Making of the Indian Constitution : Constituent Assembly, Sources, Special Features & Federal Structure- Law Exams

Constituent Assembly and the Making of the Constitution
  • The idea of constituent Assembly had first put forward by a Bengali Indian revolutionary - Manabendra Nath Roy in 1934.
  • The constituent assembly met first time in New Delhi on 9 December 1946 in the constituent hall which is now known as central hall of parliament.
  • The constituent assembly took almost 3 years ( 2 years 11 months 17 days to be precise) to complete the drafting of a constitution for independent India.
  • During this period, it held 11 sessions covering 165 days.
Composition-

  • Its member was chosen by indirect election by the members of provincial legislative assemblies, according to the scheme recommended by the cabinet mission.
  • The arrangement was :
    1. 292 members were elected through provincial LA
    2. 93 members from Indian princely states
    3. 4 members from chief commissioners provinces.
  •  As a result of partition under the Mountbatten Plan of 3 June 1947, a separate constituent assembly was set up for Pakistan and some representatives ceased to be members of the assembly. As a result, members reduced to 299.
On 13 December 1946, Pandit Nehru moved the Objective Resolution.

This resolution was unanimously adopted by the constituent assembly on 22 January 1947.

Late in the evening on 14 August 1947, the assembly met in constitution hall and at the stroke of midnight, took over as Legislative assembly of an independent India.


The Drafting Committee was set up on 29 August 1947 under BR AMBEDKAR to prepare the draft of Constitution.
Other Members:-
  • Pandit Govind Ballah pant
  • Kanaiyalal maneklal Munshi
  • B L Mitter
  • A K Iyer
  • DP Khaitan
  • Md. Saadullah
  • BL Mitter
  • N Gopalaswami Ayenger
Constitutional Advisor - Sir bengal Narsing Rau ( who became 1st Indian Judge in ICJ, 1950-54).

The Constitution was adopted on 26 Nov, 1949 and members appended signature to it on 24 January 1950.
284 members actually signed the constitution.

The Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950.


Sources of the Constitution

The Indian Constitution has borrowed many features from the Constitution of different countries.

  • From the British constitution
  1. The idea of the rule of law
  2. The idea of single citizenship
  3. Speaker and his role
  4. The parliamentary form of government
  5. Law-making procedure
  6. The procedure established by law should be followed

  • From USA Constitution
  1. Preamble in Constitution
  2. Fundamental Rights in the Constitution
  3. Electrol College
  4. Equal protection under the law
  5. The federal structure of the government
  6. President as a supreme commander of the armed forces
  7. Independence of the judiciary and separation of powers among the three branches of the gov.
  8. Judicial Review by Court

  • Australian Constitution
  1. Freedom of trade and commerce and freedom to trade b/w States.
  2. Concurrent list in Constitution
  3. Power of legislation to make laws for implementing treaties 
  • Canadian Constitution
  1. Quasi-federal structure of the government
  2. Separation of powers b/w centre and states.
  3. Residual powers retained by the Central Government
  • French Constitution
  1. Liberty, Equality and fraternity
  • Irish Constitution
  1. DPSP (Ireland itself borrowed it from Spain's Constitution)
  • Japanese Constitution
  1. The due procedure of the law
  • From the constitution of the Soviet Union
  1. Fundamental duties
  2. Planning commission for the development of the countries
  • South African Constitution
  1. Amendment of the Constitution
  •  Weiner Constitution ( Germany Constitution)
  1. Provision of emergency under article 356

Some Special Features of the Indian Constitution

• It is the lengthiest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world - 444 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules and 104 amendments.

• It is a Constitution of both Centre and states of India.

• The Constitution is a wholly written document that incorporates the constitutional law of India. It was fully debated and duly enacted by the Constitution Assembly of India.

• Indian Constitution is made by the people of India acting through their duly elected and representatives body - the constitution assembly organised in December 1946.

• The preamble of the Constitution of India States the philosophy of Constitution in a nutshell.

• Although Indian Constitution fully reflects the spirit of socialism from the very beginning, it was only in 1976 that the preamble was amended to add the term 'socialism'.

• India is a secular state. India secularism guarantees equal freedom to all religions and religious freedom to all individuals.

• India is a democratic state. People enjoy equal political rights. They elect their government.

• The preamble declares India to be a republic state, which is not ruled by a monarch or a nominated head of state.

• The constitution of India contains provisions for a third tier of the government- at the local level, in the form of Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies.

• The supreme court works at the apex level, high courts at the state level and other courts work under the high courts.

• India recognises citizenship only at the union level and not separate citizenship at the state level.

• The constitution of India is rigid in some parts while flexible in others. Some of its provisions can be amended very easily while others can be in a difficult way.

• While describing India as a Union of States, the constitution provides for a federal structure with a unitary spirit. Scholars describe India as a 'quasi-federation' (K.C. Wheare) or as 'a federation with a unitary bias', or even as 'a Unitarian federation'.

• The Constitution provides for the independence of the judiciary.

• The Constitution contains special provisions for emergency situations.

• The Constitution is a supreme law of the land. The supreme court acts as the guardian, protector and interpreter of the constitution.

• The Constitution Contain special provisions for defining the language of the union, regional languages and language of the  Supreme Court & High Courts.

• The Constitution Contain special provisions with a view to protect backward classes.



Federal and Unitary Features of the Indian Constitution

Governance is classified as unitary or federal based on the relations between the union and its states.

A unitary system is one where the centre has all the power. A federal system is one where the centre has some power while the other powers vested in the lower level(provinces or states). 

The Indian Constitution encompasses a mixture of unitary and federal features. Thatswhy India is called quasi-federal.

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