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Making of Constitution of India: How did it evolve?

India is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic which is governed by Constitution of India adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November, 1949. The Constitution is a set of laws and rules that set sets up the machinery of the Government of a state, and which defines and determines the relations between the different institutions and components of the government, the executives, the legislature, the judiciary, the central and the local government. The Indian constitution came into force on 26th January, 1950. It provides for a Parliamentary form of government with a federal in structure with certain unitary features. When the Indian constitution was made, it had 395 articles which were distributed in 22 parts and 8 schedules. January 2019, there have been 124 Amendment Bills and 103 Amendment acts to the Constitution of India since it was first enacted in 1950.

 At present, there are 448 articles present in the Indian constitution which are distributed in 25 parts, 12 schedules, and 5 appendices.

The Constitutional heads

The constitutional head of the Executive of the Union is the President. As per Article 79 of the Constitution of India, the council of the Parliament of the Union consists of the President and two Houses known as the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). Article 74(1) of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head to aid and advise the President, who shall exercise his/her functions in accordance to the advice. The real executive power is thus vested in the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister as its head.

The makers of Indian constitution

The making of the Indian constitution was a long drawn process in which many illustrious leaders and experts from India participated. Some of most well known participants in the process of constitution making included Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Sanjay Phakey, Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Kanaiyalal Munshi, Ganesh Vasudev Mavalankar, Sandipkumar Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Nalini Ranjan Ghosh, and Balwantrai Mehta etc. The first draft of the Indian Constitution, which was completed on 26th November 1949 is no less than a masterpiece. While Nandalal Bose and his students designed the borders of every page and adorned it with beautiful art pieces, it was the singlehanded effort of Prem Behari Narain Raizada (Saxena) that brought the primary contents and the preamble to the Constitution, to life. Shri Prem Behari was born on 17 December 1901, in a family of traditional calligraphists.

The Constituent Assembly of India

An idea for a Constituent Assembly was proposed in 1934 by M. N. Roy, a pioneer of the Communist movement in India and an advocate of radical democracy. It became an official demand of the Indian National Congress in 1935, C. Rajagopalachari voiced the demand for a Constituent Assembly on 15 November 1939 based on adult franchise, and was accepted by the British in August 1940. On 8 August 1940, a statement was made by Viceroy Lord Linlithgow about the expansion of the Governor-General’s Executive Council and the establishment of a War Advisory Council. This offer, known as the August Offer, included giving full weight to minority opinions and allowing Indians to draft their own constitution. Under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, elections were held for the first time for the Constituent Assembly. The Constitution of India was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, and it was implemented under the Cabinet Mission Plan on 16 May 1946. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the provincial assemblies by a single, transferable-vote system of proportional representation. The total membership of the Constituent Assembly was 389: 292 were representatives of the states, 93 represented the princely states and four were from the chief commissioner provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg (Near Madikeri) and British Baluchistan.

The elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian provinces were completed by August 1946. Congress won 208 seats, and the Muslim League 73. After this election, the Muslim League refused to cooperate with the Congress, and the political situation deteriorated. Hindu-Muslim riots began, and the Muslim League demanded a separate constituent assembly for Muslims in India. On 3 June 1947 Lord Mountbatten, the last British Governor-General of India, announced his intention to scrap the Cabinet Mission Plan; this culminated in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and the separate nations of India and Pakistan. The Indian Independence Act was passed on 18 July 1947 and, although it was earlier declared that India would become independent in June 1948, this event led to independence on 15 August 1947. The Constituent Assembly (elected for an undivided India) met for the first time on 9 December 1946, reassembling on 14 August 1947 as a sovereign body and successor to the British parliament’s authority in India. As a result of the partition, under the Mountbatten plan, a separate Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was established on 3 June 1947. The representatives of the areas incorporated into Pakistan ceased to be members of the Constituent Assembly of India. New elections were held for the West Punjab and East Bengal (which became part of Pakistan, although East Bengal later seceded to become Bangladesh); the membership of the Constituent Assembly was 299 after the reorganization, and it met on 31 December 1947.

Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly of India came into existence as per the provisions of Cabinet Mission Plan of May 1946. Its task was to formulate constitution/s for facilitating appropriate transfer of sovereign power from British authorities to Indian hands.The Assembly was to have proportional representation from existing provincial legislatures and from various princely states. Bulk of these elections was completed by the end of July 1946, under the supervision of Reforms Office under Governor General (Viceroy). The Assembly was to have three sections: Punjab & North-West, Bengal-Assam and Rest of India. The Constitutions were to be formulated for Indian Union, each Section and for each of the Provinces therein. The Muslim League, which had won bulk of the 80 Muslim seats and dominated two smaller Sections, chose not to participate so the Assembly never convened separately in sections. Assembly held 12 sessions, or rounds of sittings.

Chairman of the drafting committee: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar- Upon India’s independence on 15 August 1947, the new Congress-led government invited Ambedkar to serve as the nation’s first Law and Justice Minister, which he accepted. On 29 August, he was appointed Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, and was appointed by the Constituent Assembly to write India’s new Constitution. Ambedkar was a wise constitutional expert, he had studied the constitutions of about 60 countries. Ambedkar is recognised as the “Father of the Constitution of India”. In 1990, the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, was posthumously conferred upon Ambedkar.

Chairman of Constituent Assembly of India- Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Indian National Congress- Upon independence in 1947, Prasad was elected as President of the [Constituent Assembly of India], which prepared the [Constitution of India] and served as its provisional parliament. He was elected the President of Constituent Assembly on 11 December 1946. Two and a half years after independence, on 26 January 1950, the Constitution of independent India was ratified and Prasad was elected the nation’s first president. The Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan were open to public for about a month for the first time during his tenure.  In 1962, after serving twelve years as the president, he announced his decision to retire. After relinquishing the office of the President of India on May 1962, he returned to Patna on 14 May 1962 and preferred to stay in the campus of Bihar Vidyapeeth. He was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award.

Interim Chairman: Sachchidananda Sinha, Indian National Congress-. He was named the Interim President of the Constituent Assembly of India on 9 December 1946. He was replaced by Dr. Rajendra Prasad after indirect election on 11 December 1946. Sinha began his career as an advocate in 1893 practicing in the Calcutta High Court. He subsequently practiced in the Allahabad High Court starting 1896 and Patna High Court starting 1916.In his early years, Sinha was a member of the Indian National Congress, from 1899 till 1920, serving one term as secretary. He participated in the Home Rule League Movement. He was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1910 to 1920 and the Indian Legislative Assembly. He was Deputy President of the Assembly in 1921. He also held the office of the President in the Bihar and Orissa Legislative Council. He was appointed Executive Councillor and Finance Member of the Government of Bihar and Orissa, and, thus, was the first Indian who was ever appointed as a Finance Member of a Province.

Features of the Indian Constitution

  • The bulkiest constitutionof the world
  • Rigidity and flexibility
  • Parliamentary system of government
  • Adult Suffrage
  • Federal system with a unitary bias
  • Fundamental rights and fundamental duties
  • Directive principles of state policy
  • Secularism
  • Independent judiciary

 

Influence on Indian constitution

India became independent on 15th August 1947. The Indian constitution was made keeping in view the noble and great values of freedom struggle on one hand and taking the best features of other constitution  to make India a modern and progressive state in true sense. The Indian constitution enshrines in a way what is called “the idea of India.”Notwithstanding the fact that the Indian Constitution is byproduct of wisdom of Indian leaders, it borrowed good elements from elsewhere. In this sense it is unique in its contents and spirit.

The best features drawn by Indian constitution from other countries are listed below

Name of Countries  Features drawn from other Constitutions
         Britain  1. Parliamentary government

2. Rule of Law

3. Legislative procedure

4. Single citizenship

5. Cabinet system

6. Prerogative writs

7. Parliamentary privileges

8. Bicameralism

         Ireland

 

 1. Directive Principles of State Policy

2. Method of Election of the president

3. Members nomination to the Rajya Sabha by the President

   Unites States of America  1. Impeachment of the president

2. Functions of president and vice-president

3. Removal of Supreme Court and High court judges

4. Fundamental Rights

5. Judicial review

6. Independence of judiciary

7. Preamble of the constitution

  Canada

 

 1. Centrifugal form of federalism where the centre is  stronger than the states.

2. Residuary powers vest with the centre

3. Centre appoints the Governors at the states

4. Advisory jurisdiction of the supreme court

  Australia

 

 1. Concept of Concurrent list

2. Article 108 i.e. Joint sitting of the two houses

3. Freedom of trade and commerce

  USSR (Now Russia)

 

 1. Fundamental duties

2. The ideals of justice (social, economic and political),  expressed in the Preamble.

  France

 

 1. Concept of  “Republic”

2. Ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity(contained in the Preamble)

  Germany

 

 1. Fundamental Rights are suspended during Emergency
  South Africa

 

 1. Election of members of the Rajya Sabha

2. Amendment of the Constitution

  Japan  1. Concept of “procedure established by Law”

Important Amendments to Indian Constitution

First Amendment of the Constitution of India: The Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951, enacted in 1951, made several changes to the Fundamental Rights provisions of the constitution. … It was moved by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, on 10 May 1951 and enacted by Parliament on 18 June 1951.

22nd Amendment- Passed by Congress in 1947, and ratified by the states on February 27, 1951, the Twenty-Second Amendment limits an elected president to two terms in office, a total of eight years. However, it is possible for an individual to serve up to ten years as president.

52nd Amendment Act, 1985- Constitution 52nd Amendment Act, 1985 provided provisions related to anti-defection in India. In this amendment, articles 101, 102, 190 and 191 were changed. It laid down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection and inserted schedule 10.Sep 12, 2016

73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1993: The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act was passed by the Parliament in April1993. The Amendmentprovided a Constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj Institutions in India through insertion of Article 243 to Part IX of Indian Constitution.Nov

74th Amendment and Municipalities in India. Constitution Act, 1992: has introduced a new Part IXA in the Constitution, which deals with Municipalities in an article 243 P to 243 ZG. This amendment, also known as Nagarpalika Act, came into force on 1st June 1993.

80th Amendment- The Constitution (80th Amendment) Act, 2000. 1. It deals with an alternative scheme for sharing taxes between the Union and the States.

86th Amendment (2002) has a great importance in our Constitution which provide us the main fundamental right that is “Right to education”. … 21-A: The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between the age of 6 and 14 years in such manner as the State may by law determine”.

Constitution (100th Amendment) Act 2015: Constitution (100th Amendment) Act 2015 ratified the land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh. The act amended the 1st schedule of the constitution to exchange the disputed territories occupied by both the nations in accordance with the 1974 bilateral LBA.

122nd Amendment to constitution of India

GST or Goods & Service Tax , was introduced by the Constitution Amendment Bill 122, and when successfully passed it was named as 101 Act. GST was implemented after it was introduced in the Lok Sabha and then passed in both the Houses of the Parliament by means of “The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014”.

123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill: for Granting NCBC constitutional status has been passed both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. With the assent from the President for the same it is deemed to be the 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act. The Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill with over two-third majority on August 2, 2018.

The Bill was passed superseding the amendments by the Rajya Sabha which seeks to grant constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). All 406 members present in the House voted in favour of it.

The 124th Amendment to Indian constitution

The 124th Constitutional Amendment received the President’s assent on January 12, 2019.

This amended two fundamental rights: (1) Article 15, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, caste, sex or place of birth, and (2) Article 16 which prohibits discrimination in employment in government office. The amendment provides for the advancement of the “economically weaker sections” of the society. It also makes a note of the Article 46, which asks the government to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society. It provides reservation for:

  1. People who have an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh, or
  2. People who own less than five acres of farm land, or
  3. People who have a house less than 1,000 sq feet in a town (or 100 sq yard in a notified municipal area).

Some of the important amendments are listed below:

Provisions related to reservation

  • For Scheduled Tribes, 47 seats are reserved in Lok Sabha. … For Scheduled Castes, 84 seats are reserved in Lok Sabha. As per article 80 of the Constitution, the composition of Council of States(Rajya Sabha) 12 members are nominated by the President. There is no provision for reservation of SC/ST in Rajya Sabha.
  • The Constitution of India states in article 15(4): “Nothing in [article 15] or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially, educationally and economically backward classes of citizens of or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.”
  • In central-government funded higher education institutions, 22.5% of available seats are reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students (7.5% for STs, 15% for SCs). This reservation percentage has been raised to 49.5% by including an additional 27% reservation for OBCs.
  • In 1995, the 77th amendment to the Constitution was made to amend Article 16 before the five-year period expired to continue with reservations for SC/STs in promotions. It was further modified through the 85th amendment to give the benefit of consequential seniority to SC/ST candidates promoted by reservation.
  • The 81st amendment was made to the Constitution to permit the government to treat the backlog of reserved vacancies as a separate and distinct group, to which the ceiling of 50 per cent did not apply. The 82nd amendment inserted a provision in Article 335 to enable states to give concessions to SC/ST candidates in promotion.
  • 93rd Constitutional Amendment
  • Constitution 93rd Amendment Act, 2006-The act aims to provide greater access to higher education including professional education to a larger number of students belonging to the socially and educationally backward classes of citizens.

Amendment Year Outcome
7 1956 Reorganisation of states on linguistic basis and abolition of Class A, B, C and D states and introduction of Union Territories.
9 1960 Adjustments to Indian territory as a result of agreement with Paksitan.
10 1961 Dadra, Nagar and Haveli included in Indian Union as a Union Territory on acquisition from Portugal.
12 1961 Goa, Daman and Diu included in Indian Union as a Union Territory on acquisition from Portugal.
13 1962 The state of Nagaland formed with special protection under Article 371A on 01 Dec 1963.
14 1962 Pondicherry incorporated into Indian Union after transfer by France.
21 1967 Sindhi added as language in the 8th schedule.
26 1971 Privy purse paid to former rulers of princely states abolished.
36 1975 Sikkim included as an Indian state.
42 1976 Fundamental Duties prescribed, India became Socialist Secular Republic.
44 1978 Right to Property deleted from the list of fundamental rights.
52 1985 Defection to another party after election made illegal.
61 1989 Voting age reduced from 21 to 18.
71 1992 Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali added as languages in the Eighth Schedule.
73 1993 Introduction of Panchayati Raj, addition of Part IX to the Constitution.
74 1993 Introduction of Municipalities.
86 2002 Free and compulsory education to children between 6 and 14 years.
92 2003 Bodo, Dogri, Santhali and Maithli added to the list of recognised languages.
8,23,45,62, 79 and 95 1960, 1970, 1980, 1989, 2000 and 2010 Extension of reservation of seats for SC/ST and nomination of Anglo-Indian members in Parliament and State Assemblies.
96 2011 Substituted Odia for Oriya in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution
97 2012 Introduction of Part IXB in the Constitution pertaining to Co-operative Societies
101 2016 Introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST)
102 2018 Establishment of National Commission for Backward Classes
103 2019 Reservation for economically weaker sections of the society
The 42nd amendment was the most comprehensive amendment which had 59 clauses and carried out so many changes that it has been described as a “Mini Constitution”.
The 52nd amendment was the only amendment to be unanimously adopted by the Parliament.

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