|Mahadeep Singh Jamwal|
The Constitution of India is the
basic document to govern the India, which had not come into existence overnight or by an exercise of few people of political ideology but an elaborate and vigorous exercise undertaken by the best available intelligentsia of the time. This cream of the country of the time is credited with giving a direction to develop the Country in a wider spectrum and as a modern Nation. The basics how the Constitution came into existence is not in the knowledge of majority of people especially the present generation, so majority is not aware of the genesis of the present Indian Constitution and as such not in a position to remember the services of the Members of the Constituent Assembly, who gave this document to serve the people. On the constitution of the Constituent Assembly, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru expressed 'That the first task of the Assembly is to free India through a new constitution to feed the starving people, and to clothe the naked masses, and to give every Indian the fullest opportunity to develop himself according to his capacity --- if we cannot solve this problem soon, all our paper constitutions will become useless and purposeless'. The prevailing scenario of the country is to be viewed by the present and previous Governments, in view of the concern, how much they have succeeded in achieving this target.
The idea of Constituent Assembly of India was proposed in 1934 by Sh. Manabendra Nath Roy, the pioneer of the Communist Party of India. It became official demand of Indian National Congress in 1935, which was acceded by British in 1940, through a document called as 'August Offer'. The Constituent Assembly was to be set up after the Second World War is over. This offer primarily was to get Indian Co-operation in the Second World War because of Hitler's astounding success and the fall of Belgium. Holland and France put England in a conciliatory mood. This 'August Offer' also expanded the Viceroys Executive Council. After the Second World War, The Cabinet Mission of British Kingdom visited India with the purpose to hold preparatory discussions with elected representatives of British India and the Indian States in order to secure agreement as to the method of framing the constitution, to set up a constitution body and to set up an executive Council with the support of the main Indian parties. Provincial elections to elect members of Constituent Assembly were held early in 1946. The Elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian Provinces were completed by July- August 1946. The Interim Government was formed on 2nd September 1946 from newly Constituent Assembly. The total members of the Constituent Assembly were 389 and of this number 292 were elected members, 93 represented by the princely states and 4 were from the Chief Commissioner Provinces of Delhi-Ajmer, Mewar, Coorg and British Baluchistan. The number of members in the Constituent Assembly from different Areas was 292 in totality. Madras 49, Bombay 21, West Bengal 21, United Provinces 54, East Punjab 12, Bihar 36, Central Provinces & Berar 17, Assam 8, Orissa 9, Delhi 1,Ajmer-Merwar 1, Coorg 1, Mysore 7, Travancore Cochin 7, Madhya Bharat 7, Saurashtra 5, Rajsthan 11, Patiala & East Pakistan States Union 3, Bombay State 8, Orissa State 5, Central Provinces State 3, United Provinces States 2, Madras State 1, Vindhya Pradesh 4, Cooch Bihar 1, Tripura & Manipur 1, Bhopal 1, Kutch 1, Himachal Pradesh 1. Jammu & Kashmir. 4. The Hon'ble Members from J&K were S/Sh. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Mirza Mohmmad Afzal, Maulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi and Moti Ram Baigra (from Udhampur). Proceedings of Constituent Assembly, as published by the Lok Sabha Secretrite, suggest that fifteen women Members were present throughout the tenure of the Constituent Assembly. These include Ammu Swaminathan, Annie Mascrene, Begum Aizaz Rasul, Dakshayani Veleyudan, G. Durgabai, Hansa Mehta, Kamla Chaudhri, Leela Ray, Malati Chowdhry, Purnima Banerji, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Renuka Ray, Sarojini Naidu, Sucheta Kriplani and Vijayalakshmi Pandit.
The Constituent Assembly began its first session on 9th of December 1946 with 208 members attending and demanding a separate State. Sh. Sachchidananda Sinha was elected as temporary President of the Assembly The 'All India Muslim league' popularized as 'Muslim League' founded on 30-06-1906 with presiding leaders as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Liaqat Ali Khan and others boycotted this On 11-12-1946 Dr. Rajinder Parsad was elected as President, H C Mukerjee as Vice-President and Justice Benegal Narsing Rao as constitutional adviser. Justice Benegal Narsing Rao prepared an initial draft of the constitution on the reports and his research into the Constitution of other Nations. Justice Benegal Narsing Rao Was later appointed as permanent Judge in the Permanent Court of International Justice in Hague. On 13-12-1946 'Objective Resolution' was introduced by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, laying down the underlying principles of the constitution, which was unanimously adopted on 22-01-1947. It guided the constitution making process. The main features of this document were:-
n The constituent Assembly solemnly resolves to constitute India into an Independent, Sovereign, and Democratic Republic setup for India.
n The Indian Provinces and other parts of India willing to be a part of free and Sovereign India shall collectively form a Union of India.
n All parts of independent India and their ruling institutions derive their power from the people of India.
n All the people of India, without any distinction, shall be entitled to political and economic equality and equality of status and opportunity and the right to freedom of thought, belief, expression, profession and worship.
n There shall be special provisions for the protection and development of backward classes, oppressed and minorities
However as a result of partition under Mountbatten Plan, a separate Constituent Assembly was established in Pakistan on 3 June, 1947. The representatives of the areas incorporated into Pakistan i.e. delegations from Sind, East Bengal, Baluchistan, West Punjab and the North West Frontier Provinces, ceased to be Members of the Constituent Assembly of India . As a result, the membership of the Constituent Assembly of India was reduced to 299 including nine women. (The Constituent Assembly in forthcoming Para's mean, Constituent Assembly of India) The Constituent Assembly was established while India was under British Rule, following negotiations with The Cabinet Mission of British Kingdom.
Late in the evening of 14 August, 1947 the Assembly met in the Constitution hall (presently Parliament Hall) and at the stroke of midnight, took over as the Legislative Assembly of an Independent India. On 15 August 1947 Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan became independent Nations and members of the Constituent Assembly, who had not withdrawn to Karachi, became India's Parliament.
On 29 August, 1947, the Assembly set up a Drafting Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar to prepare a draft for India Constitution. While deliberating on the Draft Constitution, the Assembly moved, discussed and disposed of as many as 2,473 amendments out of a total of 7,635. The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November, 1949. The last sitting of the Assembly was held on 24 January 1950 when the Hon'ble Members appended their signatures to it. A total number of 284 members actually appended their signatures. The Constitution of India came into force on 26 January, 1950 and the Assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the 'Provisional Parliament of India' until after the first elections under the new Constitution in 1952. There after New Parliament came into existence.
Some of the Principal Committees and their Chairman's associated with Constituent Assembly are:
n Committee on Rules of Procedure, Dr. Rajindra Prasad.
n Drafting Committee, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
n Adhoc Committee on National Flag, Dr. Rajindra Prasad.
n States Committee, Union Powers Committee and Union Constitution Committee, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.
n Committee on the functions of Constituent Assembly, G. V. Mavlanker.
n Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas, Vallabhbhai Patel.
The Assembly held eleven sessions. First Session, 9-23 December, 1946. Second Session, 20-25 January, 1947. Third Session, 28 April-2 May, 1947. Fourth Session, 14-31 July, 1947. Fifth Session, 14-30 August, 1947. Sixth Session, 27 January, 1948. Seventh Session, 4 November, 1948- 8 January, 1949. Eighth Session, 16 May-16 June, 1949. Ninth Session, 30 July - 18 September, 1949. Tenth Session, 6-17 October, 1949. Eleventh Session, 14 - 26 November, 1949. The Assembly made its sitting for a period of 166 days during the period of Two years, eleven months and eighteen days.114 days were spent on the consideration of the Draft Constitution. The National Flag was adopted on 22 July, 1947 and on 24 January, 1950, "Jana Gana Mana" adopted as National Anthem and Dr. Rajindra Parsad elected as the first President of India.
The majority of the Provisions of the Constitution are derived from the Government of India
n GOI Act 1935 - Federal Structure, Office of Governor, Judiciary Division, Service Commission.
n Britain - Parliamentary System, Rule of Law, Single citizenship, Office of CAG, Legislation, Cabinet & Government.
n Ireland - Directive Principals of State Policy, Election process of President and nomination of members to the Rajya Sbha by the President.
n United States of America - Preamble, Impeachment of the President, Removal of High Court and Supreme Court Judges, Fundamental Rights, Independent Judiciary.
n Canada -Appointment of State Governors by the center and advisory/ Review role of Supreme Court..
n Australia - Concept of Concurrent List, Joint sitting of two houses.
n USSR (Russia) - Fundamental duties, constitutionally mandated Planning Commission to oversee the development of the economy.
n France - Concept of 'Republic' Ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (Contained in the Preamble).
n Germany - Emergency provisions and suspension of Fundamental Rights during Emergency.
n South Africa - Elections of the Rajya Sabha and Amendment of the Constitution.
n Japan - Concept of procedure established by Law'.
The chairman of Drafting Committee has said "As to the accusation that the draft has reproduced a good part of the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, I made no apologies. There is nothing ashamed of in borrowing. Our
Constitution has borrowed good things from the Government of India Act, 1935 and other
Since the adoption of the Constitution on 26 January, 1950, 100 amendments have been effected. The First Amendment on 18 June, 1951. Some of the important Amendments are:
1. Amendment 2 on 1st May 1953: Removed upper limit for a Parliamentary Constituency.
2. Amendment 6 on 11 September, 1956: to amend the Union & State lists with respect to raise the Taxes.
3. Amendment 15 on 5 October, 1963: To raise retirement age of High Court Judges.
4. Amendment 19 on 11 December, 1966 to abolish the Election Tribunal and enable trial of Election Petitions by the regular High Courts.
5. Amendment 26 on 28 December, 1971 to abolish Privy Purse paid to former rulers of Princely States.
6. Amendment 31 on 17 October, 1973 to increase size of Parliament from 525 to 546 seats, increased seats going to newly States formed in North East India.
7. Amendment 38 on 1st of August 1975 to enhance the powers of President and Governors to pass Ordinances.
8. Amendment 39 on 10 August, 1975, An amendment designed to negate the Judgment of Allahabad High Court invalidating Prime Minister Smt. Indra Gandhi's election to Parliament and placing restrictions on Judicial scrutiny of post of Prime Minister.
9. Amendment 42 on 1st April, 1977 to curtail Fundamental Rights, imposing Fundamental Duties and changes the basic structure of the Constitution by making India "Socialist Secular Republic".
10. Amendment 77 on 17 June, 1995 a technical Amendment to protect reservations to SC/ST employees in promotions.
11. Amendment 89 on 28 September, 2003, the National Commission of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was bifurcated into two as National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
12. Amendment 91 on 1st January 2004 to restrict the size of Council of Ministers to 15% of Legislative members and to strengthen Anti - Defection Law.
13. Amendment 92 on 7th of January, 2004 to include Bodo, Dogri, Santali and Maithali as official language.
14. Amendment 99 on 13 April, 2015 - provides for the formation of a National Judicial Appointments Commission. (The amendment is in Toto quashed by Supreme Court on 16 October, 2015).
15. Amendment 100 0n 1st August 2015 to exchange certain enclave territories with Bangladesh and conferment of Citizen Rights to residents of enclaves consequent to signing of Land Boundary Agreement Treaty between India and Bangladesh. The Constitution is a collective work of number of committees headed by different persons, but we never project or remember any such chairman of any other committee, except the chairman of a particular committee. The matter is required to be given due attention to this aspect and let us salute all the Chairman of all the Committees and all the Members associated with the Constituent Assembly, whose dedicated work culminated in the shape of Indian Constitution.