According to the Thomas Hobbes, life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, brutish, nasty and short. A social contract theory arose out as a result of this Hobbes imagination. Due to diversification in every aspect of life among the individuals, the possibilities of conflicts may occur and to worsen the situation the civilization may come to a gradual end.
After an about 200 years of colonial rule when India got independence in the year 1947, the biggest challenge stood out was the making of the Constitution to govern the citizens of the country. In order to tackle this challenge, a Constituent Assembly in the year 1946 was formed to frame the Constitution of India. Finally, on 26 November 1949, the product of enormous efforts and endeavors of the Constituent Assembly came out was the Constitution of India.
On 26th November 1949, the Constitution of India was adopted and enacted but was kept delayed for its enforcement till 26th January 1950. Since 2015, to mark the significance of this historic day the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of the Central Government commemorated 26 November as a Constitution Day. This day is also referred as National Law Day.
India that is Bharat is a union of states. The Constitution of India resolute the people of India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic and republic. This republican nation is administered in accordance with the constitution of India. This is the Magna Carta of the land. The Constitution of this republican nation was drafted by the Drafting Committee which was chaired by the father of Indian Constitution Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. He is also known as the architect of the Indian Constitution.
Historical Evolution of the Indian Constitution:
- Regulating Act of India (1773):
The key purpose of this act was to bring the East India Company under the Central Administration. The act also brought major reforms in the administration of the British India.
The post of Governor of Bengal now changed to Governor General of Bengal. Warren Hastings became the first Governor General of Bengal.
The Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William was established in the Calcutta in the year 1774 by the Regulating Act of 1773.
- Pitts India Act (1784):
This act led to the separation of powers between the Court of directors which looked into the matters of commerce and trade and Board of Control which looked after the management of political affairs. This act established the dual control of government over the East India Company. This act is also called as East India Company Act of 1784.
- Charter Act (1833):
The act changed the post of Governor General of Bengal to Governor General of India. Lord William Bentick was the first Governor General of India.
The legislative powers from the Bombay and Madras Presidencies were revoked.
The Indian Law Commission was made in the year 1833 and Lord Macaulay became its first chairman.
- Charter Act (1853):
The powers distributed between the legislative and executive powers based on present day Parliamentary form of Government.
Indians were given the opportunities to try the Civil Services and gave a fair chance to Indians to compete in the exam.
The introduction of local representative in the legislative assembly had taken place by this act.
- Government of India Act (1858):
The Governor General was referred to as Viceroy. Lord Canning became the first viceroy of India.
India came under the direct rule of British Crown. The rule of East India Company was abolished.
The court of directors and Board of control were abolished.
This act is also referred as an act of good governance.
- Government of India Act (1919):
The concept of bicameral legislature was introduced for the first time at the Centre. About 10% of the population was given the right to vote.
Introduced dyarchy form of government at the provincial level.
The subjects were distributed among Centre and provinces.
- Government of India Act (1935):
It established the Federal form of government that is the distribution of legislative powers between the Centre and the state.
It introduced the two chambers in the parliament the upper house and the lower house.
Separate electorates for the scheduled caste and tribes, women and workers were also established.
- Cabinet Mission Proposal (1946):
The Cabinet Mission Proposal was sent to India by the Prime Minister of Britain, Clement Attlee to make proposal for the framing of Constitution of India. The key highlights of the Cabinet Mission Proposal were:
- Establishment of a Union of India.
- The Union should consist of an Executive and a Legislature
- All subjects other than Union List and Residuary List should be vested to the states.
- Categorizing the states into three sections:
Section A- Hindu majority, Section B and C- Muslim majority
- Indian Independence Act (1947):
The act gave the India the status of sovereign and independent state. This act grants the freedom to princely states to join the dominion of the states or remain independent.
It made the provision to separate the Indian Territories into two independent nations as dominions of India and Pakistan.
The Constituent Assembly to be set up for both the nations to frame their own Constitutions. The Constituent Assemblies were given the authority to serve as the dominion of legislative bodies till the making of the Constitution.
Working of the Constituent Assembly:
A wide range of topics were discussed in the Constituent Assembly debates, including the federalism, state policy directives, fundamental rights, and the organization of government.
A significant event in Indian history was the adoption and enactment of the Indian Constitution on January 26, 1950. It signaled the end of British colonial rule and the beginning of a democratic, secular, socialist, and sovereign republic. For more than 70 years, the Constitution has governed the nation, established the basic rights of every person and acted as the ultimate law of the land.
Major Committees and their Presidents of the Constituent Assembly:
|1.Union Powers Committee
|2.Union Constitution Committee
|3.Provincial Constitution Committee
Key highlights of the Constituent Assembly:
- The Constituent Assembly was established in November 1946 under the Cabinet Mission Plan.
- The first meeting was convened on December 9. However, the meeting was boycotted by Muslim League.
- Sachidanand Sinha was elected as a temporary President of Constituent Assembly.
- The idea of the Constituent Assembly was first discussed by N. Roy in 1934.
- The demand was again taken up by the Congress Party in the year 1935.
- First Amendment (1951):
The Indian Constitution’s First Amendment was passed in 1951 in response to legal disputes and objections that arose from the introduction of land reforms and other socio-economic initiatives.
The basic right to freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) was seen as unbreakable prior to the modification. However, there were legal issues in the courts as a result of the implementation of land reforms, which required the acquisition of private property for redistribution among landless peasants.
- 42nd Amendment – In the history of the Indian Constitution, the 42nd Amendment was the most consequential and contentious modification. It was put into effect in 1976, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency. The amendment significantly altered the Constitution by granting the Parliament the authority to amend it by a simple majority, even amending the fundamental rights. The amendments were as following:
- Increasing the President’s authority and putting the President under the Cabinet’s guidance.
- Adding the phrases “socialist, secular, and integrity” to the Constitution’s Preamble.
- Restricting the Supreme Court’s authority to examine the constitutionality of laws.
- Introducing Citizens’ Fundamental Duties.
- Allowing the President to remove State Legislature members from office after consulting with the Election Commission.
- Extending from five to six years the terms of the State legislatures and the Lok Sabha.
- Transferring five topics from the State list to the Concurrent list.
The dictatorial and autocratic aspects of the 42nd Amendment drew harsh criticism. It was perceived as an attempt by Indira Gandhi to strengthen her position of authority and erode the judiciary’s independence. After the Emergency was abolished in 1977, the amendment was revoked.
- Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala:
Kesavananda Bharati vs. State of Kerala, this case is considered an essential one in India’s constitutional history. The Indian Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in this case had a significant influence on how the Indian Constitution was interpreted as well as the extent of parliamentary ability to modify it.
Fundamental to the Kesavananda Bharati case is the formulation of the “Basic Structure Doctrine.” In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court declared that although Parliament can change any provision of the Constitution, this authority is limited. The court established the idea of the fundamental structure, which consists of elements that are fundamental to the Constitution and cannot be changed or eliminated by amendments.
Within the overarching story of the Indian Constitution, the path from colonial times to the date, the Constitution along with the ensuring modifications and legal disputes, qualifies an unwavering dedication to democratic principles and serves as a protectant of individual’s rights and liberties.
As we observe Constitution Day on November 26th, we recognize the multi-directional essence of the Indian Constitution. This day endeavors to contemplate the significant historical events, deliberations within the Constituent Assembly, and the legal disputes that have played a pivotal role in molding the constitutional framework. The Constitution remains a beacon, preserving the principles of democracy and safeguarding the values of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity for every citizen in the diverse and dynamic nation of India.
Author Name: Kashish Sahu