Fifty years ago | January 9, 1970 Archives

From the Archives (January 9, 1970): Cabinet decides to abolish privy purses

The talks which the Union Home Minister, Mr. Y.B. Chavan, held with the representatives of the Concord of Princes on the question of abolition of Privy purses and privileges failed to produce a mutual agreement on the issue. Mr. Chavan told the princes that the Union Cabinet had come to the firm conclusion earlier in the morning that steps should be taken to abolish the privy purses of rulers. He also made it clear to them that it was Government’s intention to amend the Constitution to enable implementation of this proposal. From the nature of the statements and declarations made by the representatives of former rulers during the last few days it was apparent that they would not be a willing party to the abolition of Privy purses and privileges as proposed by the Government. In fact during, to-day’s discussions. The princes questioned the very basis of the decision of the Government and reminded the Home Minister that Privy purses were governed by certain solemn agreements and pledges given to them by the Union Government. Mr. Chavan explained to them that the various agreements entered into with the former Rulers in regard to payment of privy purses were rather political in nature and therefore it would be prudent not to take too legalistic a view of them. Obviously Mr. Chavan had in mind the opinion expressed by a certain section of the Princes that the agreements with them were more in the nature of contracts the breach of which could be questioned in courts of law and suitable remedy obtained. The Princes’ representatives were however, not convinced of the arguments advanced by Mr. Chavan. They referred to the assurances given by Sardar Patel and more recently the views expressed by Mr. Morarji Desai in regard to the sanctity of the agreements conferring privy purses. The Home Minister, however, told them that reference to the historical aspect of the question would serve no practical purpose. The facts were well-known and it was the desire of the people at large that in a Socialistic society there was no place for special privileges as were now being enjoyed by the former rulers. He also told them that great changes had taken place in society and it would be wise to keep pace with the progressive ideas.

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