaharlal Nehru (United Provinces: General): “…I would like you to consider this business, whether it is reservation or any other kind of safeguard for the minority, objectively. There is some point in having a safeguard of this type of any other type where there is autocratic rule or foreign rule. As soon as you get something that can be called political democracy, then this kind of reservation, instead of helping the party to be safeguarded and aided, is likely actually to turn against it. But where there is a third party, or where there is an autocratic monarch, or some other ruler, it is possible that these safeguards may be good. Perhaps the monarch may play one off against the other or the foreign ruler. But where you are up against a full- blooded democracy, if you seek to give safeguards to minority, and a relatively small minority, you isolate it. May be you protect it to a slight extent, but at what cost? At the cost of isolating it and keeping it away from the main current in which the majority is going,—I am talking on the political plane of course—at the cost of forfeiting that inner sympathy and fellow-feeling with the majority…. It is a bad thing for any small group or minority to make it appear to the world and to the majority that "we wish to keep apart from you, that we do not trust you, that we look to ourselves and that therefore we want safeguards and other things". The result is that they may get one anna in the rupee of protection at the cost of the remaining fifteen annas….

Frankly I would like this proposal to go further and put an end to such reservations as there still remain. But again, speaking frankly, I realise that in the present state of affairs in India that would not be a desirable thing to do, that is to say, in regard to the Scheduled Castes. I try to look upon the problem not in the sense of a religious minority, but rather in the sense of helping backward groups in the country. I do not look at it from the religious point of view or the caste point of view, but from the point of view that a backward group ought to be helped and I am glad that this reservation also will be limited to ten years….

Therefore, I think that doing away with this reservation business is not only a good thing in itself—good for all concerned, and more especially for the minorities – but psychologically too it is a very good move for the nation and for the world. It shows that we are really sincere about this business of having a secular democracy….”

Shri Tajamul Hussain (Bihar: Muslim): “… reservation of seats in any shape or form and for any community or group of people is, in my opinion, absolutely wrong in principle. Therefore I am strongly of opinion that there should be no reservation of seats for anyone and I, as a Muslim, speak for the Muslims. There should be no reservation of seats for the Muslim community. (Hear; Hear). I would like to tell you that in no civilised country where there is parliamentary system on democratic lines, there is any reservation of seats. … What is reservation, Sir? Reservation is nothing but a concession, a safeguard a protection for the weak. We, Muslims do not want any concession. Do not want protection, do not want safeguards. We are not weak. This concession would do more harm than good to the Muslims.… We desire neither reservation nor separate electorates. We want to merge in the nation. We desire to stand on our own legs.… Therefore we do not want reservation. It means division…. For God's sake keep your hands off reservation for the Muslim community. We do not want any statutory safeguard. As I said before, we must stand on our own legs. If we do that, we will have no inferiority complex…. The term 'minority' is a British creation. The British created minorities. The British have gone and minorities have gone with them. Remove the term 'minority' from your dictionary. (Hear; Hear). There is no minority in India….

I appeal to all minorities to join the majority in creating a secular State…. Do the minorities, I ask, expect to form part of the great nation and have a hand in the control of its destinies. Can they achieve that aspiration if they are isolated from the rest of India?… The minorities should look forward to the time when they could take their place not under communal or racial labels, but as part and parcel of the whole Indian community.”

Maulana Hasrat Mohani (United Provinces: Muslim): “I have come forward today to give my entire support to the motion of Sardar Patel. I am really glad to do so, because recently I have had occasions to differ from him, though very reluctantly.

Sir, I opposed the principle of reservation of seats at a time when the Congress Party was in its favour. At that time the excuse put forward by the Congress Party was this, "We do not like this method of reservation of seats, but we have to show some concessions to the Muslims, and, therefore, we want to retain it for at least ten years." Even then I said, I am reading from the Official Report of the proceedings of the 4th January 1949, ‘We refuse to accept any concession. In case the majority party, or the Congress Party, accepts reservation of seats, its claim of creating a secular State and of putting an end to communalism would be falsified.”

Col. B. H. Zaidi (Rampur-Banares State: Muslim): “…. For nearly forty years, the Muslims were used to the props and crutches provided to them by the British. We came to love these prop and crutches. Many a patient who has lost the use of his legs and is given crutches will tick to them and would like to lean on them even when some good surgeon has given him back the use of his legs. These generally wish to cling to their crutches. Crutches is not the right word; I should say, stilts because, stilts not only support you, but also give you artificial height. If we throwaway these stilts, not only do we need to trust to the strength of our legs but also we are reduced in height. We were given some artificial importance in this country. … The best thing that the Sardar could do if he was not a friend of the Muslims would be to allow them to cling to their crutches. It would make them cripples for the rest of their lives. It would lead to degeneration and demoralisation out of which there would be no cure. What is he doing? It is not only for India that a right step has been taken—even for the minorities, the best thing is being done. We are given the use of our legs…. After all, what would be the surest guarantee for a happy, prosperous and honourable future for the Muslims of this country? In my humble opinion, only two things will spell their salvation. The first and foremost is self-reliance, strength from within, self-respect, faith in themselves, i, their destiny and their creator. The Second is faith and trust in their own brethren, the majority community.”

After a long debate for two days (for details see Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. VIII, pp. 269-355) the motion for no reservation on the basis of religion was adopted. Thanking the members and winding up the debate Sardar Patel said:

“We are playing with very high stakes and we are changing the course of history. It is a very heavy responsibility that is on us and therefore I appeal to every one of you to think before you vote, to search your conscience and to think what is going to happen in the future of this country. The future shape of this country as a free country is different from the future that was contemplated by those who worked for partition. Therefore I would ask those who have worked for that to note that the times have changed, the circumstances have changed and the world has changed and that therefore they must change if they want salvation….

We want to grow. India today is suffering from want of blood. It is completely anemic. Unless you put blood into its veins, even if we quarrel about concessions of reservations, we will get nothing. We have to build up this country on solid foundations. As I told you, I was trembling on the day I was appointed as Chairman of this Committee but I felt proud and today also I feel proud- and I hope the House will feel proud-that we are able to bring about almost unanimity in removing the past blots in our Constitution (heal; hear) and to lay, with the grace of God and with the blessings of the Almighty, the foundations of a true secular democratic State, where everybody has equal chance. Let God give us the wisdom and the courage to do the right thing to all manner of people.”

From the above, what went on in the Constituent Assembly can be glimpsed. After going through this debate one need not to be groping in the dark for why Sardar Patel was painted as anti-Muslims and communal! It is because he called spade a spade; did not believe in preferential treatment to anyone; treated everyone at equal footing; sought to built-up a nation on true Sarvadarmasambhava.

Is Constitution Irrelevant

All those who chose to live in this country, chose the primacy of the Constitution of India, based on sarvadharma samabhava with no place for the religion in the formulation of Government policies and State polity. It is our solemn duty to see to it that that this cardinal principle is adhered to in letter and spirit and the meaning of ‘secularism’ is not reduced to appeasement of any particular community or caste.

In this context, it would be worthwhile to recall Liaqat Ali’s visit to India in April 1950 and Jawaharlal Nehru succumbing to Liaqat’s pressure to provide again the separate electorate and reservations for the Muslims in the services. N.V. Gadgil gives following narration of the incident in his autobiography Government from Inside:

“Liaqat Ali came to Delhi in March 1950, had discussions with Nehru and one fine morning at 10 o’clock Nehru placed before the Cabinet a draft of his agreement with him…. The final two paragraphs in the agreement accepted the principle of reservation for Muslims in proportion to their population in all the services and representative bodies in the constituent states of India. Similar provisions were suggested for the Central Government also. Each of us got a copy of the draft but no one would open his mouth! I said, ‘these two paragraphs nullify the whole philosophy of the Congress. The country had to pay the price of division as a result of acceptance of separate electorates. You are asking it to drink the same poison again.’ …. After a detail discussion in the Cabinet the next day whole provision of reservation was dropped.”15

During this visit Liaqat Ali stayed in Delhi almost about a week. He requested Nehru to arrange a meeting with Patel who was not at all willing to meet Liaqat Ali in view of the Pakistani authorities attitude towards the Hindus refugee and those Hindus left in Pakistan. Repeatedly pressed upon by Nehru, Patel agreed to meet Liaquat Ali over the lunch on 5 April 1950. During the lunch Sardar Patel told Liaqat Ali on the issue of reservation for the Muslims on the communal lines:

“I am quite sure that the party will not accept it and the country will not swallow this bitter pill. We have conceded one Pakistan; that is more than enough.” 16

Later, on the issue of the reservations of nay kind, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to all the Chief Ministers on 27 June 1961:

“I have referred above to efficiency and to our getting out of our traditional ruts. This necessitates our getting out of the old habits of reservations and particular privileges being given to this caste or that group. The recent meeting we held here, at which the Chief Ministers were present, to consider national integration, laid down that help should be given on economic considerations and not on caste. It is true that we are tied up with certain rules and conventions about helping the scheduled castes and tribes. They deserve help but, even so I dislike any kind of reservation, more particularly in Services. I react strongly against anything which leads to inefficiency and second-rate standards. I want my country to be a first class country in everything. The moment we encourage the second-rate, we are lost.

“The only real way to help a backward group is to give opportunities of good education; this includes technical education which is becoming more and more important. Everything else is provision of some kind of crutches which do not add to the strength or health of the body. We have made recently two decisions which are very important: one is, universal free elementary education, that is the base; and the second is scholarships on a very wide scale at every grade of education to the bright boys and girls, and this applies not merely to the literary education, but, much more so, to technical, scientific and medical training. I lay stress on the bright and able boys and girls because it is only they who will raise our standards. I have no doubt that there is a vast reservoir of potential talent in this country if only we can give it opportunity.

“But if we go in for reservations on communal and caste basis, we swamp the bright and able people and remain second-rate or third-rate. I am grieved to learn how far this business of reservation has gone based on communal considerations. It has amazed me to learn that even promotions are based some times on communal or caste considerations. This way lays not only folly, but disaster. Let us help the backward groups by all means, but never at the cost of efficiency. How are we going to build the public sector or indeed any sector with second rate-people?”17

That is Jawaharlal Nehru, just 12 years after the Constitutional provisions for the reservation for Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes made. Today’s Congress is virtually saying that all those who framed the Indian Constitution and all those who contributed to it in various ways, right from the drafting of the Constitution to participating in the Constituent Assembly Debates and moving more that 7000 amendments to the Draft Constitution were fools. Sometimes, even the judgments of our highest court compel us to reach the conclusion that the likes of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, K.M. Munshi, Begum Aizaz Rasul, Myhammad Ismail Khan, R.K. Sidhva, M.R. Jayakar, Tajamul Hussain, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Col. B.S. Zaidi, C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyyar, B.N. Rau, B.R. Ambedkar and a hosts of others were all fools and deserve to be consigned to the dust-bin of history and the Constitution framed by them is nothing but a worthless piece of paper.

The debasement of the politicians can be understood but what do you do when even the Supreme Court Judges start approvingly citing/quoting such phrases and books as Merit, My Foot: A Reply to Anti-Reservation Racists. What do you do when even the Supreme Court Judges say that “merit and efficiency is [sic] a pure Aryan invention, aimed at maintaining their monopoly…. Efficiency is very much on the lips of the privileged whenever reservation is mentioned.”18 What else can one conclude when today in the eyes of our Hon’ble courts suggestions of Jawaharlal Nehru, B.R. Ambedkar, Radhakrishnan, Rajendra Prasad and many others are nothing more than “a pure Aryan invention, aimed at maintaining their monopoly.”

Nehru could have never even imagined that a day will come when his own party under the control of his own grand-daughter-in-law will reduce his considered views and vision as that of an ‘Aryan Racist’ and of the one whose sole aim was to maintain the monopoly of ‘Aryan Race and Aryan Racists’.

Notes and References:

  1. B. Shiva Rao (ed.), 1967, The Framing of India’s Constitution: Select Documents Vol. II, p. 396. New Delhi
  2. Ibid p. 755, See also Subhash C. Kashyap, The Framing of India’s Constitution: A Study Vol.5 of the Series The Framing of India’s Constitution: Select Documents. p.756.
  3. B. Shiva Rao (ed.), 1967, The Framing of India’s Constitution: Select Documents. Vol.II, p. 397.
  4. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol.V, p. 198, Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi
  5. ibid., pp. 211-4.
  6. ibid.
  7. See Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. V, pp. 269-355, Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi
  8. ibid., pp. 222-224.
  9. ibid., pp. 225-6.
  10. Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol.V, p. 270-72, Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi
  11. ibid., pp. 283-84.
  12. B. Shiva Rao (ed.), 1967, Framing of India’s Constitution: Select Documents, Vol.IV, p. 590, New Delhi
  13. Constituent Assembly Debates,Vol. VIII, pp. 310-12, Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi
  14. For details see Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. VIII, pp. 269-355,
  15. N.V. Gadgil,1968, Government from Inside, p.191, Meerut
  16. Rajmohan Gandhi,1991, Patel: A Life, p. 498, Ahmedabad
  17. Jawaharlal Nehru: Letters to Chief Ministers, Vol.5, Edite by G. Parthasarthy, 1989, pp. 454-55. New Delhi
  18. Arun Shourie , 2006, Falling Over Backwards, New Delhi

Published Date: 12th June 2012

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