Letter to the President of India

Shri Pranab Mukharjee,
Honorable President of India,
Rashtrapati Bhawan,
New Delhi -1.

His Excellency the President of India,

Respected Sir,

Aruna Kumar Vundavalli, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, has sent a letter to you on 28th October 2013, which was subsequently released to the media. In that letter, he makes a claim that ‘consent’ is required from Andhra Pradesh State Legislature for separation of Telangana. And he poses the question ‘whether the province affected should have the power or the Indian parliament should have the power’ to divide any state or province.

We believe that it is our duty to counter the claims made by Mr. Vundavalli by bringing the real facts to your notice and thereby to the common man in this country.

During Constituent Assembly Debates of 1948-49, while Indian Union was being forged by Sardar Vallabhai Patel, a distinction was made between Provinces as Part I of the First Schedule and Princely States as Part III of the First Schedule. Honorable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had proposed that only the ‘views’ of the Legislature of the State are required in the case of Provinces, while ‘consent’ needs to be obtained in the case of Princely States.

When questioned by Honorable Pandit Kunzru on the difference in treatment of Provinces and Princely States, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar explained that India was ‘at present moment bound by the terms of agreement arrived’ by the Negotiating Committees with the Indian Princely States. Since the Princely States were assumed to be ‘sovereign’ at that time, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar treated them differently compared to the Provinces. However, he assured the House that in near future such distinction is not warranted. He explained that ‘Indian Union may be able to deal with the Indian States in the same way in which it is able to deal with the Provinces’.

By 1956, it became clear that all the states in India including Princely States were treated the same as Provinces. Therefore, the requirement for ‘consent’ was no longer needed.

Eventually the Article 3 of Indian Constitution emerged in the current form wherein the Bill for the purpose of reorganization of states is ‘referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views’.

Responding to K T Shah’s amendment which prescribed that ‘every proposal for legislation’ for reorganization ‘shall originate in the Legislature of the State concerned’, Honorable Shri K. Santhanam said:

I wonder whether Professor Shah fully realises the implications of his amendment. If his amendment is adopted, it would mean that no minority in any State can ask for separation of territory, either for forming a new province or for joining an adjacent State unless it can get a majority in that State legislature.

I cannot understand which he means by ‘originating’. Take the case of the Madras Province for instance. The Andhras want separation. They bring up a resolution in the Madras legislature. It is defeated by a majority. There ends the matter. The way of the Andhras is blocked altogether. They cannot take any further step to constitute an Andhra province.

On the other hand, as re-drafted by the honourable Dr. Ambedkar, if the Andhras fail to get a majority in the legislature, they can go straight to the President and represent to him what the majority did in their case and ask for further action removing the block in the way of a province for them. If they are able to convince the President, he may recommend it and either the Government of India may themselves sponsor legislation for the purpose or any private Member or a group in the Central legislature can take up the question.

Therefore, by Mr. Shah’s amendment instead of democracy we will have absolute autocracy of the majority in every province and State. That is certainly not what professor Shah wants. But, unfortunately, in his enthusiasm for what he calls the principle, he has tabled an amendment which altogether defeats his object. I therefore suggest that the amendment shall be rejected and the proposition moved by Dr. Ambedkar should be accepted.

When we look at the response given by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s to K T Shah (as furnished by Mr. Vundavalli) in the original context, it becomes clear that while it was agreed by the House that the State Legislature will be ‘consulted’ for its views, K T Shah’s amendment to originate every reorganization proposal in State Legislature was ‘ruled out’ because it sought ‘complete substitution’ to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s amendment, which was approved and adopted.

As seen from Constituent Assembly Debates and precedents of reorganization of states in India, it is evident that ‘consent’ is not required of Andhra Pradesh State Legislature as sought by Mr. Vundavalli. And as per the provisions of Constitution of India, Your Excellency will refer the Bill to the Andhra Pradesh State Legislature so that it can ‘express its views’.

To answer the question raised by Mr. Vundavalli, yes, all state formations and subsequent court verdicts in India have clearly established that Indian Parliament, through the sanction of Article 3 and as envisioned by the architects of Indian Constitution, has the power to reorganize the states, and not the state affected.

As your Excellency is already aware, the democratic aspiration of Telangana people seeking separate state is almost sixty years old, and must be one of the most extensively debated issues in Indian politics. We request upon you to ensure that the formation of separate Telangana is no longer delayed.

With greatest regards,

Yours sincerely,

B. Vinod Kumar.
Ex-MP, TRS Politburo Member,
01 Nov 2013.

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