Making of the Indian Constitution

In the year 1947, the Indian Independence Act made the Assembly a sovereign as well as a legislative body
Indian Flag [Representational Image]
Indian Flag [Representational Image]File

"On Republic Day, we recall the great women and men who worked towards the making of our Constitution. We also reiterate our commitment to fulfil their dreams for our nation.”Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.

M. N. Roy, an Indian revolutionary, in the year 1934, proposed the concept of a Constituent Assembly, following which, the Indian National Congress put forth their demand of a Constituent Assembly for framing of the Constitution for India. Pushing the demand forward, Jawaharlal Nehru announced that the Constitution must be framed, without outside interference, by an elected Constituent Assembly, based on adult franchise and this demand was accepted by the British Government. Thereafter, Sir Richard Stafford Cripps visited India with a proposal of the British Government regarding the framing of the Constitution, in the year 1942, but the proposal was rejected by the Muslim League. Finally, a Cabinet Mission visited India which proposed the scheme for the Constituent Assembly.

The elections to the Constituent Assembly were held for 389 seats in the year 1946. 296 seats were allotted to British India and 93 seats were allotted to the Princely States. The Indian National Congress won 208 seats, the Muslim League won 73 seats, and the Independents won 15 seats. The Princely States did not participate in the elections, because of which their 93 seats remained unfilled. The Assembly was not directly elected by the people, but it consisted of representatives from all the sections of the society.

On 13th December, 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru presented the Objectives Resolution in the Assembly which was unanimously adopted by the Assembly on 22nd January, 1947. The Resolution read:- “This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution; wherein the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts of India as are outside India and the States as well as other territories as are willing to be constituted into the independent sovereign India, shall be a Union of them all; wherein the said territories, whether with their present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the law of the Constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous units together with residuary powers and exercise all powers and functions of Government and administration save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union or as are inherent or implied in the Union or resulting therefrom; wherein all power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of Government are derived from the people; and wherein shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India justice, social, economic and political; equality of status of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality; and wherein adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes; and whereby shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its sovereign rights on land, sea and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations; and this ancient land attains its rightful and honoured place in the world and makes its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.”

In the year 1947, the Indian Independence Act made the Assembly a sovereign as well as a legislative body. The Act gave power to the Assembly to abrogate or change any law made by the British Parliament for India. The total strength of the Assembly came down to 299 from 389 when the Muslim League withdrew from it. Various Committees were constituted for making of the Constitution and one of the important Committees was the Drafting Committee, constituted on 29th August, 1947. Dr. B R Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Assembly on 4th November, 1948 over which the Assembly had a discussion until 9th November, 1948. The second reading took place on 15th November, 1948 until 17th October, 1949 and the third reading of the draft commenced on 14th November, 1949. The motion on Draft Constitution was declared as passed on 26th November, 1949, and received the signatures of the Members as well as the President of the Assembly.

26th January, 1950, was the day when India became a republic and its Constitution (major part) came into force. This day is celebrated as the Republic Day as it was on this day in 1930 that Purna Swaraj was celebrated following the resolution of the Lahore Session. The Constituent Assembly took a total of two years, eleven months, and seventeen days to complete the Constitution.

The Constituent Assembly considered a total of 2473 amendments proposed to the Draft Constitution from 9th December, 1946 to 26th November, 1949. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Constituent Assembly confirmed the Constitution, and fifteen Articles were immediately given effect to, on 26th November, 1949, which were, the provisions of Citizenship, Oath and Affirmation by the President, Elections, Definitions, Interpretation, Powers of the President to Remove Difficulties and the Short Title of the Constitution.

The rest of the provisions came into effect from 26th January, 1950. The preamble, a part of the Constitution, also came into force on 26th January, 1950, which presents the intention of the framers of the Constitution and the principles of the nation.

Therefore, on the occasion of 74th Republic Day, let us pledge to uphold the Constitution and also remember the words of Earl Warren, Former Chief Justice of the United States, when he said:- “Where there is injustice, we should correct it; where there is poverty, we should eliminate it; where there is corruption, we should stamp it out; where there is violence, we should punish it; where there is neglect, we should provide care; where there is war, we should restore peace; and wherever corrections are achieved, we should add them permanently to our storehouse of treasures.”

Muneeb Rashid Malik is an Advocate and a Writer. He tweets @muneebmalikrash.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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