MAKING OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION
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 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 Constitution. It was on that Day that we, the people of India, proclaimed ourselves to be a Republic.
DEFINITION OF THE CONSTITUTION
The Constitution is a set of rules and laws according to which a State is governed. It 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 Constitution is known as the Fundamental Law of the Land, because it is superior to the ordinary laws enacted by the Parliament or State Legislatures. A law which violates any of the provisions of the Constitutions shall be void. In other words, it shall have no value or authority.
WHY DO WE NEED A CONSTITUTION
- Constitution provides a set of basic rules that allow for minimal co-ordination amongst members of a society.
- Constitution specifies who has the power to make decisions in a society. It decides how the government will be constituted.
- Constitution imposes limits on what a government can impose on its citizens. These limits are fundamental as because the government may never trespass them.
- Constitution enables the government to fulfill the aspirations of a society and create conditions for a just society.
- A Constitution puts up the fundamental identity of a people. The 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 Constitution of free India. The Constituent Assembly, meant for undivided India, was to consist of 385 members. As a result of the partition of India, the membership got reduced to 308. Most of the members of the Assembly were national heroes. 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. Among other eminent persons mention should be made of Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant, Satyanarayan Sinha, Somnath Lahiri, Shyama Prasad Mookherjee and B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya.
All major and smaller communities — the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, the Anglo-Indians, the Christians and the Parsis had proper representation in the Constituent Assembly. The weaker sections, and in particular the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes were also given due representation in the Assembly. Thus the Assembly was constituted by people, from all sections of public life. Among women members mention should be made of Mrs. 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. All major regions and sections of society were represented in the Assembly. In fact, the Assembly looked like the Mirror of the Nation.
ADOPTION, ENACTMENT AND
ENFORCEMENT OF THE 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. On December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected its permanent President.
- 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 piloting India’s present Constitution.
- Date of Enactment and Adoption of the Constitution:
The Constitution was enacted and adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949. It took some two years eleven months and seventeen days for the Assembly to finally adopt and enact the Constitution. This shows that the Assembly did its job with great deliberations. Members participated freely in the debates of the Assembly. The Constituent Assembly’s debates have been published in several volumes.
- Date of Enforcement of the Constitution:
The Constitution of India 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 Constitution. This date i.e 26th January is celebrated in India as the Republic Day.
- Significance of January 26, in India’s struggle for Swaraj:
It is to be noted that January 26 had a great significance 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. It was also decided that 26th of January should be observed all over India as the Purna Swaraj Day. The Complete Independence Day was for the first time celebrated on January 26, 1930. It continued to be observed until 1947. On achieving Independence on August 15, 1947 became our Independence Day. January 26, however, marked a great event in India’s struggle for freedom. It was therefore in the fitness of things that January 26, should have been selected as the date of the commencement of the new Constitution.
OTHER FUNCTIONS PERFORMED BY CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
- 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
- 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 not a Sovereign Body as it was created by the proposals of the British Government. `
- It was dominated by Congress. In fact the Assembly was the Congress and the Congress was India.
- It was dominated by Hindus.
SOURCES OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION
- The Constitution of India 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 Constitution, as enacted by the Constituent Assembly, had 395 Articles and 8 schedules. It has now 448 Articles and 12 Schedules. By 8th September 2016 there were as many as 101 Amendments to the Constitutions. The Hundred and First Amendment Act came into force on 1st July 2017. This Amendment related to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the country. The GST was created for providing for a common national market for Goods and services. The Hundred and Third Amendment Act (2019) provided 10 percent reservations to economically weaker sections of society.
There is no doubt that ours is a long and detailed Constitution. There were sound reasons for the inclusion of so many details in the Constitution. The Indian Constitution however, is a very well drafted document.