Freedom and power bring responsibility. Makers of the Indian Constitution faced bravely the challenge to transform India into a Sovereign Democratic Republic. The basic principles and broad structures of the Indian Constitution show the vision and wisdom of India’s Freedom fighters.
January 26 holds a special place in people’s minds. That Day is referred to as the date of Commencement of the New Indian Constitution. It was on that Day that we, the people of India, proclaimed ourselves to be a Republic.
DEFINITION OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
The Indian Constitution defines and determines:
- The form of the government
- The powers to be exercised by the various organs of government— The legislature, the executive and the judiciary
- The limitations on these powers, and
- People’s right and duties.
The Constitution establishes the ‘Rule of Law’ which means “the absence of arbitrary powers, equality before the law and freedom from Illogical, unfair and unjust laws.” Our Indian Constitution is known as the Fundamental Law of the Land. A law which violates any of the provisions of the Indian Constitution shall be void. In other words, it shall have no value or authority.
WHAT IS THE NEED FOR THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
- The Indian Constitution provides a set of basic rules that allow for minimal co-ordination amongst members of a society.
- Indian Constitution specifies who has the power to make decisions in a society. It decides how the government will be constituted.
- Indian Constitution imposes limits on what a government can impose on its citizens. These limits are fundamental as because the government may never trespass them.
- Indian Constitution enables the government to fulfill the aspirations of a society and create conditions for a just society.
- The Indian Constitution puts up the fundamental identity of a people. The Indian constitution imposes authoritative constraints upon what one may or may not do.
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY WAS A MINI- INDIA
Even before India had attained freedom, a CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY had been set up to draw the Indian Constitution of free India. The Constituent Assembly, meant for undivided India, was to consist of 385 members. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was its president.
Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Abdul Kamal Azad were the ones whose contribution was outstanding.
B.R.Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Assembly’s most important Committee- the Drafting Committee.
All major and smaller communities — the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, the Anglo-Indians, the Christians and the Parsis had proper representation in the Constituent Assembly. G. Durgabai, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Begum Aizaz Rasool and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur. The Congress had overwhelming majority in the Constituent Assembly. However, the supporter of Forward Bloc and member of Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim Community were also there. The Assembly was, thus, a Mini- India. In fact, the Assembly looked like the Mirror of the Nation.
ADOPTION, ENACTMENT AND ENFORCEMENT OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
The Assembly had its first sitting December 9, 1946. Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, the oldest member of the House, was elected Interim President of the Assembly.
The Drafting Committee:
Although the Constituent Assembly had begun its deliberations in December 1946, they gathered momentum only after India became free. The Assembly had eight major Committees to examine the various issues in depth. Of these the most important was the Drafting Committee, which had B.R. Ambedkar as its Chairman. As Law Minister in Nehru’s first cabinet and Chairman of the Drafting Committee, Ambedkar was also responsible for drafting and plotting the present Indian Constitution.
Date of Enactment and Adoption of the Indian Constitution:
ٰٰٰ Some two years eleven months and seventeen days time was taken by the Assembly to finally adopt and enact the Indian Constitution. This shows that the Assembly did its job with great deliberations. Members participated freely in the debates of the Assembly in making of the Indian constitution.
Date of Enforcement of the Indian Constitution:
The Indian Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950. On that day begun Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s first term of office as the President of the Indian Union. The Constituent Assembly turned up as the Parliament of India under the transitional provisions of the new Indian Constitution.
- Significance of January 26, in India’s struggle for Swaraj:
The Congress Session at Lahore on December 29, 1929 had passed a resolution declaring Purna Swaraj (complete independence) as India’s goal. On achieving Independence on August 15, 1947, the date became our Independence Day. January 26, however, marked a great event in India’s struggle for freedom.
OTHER FUNCTIONS PERFORMED BY CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY towards the making of the Indian Constitution
- Adoption of the National Flag on July 22,1947
- Ratification of India’s membership to the Commonwealth in May 1949.
- Adoption of the National Anthem on January 24, 1950.
- Adoption of the National Song on January24, 1950.
CRITICISM OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY TOWARDS THE MAKING OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
- It was not a representative body as its members were not directly elected by the people of India on the basis of Universal Adult Franchise. `
- It was dominated by Congress. In fact the Assembly was the Congress and the Congress was India.
SOURCES OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION
- The Indian Constitution is remarkable for many outstanding features even though it has been prepared after a ransacking all the known Constitutions of the World and most of its provisions are substantially borrowed from others.
- Indian Constitution has borrowed various provision from different Constitution existing at that time.
448 ARTICLES AND 12 SCHEDULES
The Indian Constitution, as enacted by the Constituent Assembly, had 395 Articles and 8 schedules. The Indian Constitution has now 448 Articles and 12 Schedules. By 8th September 2016 there were as many as 101 Amendments to the Indian Constitution. The Hundred and First Amendment Act for the Indian Constitution came into force on 1st July 2017. This Amendment related to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country. The Hundred and Third Amendment Act (2019) for the Indian Constitution provided 10 percent reservations to economically weaker sections of society.
There is no doubt that Indian Constitution is a long and detailed Constitution. There were sound reasons for the inclusion of so many details in the Indian Constitution.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
1) Indian Constitution is the bulkiest constitution of the world:–
Indian Constitution is one of the longest constitution in the world. Originally the Indian Constitution contained 395 articles, 22 parts and 8 schedules. Till date there are 448 Articles and 12 Schedules in the Indian Constitution.
2) Indian Constitution is partly rigid and partly flexible:–
The Indian Constitution is a combination of rigidity and flexibility. While some provisions of the Indian Constitution can be amended by a simple majority, and others require a two-third majority of the Parliament.
3) Indian Constitution has a Parliamentary system of Government:—
The Indian Constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government under which the real executive power rests with the Council of Ministers and the President is only a nominal head.
4) Indian Constitution has a Federal System with a Unitary Bias:—
The Indian Constitution provides for a federation with a strong Centre. The Indian Constitution describes India as a ‘Union of States’.
5) Fundamental Rights and Duties:–
The Indian Constitution contains an elaborate list of Fundamental Rights and Duties. Fundamental rights are those basic conditions required for the all round development of the individuals. The Indian Constitution provides certain duties that the citizens must perform towards the state.
6) Directive Principles of State Policy:—
The Indian Constitution outlines certain Directive Principles of the State Policy which the government has to keep in mind while formulating any policies.