Attempts at Core1 Prior to the Debates in the Constituent Assembly

Introduction

Before proceeding further with this article, it would be better if the following two articles are read, and their context understood.

  1. The initial version of Article 30(1) proposed by one of the key members of the Constituent Assembly Experts Committee
  2. The modifications that happened to (the eventual) Article 30(1) before it was officially included as part of the *final* Draft Constitution of India.

The deliberations before the Constituent Assembly debates

The Draft Constitution of India, as finalised by the Drafting Committee was submitted to the President of the Constituent Assembly on February 21, 1948. This version of the Draft had included all the modifications and recommendations given by the various sub-committees of the Constituent Assembly.

Copies of this Draft were circulated widely throughout the country, and feedback and suggestions were sought. Between February and October of 1948, various comments were received. To discuss and make good use of these comments, the Drafting Committee, and then A Special Committee, met in March and April of 1948 respectively.

In October 1948, the Drafting Committee met again and finalised the version of the Draft Constitution that would be placed in the Constituent Assembly for thorough discussion and passing.

In each of the above meetings, the ‘Constitutional Adviser’ had taken detailed notes and recommendations. These notes officially reflected the views of the Drafting Committee and/or the Special Committee. Hence these notes are very valuable in understanding the position of the Constitution makers on various issues.

Version of Article 30(1) placed before public for feedback

The version of Draft Article 23(3)(a) – that eventually became Article 30(1) – which was put forth for feedback and review was as below.

All minorities whether based on religion, community or or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice”

It was upon this version of the Article that various members provided feedback during February-October 1948.

Amendments sought in the Draft Article 30(1)

A list of the amendments sought in this Article, and also the official notes prepared by the Constitutional Adviser, reveals the mindset of the Constitution makers on this important provision.

Amendment moved by B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya and 6 others

That in article 23, clause (2) and sub-clauses (a) and (b) of clause (3), after the word religion, the words “caste, creed” be inserted

This amendment was not accepted but the official reasoning given was as below

Note: The term “community”  would seem wide enough to include “caste” and “creed” would seem to be covered by “religion”. The amendment therefore would seem to be unnecessary”

It becomes extremely clear from the words of the Drafting Committee that caste, which is a unique feature of Hindu religion, was very much meant to be considered in this provision. Therefore, the benefit of this right for minorities within the Hindu religion was also very much intended to be provided.

Amendments moved by Jaya Prakash Narayan:

Jaya Prakash Narayan moved two amendments, which reveal a completely #Core mindset.

  1. The Article must completely drop the benefit for religious minorities
  2. Another sub-clause must be included which reads as – “Denominational and communal educational institutions are forbidden except for the purposes of the study of religion and oriental learning”

Sri Jaya Prakash Narayan submitted the following as the reason for moving the two amendments.

Secularization of general education is necessary for the growth of national outlook and unity

The Drafting Committee did not accept these two recommendations indicating that a change of policy would be needed, and also indicated that the promised benefit to Anglo-Indian community would not be possible if this change was accepted.

Note: This amendment involved a question of policy”

Conclusion

Two very important conclusions can be drawn from these proposed amendments, and the responses of the Drafting Committee to these amendments.

  1. Several members of the Constituent Assembly made sincere attempts to secularise this particular provision in the Constitution and make it uniform across all religions thus ensuring no untoward disadvantage for Hindus.
  2. The Drafting Committee did see the applicability of Article 30(1) for ‘minorities within the Hindu religion’ as seen by their response to the inclusion of ‘castes’ as a denomination.

References

  • The Framing of India’s Constitution – A Study – by B Shiva Rao and Others
  • The Framing of India’s Constitution – Select Documents Vol IV – by B Shiva Rao and Others
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