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Julian Reed
Julian Reed

Introduction To The Constitution Of India



The Constitution of India (IAST: Bhāratīya Saṃvidhāna) is the supreme law of India.[2][3] The document lays down the framework that demarcates fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens. It is the longest written national constitution in the world.[4][5][6]




Introduction To The Constitution Of India



It imparts constitutional supremacy (not parliamentary supremacy, since it was created by a constituent assembly rather than Parliament) and was adopted by its people with a declaration in its preamble.[7] Parliament cannot override the constitution.


It was adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India on 26 November 1949 and became effective on 26 January 1950.[8] The constitution replaced the Government of India Act 1935 as the country's fundamental governing document, and the Dominion of India became the Republic of India. To ensure constitutional autochthony, its framers repealed prior acts of the British parliament in Article 395.[9] India celebrates its constitution on 26 January as Republic Day.[10]


The constitution declares India a sovereign, socialist, secular,[11] and democratic republic, assures its citizens justice, equality, and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity.[12] The original 1950 constitution is preserved in a nitrogen-filled case at the Parliament House in New Delhi.[13]


Most of the colonial India was under British rule from 1857 to 1947. From 1947 to 1950, the same legislation continued to be implemented as India was a dominion of Britain for these three years, as each princely state was convinced by Sardar Patel and V.P.Menon to sign the articles of integration with India, and the British government continued to be responsible for the external security of the country.[15] Thus, the constitution of India repealed the Indian Independence Act 1947 and Government of India Act 1935 when it became effective on 26 January 1950. India ceased to be a dominion of the British Crown and became a sovereign, democratic and republic with the constitution. Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324, 366, 367, 379, 380, 388, 391, 392, 393, and 394 of the constitution came into force on 26 November 1949, and the remaining articles became effective on 26 January 1950 which is celebrated every year in India as Republic Day.[16]


The constitution was drawn from a number of sources. Mindful of India's needs and conditions, its framers borrowed features of previous legislation such as the Government of India Act 1858, the Indian Councils Acts of 1861, 1892 and 1909, the Government of India Acts 1919 and 1935, and the Indian Independence Act 1947. The latter, which led to the creation of India and Pakistan, divided the former Constituent Assembly in two. The Amendment act of 1935 is also a very important step for making the constitution for two new born countries. Each new assembly had sovereign power to draft and enact a new constitution for the separate states.[17]


The constitution was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, which was elected by elected members of the provincial assemblies.[18] The 389-member assembly (reduced to 299 after the partition of India) took almost three years to draft the constitution holding eleven sessions over a 165-day period.[4][17]


Mr. President, Sir, I am one of those in the House who have listened to Dr. Ambedkar very carefully. I am aware of the amount of work and enthusiasm that he has brought to bear on the work of drafting this Constitution. At the same time, I do realise that that amount of attention that was necessary for the purpose of drafting a constitution so important to us at this moment has not been given to it by the Drafting Committee. The House is perhaps aware that of the seven members nominated by you, one had resigned from the House and was replaced. One died and was not replaced. One was away in America and his place was not filled up and another person was engaged in State affairs, and there was a void to that extent. One or two people were far away from Delhi and perhaps reasons of health did not permit them to attend. So it happened ultimately that the burden of drafting this constitution fell on Dr. Ambedkar and I have no doubt that we are grateful to him for having achieved this task in a manner which is undoubtedly commendable.[19][20]


Sir B. N. Rau, a civil servant who became the first Indian judge in the International Court of Justice and was president of the United Nations Security Council, was appointed as the assembly's constitutional adviser in 1946.[25] Responsible for the constitution's general structure, Rau prepared its initial draft in February 1948.[25][26][27] The draft of B.N. Rau consisted of 243 articles and 13 schedules which came to 395 articles and 8 schedules after discussions, debates and amendments.[28]


At 14 August 1947 meeting of the assembly, committees were proposed.[18] Rau's draft was considered, debated and amended by the eight-person drafting committee, which was appointed on 29 August 1947 with B. R. Ambedkar as chair.[4][24] A revised draft constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the assembly on 4 November 1947.[24]


Before adopting the constitution, the assembly held eleven sessions in 165 days.[4][17] On 26 November 1949, it adopted the constitution,[4][17][24][27][29] which was signed by 284 members.[4][17][24][27][29] The day is celebrated as National Law Day,[4][30] or Constitution Day.[4][31] The day was chosen to spread the importance of the constitution and to spread thoughts and ideas of Ambedkar.[32]


The constitution has a preamble and 470 articles,[b] which are grouped into 25 parts.[c][24] With 12 schedules[d] and five appendices,[24][40] it has been amended 105 times; the latest amendment became effective on 15 August 2021.


The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government receive their power from the constitution and are bound by it.[56] With the aid of its constitution, India is governed by a parliamentary system of government with the executive directly accountable to the legislature.


The constitution is considered federal in nature, and unitary in spirit. It has features of a federation, including a codified, supreme constitution; a three-tier governmental structure (central, state and local); division of powers; bicameralism; and an independent judiciary. It also possesses unitary features such as a single constitution, single citizenship, an integrated judiciary, a flexible constitution, a strong central government, appointment of state governors by the central government, All India Services (the IAS, IFS and IPS), and emergency provisions. This unique combination makes it quasi-federal in form.[57]


Each state and union territory has its own government. Analogous to the president and prime minister, each has a governor or (in union territories) a lieutenant governor and a chief minister. Article 356 permits the president to dismiss a state government and assume direct authority if a situation arises in which state government cannot be conducted in accordance with constitution. This power, known as president's rule, was abused as state governments came to be dismissed on flimsy grounds for political reasons. After the S. R. Bommai v. Union of India decision,[58][59] such a course of action is more difficult since the courts have asserted their right of review.[60]


Article 368 dictates the procedure for constitutional amendments. Amendments are additions, variations or repeal of any part of the constitution by Parliament.[61] An amendment bill must be passed by each house of Parliament by a two-thirds majority of its total membership when at least two-thirds are present and vote. Certain amendments pertaining to the constitution's federal nature must also be ratified by a majority of state legislatures.


Unlike ordinary bills in accordance with Article 245 (except for money bills), there is no provision for a joint session of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to pass a constitutional amendment. During a parliamentary recess, the president cannot promulgate ordinances under his legislative powers under Article 123, Chapter III.


Despite the supermajority requirement for amendments to pass, the Indian constitution is the world's most frequently-amended national governing document.[62] The constitution is so specific in spelling out government powers that many amendments address issues dealt with by statute in other democracies.


In 2000, the Justice Manepalli Narayana Rao Venkatachaliah Commission was formed to examine a constitutional update. The commission submitted its report on 31 March 2002. However, the recommendations of this report have not been accepted by the consecutive governments.


In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, the Supreme Court ruled that an amendment cannot destroy what it seeks to modify; it cannot tinker with the constitution's basic structure or framework, which are immutable. Such an amendment will be declared invalid, although no part of the constitution is protected from amendment; the basic structure doctrine does not protect any one provision of the constitution. According to the doctrine, the constitution's basic features (when "read as a whole") cannot be abridged or abolished. These "basic features" have not been fully defined,[56] and whether a particular provision of the constitution is a "basic feature" is decided by the courts.[63]


This implies that Parliament can only amend the constitution to the limit of its basic structure. The Supreme Court or a high court may declare the amendment null and void if this is violated, after a judicial review. This is typical of parliamentary governments, where the judiciary checks parliamentary power.


The judiciary is the final arbiter of the constitution.[66] Its duty (mandated by the constitution) is to act as a watchdog, preventing any legislative or executive act from overstepping constitutional bounds.[67] The judiciary protects the fundamental rights of the people (enshrined in the constitution) from infringement by any state body, and balances the conflicting exercise of power between the central government and a state (or states). 041b061a72


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