Interim Report of the basic Principles Committee, 1952
10th June, 1952.
While proceeding with the task assigned to it, the Basic Principles Committee has felt it imperative to seek a clear directive from the Constituent Assembly with regard to the basic character and shape of the future constitution of the Jammu and Kashmir State. In order to determine its broad framework it is essential to know whether it will be based on the total application of the principles of democracy or whether the existing system of constitutional monarchy should continue. This naturally involves an immediate consideration of the future status of the Ruling dynsty of the Jammu and Kashmir State and only a decision on this fundamental issue will enable the Committee to proceed further with the task of finalizing the principles of the draft constitution.
The Committee has carefully examined the nature of the title and claim of the Ruling Dynasty of the Jammu and Kashmir State, which it derived from the Treaty of 1846. The Committee has no doubt that the Treaty was the natural consequence of the British Imperial policy in the Indian subcontinent which perpetuated and intensified feudal and autocratic rule in certain territories of the sub-continent.
When the popular upsurge for independence compelled the British Government to withdraw from the sub-continent, the Paramountcy exercised by it over these States lapsed and it was obvious that the iniquitous relationships which the ‘British Government had entered into with the Indian Princes -would automatically terminate. But the failure of the British Government to recognise a status of equality and independence
On par with status conferred upon the people of the Provinces ruled by it directed, created an anamolous situation. While in the rest of India’ sovereignty was restored to the people, in the Indian states, it continued to be vested in an individual who was all along functioning under the protection and suzerainty of the British Government.
The people of our State, along with those of other Indian States, resisted this relationship which condemned them to bondage and feudal exploitation. Their resentment found expression in their organised struggles against this unjust and discriminatory treatment meted out to them. They sought repudiation of this ambiguous constitutional arrangement and demanded the right of self-determination for themselves, prompted by the same urges that had moved the people in other parts of India.
The outmoded and anachronistic character of the dynastic rule was brought to light sharply by the crisis with which the State was faced in 1947. The general feeling of resentment against this autocratic system had corroded it to such an extent as left no doubt in its futility and incompetence to render elementary functions of guaranteeing the security of life and property of the citizens in times of a severe crisis. It was, therefore, natural that this unpopular system should yield place to a representative form of Government; but the nature and magnitude of the emergency facing our State made it impossible to effect any drastic changes in the constitutional set up during these critical times. The peoples representatives while tackling the difficult task of administration under stress of abnormal condition had to function within the framework of the existing constitutional set up.
There was a major change in the situation when in March 1948, the Maharaja had to entrust the work of day to day administration to a popular Ministry but it was soon obvious that this arrangement could not work smoothly and stood in the way of progress and development. Consequently, the Maharaja who was conscious of his erstwhile power and privileges, incapable of any adjustment to the changed conditions, was forced to retire and was succeeded by Yuvaraj Karan Single, who assumed the functions of a constitutional Ruler acting on the advice and guidance of his Cabinet.
This was obviously an interim arrangement subject to examination and revision by a properly elected body of the people’s representatives. Accordingly the Constituent Assembly came into being in October 1951, with sovereign powers.
The Basic Principles Committee feels that the time has come when a final decision should be taken in regard to the institu-unbounded respect, confidence and esteem of the people.
In view of these considerations the Committee feels that there must be a sense of finality about the decisions in regard to this fundamental issue. Accordingly, the Committee recommends that:
a. the form of the future constitution of Jammu and Kashmir shall be wholly democratic;
b. the institution of hereditary Rulership shall be terminated.
c. the office of the Head of the State shall be elective.
Bhagat Ram Sharma
Abdul Gani Goni
Moti Ram Baigra
Ram Piara Saraf