Constitution of India

The Indian Constitution: An Inspiring Foundations; Tracing the Brief History

Introduction to the Constitution of India

Indian Constitution was adopted on the 26th of November 1949, however, it came into force on the 26th of January 1950, one of the reasons being was on 26 January 1930 Purna Swaraj was declared by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in Lahore (current Pakistan), subsequently in commemorate of the day the constitution completely adopted and came into force from 26th January of 1950. The Indian constitution is the world’s longest handwritten constitution and originally it had 22-part, 8 schedules,s, and 395 articles.

In the long and eventful history of India, 15 August 1947 holds immense importance. On this day the two-centuries-old British rule of India ended and political authority was transferred to the representatives of the Indian people.

Historical Background of the Constitution in Indian Society

The Constitution of a country lays down the basic structure of the political system under which its people are to be governed. Though the concept of democracy, representative institutions, and rule of law, etc. was not alien to India as the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda mention the sabha (General Assembly) and the Smiti House of Elders, we can claim that the conventional political institutions established by Hindus in the ancient times and later by the Muslims in medieval era do not survive in any form in the present day.

Indian Constitution
Indian Constitution: An Overview

The arrival of the East India Company

However, we can trace the history of the evolution of the Indian constitution from 1601 when the East Indian company, which had come to India as traders, received its first charter in 1601 from the queen of England. As per Charter 1601, the company was given the power to make, ordain, and constitute such and so many reasonable laws, constitutions, orders, and ordinances for the good governance of the company. The legislative powers of the company were very limited in their scope and character. Later, similar legislative powers were thus designed and affirmed by the Charters of 1609. 1661 and later by Charter 1693, which enabled the company to regulate its business and maintain discipline among its servants. The charter of 1726 had great significance as the mayor’s courts were established for the first time in India at the three Presidencies – Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras – to introduce English laws in India. But still, the British were not the ruling power in India and it was only in the latter half of the 17th century, the period of the gradual disintegration of Mughal power, that the British administration of civil justice evolved after the company was awarded the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. This led to maladministration of Indian affairs by the company officials who amassed great wealth and left for England leaving East India Company on the verge of bankruptcy. A secret committee was appointed by British Parliament in 1772 that exposed several defects and lacunas in the administration of the company. Consequently, the Parliament passed the Regulating Act of 1773 to regulate the affairs of the East India Company.

Cabinet Mission Plan

The task of framing the Constitution of India was given to the Constituent Assembly, formed under the Cabinet mission plan 1946 even before the complete transfer of power that was affected by the Indian Independence Act 1947. It is composed of members chosen by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies through indirect election according to the scheme recommended by the Cabinet Mission.   

Making of The Indian Constitution

The arrangements were as 389 seats (93 princely states and 292 were elected through provincial legislative assemblies and 4 Chief Commissioners Provinces). However, after the partition, the strength of members in the assembly was reduced to 299. The first meeting of the constituent assembly was on December 9, 1946, and Sachidanand Sinha elected was as the first chairman. 2ndmeeting was on December 11, 1946, in this assembly Dr. Rajender Prasad was elected as chairman.

Initially, the assembly was not a sovereign body but was subject to the final authority of the British Parliament. It was the Indian Independence Act of 1947 that triggered a complete change in its character, as it was converted into a Sovereign body that was later reassembled on 14 August 1947 to assume power on behalf of the Government of India. Thus, the three phases of the Constituent Assembly can be described as; the first phase – was a Constituent Assembly under the Limitations of Cabinet mission plan from December to 14 August 1947; the Second Phase – was Constituent Assembly, a sovereign body and Provisional Parliament from 15 August 1947 to 26 November 1949 and; Third Phase- as a Provisional Parliament from 27 November 1949 to March 1952.

The Constitution is not to be interpreted as a mere law, but as the machinery by which laws are made. The Constitution of India now consists of :

1) The preamble 

2) Parts !-XXII, covering Articles 1- 395 and; 

3) Schedules 1-12 and the Appendix.

Sources of the Indian Constitution

Source of InspirationFeature that inspired
Government of India Act 1935Federal System, Office of Governor, Public service Commission, emergency (however this was adopted by Germany), Judiciary and executives
British ConstitutionParliamentary system, Single citizenship , Rule of law, Bi-cameral system , cabinet and writs from Britain (although many of inspirations were also from Indian Government Act 1919)
Ireland’s constitutionDPSP (Directive Principal to State Policy), Nomination of the Rajya Sabha members and election of the president.  
Russian Constitutionfundamental duties and Social, Political, and Economic Justice as enumerated in the preamble.
U.S. ConstitutionPreamble, Fundamental rights (From Bill of Rights), Free judiciary , Impeachment, vice president ex-officio chairman of Council of state(Rajya sabha), President as Executive head and the Supreme commander of Armed Forces, and removal of Supreme court and High Court Judges.
South Africa constitutionto amend the constitution, and election of the members of Rajya sabha
Australian ConstitutionJoint assembly, free trade, and concurrent list
Canada ConstitutionFederal government with a strong center, appointment of Governor, Residuary power lies with the center, Advisory jurisdiction of Supreme court.
Germany constitutionSuspension of Fundamental rights during the emergency.
Japanese ConstitutionProcedure Established by law
French ConstitutionEnumerated in the preamble, are the Republic and the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

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