Women In Constituent Assembly: G. Durgabai, The Most Frequent Woman Voice

first_imgColumnsWomen In Constituent Assembly: G. Durgabai, The Most Frequent Woman Voice Surbhi Karwa25 July 2020 9:50 PMShare This – x(‘Women In Constituent Assembly’ series will discuss the role played by women in the Constituent Assembly of India. This is the third article of the series)15th July 2020 marks 111th birth anniversary of G. Durgabai. In this piece, I attempt to provide a glimpse into the wide-ranging interventions of the most active woman member of the Constituent Assembly. Born on 15th July…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?Login(‘Women In Constituent Assembly’ series will discuss the role played by women in the Constituent Assembly of India. This is the third article of the series)15th July 2020 marks 111th birth anniversary of G. Durgabai. In this piece, I attempt to provide a glimpse into the wide-ranging interventions of the most active woman member of the Constituent Assembly. Born on 15th July 1909 in Rajahmundri, Kakinada, G. Durgabai participated in the freedom movement since her early childhood. At the age of 12, she quit school to protest imposition of English as medium of education and at the age 14, she volunteered at Indian National Congress’s conference in Kakinada. Later she studied at Benaras Hindu University and Waltair and Law College, Madras and practiced law at Madras High Court and Supreme Court of India.[1] She joined Constituent Assembly on 9th December 1946 from Madras. The Most Active Woman Member- The Indian Constituent Assembly had 15 women members in the 299 member body (around 5%). But not all women members actively participated in the assembly. Kamala Chaudhari, Leela Ray, Malati Chowdhary never spoke in the assembly, and few of the women members left assembly membership in between. But G. Durgabai was the most frequent voice in the assembly. She spoke on wide range of issues from film censorship to judiciary (some of which discussed below). She was member of the Rule Making Committee (the only woman member). She spoke most regularly as member of this committee and introduced various proposals for effective functioning of the Constituent Assembly. She was also member of Steering Committee of the assembly. Recognizing her important role, Granville Austin is his seminal work on Indian Constituent Assembly counted her in his list of the ’21 most important figures of the assembly’. However in a rather sexist manner he referred to her as ‘Wife of C.D. Deshmukh’ in her ‘After Constituent Assembly Introduction’. [2] On Judiciary: Her Most Frequent Interventions Apart from intervening on range of occasions on rules of working of Constituent Assembly, the second most frequent theme where she intervened was judiciary and judicial administration. Herself a lawyer, she spoke on following issues related to judiciary- On role of Chief Justice of India in appointment of judges of provincial courts.[3] On establishment of new high courts in any newly created provinces.[4] On citizenship of judges.[5] On Appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court in Civil matters.[6] On abolition of jurisdiction of Privy Council.[7] On Sex Work The issue of prostitution (or rather sex work) is highly debated within the feminist discourse marked by the victim- agent dilemma i.e. when are women to be considered victims needing protection and when do women stand as active agents negotiating with power and carving out their own spaces.[8] However Constituent Assembly discourse saw sex workers only as ‘women at the mercy of their exploiters'[9], who needed to be ‘saved’ and ‘rescued’. Deshmukh along with her other women colleagues debated the question of sex work only within frame work of trafficking and forced labour under Ar. 23 of the Constitution. Prof. K.T. Shah moved an amendment to Ar. 23 of the Constitution suggesting that dedication of young women to Devdasis in temples shall be specifically prohibited through Ar. 23. Durgabai supported Shah’s position, and expressed her gratitude to him for his proposal. Although she advised him that since specific legislation had already been passed in Madras, there was no need for a categorical provision to abolish the Devdasi system in the Constitution. [10] This is in continuation of the mainstream feminism during the freedom struggle where mainstream feminists aimed at ‘rescuing’ sex workers and providing them with alternative shelters.[11] In this abolitionist zeal of Durgabai and her woman colleagues there was no recognition of sex workers and their agency. In fact, Forbes records that during the freedom struggle itself, sex workers themselves had resisted the reformer’s overtures of mainstream feminists. [12] However, invoking spiritual superiority of Indian women, Durgabai and her colleagues saw sex work against the duty of women in upholding moral standards.[13] Few years later Durgabai was ‘aghast’ at a petition in Allahabad High Court by one sex worker named Husna Bai who argued for her “right to carry on prostitution or the business of brothel keeping” as her fundamental right under Ar. 19.[14] On Fundamental Rights – Durgabai also intervened in debates around fundamental right. The three rights she primarily spoke on were Ar. 22, Ar. 25 and Ar. 32. On 16th September 1949, the Constituent Assembly debated Ar. 15-A of the Draft Constitution (Ar. 22 of the current Constitution). The article faced serious criticism from the members of the house for its wide power of preventive detention and anti-liberty stand. One of the members Shri Jaspat Roy Kapoor argued that the chapter on fundamental rights should be re named as “Limitations on Fundamental Rights” Another member referred to preventive detention powers under Ar. 22 as ‘crown of failure’. [15] However Durgabai sided with the position of Drafting Committee a ‘very happy compromise’ and argued that Ar. 22 is in fact an improvement over pre-constitutional public security acts. On another occasion, she moved an amendment to Ar. 25 and argued that the words ‘any class or section’ under sub-clause (b) of clause (2) of. Ar. 25 should be replaced with ‘all sections and classes’. The aim of her proposal was to enlarge the scope of social reform and welfare under the Article. She argued that there are various classes of religious institutions run by Hindus. Thus the clause should not be limited to temples, it should also cover maths, religious pathshalas, and educational institutions run by Hindus. [16] Speaking on Ar. 32, she termed the right of approaching the Supreme Court, ‘fundamental to all the fundamental rights’ and remarked- “the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of a person’s rights is a very very valuable right that is guaranteed under this Constitution. In my view this is a right which is fundamental to all the fundamental rights guaranteed under this Constitution. The main principle of this article is to secure an effective remedy to the fundamental rights guaranteed under this Constitution.”[17] Later, in the same remark, she also discussed whether principle of res judicata applies to exercise of remedies under writ jurisdiction. Sexism Faced- Indian Constituent Assembly saw various instances of sexism and sexist comments against women members in the assembly. G. Durgabai was no exception to it.[18] On 15th October 1949, G. Durgabai, as member of the Rule Making committee, moved certain proposals for addition of new rules to the Constituent Assembly rules. Naziruddin Ahmad, upset with the rules argued against them and added that, “a further difficulty has been placed by the Drafting Committee on the Members in that they have selected a lady Member to propose all these difficult rules.” He further went on, “the method followed by the Drafting Committee is like that of the Communists who fight with ladies at the front, so as to make it impossible for the other party to strike… The difficulty is that we cannot be hard upon her. After all some kind of gracefulness is necessary in dealing with a lady member. The fact is that the Drafting Committee has put a lady member to fight their cause.” His comments mark a classic sexist instance where a woman is not seen strong enough to be sent in front to defend a position; rather she is seen as ‘other’ in the fight between men. The stereotypical assumption is that it is not a war, a business for woman; it is the issue between two men who need to fight it out themselves rather than sending a woman. His language did not draw much flak from the members. Later in her response, Durgabai herself questioned the comments of Ahmad and expressed her regret that male members of the house were still conscious of ‘sex business’ though the women Members had completely forgotten it. She added that she very much wished that there should be no longer any talk of ‘this question of men and women’ in the assembly.[19] Apart from the above mentioned issues, she also spoke on the question of language,[20] question of film censorship,[21] protection of children from abandonment,[22] financial implications of declaration of Emergency,[23] etc. Thus, G. Durgabai was one of the leading voices of Constituent Assembly of India. Her role in the assembly continues to impact lives of women today. From sex work to her approach on preventive detention, critical engagement with her stands is warranted.Views are personal only. (Surbhi undertook her LL.M. Dissertation research on feminist critique of Indian Constituent Assembly. She taught the same as seminar course at National Law University, Delhi in Autumn semester 2020. She can be reached at [email protected]) Also Read : 1. Dakshayani Velayudhan – The Lone Dalit Woman In Constituent Assembly2. Women In Constituent Assembly : Engaging With The Role Of Hansa Mehta [1] ‘G. Durgabai’ (Centre for Law and Policy Research) [2] GRANVILLE AUSTIN, THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION CORNERSTONE OF A NATION 425 (India Paper Back Edition OUP 1999). [3] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IV, LOK SABHA (July 21, 1947), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C21071947.html [4] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IV, LOK SABHA (July 28, 1947), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C28071947.html [5]Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IV, LOK SABHA (July 29, 1947), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C29071947.html [6] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume VIII, LOK SABHA (June 6, 1949), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C06061949.html [7] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IX, LOK SABHA (Sept. 17, 1949) http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C17091949.html [8] NIVEDITA MENON, SEEING LIKE A FEMINIST 175 (Penguin Books 2012) [9] Renuka Ray, Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume VII, LOK SABHA (Dec. 3, 1948), [10] In fact one member-T.T. Krishnamachari argued that it would be blot on fair name of India if provisions are made for such abuses in the Constitution instead of a legislation. See- Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume VII, LOK SABHA (Dec. 3, 1948), [11] GERALDINE FORBES, THE NEW CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF INDIA WOMEN IN MODERN INDIA 186 (Cambridge University Press 1998). [12] FORBES, at 186-188. [13] Ar. 6, AIWC, Charter of Rights of and Duties for Indian Women, See-Ratna Kapur, ‘ICLP Book Discussion Rohit De’s A People’s Constitution- III : Husna Bai, Sex Work and Constitution’ (Indian Constitutional law and Philosophy 5 Jan . 2019) https://indconlawphil.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/iclp-book-discussion-rohit-des-a-peoples-constitution-iii-husna-bai-sex-work-and-the-constitution/ [14] ROHIT DE, A PEOPLE’S CONSTITUTION: THE EVERYDAY LIFE OF LAW IN THE REPUBLIC 170 (Princeton University Press 2018). [15] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IX, LOK SABHA (Sept. 16, 1949), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C16091949.html [16]Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume VII, LOK SABHA (Dec. 6, 1948), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C06121948.html [17] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume VII, LOK SABHA (Dec. 9, 1948), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C09121948.html [18] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume X, LOK SABHA (Oct. 15, 1949), [19]Similar incident also occurred recently. See- ‘Rahul Gandhi Draws Flak for Saying Modi Asked a Woman to Defend him During Rafale Debate’ (Scroll 9 January 2019) [20] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IX, LOK SABHA (Sept. 14, 1949), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C14091949.html [21] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IX, LOK SABHA (August 31, 1949), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C31081949.html [22] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IX, LOK SABHA (Sept. 3, 1949), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C03091949.html [23] Constitutional Assembly Debates (Proceedings) – Volume IX, LOK SABHA (August 20, 1949), http://loksabhaph.nic.in/writereaddata/cadebatefiles/C20081949.html Next Storylast_img read more

Food Law Shifts Focus

first_imgShoppers’ demand for fresh produce year-round has already increased the supply of imported foods. A University of Georgia scientist said tougher enforcement of a new food safety law may bring even more foods across the border.And with the rising imports may come even more of the pesticide and pathogen problems the law is meant to stop. Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996. The bill reflected the findings of a two-year National Academy of Science study of the effects of pesticides on fruits and vegetables among infants and small children. The FQPA requires the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate every pesticide food tolerance — about 9,000 of them. “These new controls may force more and more of our growers out of business,” said Paul Guillebeau, an Extension Service entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “That would force us to have to import more foods.” The main safety concerns with imported foods usually are bacterial contamination. But pesticides can be a problem, too. “We’re already getting more and more imported foods. And the inspectors are overwhelmed,” Guillebeau said. “They can only test a small sample. Besides, we have little control over other countries’ pesticides uses.” The NAS study changed the focus of pesticide safety from adults to children, he said. “If it’s deemed dangerous to children, a pesticide can’t remain registered as it is.” Pesticides were first registered only individually. And if a pesticide was being registered for use on food, they considered only its effect on food. Now, though, the EPA will consider them in groups. And any nonoccupational use will be counted as part of the food tolerance. “Food tolerances have to consider all those avenues and their effect on children,” Guillebeau said. “It certainly sounds like a good idea. No one is against protecting children. “But the question is: how much is a child exposed if, say, a termite exterminator uses a chemical?” he said. “The situation may appear more dangerous than it is.” From the farmer’s point of view, Guillebeau said, growers will lose important pesticides. They use those products to grow high-quality, affordable food. “EPA had proposed something very drastic like canceling large numbers of organophosphates, carbamates and others, including vital fungicides,” he said. Guillebeau said those chemical groups account for 70 percent of pesticide applications. “Without some of those fungicides, we simply couldn’t produce many of the crops we grow in Georgia,” he said. EPA’s approach to the act was to suddenly take all the suspect chemicals off the market. “It was scary for a while,” Guillebeau said. “Congress had intended a more orderly approach, a more organized, gradual shift away from the pesticides identified as dangerous for children.” Letters from the Senate and House ag subcommittees and Vice President Al Gore have urged EPA to allow farmers more time, technical help and support to devise new pest management plans. “Pesticide action groups are working from the other side,” Guillebeau said. “They hold EPA to a very strict deadline. They hope to get a lot of these things off the market fast. It’s a real political firefight.”last_img read more

Beat writers predict No. 1 Florida State to blow past Syracuse on Saturday

first_imgPhil D’Abbraccio: Florida State 54, Syracuse 10We’re here to…FSU completes the perfect storm. Syracuse limps into this game with a lengthy list of injuries. Tim Lester has never called plays for a Division I offense before. Terrel Hunt, the SU offense’s only hope the past three weeks, is on the sideline for the next month. And if you haven’t heard, the reigning national champions and Heisman Trophy winner are lining up on the opposite side of the ball. But let’s look at the potential positives, however minuscule they are. Facing FSU’s defense won’t yield positive results for Austin Wilson or AJ Long, but it could make the next few opponents look that much more beatable. And if the Orange can escape without adding any more casualties to its medical staff’s watch, Syracuse will have at least won in a very tiny capacity.Jesse Dougherty: Florida State 48, Syracuse 13If a tree falls in a forestIf the Carrier Dome is empty by 3 p.m. on Saturday, the loss could sting a little bit less. The one good thing for the Orange heading into this one is that it really doesn’t have much to lose. There is some excitement for potential shifts in offensive scheme and Long and Wilson — the two guys that are figured to take the reps under center in Hunt’s absence — don’t have many expectations attached to them. There’s also a long list of players that were ruled out for the game and it seems likely that Syracuse’s main goal is to get healthy before heading to Wake Forest. If it can do that, there will be a small victory mixed into the massacre. Don’t expect to see first-team defenders past the beginning of the third quarter for the Orange, and the same could be said for Florida State.Jacob Klinger: Florida State 69, Syracuse 17Long way backJameis Winston makes it easy to forget that Florida State has such a bruising defense, until the game starts. While last year’s Heisman winner has completed 67 percent of his passes and scored 10 total touchdowns, the Seminoles defense ranks No. 30 in the country in total defense. When Winston leaves the field, FSU brings on a unit that’s allowed just 20.8 points per game. It’s worth noting that with Hunt and a decent running game, the Orange only put up 20 points on Maryland. Hunt’s out and the running game has been absent since the loss to the Terrapins. Regardless of who plays at quarterback, it’s going to get worse before it gets better for this depleted Orange team. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 11, 2014 at 12:15 amlast_img read more