THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY:
The Constitutional Assembly was constituted in November 1946 under the Cabinet Mission Plan. The British Government’s policy statement of June 1947 decided the issue of framing a Constitution by the Constitution Assembly.
In all, the constitution Assembly had 11 sessions over two years, eleven months and eighteen days. It held its final session on 24 January 1950.
THE DRAFTING COMMITTEE:
The Constitutional Assembly constituted 22 committees to deal with different tasks of Constituent-making. The Drafting Committee, set up on 29th August 1947 consisted of 7 constitutional pandits. Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, successfully piloted the constitution, through the Constituent Assembly.
UNIQUE FEATURES OF THE CONSTITUTION:
The Constitution of India is unique in several aspects and distinguishes itself from the constitutions of other countries. Even the best are borrowed from the constitutions of modern states have been appropriately modified to suit the genius of the country with a view to make future greater than the past.
PONDEROUS AND BULKY:
The Indian Constituion, unlike other constitutions, is the lengthiest ponderous and bulky with all its articles, Schedules and Amendments. It contains the structure of both the Union and State governments.Simalarly, the relations between the three branches of the government.Legislature, Executive and Judiciary-are described in detail.
Basically, the present Constitution is founded on the Government of India Act, 1935.Yet it is not irrevocably chained to it. It seeks to blend the past with the present in anticipation of the possible requirements of the future. By judiciously juxtaposing the past, present and future, the Constitution provides ample scope for the citizens to evolve, achieve and accomplish.
The core component of the constitution-the Parliamentary System-has been largely drawn from the British Constitution. The chapter on Directive Principles was borrowed from the Irish Constitution. The concept of independent judiciary and judiciary Review and Fundamental Rights was adopted from the US Constitution as the other federal features were adopted from that of Canada.
The USSR served as a model for the section fundamental duties. The Constitution contains about 250 provisions of GOI Act of 1935.Quite a few features have been taken from the Constitutions of Germany, France, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia and Japan.
Central Government, a strong union, single citizenship, flexibility,integrated judiciary, appointment of State Governors by the Centre, emergency provisions, All-India Services are Unitary features.
Though the Constitution appears to be federal in form, it is unitary in practice. Hence it is described as ‘quasi-federal’, ‘co-operative federation’ and ‘halfway house between Unitary and Federal forms of government.
PARTLY FLEXIBLE, MOSTLY RIGID:
The Constitution of India is partly flexible and mostly rigid. It is flexible because certain parts of the constitution like changing in the name of a state formation of new state, changing the boundaries of states, can be attended like ordinary law of the land.
It is rigid in the sense that most of its parts such as the election of the President can be amended only by special procedure with the consent of the states
SOVEREIGN, DEMOCRATIC, SOCIALISTIC, SECULAR, REPUBLIC:
India ceased to be a British Dominion on 26 January 1950 by declaring herself a Sovereign, Democratic, Republic. Then the 42nd Amendment Act,1976 added the terms Socialist and Secular. India is Sovereign because it is a gift of the people themselves.
It is Democratic since the Union and state legislatures are elected by citizens on the basis of universal adult franchise; it is Republic for the office of the Head of State is elected and nor hereditary as in the case of British Monarchy; it is Socialist because the State will ensure the means of production and distribution of goods and services are not concentrated in the hands of a few; and it is Secular as the Government will be guided by the consideration of the worldly welfare of the people and not by obscurantist religious postulates.
The adoption of universal adult suffrage to elect representatives of the people to the Union and State legislatures is an act of incalculable importance.
At a time when even the so-called developed countries had not extended voting right to women, Indian Constitution empowered its citizen by conferring the right to vote to them irrespective to the differences of education, property, sex or religion.
The Preamble is the ‘Identity Card of the Constiutution’.it is its preface. It redeems the pledge contained in the objectives Resolution of 1946.It is an inseparable part of the Constitution Statute. It lays down the ground rules for the government of the country. It is the touch stone of the Constitution .The Preamble from its very nature and content, is incapable of being amended.
The provision for single Indian Citizenship in the Constitution is singularly significant. Unlike in countries like USA where each person is not only citizen of America but also a citizen of the State to which he belongs, in India all citizens enjoy the same political and civil rights of citizenship.
Single citizenship encourages national integration, strengthens centripetal tendencies and ensures the essential character of national unity besides boosting the image of India.
Fundamental Rights form the life line of the constitution; they are fundamental to the governance of the country. Part III of the constitution is rightly regarded as the Magna Carta of India. Fundamental rights are like inscriptions on the rock; the cannot be altered, abridged or erased. These rights serve as impregnable amour to citizens’ and save them from authoritarianism tyranny of majority.
The addition of fundamental duties is a distance feature of the constitution. It was added in 1976 by the 42nd Amendment .10 Fundamental duties are specified. The 86th Amendment Act of 2002 added one more duty on elementary education. These duties under-line the importance of balancing fundamental rights with fundamental duties.
The Directive Principals of state policy are fundamental of the governance of the country.
Another unique characteristic of the constitution is provision for meeting emergency situations-external, internal or financial. These provisions provide contingency arrangement to meet extraordinary situation effectively, safety-value to pressure-cooker like political situation.
The position of Indian President is unique and unparallel. The President neither resembles the presidential executives as exists in the neither U.S nor does he replicated the British Monarchy. For the president is indirectly elected by the Electoral College.
PRIMCY OF PARLIAMENT:
Indian Parliament is a creature of the constitution which is supreme. Indian Parliament is limited by the federal systems of government, Fundamental Rights, Basic Structure and Judicial Interpretation.
The powers of parliament are not unlimited. The parliament cannot enact laws at will. The absence of constitutional control will degenerate into ‘Parliamentary Hegemony’. True, Parliament has the power to amend any part of the Constitution; but such power is subjected to the limitation of the Basic structure Doctrine.
JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL REVIEW:
The delicate balance between legislature, Executive and Judiciary is yet another unique feature of the constitution. Of the three pillars of the Constitution, the Judiciary occupies an enviable position. No Parliamentary power can destroy this balance, which is one of the essential features of the constitution.
Judicial Review is the touch– stone to test the constitutional responsibility of the court to safeguard, defend and protect the core values of the Constitution, via fundamental rights, equality, rule of law, separation of powers and judicial review.
The constitution of India differs from other federations. Parliament is alone empowered to amend the constitution, Parliament is supreme. Amendment shall not violate or destroy the identity of the constitution. It should strengthen the framework and uphold its identity.
Constitution is supreme since people who have given unto themselves are supreme. Constitution provides for “stability without stagnation and growth without destruction of human values”
The constitution provided for a dual polity – the center and the state. Later, the 73rd Amendment Act of 1992 conferred constitutional recognition to the panchayats. Similarly, the 74th Amendment Act of1992 gave constitutional legitimacy to municipalities. Thus, the rural and urban local governments form the third-tire of government. The Acts of 1992 have translated Article 40 unto Practice.
PROTECTION FOR MINOTITIES:
A distinctive feature of the constitution is reservation of seats for the SCs, STs, and OBCs in the union and state Legislatures and jobs in central and state services and institutions.
Under the constitution all citizens are equal, communities like SCs and STs required special protection
The constitution also establishes certain autonomous institutions such as the election commission, comptroller and Auditor-General, Union and state Public service commissions, Finance commission, Attorney General Solicitor general, National Commission for SCs and STs Advocate General of the state.
MOSAIC, NOT QUILT:
The Founding Fathers, after three years of laborious labour, gave India a Constitution which is sublime, if not sacred, it is part of the great heritage of India .It is sovereign and supreme. It is inviolable. Indian Constitution is a mosaic, not a quilt of the Constitution of other countries.
SPECIAL STATUS OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR:
Another salient features of the Constitution is the special status, it accords to Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir is a constituent state of the Union of India; its territory is part of the Indian Territory (Art.1).Yet, Art 370 confers a special status to it. The constitution drawn by it was adopted on 17th November 1957.
ROLE OF DR.B.R.AMBEDKAR:
Dr.Bhimarao Ramji Ambedkar, born on 14 April, 1891, educated in the U.S had been a professor of law and a lawyer of great distinction. Though he was a non-Congress dalit leader of Harijans, he was entrusted with the rare responsibility of chairing the drafting committee to design a constitution to the country.
Speaking on the occasion of moving the motion, on 17 September 1947, commending the adoption of the draft constitution, Dr.B.R. me to the drafting committee. Ambedkar humbly and gratefully confessed; I had not the remotest idea I would be called upon to undertake more responsible functions. I was therefore greatly surprised when the assembly elected me for the drafting committee.
Dr.Bhimarao Ramji Ambedkar, was the chief architect of the constitution. He played a remarkable role as the chairman of drafting the constitution.
The Preamble is the touch stone of the constitution. It states, WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens.
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity and to promote among them all;
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation
The incorporation of fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India is a revolutionary step of far reaching import and importance. Part III of the construction (Article 13 to 34) deal with these rights. Fundamental rights have been classified under the following seven categories.
- Rights to Equality
- Rights to Freedom
- Right against Exploitation
- Right to Freedom of religions
- Cultural and Educational Rights
- Rights to Property
- Rights to Constitutional remedies
IN 1976, Sardar Swaran Singh Committee was constituted to make recommendation about Fundamental Duties. On the recommendation of the committee. Part IV-An on fundamental Duty was added to the Constitution through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act. Later, in 2002, the 86th Amendment Act added one more duty on the universalization of primary education.
According to Act.51A, it shall be the duty of every citizen to:
- Abide by the constitution, the National Flag and the National Anthem
- Fallow the noble ideals that inspires the freedom struggle in India
- Uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India
- Defend the country and render national service
- Promote harmony, brotherhood and dignity of women
- Preserve the rich heritage of the composite culture of India
- Protect natural environment and living creatures
- Develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry
- Safeguard public property and abjure violence
- Strive for all-round excellence
- Avail opportunities offered to promote universalization of primary education
THE DIRECTIVE PRINCIPALS:
Part IV of the Constitution (Article 37, 51), which contains the Directive Principals of State policy, is a fascinating portion of the law of the land. Directive Principals emphasize, elucidate and reiterate the principals of equality, justice and fraternity as adumbrated in the Preamble.
- Adequate means of livelihood
- Fair distribution of wealth
- Equal pay for equal work
- Protection of child and adult labor
- Free and compulsory education for children up to the age of fourteen
- Public assistance to unemployed, old people, sickly and disabled persons
- Living wage
- Work assuring decent standard of life
- The raising of the level of nutrition of health
- Organization of village panchayats with large powers
- To secure a uniform civil code, among other things
Keywords: Indian Constitution, Preamble, Duties, rights, Ambedkar, Amendment