How relevant are Parliament resolutions?

The Indian parliament passed a resolution on China on November 14, 1962. The House unanimously resolved to throw out the aggressor. People in China give a sarcastic smile when told about the resolution. Even some Indians laugh over the resolution. China continues to commit what Indians call acts of aggression. Like Indian nation, the soldiers also watch them enjoying themselves in “Indian territory”. In 1994, the Indian parliament passed another resolution. It reads: “Kashmir has been and shall remain a part of India…” This `paper tiger’, however, did not scare the Kashmiris and the struggle for self determination continued. Kashmir remained a disputed territory notwithstanding the resolution.

In December 1996, the United Nations Security Council dropped Kashmir from its agenda. But in a couple of days, the Security Council had to reverse its decision. Kashmir was back on UN agenda as a dispute to be settled in accordance with the wishes of the people.

Renowned legal experts believe the resolution has no relevance. Senior counsel and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Muzaffar Husain Beig while addressing a seminar on Self rule a few years ago said: “ The resolution by Indian parliament in 1994 which states that India will take back ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)’ from Pakistan is a paper tiger. India must roll back this resolution besides constitutional Articles extended to Jammu and Kashmir. Article 1 in Indian constitution vis-a-vis schedule one regarding Jammu and Kashmir and Article 372 and section 4 of Jammu and Kashmir constitution also need to be rolled back as well. Neither India nor Pakistan can take Kashmir controlled by each other. India should give up its claim on AJK.”

Similar views have been expressed by renowned jurist, AG Noorani in one of his articles in Frontline. Parliament’s Resolution of February 22, 1994, declares Jammu and Kashmir to be “an integral part of India” which is not contested and demands that Pakistan “vacate” the areas in administers. It differs from the Resolution of March 13, 1990, based on a joint statement by Prime Minister V.P. Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, A.B. Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, H.K. Surjeet and others, which referred to the people, not the land alone, and pledged “complete protection of their cultural and religious identity and full expression of their aspirations”.

Both resolutions, however, are as irrelevant as the Lok Sabha’s resolution of November 14, 1962, on China, which affirmed a resolve “to drive out the aggressor”.

A resolution of Parliament is not law (Stockdale vs. Hansard, 1839, 9A & E1 and Bowles vs. Bank of England, 1913, 1 ch. 57). S.A. de Smith’s Constitutional and Administrative Law holds that such a resolution”has no legal effect outside the walls of Parliament… unless given such an effect by an Act of Parliament”.

On August 10, the house of Elders (Rajya Sabha) passed another resolution on Kashmir after home Minister, Rajnath’s detailed statement.

The resolution reads: “This House expresses its serious concern over the prolonged turbulence, violence and curfew in the Kashmir valley. The House conveys its deep sense of anguish and concern over the loss of lives and critical injuries caused by the deteriorating situation. The House is of the firm and considered view that while there cannot be any compromise on national security, it is equally imperative that urgent steps are taken to restore order and peace for the alleviation of the sufferings of the people.

The House earnestly appeals to all sections of the society in Jammu & Kashmir to work for the early restoration of normalcy and harmony and unanimously resolves to restore the confidence among the people in general and youth in particular.”

The resolution most probably was passed in response to Pakistan National Assembly resolution of August 3 seeking right to self determination for the people of Kashmir under UN Resolutions. “The National Assembly of Pakistan strongly condemns the recent atrocities perpetrated on innocent Kashmiris by Indian security forces,” said the resolution passed late last night. It said the use of pellet guns is “deplorable and is against the canons of international humanitarian laws”.

The Rajya Sabha members seemingly concerned about the situation in Kashmir did nothing besides appealing people to maintain calm. They did not impress upon the government to withdraw the pellet guns. They did not tell the government to stop killings in Kashmir. They did not suggest relaxation of curfew either. In the interest of national security, they allowed Kashmiris to be killed and maimed by pellets and bullets.

Ironically, the Kashmiris are now condemned for not providing kehwa to the same legislators who visited Kashmir a few days ago. Closing doors on the legislators is the most appropriate response for an exercise meant for gaining some goodwill for the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly Session. Some people believe India will sell it during the session. Ok, if the international community gets swayed by a `mock drill’, Kashmiris better not solicit their support. The strength of the struggle lies in commitment. As long as people of Kashmir strive for the goal with dedication and commitment, international community will be forced to focus on Kashmir. This is exactly what happened in 90s. If Kashmir goes silent, what can outsiders do?