The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi/Volume I/Constitution of the Natal Indian Congress-1894
Constitution of the Natal Indian Congress
- Messrs Hajee Mahomed Hajee Dada, Abdool Kadir, Hajee Dada Hajee Habib, Moosa Hajee Adam, P. Dawjee Mahomed, Peeran Mahomed, Murugesa Pillay, Ramaswami Naidoo, Hoosen Miran, Adamjee Miankhan, K. R. Nayanah, Amod Bayat (P. M. Burg), Moosa Hajee Cassim, Mahomed Cassim Jeeva, Parsee Rustomjee, Dawad Mahomed, Hoosen Cassim Amod Tili, Doraiswamy Pillay, Omar Hajee Aba, Osmankhan Rahamatkhan, Rangaswami Padayachi, Hajee Mahomed (P. M. Burg), Camroodeen (P. M. Burg).
- Chairman : Mr. Abdoola Hajee Adam; Hon. Secretary : Mr. M. K. Gandhi; Members of the Committee : The Vice-Presidents and Messrs M. D. Joshi, Narsiram, Manekji, Dowjee Mammuji Mutalah, Muthu Krishna, Bissessar, Goolam Hoosen Randeri, Shamshoodeen, G. A. Bassa, Sarabjit, L. Gabriel, James Christopher, Sooboo Naidu, John Gabriel, Suleiman Voraji, Cassimjee Amoojee, R. Kundaswamy Naidu, M. E. Kathrada, Ibrahim M. Khatri, Shaik Farid, Varind Ismail, Ranjit, Perumal Naidoo, Parsee Dhanjisha, Royappan, Joosub Abdool Carim, Arjun Singh, Ismail Kadir, Easop Kadua, Mahomed Esak, Mahomed Hafejee, A. M. Paruck, Suleiman Dawjee, V. Narayana Pather, Lutchman Panday, Osman Ahmed & Mahomed Tayub.
Any person approving of the work of the Congress can become its member by paying the subscription and signing the membership form. The monthly subscription is 5/- minimum and yearly £3.
THE OBJECTS OF THE NATAL INDIAN CONGRESS1
- 1. To promote concord and harmony among the Indians and the Europeans residing in the Colony.
- 2. To inform the people in India by writing to the newspapers, publishing pamphlets, and delivering lectures.
- 3. To induce Hindustanis—particularly Colonial-born Indians—to study Indian history and literature relating to India.
- 4. To inquire into the conditions of the Indians and to take proper steps to remove their hardships.
- 5. To inquire into the conditions of the indentured Indians and to take proper steps to alleviate their sufferings.
- 6. To help the poor and helpless in every reasonable way.
- 7. To do such work as would tend to improve the moral, social and political conditions of the Indians.
RULES AMENDED OR CANCELLED BY THE COMMITTEE AND RATIFIED BY THE CONGRESS
- 1. Authority is given to rent a hall for meetings for a sum not exceeding £10 monthly.
- 2. The Committee shall meet at least once every month.
- 3. The General Meeting of the Congress shall be held at least once every year—not necessarily in Durban.
- 4. The Hon. Secretary shall invite members from other parts of the Colony.
- 5. The Committee shall have the power to frame and pass rules and shall have all other powers of ordinary transaction.
- 6. The Committee shall have the power to appoint a paid Secretary at a reasonable salary.
- 7. The Hon. Secretary shall, if he chooses, invite a European who takes interest in the welfare of the Congress to be a Vice-President.
- 8. The Hon. Secretary shall, if he chooses, subscribe for the newspapers and books for the Congress Library out of the Congress Fund.
- 9. The Hon. Secretary shall record in the Account Book whether a cheque is signed by himself or jointly with the signature of another.
RULES PASSED BY THE COMMITTEE
- 1. The Chairman shall preside at every meeting; in his absence, the first member of the Committee; if he too be absent, then the second member and so on.
- 2. The Hon. Secretary shall, at the commencement of a meeting, read out the minutes of the last meeting after which the President shall sign it.
- 3. The Committee may not recognize a proposal or a resolution for which no notice had been given in advance to the Secretary for its introduction.
- 4. The Hon. Secretary shall read out a detailed account of moneys received or spent by the Committee or the Congress.
- 5. The Committee may not attend to a proposal unless such is proposed by a Committee member and seconded by another.
- 6. The Chairman and the Secretary shall be counted by virtue of their offices as Committee members. In case of equal voting, the Chairman shall have a casting vote.
- 7. Every member shall face the Chairman when addressing a meeting.
- 8. Every member shall use the word Mr. in addressing another member at a Committee meeting.
- 9. The proceedings of a Committee meeting shall be carried on in one or all of the following languages: Gujarati, Tamil, Hindustani and English.
- 10. If it be deemed necessary, the Chairman shall order a member to translate the speech of another member.
- 11. Every proposal or resolution shall pass by a majority of votes.
- 12. When the Congress has £50 minimum in hand, the Hon. Secretary shall deposit such amount in any bank he chooses in the name of the Natal Indian Congress.
- 13. The Hon. Secretary shall be held responsible for any moneys he has not deposited in the Bank.
- 14. An authority shall be first obtained from the Committee for any irregular expenditure exceeding the sum of £5. If any expenses are incurred exceeding the above sum by the Chairman or the Secretary without the sanction and approval of the Committee, it shall be held that he did it at his own responsibility. The Hon. Secretary shall sign cheques up to the sum of £5, and for any amount exceeding the said sum [they] shall be signed jointly with any of the following members : Messrs Abdoola Hajee Adam, Moosa Hajee Cassim, Abdool Kadar, Colundaveloo Pillay, P. Dawjee Mahomed, Hoosen Cassim.
- 15. A quorum shall be formed of ten members, in addition to the Chairman and the Secretary, to carry on the work of the meeting.
- 16. The Hon. Secretary shall issue notice of a proposed meeting not less than two days in advance.
- 17. It shall be held that the 16th rule was observed provided a written notification was given through the post or a messenger.
- 18. Any Committee member who is absent from six consecutive meetings shall be liable to have his name struck off the list (after having been notified by the Committee of such intention). A member who is absent from a meeting shall show the cause of his absence at the next meeting.
- 19. Any member who fails to pay his subscription for three consecutive months without showing any reasonable ground shall cease to be a member.
- 20. No smoking shall be allowed at any Committee meeting.
- 21. If two members get up simultaneously to speak, the chairman shall decide who is to speak first.
- 22. If a sufficient number of members is present the Committee meeting shall proceed at its appointed hour. However, if the sufficient number is deficient at the appointed time or half an hour after it, the meeting shall terminate without any transaction.
- 23. The Natal Indian Association may use the Hall and the Library free of charge, and they, in return, shall give their reasonable services such as doing writing work, etc.
- 24. All the members of the Congress shall be entitled to use the Congress Library.
- 25. The Committee members shall sit in an enclosure and the onlookers outside. The onlookers must not take any part in the proceedings. Should they create any disturbance by shouting, etc., they shall be liable to be expelled from the Hall.
- 26. The Committee shall have the power to amend these rules in future.2
From a photostat : S.N. 141
1. Vide also "Letter to The Natal Advertiser", 23-9-1895 and "Memorial to J. Chamberlain", 22-5-1896.
2. A copy of the Constitution in English in Gandhiji's hand and a Gujarati manuscript copy are also available.