(Last Updated on : 21-08-2012)
A versatile personality, Dr. Gurdial Singh Dhillon was a Punjabi politician belonging to Indian National Congress party. He was a man of unbending principles, who considered the institution of Parliament to be the 'temple of democracy'. He had great respect for the House and its traditions and conventions. He possesses the atypical ability to quickly assess the mood of the House and a hard-headed approach helped him release the burdensome liability of the office of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha
in a dignified way. He was a man with interests that ranged from law to journalism and from education and sports to constitutional studies. Dhillon was elected as the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Council of the IPU. And that was a great honor for himself and also for the people and the Parliament
This multifaceted personality Gurdial Singh Dhillon was born at Panjwar in Amritsar district
on 6 August 1915. He was educated at Khalsa and has been a brilliant student throughout his school. Then he studied at the College, Amritsar, Government College, Lahore and finally the University Law College, Lahore. From 1937 to 1945, within these years Dhillon practiced Law and established himself as a successful Lawyer. However, his sense of patriotism and concern for his fellow beings could not restricted by the profitable legal profession. Soon, he contrived himself into the freedom struggle wholeheartedly. During his involvement with the Kisan Movement, he had to face the fury of the British rulers. He was jailed twice for his activities related to freedom struggle. He had to abandon his legal profession due to this prolonged confinement.
Dhillon established himself as a tearless and dynamic writer, after Independence as he took to journalism. A stamp of certainty was carried out in his writings that impressed the readers. In the face of the wanton acts of the communal forces, his hard work in order to promote communal harmony was commendable. For the greater purpose of fashioning consensus on important issues and educating the people, Dr. Gurdial Singh Dhillon designed a number of efforts out of which starting and editing a Punjabi daily Vartman in 1947 was one of the most significant approaches.
Later, he held the position of the Chief Editor of the Urdu daily Sher-e-Bharat and the Managing Director of the National Sikh Newspapers Ltd. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Journalists' Association of Punjab till 1952 and also a member of the State Press Advisory Committee till 1953. Dhillon was also dynamically mixed up in various social, economic and political activities. He was a member of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and from 1946 to 1954 the Amritsar District Board and Chairman of the Taran Taran Market Committee during 1948-52. During 1950-51 G.S.Dhillon as a committed worker of the Congress Party, was the Chairman of the Punjab Congress Disciplinary Action Committee and President of the Amritsar District Congress Committee till 1953. He was a member of the All India Congress Committee also for some years.
From 1952 to 1967, Dhillon had a long and illustrious career as a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly. He elevated various legislative responsibilities during this period, with distinction. Positions like the Chairman of The public Accounts Committee and the Committee of Privileges Punjab Legislative Assembly were also at various points of time associated with Dhillon. In the state, he also held the post of the chairman of the Non-agriculturist Land Taxation Committee. In 1952, Dhillon was designated as the Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly and remained in office till 1954. From 1954 to 1962, he possessed a long reign as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. As Speaker, he earned the admiration of all sections of the Assembly as he carried on the proceedings of The House in a well-equipped manner.
Dhillon has served as the General Secretary of the Punjab Congress Legislature Party and Chief person from 1964 to 1966. It was back in the years 1965-1966 he worked as Minister of Transport, Rural Electrification, Parliamentary Affairs and Elections and also stretched his hand for the Rehabilitation Resettlement of the 1965 war-hit areas in Punjab. A nationalist out & out by nature, Dhillon courageously moved in the region of the border areas during the 1965 war and stimulated people to face the danger from the across borders with unity. In 1967, Dhillon was elected to the Fourth Lok Sabha from the Taran Taran parliamentary constituency in Punjab on the Congress ticket. He subsequently, appointed for the post of the Chairman of the Select Committee on the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 1967. Later, for two terms, he was charged as the Chairman of the Committee on Public -undertakings, for 1968-69 and 1969-70. He has also served as the member of the Panel of Chairmen.
On 8 August 1969, Dhillon was unanimously chosen as the Speaker of The Lok Sabha, following the resignation of the then Speaker Dr. Neelam Sanjiva Reddy. Dhillon had been the youngest Speaker of the Lok Sabha till then, when elected to the Chair. His way of conducting the proceedings impressed members of all the political parties represented in the House. Dhillon was re-elected as the Speaker on 22nd March 1971, following his return to the Lok Sabha in 1971, again from the Taran Taran constituency. This re-election was a demonstration of his popularity as well as his ability. He was deeply penetrated with democratic values. According to Dhillon the end rationale of freedom itself and democratic existence was the liberation and betterment of the life of the common, and is indeed the very corner stone to develop a stable social order.
His highest respect for parliamentary institutions always endeavored to maintain the dignity of the House. Dhillon believed that for all sections of the House, a disciplined mind to be work with and in order to conduct the proceedings of the House was needed. Showing respect not only to the rules and regulations but also to customs and conventions was also an essential part. With such a view in order to maintain the dignity of the House, he anticipated the members to show acceptance while listening patiently what others had to say in a much coherent and controlled manner.
Dhillon firmly uphold the rules of the House. In 1970 some members showed their disapproval to papers, which were included in the List of Business in the name of a Cabinet Minister being placed on the Table by a Deputy Minister who was from a different Ministry. Dhillon, immediately after that, observed that the paper should be laid on the Table of the concerned Minister, or in his absence the Minister of State or the Deputy Minister. In case they were not present, unless he was duly informed about it, he would not allow any other Minister to lay the paper on the Table of the House.
Dhillon with his firm view restricted the entry of the Executive into the area, which rightfully belonged to the Legislature. Dhillon once ingeminated his predecessors' view, being fully aware of the fact that the law making power stayed in the domain of the Legislature, that the Government should guarantee that Ordinances were issued only if there was real emergency or urgency mitigating such an action. In March 1970, on another occasion, responding to the Government's proclamation to hike the prices of some commodities without informing the House when the Parliament was in Session, Dhillon observed that it was improper to announce such decisions without informing the House when it was sitting.
On 1 December 1975, Dhillon resigned from the office of the Speaker and was affirmed in the same day as the Minister of Shipping and Transport in the Union Cabinet. Till 1977, he continued in this post. He served as the member of the Planning Commission in 1980. During the period of 1980-82, he was the Indian High Commissioner in Canada. As High Commissioner, he proved himself to be a hardened diplomat and contributed considerably to the strengthening of Indo-Canadian relations.
In September 1985, from Ferozpur constituency, Dhillon was nominated to the Eighth Lok Sabha. As Minister of Agriculture, he was soon seated into the Union Council of Ministers and from 12 May 1986 to 14 February 1988 held this charge. As Union Minister, Dhillon has shown a great distinction in his functions. His close association for many years with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Inter-Parliamentary Union is well known. Indian Parliamentary Delegations was led by him to the 15th, 17th, 18th and 19th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences that were held in Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago) in October 1969, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in September 1971, Blantyre (Malawi) in October 1972 and in London (United Kingdom) in September 1973. On the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, he has served as the Regional Representative for Asia and in 1974; he was nominated its President in Colombo. In October-November 1975, he commanded over the 21st Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference held in New Delhi.
In September 1969, Dhillon also adverted the First Commonwealth Speakers and 'Presiding Officers' Conference, which held in Ottawa (Canada). With distinction he conducted and presided over the Second Conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers held in India during 1970-71. Besides, he gave ear many Meetings of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Meetings of Standing Committee of the Commonwealth Speakers' and Presiding Officers' Conference. During 1971-74, he has been served as the Chairman of the Standing Committee.
During October-November 1969, when for the first time the 57th Inter-Parliamentary Conference took place in New Delhi, it was presided by Dhillon. Dhillon in a very decorous manner conducted the proceedings of the Conference. For several years, he remained at the Executive Committee of the Union.
At the 113th Session of the Inter-Parliamentary Council, Dhillon was elected the President and became the first Asian to hold this prestigious position. It was held in Geneva in October 1973. With this prestigious post he was recognized for his personal qualities and for his hard and methodical work for the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Dhillon contributed immensely towards the goals of promoting personal contacts among members of all Parliaments. Through which he wanted to unite them in common action in order to protect and uphold the full involvement of their relevant countries that would optimally help in the firm establishment and development of representative institutions and in the advancement of the work of international peace and collaboration.
In October 1974, he was re-elected as the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Council in Tokyo and engaged in that post till 1976. Dhillon presided over various Meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as the President of the Council. Eventually as the Leader of Indian Parliamentary Delegations to foreign countries, Dhillon fetched great prestige and distinction to the Indian Parliament. For the two consequent years in 1985 and 1986, he also had the honor of leading Indian Delegations to the 41st and 42nd Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Dhillon was always actively involved in promoting many cultural, social and educational organizations and academic bodies. From 1956 onwards, he was a designated member of the Syndicate and the Senate of the Punjab University, Chandigarh of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, during 1971-78 and again during 1985-86 and of the Punjabi University, Patiala during 1968-69. He was also holding prestigious position of the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Punjab University, and Chandigarh during 1974-81 and 1984-86. For some years, besides all this Dhillon served on the Board of Governors, Yadavendra Public School, Patiala and the Public School, Nabha. A multifaceted personality, Dhillon was involved in various social activities. He has been served as a member of the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Trust, Amritsar. This learned scholar was the co-editor of Chatrik Abhinandan Granth. He wrote several brochures, pamphlets and articles on topics of relevant alarm. He was also a progressive farmer, a sportsman and a patron of civil aviation and gliding. G.S Dhillon, a veteran soldier of Independence, was awarded the Tamra Patra in recognition of his services to the nation.
The Punjab University in 1969, the Punjabi University in 1971 and the Kurukshetra University in 1973, conferred the LL.D. to Dhillon. In 1971, the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar awarded D.Litt to him. The Humbolt University, Germany in 1973 awarded him 'Doctor of Political Science' and Ph.D. by the Sung Kuyun Kwan University (Republic of Korea) in 1973. Posthumously G.S Dhillon was honored by an IPU Award at the inaugural function of the 89th Inter-Parliamentary Conference held in New Delhi in 1993, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of the ideals of the Inter Parliamentary Union.
On 23 March 1992 Dr. Gurdial Singh Dhillon passed away.