To prepare for Indian Polity for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about the basics of the Constitution of India. It gives an idea of all the topics important for IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II.)
Constitution and related topics are extremely important for the UPSC exam. This is an essential portion of the polity. As IAS aspirants, you should be thorough with the constitution of India. This article will provide you with relevant details about the following topics:
- Constituent Assembly
Working of Constituent Assembly
Salient Features of Constituent Assembly
Drafting Committee of Constituent Assembly
Changes made Post Indian Independence Act of 1947
Functions Performed by Constituent Assembly
Criticism of Constituent Assembly
Components of Interpretation of Constitution
- Idea of a Constituent Assembly for India was put forward for the first time by N. Roy in 1934.
- INC first time officially demanded a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution of India in 1935.
- British Government accepted demand for first time in ‘August Offer’ of 1940.
- Constitution drew its authority from the fact that members of the Constituent Assembly engaged in what one might call public reason (Principle of Deliberation).
- Constitutional advisor – B.N Rao
- Drafting Committee – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
- Introduction of Universal suffrage was only one provision of the Constitution which passed without virtually any debate.
- Constituent Assembly was constituted under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan 1946 (members – Lawrence, Cripps, Alexander)
- Total membership of 389.
- Members from British India – 296
- Seats from princely states – 93
- Seats allotted in proportion to their respective population (1 seat : 1 M)
- Division of among the three principal communities – Muslims, Sikhs and General.
- Constituent Assembly was partly elected (provincial legislative assembly) and partly nominated (representatives of princely states) body.
- Members were to be indirectly elected by the members of the provincial assemblies, who themselves were elected on a limited franchise.
- Assembly does not include Mahatma Gandhi.
- Constituent Assembly had 11 sessions over two years, 11 months and 18 days.
- Final session– January 24, 1950. It, however, continued as the provisional parliament of India from January 26, 1950, till the formation of new Parliament after the first general elections in 1951–52.
|WORKING OF CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY|
- First meeting on Dec 9, 1946 (Muslim League boycotted); attended by 211 members.
- Temporary President of the Assembly- Sachchidananda Sinha, the oldest member, was elected as following the French practice.
- Later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President of the Assembly.,
- Vice – Presidents (Two) – Both H.C. Mukherjee and V.T. Krishnamachari
- Objectives Resolution – moved on December 13, 1946; by Jawaharlal Nehru
- Representatives of the princely states, who had stayed away from the Constituent Assembly, gradually joined
- Members of the Muslim League from Indian Dominion also entered the Assembly after acceptance of Mountbatten Plan of partition (June 3, 1947)
|SALIENT FEATURES OF CONSTITUTION|
1. MAJOR COMMITTEES
In constituent assembly, eight were major committees and the others were minor committees. The names of these committees and their Chairman are given below:
- Union Powers Committee – Jawaharlal Nehru
- Union Constitution Committee -Jawaharlal Nehru
- Provincial Constitution Committee -Sardar Patel
- Drafting Committee – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
- Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas – Sardar Patel.
- Rules of Procedure Committee – Dr. Rajendra Prasad
- States Committee (Committee for Negotiating with States) – Jawaharlal Nehru
- Steering Committee – Dr. Rajendra Prasad
2. MINOR COMMITTEES
- Finance and Staff Committee – Dr. Rajendra Prasad
- Credentials Committee – Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar
- House Committee – B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya
- Order of Business Committee – Dr. K.M. Munshi
- Ad-hoc Committee on the National Flag – Dr. Rajendra Prasad
- Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly – G.V. Mavalankar
- Ad-hoc Committee on the Supreme Court – S. Varadachari (Not an Assembly Member)
- Committee on Chief Commissioners’ Provinces – B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya
- Expert Committee on the Financial Provisions of the Union Constitution -Nalini Ranjan Sarkar (Not an Assembly Member)
- Linguistic Provinces Commission – S.K. Dar (Not an Assembly Member)
- Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution – Jawaharlal Nehru
- Press Gallery Committee – Usha Nath Sen
- Ad-hoc Committee on Citizenship – S. Varadachari (Not an Assembly Member)
- Among all the committees, the most important and pivotal committee was the seven members Drafting Committee set up on August 29, 1947.
- It was this committee that was entrusted with the task of preparing a draft of the new Constitution. Members of this committee were:
- B.R. Ambedkar (Chairman)
- Gopalaswamy Ayyangar
- Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
- K.M. Munshi
- Syed Mohammad Saadullah
- Madhava Rau (He replaced B.L. Mitter who resigned due to ill-health)
- T. Krishnamachari (He replaced D.P. Khaitan who died in 1948)
- The Drafting Committee, after taking into consideration the proposals of the various committees, prepared the first draft of the Constitution of India, which was published in February, 1948.
- The people of India were given eight months to discuss the draft and propose amendments.
- Drafting Committee prepared a second draft, which was published in October, 1948.
- The Drafting Committee took less than six months to prepare its draft.
- In all, drafting committee sat only for 141 days.
|INDIAN INDEPENDENCE ACT OF 1947 MADE THE FOLLOWING THREE CHANGES|
- Assembly was made a fully sovereign body, free to abrogate or alter any law.
- Two separate functions were assigned to the Assembly (performed on separate days) – legislative body (Chaired by G V Mavalankar) and Constituent body (chaired by Dr. Rajendra Prasad); first Parliament of free India (Dominion Legislature).; These two functions continued till November 26, 1949.
- After withdrawal of Muslim League members, total strength came down to 299 as against 389 under the Cabinet Mission Plan.
|FUNCTIONS PERFORMED BY CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY|
- Making of the Constitution and enacting of ordinary laws
- Ratified the India’s membership of the Commonwealth in May 1949.
- Adopted the national flag on July 22, 1947.
- Adopted the national anthem on January 24, 1950.
- Adopted the national song on January 24, 1950.
- It elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India on January 24, 1950.
|Constitution as adopted on November 26, 1949, contained Preamble, 395 Articles and 8 Schedules.
January 26 as ‘date of commencement’ – In 1930, Purna Swaraj day was celebrated at Lahore Session (December 1929) of the INC.
NOTE – The Preamble was enacted after the entire Constitution was already enacted to align with philosophy of constitution.
|CRITICISM OF CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY AND CONSTITUTION|
- Non-representative composition – Not directly elected by the people of India on the basis of universal adult franchise.
- Dominated by Congress – 82% seats of assembly were held by INC
- Constitution is un-Indian and slavish imitation of Western constitutions
- Time Consuming exercise – Final Drafting took almost 3-year span.
- Elephantine sized and complicate language – Lawyer’s paradise.
- Un-Gandhian nature of constitution, although not sidelined completely.
- Communist’s opposition to parliamentary democracy.
- Carbon Copy of the 1935 Act or Amended Version of the 1935 Act.
|COMPONENTS OF INTERPRETATION OF CONSTITUTION|
- Constitutional assembly debates
- Doctrine of liberal interpretation
- Tools evolved by judiciary (apex court)
- Doctrine of progressive interpretation – in align with contemporary realities.
- Doctrine of prospective interpretation
- Article 367 – General Clauses Act, 1897