|My dear Prime Minister,
Ever since assumption of office, I have been facing certain tremendous difficulties, in the discharge of my duties which from time to time I have brought to your notice and also to the notice of your predecessor, both in writing and verbally. These difficulties are to my mind in their nature serious enough to call for immediate solution, not only with a view to afford opportunities of efficient working but also to achieve the object underlying His Highness' October Proclamation of 1944, in pursuance of which the two popular Ministers were appointed. But as ill-luck would have it, they have not only been not removed so far but in most cases no serious attempt has to my knowledge, been made uptill now towards their solution. The result is obvious.
Under these circumstances I feel constrained once more to re-state them here and strongly request the immediate solution and removal of these difficulties:
1. You remember that just before the commencement of the Srinagar session of the Praja Sabha, I, in the course of a discussion pointed out to you that according to the decision of your Hon'ble predecessor in Office, the elected Ministers had freedom of speech on the floor of the House, which they could exercise even if they disagreed with the 'official' view of the Government on any issue. (This position is in strict accordance with the provisions of the present constitution). But your reply was that elected Ministers should not only speak but also vote in support of the official view and that they could not even remain neutral in case of difference of opinion. I urged that this was not only the repudiation of the previous arrangement but was also repugnant to the express provisions of the constitution, as amended by His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur after the appointment of Popular Ministers. According to this amendment the two Ministers are to retain their status as members of the Praja Sabha which they occupied before appointment as Minister. Needless to say that the status of these two Ministers before such appointment was that of elected members who had complete right of vote and freedom of speech on the floor of House. Obviously therefore, any restriction of that right is repugnant of the constitution.
You, however, did not seem agreeable to modify your view And nor was I inclined to accept your. The actual position, however, during the last Session in the Assembly did not result in any serious difference of opinion on any important issue before the legislature, but the position is liquid and demands immediate final settlement. I maintain that the amended constitution gives effect to the spirit and policy underlying no departure there from can be made.
I would further add that any attempt to restrict the right of vote end speech of the two elected Ministers is bound to lead to non-confidence in them by their electorate, and is further fraught with the possibilities of coming into conflict with the declared policy of associating the subjects of His Highness with the administration of the State.
2. Soon after my assumption of office anomalous position with respect to P.W.M. came to light. Whereas every other Minister of the Government has a Secretariat of his oven over which he exercises complete administrative control, such is not the case with the P.W.M. He has no Secretariat attached to him or responsible to him. At present he works through the Home, Revenue and Development Secretariates, none of which is affiliated to him. He hoped that after his appointment by His Highness the consequental changes would be effected by the Government but as things turned out no action was taken. After a thorough discussion with your Hon'ble predecessor-in-office, who realised the difficulties and recognised the need of a separate secretariat in the case of P.W.M., the latter sent in a memorandum on 28.12.1944. Prompted by the desire, which he was confident, that his other Hon'ble colleagues shared with him, of making the experiment so graciously introduced by our benign Ruler of associating his subjects with the governance of the State successful, the P.W.M requested that any possible difficulties in the direction should be forthwith removed. But unfortunately the proposal made no headway until Sir B.N. the former Prime Minister, relinquished office.
After assumption of office by you the matter was brought "to your notice in verbal discussion and ultimately a written request was made under my No. 2151p/45 dated 21st Augusta 1945 in which the original proposal for creating a small Secretariat was repeated. Inspite of repeated requests, made verbally to you, no tangible result has followed. On 13th December, 1945, during a personal discussion on the issue you expressed your readiness to make a sort of adjustment by bifurcating the Home Secretariat in two branches-each under H.H.M & P.W.M. But even this halfway measure, though falling for short of my original request, has not fructified.
I pointed out to you the present anomalies of the Secretariats who have to deal either exclusively or mainly with the work under the Public Works portfolio, have absolutely nothing to do so far as administrative control is concerned with the P.W.M. So much so that questions of their leave, promotion, record of their service book and confidential rolls are the exclusive concern of other Ministers with whom they may have to do nothing whatsoever. Such is the present. position which to my mind is both anomalous and unsatisfactory.
I need hardly add that experience has convinced me that nothing short of my original proposal can remove the present tremendous difficulties as well as do away with the discriminatory position between the P.W.M. and his other Hon'ble colleagues. The delay to take decision during the last 13 months has done considerable damage and is sure to do more.
3. You know the fate of Municipal Bill that I proposed in March 1945. K.B. Mirza Jafar Ali Khan, the then officiating Prime Minister, did not take it up as he thought that it involved an important issue. I expressed my disagreement with him, but was assured that the matter would be further considered and definite conclusions arrived at shortly. I waited from some time but when I saw that the case did not make any headway I pressed it again. The result was that in spite of the urgency expressed by me, the question was referred to the Adhoc Committee consisting of H.H.M., H.D.M and P.W.M.
Meanwhile feeling that there was too much centralization in the present Act and the Minister-in-Charge who is supposed to be responsible for the municipal administration is practically without powers. I suggested certain delegation under the Act to the Minister vice my memorandum for submission to Council No. 859-M/45 dated 09.9.1945. These powers are now vested in the Government, though to my mind they are of too petty importance. It will be well worthwhile to mention some of them here:
S. 13. Acceptance of resignation
by a member of a Committee
Mere perusal of these matters which have now to go to Council for sanction should convince any body that such a centralization is bound seriously to hamper progress and efficiency of work. The Minister is not even competent to accept a resignation, or notify an election or an appointment of a member. He cannot direct the Municipality to make certain bye-laws respect to general sanitation etc. He is powerless even in matters of hearing appeals against petty questions disposed of by Committee. It may incidentally be mentioned that functions like these are discharged in British India by officers of lower status than a Minister. Here they are centralised in the Government though they generally pertain day to day administration of the Committees.
As some of these powers were in actual practice exercised by my Predecessor-in-office I also asked for validation of that practice.
This proposal also has met the same fate. Not that decision has been taken but it was not even put before Council. I was recently extremely surprised to find that nearly 161 cases of varying importance were taken up and mostly disposed of by Council, but this proposal though considered by the Minister-in-Charge as very urgent did not find place in that agenda. On October 13, 1945-vide my D.O No. 859-18/45 of 13.10.1945. I drew your attention to my previous proposal on the point again and requested for immediate action. But even this did not produce any result. It is now nearly 4 months that the matter has been hanging fire, meanwhile the work is practically held up.
4. I also referred to other matters during my discussions with you as well as your predecessor. These are of tremendous public importance for which I have always felt that the elected Ministers should be consulted. Take for example the questions relating to law and order. Practically the whole of Kashmir is ruled by ordinance: at present Rule 50 of the Jammu and Kashmir. Defence Rules is in force banning all public processions and meetings. This is so even in my own constituency which I am legally and constitutionally bound to represent in all matters. Never before or after the promulgation of Defence Rule in question has the matter been discussed with the representative in Council. Nor even a courtesy reference was made to me whose whole constituency is under an ordinace at present. This is a serious position, which, as public representative whose status as such has been maintained in the constitution referred to above, by the August Ruler-l have to take notice of. You can well imagine the lot of an elected member whose constituency in matters of civic rights is dealt with like this and who has no voice in these matters. The public at large consider him in their ignorance of the actual working, a party to such decisions.
Whereas he himself is kept in complete ignorance from start to finish. The public representative in these cases comes to know of what has happened through press only. This position is extremely difficult and embarrassing. If it is intended that the elected Ministers should continue to represent the people, it exposes them to the unmerited public criticism on Government measures with which they themselves may disagree.
Same is the position about the distribution of controlled commodities which has assumed enormous importance during recent years From time to time I have addressed various Communication and made a number of references to this during discussions, but generally speaking without result.
On the whole the matters referred to above are of tremendous importance and I feel convinced in my mind that if immediate decisions on the lines indicated are not taken, the real value of having elected Ministers will be considerably reduced If it would not totally disappear. That would be against the Intentions and policy of our beloved Ruler, which every one of us must guard against. And most unfortunately-~t is painful to reiterate- this position has been allowed to persist for more than a year and the sooner, therefore, it is rectified the better.