B.R. Ambedkar’s seminal contribution to Indian constitution-making as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee is widely celebrated and acknowledged. Less known was his initial critique of an Indian Constituent Assembly in the mid-1940s. On 6 May 1945, Ambedkar addressed a gathering of the All-Indian Scheduled Castes Federation. Instead of speaking about the sectional interests of the Scheduled Castes, he chose to speak on a ‘topic which is general and has wider appeal, namely, the shape and form of the future Constitution of India’.
In 1951, the District Collector of Pune requisitioned certain land for the development of a Kashiwadi Harijan Colony for the upliftment of Dalits. This was challenged by several landowners whose plot was listed to be acquired. The Court, in this case, held that such an acquisition would be discriminatory against non-Dalits under Article 15(1) of the Constitution. It stated that several people from different communities were also disadvantaged. Thus, such an arrangement was deemed to be discriminatory and against public purpose. And so, the Collector’s plan to create a separate settlement for the Dalit community was blocked.