DV Rao on Constitutional System

India has a Constitutional autocracy, DV Rao, veteran revolutionary and an MP,  told the Court, in his assessment of India’s  Indian Constitutional System


DV Rao, veteran revolutionary and an MP

This is Part-1 of an article.

Com DV Rao. Devulapalli Venkateswara Rao (Born 1917 June 1- died on 1984 July 12),  prominent communist revolutionary of India, had a political life that spans nearly five decades. Out of those years, he spent nearly 17 years in underground activities and about 5 years in various jails in his life and work as a communist revolutionary. All except two of these years were in post-1947 August India, and most of it after the 1950 Constitution arrived.

In this article, being published in two parts, to mark the January 26 Republic Day, we see some extracts from one of  DV Rao’s  classic books , People’s Democratic Revolution in India – An Explanation of the Programme.

In fact the book was DV Rao’s Court Statement ,  originally written in a Hyderabad prison during  1970-71, and  was  read out in full  as a Defence Statement, on  December  14 to 18, 1971,  in the Special Court that tried DV Rao, T. Nagi Reddy and 40 others in the famous  Hyderabad Conspiracy Case , the  first of its kind after 1947. Subsequently it was printed and reprinted several times in English and Telugu, as a book of about 320 pages. He updated it with a detailed Foreword to its 1981 edition.

 (The  Proletarian Line Publications5-5-1022/107, Mallikarjuna Nagar (North),  Chintalkuta, LB Nagar, Hyderabad-500 068.)  

He had to be in prison or lived underground for long though he was a Member of the Loksabha during 1957-62, elected from Nalgonda (Telangana) Constituency winning by a massive majority.  He had watched and experienced the Indian democracy, and wrote extensively about it. In 1969 he was arrested along with late Com. Tarimela Nagi Reddy and 40 others and kept in detention from December ’69 to May ’72.

The Hyderabad Conspiracy case foisted against them was based on the Immediate Programme drafted by Com. DV. He was then released in May’72 along with Com. TN and others on conditional bail which they jumped in June’75 to resume underground activities when Internal Emergency was proclaimed in the country by Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s regime. Com. DV along with Com. TN and some others were sentenced to 4 years rigorous imprisonment in the Hyderabad Conspiracy case, which he partly served.

Having closely seen and experienced the Indian democracy’s police state, he jumped bail, and opted to work underground till he died in 1984 July at age 67.

For the current generation that knows UAPA and NIA special Courts, and an undeclared emergency and fascism, these experiences and extracts are of great importance to know the constitutional roots of this autocracy.

DV Rao told the Court: “The system which does not permit such freedoms (to people) deserves to be called an autocracy. The people have every right to overthrow an autocratic system, whether a given Constitution permits them to do so or not.” It is a Constitutional autocracy, he asserted.

Together with TN , Tarimela Nagi Reddy (1917-1976), DV Rao in early 1975 founded the UCCRI-ML that was banned within two months as Emergency was proclaimed on June 26, and  fascism was unleashed, by Indira regime. UCCRI-ML ever since stood for a revolutionary mass line as different from right revisionist and left adventurist lines. DV Rao was its General Secretary from 1975 till he died at 67 in July 1984.

He was known for his unique role in leading the Telangana People’s Armed Struggle (1946-51), and was the youngest member of the then Central Committee of  the undivided Communist Party of India.

He upheld Marxism-Leninism-Mao’s Thought (MLM) and elaborated its Indian interpretation, by applying it to the realities of our country, and made them powerful and invincible weapons in the hands of the communist revolutionaries. He elaborated his views in his extensive writings published in English and Telugu.

More on his life and works, including on Telangana, is available in countercurrents.org, which published several articles on and by him. One link is given below:


***                                            ***

Now we go into extracts from Chapter 8 of the book, with the title below. Brief remarks are added in parentheses. All emphases added:


The Indian Constitutional System

In 1947, power was transferred to the Indian big bourgeoisie and landlords by the British imperialists, as a result of a compromise between them. These classes have been leading the national movement, and playing a counter-revolutionary role. Their attitude towards imperialism was a very limited liberal opposition. As a result of that, they waited for power till the British conceded it.

The Constitutional system, evolved as a result of Transfer of Power was based on the fundamental points formulated by the British. They were not anti-imperialist.

In 1942, when fascism was advancing, when Japan had occupied Burma, the British imperialists have formulated the following proposals:

“(a) Dominion Status for ‘a new Indian Union with the power to secede, if it chooses, from the British Commonwealth’;

“(b)      ‘a Constitution-making Body’ to be set up immediately after the war, partly elected by the membership of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies to be elected after the war on a basis of proportional representation, and partly nominated by the princes in proportion to the population of their States to frame a new Constitution for India;

“(c) right of any Province of British India or any State to remain outside, and either continue on the present basis or frame a new Constitution as a separate Dominion with equal rights;

“(d)      a treaty between Britain and the ‘Constitution-making Body’ to ‘make provision in accordance with the undertakings given by His Majesty’s Government, for the protection of racial and religious minorities’’’. (India Today: By R.P.Dutt, Pages 454-55)

The proposals were made in the context of the then existing war situation, under the pressure of US and (Kuomintang-led) Chinese Governments.

There is no essential difference between them and those made earlier, as the basis of all was that India should be a part of the British Empire in one form or another.

In the beginning of 1946 there were armed revolts and revolutionary struggles in India (RIN Ratings revolt; Azad Hind demonstrations.) The then British Labour Government was afraid of them. While declaring that they are for Indian independence, they advanced Constitutional proposals in some detail. They are:

“1. Recommendations for the Future Constitution

“1)   There should be a Union of India, embodying both British India and the States, which should deal with foreign affairs, defence and communications, and should have the power necessary to raise the finance required for these subjects.

“2)   The Union should have an Executive and Legislative bodies, constituted from British Indian and State representatives.

Any question, raising a major communal issue in the Legislature, should require for its decision a majority of the representatives present and voting of each of the two major communities (Congress and Muslim League) as well the majority of all members present and voting.

“3)   All the subjects other than the Union subjects, and all residuary powers should be vested in the Provinces.

“4)   The States should retain all the subjects and powers, other than those ceded to the Union.

“5)   The Provinces should be to form groups with Executives and Legislatures, and each group could determine the Provincial subjects to be taken in common.

“6)   The Constitution of the Union and of the groups should contain a provision, whereby any Province could, by majority vote of its Legislative Assembly, call for a reconsideration of the terms of the Constitution, after an initial period of ten years and at ten-yearly intervals thereafter.

“2. Proposals for the Constitution-making-Machinery

“1)   A Constituent Assembly of 389 members: 292 from the Provinces of British India, indirectly elected on a communal basis, with separate seats allotted, according to population for general Moslem and Sikh groupings, by the existing Provincial Legislative Assemblies; and 93 from the states, the method of selection to be arranged by consultation.

“2)   Division of the Provinces in three sections:

(a)            Representing Hindu-majority regions (Madras, Bombay, the United Provinces, Bihar, the Central Provinces and Orissa).

(b)            Representing the North-Western Moslem-majority regions (Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan) and another representing the North-eastern Moslem-majority region (Bengal and Assam).

Representatives of these groups to meet separately to determine the provincial Constitutions for the Provinces in each group, the Provinces to have the right to opt out only after the completion of the New Constitution, and the first elections on this basis.

“3)   An Advisory Committee for the smaller minorities.

“4)   The Union Constituent Assembly to determine the Union Constitution.

Resolutions raising the major communal issues to require a majority of the representatives present and voting of each of the two major communities.

“3. States

“Basis of co-operation of the States in the New Indian Union to be determined by negotiation. The States to be represented in the preliminary stages by a Negotiating Committee.

“Paramountcy to end with the attainment of independence by British India.

“4. The British-Indian Treaty

“A British-Indian treaty to be negotiated between the Union Constituent Assembly and the United Kingdom.

“5. The Interim Government

“Recommendation for the establishment of an ‘Interim Government having the support of the major political parties’ to be formed by the Viceroy on the basis of the reconstitution of his Executive Council. (Ibid, Pages: 479-80)

(These proposals contain the names of the Provinces used in those days and some Constitutional wordings like Paramountcy etc. They are out of context at present. Therefore, we are not explaining those words.)

When we analyse these proposals, and the interpretations given by the British, it becomes clear that the Constitution-making Body was not sovereign, and its main purpose was to prepare a Constitution, which can defend the interests of British imperialism and Indian feudalism.

The British imperialists had decided to divide India into India and Pakistan, after the formation of the Constituent Assembly. The Congress leadership had accepted this division. Thus, Pakistan came into being, with Muslim majority areas, which made some of the above proposals connected with communal representation unnecessary. Therefore, the Constituent Assembly was reformed to the exclusion of those proposals. The Constitution that was evolved is based on the rest of the proposals.

  1. The Constitution of a Constituent Assembly

The government which came into existence, after the division of the country, consisted of not only the liberal leaders of the Congress but the loyalists as well.

A representative of British imperialism continued to be Viceroy or Governor General. There were British armed forces, including the Navy and the Air Force. Thus, under the conditions of British occupation, the Constituent Assembly was formed and functioned.

The members of the Constituent Assembly were not elected on the basis of adult franchise. They were elected by the Provincial Assemblies, which in turn were based on limited franchise.

There were a considerable number of Princes among those nominated from the Native States.

( princely states were thus called.)

The National Congress itself was (and is) an organisation representing big bourgeoisie and landlords. Thus, the Constituent Assembly was full of (pro-British) liberals inside and outside the Congress, the communalists and the loyalists to imperialism as well as to the Princes.

If we go into their class character, they were the representatives of British imperialism, Indian big bourgeoisie and landlordism.

There was no representation to Leftists and the revolutionary forces. A lone communist representative from Bengal was deprived of his seat, after the division of the country.

It took four years to evolve a Constitution. During this period, the Constituent Assembly functioned as a Parliament, which enacted necessary laws.

It made the British imperialist laws its own. Their administrative apparatus, the judiciary, the armed forces, the armed police etc., were inherited by the new government, and kept intact. If at all there was a change, it was the British officials, who left the country one by one.

Though there is an adult franchise, and an elected Parliament and Legislatures, the people are benefitted in no way due to the present Indian economy and the bureaucratic administrative apparatus.

***                    ***

  1. Civil Liberties

The Constitution says that every citizen enjoys the following freedoms:

1)    Freedom of speech.

2)    The freedom of assembling in a place peacefully and without arms.

3)    The freedom to form into associations and unions.

4)    The freedom of movement throughout the territory of India.

5)    The freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.

6)    The freedom to ‘acquire, hold and dispose off property.’

7)    The freedom ‘to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.’


The Indian people are being robbed by the foreign imperialists, the big bourgeoisie and landlordism. The ruling class,working as the agents of foreign imperialism, have reduced our independence into a formal one.

The people have to organise themselves to defend their legitimate rights, within the framework of the present system and to establish the People’s Democratic System.

In order to organise themselves, the people should have freedom in regard to the first four points. The system which does not permit such freedoms deserves to be called an autocracy. The people have every right to overthrow an autocratic system, whether a given Constitution permits them to do so or not.

In the present-day India, the forces, which are defending the present system of exploitation, are alone enjoying these rights of freedom. All the parliamentary parties and various associations working outside belong to this category.

Preventive detention is in force from the next second of the Transfer of Power in our country. It was not in force for some months before the mid-term elections, due to a crisis that developed among the ruling classes. But it came into force in the form of ‘Maintenance of Internal Security Act’, immediately after the elections. We have such, and sometimes more severe, legislation in all the States.

The ruling classes are armed with powers to resort to more severe legislation than the one existing, in the name of defending the Constitution, and the integrity of the country. The present Constitution permits this. The Preventive Detention Act and such other Acts are the same which were implemented by the British imperialists. We should not forget this.

The present Preventive Detention legislation has the freedom to rob all the above freedoms provided in the Constitution. The ruling classes have been detaining, without trial, revolutionaries striving to overthrow the present system, and all those who are organising the people to defend their legitimate rights. Some of us, who are arrested in the context of the present Conspiracy case, had been detained in the jails earlier, under the Preventive Detention Act etc.

We have an ‘Essential Services Act’ in force. According to this, the Government can declare any industry, organisation, Government departments or its undertakings where workers and employees get ready for a strike or a struggle, as ‘an Essential Service’. It is empowered to ban those strikes and struggles. Everyone knows that when strikes and struggles are continuing in defiance of the laws or bans, the Police Raj comes into the picture, as nakedly as the ruling classes think it necessary.

The ruling classes can proclaim ‘Emergency’ at any time of their choice, according to the Constitution. As long as the ‘Emergency’ continues, any citizen can be detained, without trial. The above provisions in the Constitution are suspended for this purpose. Some of us, who are involved in the present Conspiracy case, have spent about two years in jails, without trial, during 1962-63 and 1965-66.

(Autocracy is clamped not merely against individuals and organizations. A later section refers to the Constitutional provisions Art 356-357, used more than 100 times before some restrictions by Bommai case, to dismiss elected state governments and impose President’s rule or governor’s rule, as is the case in Kashmir now. Starting from the dissolution of the Communist Government in Kerala in 1959, and setting up Governor’s rule, almost all the States have become the victims of this step.)

The very Indian Penal Code enacted and implemented by the British imperialists to suppress national movements and revolutionary movements, for which its sections 120 (b), 121, 121 (A), 122, 123 and 124 were freely used, is still in vogue. The same Code and Sections were applied against us. Anybody can be arrested, kept in jail in the name of trial of conspiracy cases in accordance with the above sections, as well as other sections. Thus, the trial facilitates the ruling classes to detain their political adversaries for a long time.

Thus, the Constitution grants all powers to the ruling classes to snatch away all freedoms, which are supposed to have been granted by it. It is the ruling classes and their favourites alone who are enjoying these freedoms.

Those political parties, groups and individuals, who are fighting for the legitimate demands of the people, even within the framework of the present system, are kept away from these freedoms. They are facing repression and undergoing jail life for their part, according to these repressive laws. We know that they are often victims to the bullets of the ruling classes, which has nothing to do with these laws.

The balance sheet of the Constitution provisions regarding the freedoms for the people and the powers for the ruling classes to snatch them away, is nil, as far as the people are concerned. The only thing they have in their own hands is struggle, that too a revolutionary struggle.

The British regime had implemented these laws. The present ruling classes are doing the same. The department which implements is the same Police department with the same jails. As usual, the victims of the laws are the same i.e., people, those who work for them and the revolutionaries.

The using and misusing of the laws on the part of the ruling classes has become a headache to the judiciary, which works within the framework of laws, and which has often commented on the laws and their misuse by the Central and the State governments.

Recently the Gujarat High Court had commented on the State Government’s confiscation of a book called ‘Quotations from Mao’ and stated in its judgement that the Government has no power to order people to follow a specific political philosophy, and that the people have the right to choose their own.

We know that the Andhra High Court had ordered that detention of the three revolutionary poets under the Preventive Detention Act together with some clauses are unconstitutional and they were released from jail. This judgement makes no difference for the people, as the State governments are enjoying the shadow of an umbrella called Maintenance of Internal Security Act of the Centre. But one thing is clear.

Even the judiciary, which is a part and parcel of the state apparatus, is not in a position to defend the government’s misuse of powers under the cover of the laws.

When we further look in the balance sheet of the powers of the Government, and the freedom of the people, it is the Government, which has an upper hand over the people.

The Constitution compels the people, the opposition parties, groups and individuals to be at the mercy of the Government.

The Constitution bans forced labour and child labour in the factories, and claims that it bans exploitation. In fact, it is banning exploitation in this limited form alone. This cannot mean that it bans exploitation in toto.

On the other hand, it perpetuates and defends the exploitation of the poor peasants and agricultural labourers, constituting 80 per cent of the rural population with nominal wages or nominal prices for their lands by landlords, and the exploitation of our country in general and the labour in particular by the foreign capitalists and the Indian big bourgeoisie.

Banning child labour in the factories has in no way solved the problem of child labour. The poor, either in the villages, or in the towns having no means of living, are sending their children as labourers to the rich, who are employing them as cheap labour force. Everyone knows that this is a common practice.

Forced labour is undoubtedly a cruel form of feudal exploitation. The people in the countryside have been carrying on a struggle against forced labour for a long time, as a result of which it was abolished, though it is still in vogue in some areas.

More often, the landlords are paying nominal wages, and forcing the poor to work day and night. This is another form of forced labour, which is not banned by the Constitution.

Thus, the Constitution defends the exploitation to perpetuate the imperialist system and landlordism.

The Constitution recognises property right as a fundamental right. (Subsequently it was amended, it may be added.)  As a result, the Government pays compensation to all properties it acquires. But it is the propertied classes which are protected by this right, not the people. For example, the government cannot acquire foreign capital, industries, plantations, and other properties, without compensation, nor the lands of landlords. We have already explained how it was inevitable to pay compensation to the tune of Rs. 700-800 crores for the integration of the Native States and the abolition of the Zamindaris.

The land in the possession of the landlords’ class has come down to it as feudal property, for which it has not paid any price. The British imperialists have created a value for it. Thus, the Constitution is defending the interests of the landlord class.

In the same way, foreign monopoly capitalists are robbing our people, by exporting their capital to our country in the form of loans, and establishing industries. They are repatriating their capital in the form of interest, profit and many other forms. Imperialism is an obstacle for India to develop into a modern country, industrially and culturally, as it is protecting all the reactionary classes. The big bourgeoisie, as its collaborator is playing the same role. The properties of these classes, when they are not fetching the required rate of profit, are acquired by the government, paying huge amounts by way of compensation, so that it may be profitably re-invested. Thus, the Constitution guarantees their interests.

The people will never agree to the government robbing them of their civil rights and the Constitution defending it. Nor do they accept a Constitution which guarantees the right of monopoly ownership for the foreign imperialists, the big bourgeoisie over the industries, the mines and the lands. They can never co-exist with it.

The Indian people demand a Constitution which guarantees unrestricted civil liberties to the people and hands over the industries, mines, land and all such wealth to them. It will be a Democratic Constitution, which can be realised by the people, by completing the People’s Democratic Revolution.

  1. The Directive Principles

The Constitution directs the state to carry out certain responsibilities, which are called the Directive Principles. It has to organise Village Panchayats, provide right of work and education to the people, maternity facilities, a living wage for the working class, free and compulsory education for boys and girls of school-going age, economic and educational facilities for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, humane conditions of work etc.

These are not the rights of the people to be enforced through the Courts. They are just some ‘Principles’, to be kept in view, while the governments frame their policies.

While the provisions of fundamental rights are in the service of imperialism, big bourgeoisie and landlordism, how can we expect anything better from the Directive Principles, which are nothing but advices?

(present cow protection laws across india are derived from Directive principles, Art 48 of the Constitution.)

The Directive Principles include international peace, as one of it. During the period of 20 years, when the Constitution has been in force, India has waged war with China in 1962, with Pakistan in 1965, and is now preparing for war with it again. We can understand now, how the ruling classes are ‘valuing’ international peace and Constitution.

The Directive Principles cannot change the social system. They can neither help to abolish landlordism nor to drive out imperialism. To the extent they are implemented, some reformist changes are taking place, within the framework of imperialism and landlordism.

The landlordism has strengthened itself with the help of Panchayats, but it is not at all weakened. The Panchayat Raj has helped them to break its isolation from the rural population, to get some supporters from among the people, and strengthen itself politically, economically and socially. In the same way, the item of modernisation of agriculture, in the Directive Principles is implemented to the extent it is useful to the landlords. Therefore, the Directive Principles in the Constitution are on the class foundations, and are useful for the ruling classes alone.

(Presently, the much-despised Farm laws are are part of such modernization efforts. Fundamental duties were added later and they enable more repression.)

***                      ***

  1. The Imperialist Laws

All the important laws which are in force in our country today are enacted, and implemented by the British imperialists during their regime. After the Transfer of Power, there have been amendments, here and there, which are not of a fundamental nature. Some new laws came into force regarding the elections, administrative affairs, trade and commerce. They were framed basing on the models of imperialist countries. All of them were meant for defending the interests of the ruling classes.

The Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Preventive Detention (PD) Act, which were enacted by the British imperialists are still in force, and will continue to be, as long as the present ruling classes and the Constitution remain.

The amendments, and the changes if any, will not improve them, but make the matters worse for the people. For example, the Maintenance of Internal Security Act that has come into force recently, is more severe than the Preventive Detention Act which has lapsed. All the future changes are meant to make pucca arrangements for the defence of interests of the ruling classes. (TADA AFSPA UAPA are all later avatars, and derived from PD in the Constitution.)

The British Acts have been in force even after the Transfer of Power, though the British officialdom left the country. (Most of the present labor laws are also from colonial period, and now being rehashed.) They were a God-send to the new ruling classes, who have gladly accepted and have been implementing them. The very same British Acts are in force in the name of the Indian Acts. This is one of the inheritances of the colonial past.

A country, which liberates itself from the imperialist yoke, abolishes all imperialist laws. Nothing of the sort has happened in India. This shows that what we had in India was no real independence. It was only a formal one, which deserves to be called as Transfer of Power to some extent.

All laws enacted in Parliament and the State Assemblies are serving the interest of imperialism, big bourgeoisie, and the landlords. It is a rare exception to adopt laws useful to the common people. Even if there are one or two of such a nature, they are never implemented.

For instance, the Removal of Untouchability Act was never implemented. Not a good number of people know that there is one such Act.

The British imperialists have enacted a regulation in 1917 for the Agency areas during their regime. Its ostensible purpose was that none from the plains should dispossess the tribals from their lands. A good number of prosecution witnesses from the Agency areas stated that the said regulations were never implemented either by the British or the present regime. They stated the present landlords from the plains had dispossessed the tribals of their lands. This is more than clear from their statements. But once the tribals re-occupy their lands, the Police department, with the help of rigorous laws, appears on the scene, whereas they do not act against the landlords, who rob the crops of the girijans from those lands. Though this has come to the view of the Court as an occurrence of an Agency area, it is a common feature throughout the country.

There are no laws in the country which accept equality between the propertied and the property-less classes.

When the propertied classes have the rights according to law, the Police come into the picture to protect their interests. The people need not respect such laws. They need not be at the mercy of the ruling classes and these laws, for their legal and justified rights. They have every right to implement their demands by their organised strength. Nobody can deny them their natural right.

We demand that all the pro-imperialist, pro-big bourgeoisie and pro-landlords laws should be repealed. Laws which are needed for the common people should be enacted. This can be achieved through a People’s Democratic Revolution and by a Revolutionary Government alone. It is not possible during this regime.

***                           ***

(Part-2 deals with Courts, elections, legislatures, centre Vs states etc.)

The writer was a media person.



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