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MAKING OF THE CONSTITUTION

Constitution is the fundamental and supreme law of a country, which describes the method of formation of Government, nature of Government, its powers and responsibilities. Our Constitution also describes who citizens are, and what are their rights and duties.

  1. SOURCES OF OUR CONSTITUTION

Government of India Act, 1935, is considered as the base of the constitution of independent India. Further, many Constitutions were drafted before the Indian Constitution. Our constitutional forefathers procured some of the best provisions from other constitutions and incorporated those provisions into our Constitution.

Some of the important provisions in our Constitution acquired from other constitutions are as follows:

1. Fundamental Rights USA
2. Directive Principles of State Policy Ireland
3. Emergency Provisions Germany
4. Parliamentary System England
5. Residuary Powers with Centre Canada
6. Provision of Concurrent List Australia
7. Fundamental Duties Russia
8. Judicial Review USA

 

  1. COMPOSITION OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

A constituent assembly is a body of representatives composed for the purpose of developing or adopting a constitution.

To make the constitution of independent India, ‘The Constituent Assembly’ was constituted in November 1946 under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 aimed to discuss and plan the transfer of power from the British Government to Indian leadership. One of the key objectives of the mission was to device a machinery to draw up the constitution of independent India.

The features of the Plan were:

  1. The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was to be 389. Of these, 296 seats were to be allotted to British India and 93 seats to the Princely States. Out of 296 seats allotted to the British India, 292 members were to be drawn from the 11 Governors’ provinces and four members from the four Chief Commissioners’ provinces, one from each.
  2. Each province and princely state was to be allotted seats in proportion to their respective population. Roughly, one seat was to be allotted for every million population.
  3. Seats allocated to each British Province were to be divided among the three principal communities: Muslims, Sikhs and general, in proportionto their population.
  4. The representatives of each community were to be elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative assembly.
  5. The Constituent Assembly was planned to be partly an indirectly elected and partly a nominated body. The members from provinces were to be indirectly elected by the members of the provincial assemblies, who themselves were elected on the basis of limited franchise. However, the representatives of princely states were to be nominated by the respective heads of the princely states.

The elections for the Constituent Assembly (for 296 seats allotted to the British Indian Provinces) were held in July-August 1946. The Indian National Congress won 208 seats, the Muslim League 73 seats, and the small groups and independents got the remaining 15 seats. However, the 93 seats allotted to the princely states were not filled, as they decided to stay away from the Constituent Assembly. Thus, the Constituent Assembly consisted only of indirectly elected members of the Provincial assemblies. The assembly included all important personalities of India at that time, with the exception of Mahatma Gandhi and M.A. Jinnah.

  1. WORKING OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

The constituent Assembly held its first meeting on December 9, 1946. The Muslim League boycotted the meeting and insisted on a separate state of Pakistan. The meeting was thus attended by only 211 members. Dr Sachchidanand Sinha, the oldest member, was elected as the temporary President of the Assembly.

Later, on December 11, 1946, Dr Rajendra Prasad and H.C. Mukherjee were elected as the President and Vice-President of the Assembly, respectively. Sir B.N. Rau was appointed as the Constitutional Advisor to the Assembly.

On December 13, 1946, Pandit Nehru moved the historic ‘Objectives Resolution’ in the Assembly. It was adopted by the Assembly on January 22, 1947. Its modified version forms the ‘Preamble to our Constitution’.

The representatives of the princely states, who had stayed away from the constituent assembly, gradually joined it. After the acceptance of the Mountbatten Plan on June 3, 1947, for partition of the country, the representatives of most of the princely states took their seats in the assembly.

The assembly also became a legislative body. In other words, two separate functions were assigned to the Assembly, which were, making of a constitution for free India and enacting of ordinary laws for the country. Thus, the Assembly also became the first Parliament of free India.

Whenever the Assembly met as the Constituent body, it was chaired by Dr Rajendra Prasad and when it met as the legislative body, it was chaired by G.V. Mavlankar. These two functions continued till November 26, 1949, when the task of making the constitution was over. On January 24, 1950, the Constituent assembly held its last session.

The Muslim League members (hailing from the areas included in Pakistan) withdrew from the Constituent Assembly of India. Consequently, the total strength of the Assembly came down to 299 as against 389, originally fixed in 1946 under the Cabinet Mission Plan. The strength of the members from Indian Provinces was reduced from 296 to 229 and those from the princely states from 93 to 70.

Also Read : Constitutional features

  1. COMMITTEES OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

The Constituent Assembly appointed 22 committees to deal with the different tasks of constitution making. Out of these, 10 were on procedural affairs and 12 on substantive affairs.

Difference between Procedural Affairs and Substantive Affairs Committee

Procedural affairs committees were tasked with the process of making constitution. For instance, Hindi Translation Committee was responsible for producing copy of constitution in Hindi. The most important procedural affairs committee was Steering Committee headed by Dr Rajendra Prasad. The Steering Committee consisted of high-level advisors who were required to guide and provide direction to other committees.

Substantive affairs committees were tasked with the provisions of a particular area of constitution. The important committees on substantive affairs were as follows:

  1. Drafting Committee (Chairman: Dr B.R. Ambedkar)
  2. Committee for Negotiating with States (Chairman: Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru)
  3. Committee on Chief Commissioners Provinces
  4. Union Constitution Committee (Chairman: Jawaharlal Nehru)
  5. Provincial Constitution Committee (Chairman: Sardar Patel)
  6. Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution (Chairman: Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar)
  7. Union Powers Committee (Chairman: Jawaharlal Nehru)
  8. Committee on Fundamental Rights and Minorities (Chairman: Sardar Patel)

Drafting Committee

Among all the committees of the Constituent Assembly, the most important committee was the Drafting Committee. It consisted of seven members and was headed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

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. In the light of the public comments, criticisms and suggestions, the Drafting committee prepared a second draft, which was published in October 1948.

  1. ENACTMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION

Dr B.R. Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Assembly on November 4, 1948.

The motion on Draft Constitution was declared as passed on November 26, 1949, and received the signatures of the members and the President.

The constitution as adopted on November 26, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles, and 8 Schedules. Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the then Law Minister, piloted the Draft Constitution in the Assembly and is thus recognized as the ‘Father of the Constitution of India. He is also known as ‘Modern Manu’ because Manu wrote ‘Manusmriti’, which is considered as the most authoritative legal text on Hinduism.

However, the date of adoption of constitution is different from the date of commencement of constitution. The provisions relating to Citizenship, Election Commission, Definitions came into force on 26th November, 1949. Remaining provisions of this constitution came into force on 26th January, 1950, referred to as the date of commencement of constitution. 26th January, 1950 was deliberately chosen because on 26th January 1930 ‘purna swaraj’ day was celebrated in India. Celebration of ‘purna swaraj’ day meant that Indians were ready for complete independence from British.

Practice Questions

  1. Which one of the following is a feature common to both the Indian Federation and the                         American Federation?
  • A single citizenship
  • Three lists in the Constitution
  • Dual judiciary
  • A federal supreme court to interpret the Constitution
  1. Match List I with List II, and select the correct answer using the codes given below:

 

Item in the Indian Constitution Country from which it was derived
A.     Directive Principles of State Policy

B.     Fundamental Rights

C.    Concurrent List in Union-State Relations

D.    India as a Union of States with greater powers to the Union

1.    Australia

2.    Canada

3.    Ireland

4.    UK

5.    USA

6.

 

  • A-5, B-4, C-1, D-2
  • A-3, B-5, C-2, D-1
  • A-5, B-4, C-2, D-1
  • A-3, B-5, C-1, D-2
  1. Which of the following feature is common to both American and Indian Constitutions?
  • Independent Judiciary
  • Independent Centre and State
  • Appointment of Governors
  • Citizenship
  1. Which of the following laws exercised the most profound influence in framing the Indian Constitution?
  • British Constitution
  • US Constitution
  • Irish Constitution
  • The Government of India Act, 1935
  1. Who among the following was the Chairman of the Union Constitu­tion Committee of the Constituent Assembly?
  • R. Ambedkar
  • B. Kripalani
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Alladi Krishanaswami Ayyar

 

  1. Who headed the Interim Cabinet formed in the 1946?
  • Rajendra Prasad
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
  • Rajagopalachari
  1. Which of the following pairs is/are correctly matched?
  2. Committee on Fundamental Rights — Jawaharlal Nehru
  3. Minorities Committee — J.B. Kripalani
  4. States Committee (Committee for Negotiating with States) — Sardar Patel
  5. Steering Committee — Dr Rajendra Prasad

Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 4 only    (b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only               (d) 4 only

  1. The members of the Constituent Assembly which drafted the Constitu­tion of India were
  • nominated by the British Parliament
  • nominated by the Governor General
  • elected by the Legislative Assem­blies of various provinces
  • elected by the Indian National Congress and Muslim League
  1. Which one of the following statements is correct?

(a) The Constituent Assembly of India was elected by the Provincial Assemblies in the year 1946.

  • Jawaharlal Nehru, M.A. Jinnah, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were members of the Constituent Assembly of India.
  • The First Session of the Constituent Assembly of India was held in January 1947.
  • The Constitution of India was adopted on 26th January 1950.
  1. Which of the following statements regarding the making of the Indian Constitution are correct?
  2. Some of the princely states were not represented in the Constituent Assembly.
  3. Elections to the Constituent Assembly were direct, but with a limited franchise.
  4. The Constituent Assembly also functioned as a provisional Parliament.
  5. Some of the constitutional Provisions came into effect before 26th January, 1950.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3     (b) 1, 3, and 4

(c) 1 and 4                   (d) 2 and 3

  1. With reference to the Constituent Assembly, consider the following statements:
  2. The constituent assembly consisted of directly elected members from Princely States.
  3. The members of the Constituent Assembly from British Indian provinces were elected indirectly by the members of the provincial legislative assemblies.
  4. The Constituent Assembly was planned to be partly indirectly elected and partly nominated body.

Which of the statements given above is/ are incorrect?

(a) 1 and 2 only    (b) 1 only

(c) 1 and 3 only    (d) 3 only

  1. Consider the following statements:
  2. The constitution was adopted by 26th November 1949, but all the provisions of constitution did not come into force by this date.
  3. 26th January 1950 is regarded as the date of commencement of constitution.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  • 1 only
  • 2 only
  • Both 1 and 2
  • Neither 1 nor 2
  1. The Preamble in the constitution of independent India is modified version of which of the             following:
  • Bill of Rights in USA
  • Objectives resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru
  • British Magna Carta
  • Ideals of Communism
  1. The constituent assembly was created under which of the following constitutional schemes?
  • Cabinet Mission Plan
  • Indian independence Plan
  • Transfer of power plan
  • Mountbatten Plan
  1. Which of the following committees of constituent assembly were headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel?
  2. Committee for negotiating with states
  3. Committee on fundamental rights
  4. Committee on minorities

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1, 2, and 3      (b) 1 and 2

(c) 2 and 3        (d) 3 only

PERFECTING PAST PRELIMS

  1. Who among the following was the chairman of the Union Constitution Committee of the Constituent Assembly?                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (2005)
  • R. Ambedkar
  • B. Kripalani
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar
  1. With reference to Indian History, the members of the Constituent Assembly from the Provinces were                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       (2013)
  • directly elected by the people of those Provinces
  • nominated by the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League
  • elected by the Provincial Legislative Assemblies
  • selected by the Government for their expertise in constitutional matters

 

 

 

ANSWER KEYS

Practice Questions                                                                                                           

1.   (d) 2.  (d)            3.  (a)         4.   (d)         5.  (c)
6.   (b) 7.  (d)            8.  (c)         9.   (a)         10.  (b)
11.   (b) 12.  (c)            13.  (b)         14.   (a)         15.  (c)

Perfecting Past Prelims

1.   (c) 2.  (c)



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