Lok Sabha

November 27, 2015

Kalyan Banerjee speaks in Lok Sabha on Constitution Day and Dr BR Ambedkar

Sir, I consider myself privileged to have been given the chance to speak to speak on this subject by the Dy Speaker and my leader Mamata Benerjee.

If it is considered in the world that Lord Denning is the best judge in the world itself, in our country, Dr Ambedkar was and still is the best jurist of this country. Dr Ambedkar was an illustrious leader; he was the chief architect of the Indian Constitution. A good and virtuous Constitution having moral foundation not only protects the fundamental freedom and rights, but also creates a bridge between the conflicting interests and becomes a harbinger to the social needs and produces good legislations and good citizen.

The Constitutional course as a sentinel on the cog wire therefore functions objectively and dispassionately to correct imbalances and keep check on every wing of the state without trespassing upon the field assigned and the powers conferred of the other wings. At the same time maintain a delicate balance. A Constitution is a documentation of the founding faiths of a nation and the fundamental directions for their fulfillment.

The written Constitution of a country is a written documentation of a country which defines the form or system of the government containing the rules that directly or indirectly affect the distribution exercise of the sovereign power of the state and it is thus is mainly concerned with the creation of the three authors, i.e. the executive, the legislatures and judiciary and the distribution of the governmental power among them and the definition of their mutual relation. And we have to work in letter and spirit of the Constitution itself.

The founding fathers of the Constitution cognizant of the reality of life, wisely engrafted the fundamental right and directive principles in Parts 3 and 4 for a democratic life for everyone in Bharat republic. The significance of the perception that Part 3 and 4 together constitute the core of commitment to social responsibility of the society and they together in conscience of the Constitution is a deep understanding of the Constitution itself.

Sir, India is a secular country. Secularism has been inserted in the Preamble in the reason of the 42nd Constitution Amendment of 1976. The object of insertion of this word was to spell out expressly the high ideas of secularism and the integrity of the nation. Secularism does not mean that the Constitution of the theocratic society. It merely means the equal status of all religions without any preference or favor of or any discrimination in any of them. It is clear from the Constitutional scheme that it guarantees quality in the matter of religion to all individuals and groups irrespective of their faith, emphasis on that there is no religion of this state.

The Preamble of the Constitution read with particularly Article 25 to 28 indicates that the concept of secularism is embodied in the Constitution’s scheme itself. Article 29 of the Constitution speaks of protection of the interest of minorities. Article 30 speaks of right of minorities to establish an administrative and educational institution. The concept of secularism is one facet of the right to equality woven as a central golden thread in the fabric depicting pattern of the scheme of our Constitution. Secularism is given a place of pride in our Constitution itself sir.

Dr Ambedkar said, “I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity. Religion is for man and not man for religion. The basic idea underlying a religion is to create an atmosphere for the spiritual development of the individual.”

Our Constitution has secured independence of our judiciary and zealously guarded their independence. Independence of our judiciary is undoubtedly the basic structure of our Constitution. But the said concept of independence has to be confined within the four corners of the Constitution and cannot go beyond the Constitution. Our Constitution is liberal, democratic, egalitarian, secular, and federal in character.

Dr Ambedkar said, “Our object in framing the Constitution is twofold, to lay down the form of political democracy and to lay the idea of economic democracy and also to prescribe that every government, whatever its power, will strive to bring about economic democracy.”

Since our Constitution is federal in character, like central government, every state government is elected by the people. The relations between the centre and the state have been engrafted under part 11 of the Constitution. Power of laws enacted by the Parliament and the legislatures of the states has been provided under article 226 of the Constitution.

Our Constitution does not permit the central government to interfere with the state subjects and thereby any attempt to destroy the federal character of the Constitution. Recently the government has issued a directive that all central schemes will be monitored by deputy secretary level officers of the government of India. These officers as a part of overseeing the schemes will travel to different states to monitor the progress of these schemes on the ground. This move of the government of India tantamounts to mistrust on the official machinery of the state government.

As is the current practice, all schemes under the state plan including the centrally sponsored schemes are implemented and monitored by the state machinery. The government of India releases the fund to the state government on the basis of the physical and financial progress of the scheme, and after due submission of utilization certificate by the state government. This system has been invoked since the introduction of the central schemes and is functioning well. The new system will severely affect the autonomy of the state government and is against the spirit of cooperative federalism.

Sir, Dr Ambedkar fought for the protection and the reservation of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.  Now attempt is being made to take away such protection and reservation. Sir, it is surprising that the honorable Prime Minister and other ministers holding video conference with the chief secretary under the guise of development knowing development programs. This amounts to direct interference with the state administration.

If the honorable Prime Minister and the other ministers wish to know the development of the state itself he is free to talk with the Chief Minister. Nobody should think, with great respect to the Prime Minister, please do not take me amiss. Like the honorable Prime Minister, all the Chief Ministers of the country are also good administrators. They are also the honest persons, they are also political persons, and they have fought for 30, 40 and even 50 years in the field. They have not been sent to the state as a Chief Minister from the Delhi office for running the state itself. Do not undermine any Chief Minister and do not undermine any state government.

Sir, law and order is a state subject; the Government of India has taken up the plan scheme aimed at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency effectiveness of policing and creation of an IT enabled state-of-the-art system and investigation of crime and detection of criminals. The ostensible object of this program is to improve police functioning in areas such as law and order, traffic management and what is being done?

Under the guise of this, every case has to be reported and from Delhi, the Home Ministry will monitor all the law and order cases which are registered under the state which are the subject under the state law and order. Sir, does it not betray the cooperative federal structure of the country? What are you trying to achieve is something which you could not achieve and now the central government is trying to achieve thorough an indirect method for the purpose of keeping record and indirectly monitoring the cases. This is not permissible under the Constitution.

Sir, IAS officers and IPS officers from the state cadres are sent here for training for 2 years. After 2 years these officers are requires to be sent to the states.

My question today is why after this training why you are keeping these officers in your Delhi ministry under the various ministries? For what purpose? Under what law, under what provisions? Are you trying to brainwash the IS & IPS Officers before sending them to the state? Under what Constitution of provisions these since can be done by the Hon’ble Prime Minister & other ministers?

The Centre during the current financial year unilaterally structured a large number of centrally-sponsored schemes without consulting the state governments. Why are you not consulting the state government itself? It cannot be a unilateral decision of only the central government. Undoubtedly, the Centre has a upper hand in Concurrent List. But do not try to be the ‘Big Brother’ of the country itself.  All are not small.

Under our Constitutional scheme state government is not the junior of the central government at all. Nobody is under any control.

This central proceeds on account of collection of shares & surcharges do not form part of the divisible pool of the central taxes which is distributed to the states. The shares of states & surcharge in gross tax revenues of central government over a period of time have substantially increased from 3.51 percent in 2001-2002 to about 9 percent in 2015-2016.

The states have been demanding the proceeds of account of cess & surcharge should be shared with the states. The government of India has not acceded to this demand. Instead recently the Centre has imposed 0.5 percent cess on service tax for the Swachh Bharat programme. States were not taken into confidence. This is a burden on the common man of the country. This is against the spirit of the co-operative federalism.

The non tax receipts of the central government have steadily grown by 11 percent oer the last decade. A substantial amount of non-tax receipt is acquired from auctioning of license fees and disinvestments of central PSUs. While the states have equal claim on the proceeds of disinvestments and license fees and the exploitation of natural resources, it also has a major role in the development of the central PSUs which are located in the states. As such the Centre should share part of the proceeds with the state government itself.

Sir, inter0state council is a Constitutional entity created via the Article 266 of the Constitution. Although constitutionally mandated these councils are virtually inactive. A large number of regional issues which could have been easily discussed and resolved in this council either lie unattended and allowed to assume serious proportions of prompt central interventions. Both these situations are undesirable in a federal set up like ours. Therefore inter-state council should strengthen & mandate made effective.

The center has passed the central legislation in many areas which overlap with the state governments. The burden of the implementing the central legislation like Right to Education Act, 2010 & National Food Security Act which are often passed without any effective consultation with the state government falls on the state governments. These legislations put enormous financial burden of the state government and forces the state government to redefine its development priorities in order to provide necessary financial allocation for the statutory liabilities arisen out of the Act.

Planning commission had been a concept of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Now Niti Ayog has substituted it.  Sir, in Niti Ayog not a single discussion has been held by the Hon’ble Prime Minister except the Land Bill. What is it doing? What has been done by Niti Ayog? Planning Commission has gone. Six months and no work has been done even by the Niti Ayog itself.

Sir, you know Governors cannot act without the advice and consultation with the state government. In very recent days few governors are being appointed. What they are doing? These governors without consulting the state government or the chief minister are asking for security for some political parties. I do not want to name that political party. Without consulting the chief minister he asking for CRPF for holding local municipality election. Is it not a slip on the part of the governor in contamination of a Constitutional mandate.

Sir, in the Constituent Assembly Debates Volume 10, at page 975, it has been recorded “… However good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, taken to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happens to be a good lot. The working of the Constitution does not depend wholly upon the nature of the Constitution. The Constitution can provide all the organs of the state such as legislation the executive & the judiciary. The factors on whom the working of those organs of the state depends, either people or those political parties, they will set up instrument to carry their wishes and their politics. It is therefore futile to pass any judgment upon Constitution without reference to the part which the people and their parties are likely to pay”.

Sir, Mother Teresa said, “God has not called me to be successful, but God has called me to be faithful”. Therefore the three organs of the state should be first faithful to the Constitution and discharge their Constitutional duties. This is not the time to assess how successful we were in the last 65 years. It is time to introspect how much faithful we were to the Constitution itself.

Sir, I will conclude with these words. Only if we are really faithful to the Constitution we will pay respect to Dr BR Ambedkar and the great leaders who were instrumental in making our country the largest democratic country in this world.

With this I pay respect on behalf of my party and on behalf of my leader Mamata Banerjee to Dr BR Ambedkar and other founding fathers of the Constitution. Let us take a pledge that we shall be faithful to the Constitution.

Thank You.