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Making of Indian Constitution: Explained

As we know that the constitution is the supreme law of any country, therefore the Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. The document lays down the framework demarcating fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens. It is the longest written constitution of any country on earth. It imparts constitutional supremacy (not parliamentary supremacy, since it was created by a constituent assembly rather than Parliament) and was adopted by its people with a declaration in its preamble. Parliament cannot override the constitution.

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The Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly for India was put forward by MN Roy in 1934. After this idea there were many conversations taken place and finally, a Cabinet Mission was sent to India and lastly, the Constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946 under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Setting up of the Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly, which had been elected for undivided India and held its first sitting on 9th December 1946, reassembled on August 14, 1947, as the sovereign Constituent Assembly for the Dominion of India. It was elected by indirect election by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assembly (Lower House only), according to the scheme recommended by the Cabinet Delegation.

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The features of the scheme were:

1. The Provinces elected 292 members while the Indian States were allotted a maximum of 93 seats,

2. The seats in each province were distributed among the three main committees Muslim, Sikh, and General, in proportion to their respective population.

3. Members of each community in the Provincial Legislative Assembly elected their own representatives by the method of proportional representation with a single transferable vote.

4. The representatives of princely states were to be nominated by the heads of the princely states.

The Constituent Assembly formally began its task of framing the Constitution of India on the 13th of December, 1946 with Jawaharlal Nehru moving the Objectives Resolution. The purpose of the resolution was to “… proclaim India as the Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution…” The resolution put forth broad principles that would inform the working of the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly adopted the resolution on 22 January 1947.

The representatives of the princely states gradually joined it. On 28th April 1947, representatives of the six states were part of the Assembly. After the acceptance of the Mountbatten Plan of June 3, 1947 for a partition of the country, the representatives of the most of the other princely states took their seats in the Assembly.

Other Functions of the Constituent Assembly

In addition to the making of the Constitution and enacting of the ordinary laws, the Constituent Assembly also performed the following functions:

1. It rectified the membership enrolment in the commonwealth in May 1949.

2. It adopted the national flag on July 22, 1947.

3. It adopted the national anthem on January 24, 1950.

4. It adopted the national song on January 24, 1950.

5. It elected Dr Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India on January 24, 1950.

In all, the Constituent Assembly had 11 sessions over two years, 11 months and 18 days. The Constitution-makes had gone through the constitutions of about 60 countries, and the Draft Constitution was considered for 114 days. The total expenditure incurred on making the Constitution amounted to Rs 64 lakh. On January 24, 1950, the Constituent Assembly held its final session. It, however, did not end and continued as the provisional parliament of India from January 26, 1950, till the formation of new Parliament after the first general elections in 1951-52.

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Committees of the Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly appointed a number of committees to deal with different tasks of constitution-making. Out of these, eight were major committees and the others were minor committees. The Constituent Assembly selected 22 committees to deal with diverse tasks of Constitution-making. Out of these, 10 were on procedural affairs and 12 on substantive affairs.

The names of these committees and their chairmen are given below:

Major Committees Chairmen

 

Drafting Committee Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

 

Steering Committee, Ad hoc Committee on the National flag, Committee on the Rules of Procedure, Finance and Staff Committee Rajendra Prasad
Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Committee on Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas, Provincial Constitution Committee Vallabhbhai Patel
Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly G.V. Mavalankar
Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar

 

Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas  Sub-Committee A.V. Thakkar

 

Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee J.B. Kripalani

 

House Committee B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya

 

Minorities Sub-Committee H.C. Mukherjee

 

North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam, Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee Gopinath Bardoloi

 

Order of Business Committee K.M. Munshi

 

Union Constitution Committee, Union Powers Committee, States Committee Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru

Enactment of the Constitution of India

Dr. BR Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Assembly on November 4, 1948. The motion on Draft Constitution as passed on November 26, 1949 and received the signatures of the members and the president. This date is mentioned in the Preamble as the date on which the people of India in the Constituent Assembly adopted, enacted and gave to themselves this Constitution. The Constitution as adopted on November 26, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles and 8 Schedules. The Preamble was enacted after the entire Constitution was already enacted. The remaining provisions of the Constitution came into enforce on January 26, 1950. This day is referred to in the Constitution as the date of its commencement and celebrated as Republic Day.

Sources of the Constitution at a Glance

United Kingdom Parliamentary government

Concept of single citizenship

Rule of law

The legislative speaker and their role

Legislative procedure

 

United States Bill of Rights

The federal structure of government

Electoral College

Independent judiciary and separation of powers

Judicial review

President as commander-in-chief of the armed forces

Equal protection under the law

 

Ireland Directive Principles of State Policy

The nomination of a member to Rajya Sabha

Method of election of President

 

Australia Freedom of trade between states

National legislative power to implement treaties, even on matters outside normal federal jurisdiction

Concurrent List

Preamble terminology

 

France Idea of liberty, equality, fraternity in the Preamble
Canada Quasi-federal government-a federal system with a strong central government

Distribution of powers between the central and state governments

Residual powers, retained by the central government

 

Soviet Union Soviet Union Fundamental Duties under article 51-A

Mandated planning commission to oversee economic development

 

Germany Weimar Republic The emergency provision under article 356

 

South Africa Amending the Constitution

 

Japan Procedure established by Law

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