CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
The Constitution of a country is a very important document. No Government can be run without a clear set of laws. This set of laws is commonly known as Constitution.
Our Constitution was framed by an elected body called “The Constituent Assembly”. This assembly started its work on 9 December 1946 in the Central Hall of our Parliament House in New Delhi. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was elected the first President of India in 1952, was the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly.
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Among other important members of the assembly were Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherji, Dr.B. R. Ambedkar, Dr.K. M. Munshi, Dr. S. Radha Krishnan, Alladi Krishnaswami, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu and Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit. Dr.B.R. Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee which prepared the draft of the Constitution.
The Drafting Committee studied the Constitution of many Countries such as U.K., U.S.A., Ireland, U.S.S.R., France and Switzerland. The draft was discussed and debated in detail by the Assembly. The Constitution was finally signed by the members on 26 November, 1949. The Constitution came into force on 26th January 1950. On this day India became a “Sovereign Democratic Republic”.
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The election to the Constituent Assembly based on the Cabinet Mission’s Plan took place in July 1946. The sets in each Province were distributed among the three main communities, Muslims, Sikh and General, in proportion to their respective populations. The election was indirect in that members of each community in the Provincial Assemblies elected their own representatives
by the method of proportional representation with single transferable vote. The Constituent Assembly first met on 9th December 1946, without the members of the Muslim League. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected President and various committees were appointed to draft the different parts of the Constitution. As a result of the Partition and the Indian Independence Act of 1947, which provided for separate Constituent Assemblies for India Pakistan, separate Constituent Assembly was set up for Pakistan. The Constituent Assembly of India reassembled on 14 August 1947, as the Sovereign Constituent Assembly for the Dominion of India. The membership of the Assembly was reduced to 299 when it met again on 31 October 1947 with some members ceasing to be so after their Provinces opted to join Pakistan.
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The Constituent Assembly appointed a Drafting Committee on 29 August 1947 under the Chairmanship of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. The members included N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, K. M. Munshi Mohammad Sadullah, B. L. Mitter and Dr. D. P. Khaitan. The last two were replaced by N. Madhava Rao and T. T. Krishnamachari respectively. A draft Constitution of India was published in February 1948. The Assembly met in November 1948 to consider the draft clause by clause. The second reading was completed by 17 October 1949. On 14 November the Assembly sat for the third reading and finished it on 26 November 1949. On that date the constitution received the signature of the President of the Assembly, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, and was declared as passed. The Provisions relating to citizenship, elections, provisional Parliament, etc. came into effect immediately. i.e. from 26 November 1949.
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The rest of the Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950 the date which is referred to in the Constitution as the date of its commencement. The date was specifically chosen for the inaguration of the Indian Republic as it was on 26 January 1930 that the historic call for “Purna Swaraj” as a goal was passed at the Lahore Session of the Congress. The final session of the Constituent Assembly was held on 24 January 1950 when it unanimously elected Dr.Rajendra
Prasad as the First President of the Republic of India under the new Constitution.
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SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
India is a Sovereign Democratic Republic. It is Sovereign because it is supreme and free in all matters governing the country. No outside nation can interfere with its affairs. It is Democratic because the people govern the country through their elected representatives. It is a Republic because the Head of the State, The President of India, is elected for a limited period of five years. He may seek re-election on the expire of his term.
A Secular State: The Preamble of the Constitution was modified in 1976. India is now a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. It is secular because the state does not favour or propagate or finance any particular religion. It does not discriminate among people of different religions or faiths.
A Socialist State : Our Constitution stands for a society based on economic and social equality. Ours is a Socialist Republic. It exists for the welfare of the masses.
Written Constitution : Ours is a written Constitution.
It is the lengthiest in the World. It originally contained 395 Articles.
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Single Citizenship : Our Constitution provides for single citizenship for all Indians. A citizen of our country can freely move to any part of the country for the sake of employment. He can purchase property or start a business in almost all parts of the country.
Union of State : Our motherland, India or “BHARAT” is a Union of States. There are 28 states and 8 Union Territories in the Union.
Universal Adult Franchise : The Constitution gives “the right to vote” to all the people of India who are not less than21 years (now reduced to 18 years) of age, whether they are educated or uneducated, rich or poor, men or women. This is known as Universal Adult Franchise.
Fundamental Rights and Duties : An important feature of our Constitution is that it guarantees some basic rights to the people and also prescribes some basic duties. These rights are essential rights and provide help and safeguards to the citizens in many ways. Ten fundamental duties of citizen were included in the Constitution in 1976. It is the duty of a citizen to pay taxes, to vote wisely and to serve the country in peace and war. Rights and duties help society to achieve its goals.
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Directive Principles : Our Constitution states in clear terms that the Governments should make all efforts to remove poverty, ignorance, economic disparities and social inequalities in the country. These directions have been mentioned in what we call Directive Principles of State Policy.
Parliamentary Form of Government : Our Constitution provides a precise outline of the framework of the Government. All policies and programmes of the Government must be approved by a majority of the elected representative in the legislature. No tax can be imposed nor any amount of money be spent without the sanction of the parliament or the State Legislature.
Independent Judiciary: The Constitution provides for a uniform pattern of judiciary. The Supreme Court is the highest court in India. The judiciary in India is independent of the executive control.
An Instrument of Social Change: To sum up, our Constitution aims at fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people. It resolves to secure to all its citizens Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. It aims at establishing a democratic secular, Socialist Society in a peaceful manner and is an instrument of social change.
Union list, State list and Concurrent list: The Union Government and the state Governments have exclusive powers to make laws on the subjects.
Union list: The main subjects are defence, external affairs, railways, shipping, airways, post and telegraph, currency and coinage, banking, insurance, RBI etc.
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State list: Agriculture, health, irrigation, electricity, law and order in the state, entertainment etc.
Concurrent List: Both the Union Parliament and the State Legislature have power to legislate. Some important subjects under the list are: criminal law, criminal procedure, marriage, divorce, labour welfare, factories, newspaper books, printing, social welfare, education price control etc.