The Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950. Although, the process of the evolution of the constitution had started many years before India got its independence. here is the the story behind making of the world’s longest written constitution . In which 448 Articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules, and 97 amendments – an insight into how India got itself a permanent constitution on January 26, 1950.
India’s struggle against the British marked by the civil disobedience and non-violence movements spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi finally ushered in an independent India on August 15, 1947.
Most of its political part is borrowed from the constitution of Britain and has input from other constitutions as well.
When India got its independence on 15 August 1947, the Constituent Assembly was set up as the sovereign body to frame the Constitution as well as ordinary laws.
Although, the constitution of India is written in nature it has been amended several times. However, the amendment process is neither as rigid as we find in USA nor as flexible as we find in England.
SALIENT FEATURES OF CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIA
- The Constituent Assembly of India came into existence as per the provisions of Cabinet Mission Plan of May 1946. Its task was to formulate constitution/s for facilitating appropriate transfer of sovereign power from British authorities to Indian hands.
- The Assembly was to have proportional representation from existing provincial legislatures and from various princely states. Bulk of these elections was completed by the end of July 1946, under the supervision of Reforms Office under Governor General (Viceroy).
- The Assembly was to have three sections: Punjab & North-West, Bengal-Assam and Rest of India. The Constitutions were to be formulated for Indian Union, each Section and for each of the Provinces therein. The Muslim League, which had won bulk of the 80 Muslim seats and dominated two smaller Sections, chose not to participate so the Assembly never convened separately in sections.
- Assembly held 12 sessions, or rounds of sittings:
- December 9-23, 1946,
- January 20- 25, 1947,
- April 28- May 2, 1947,
- July 14- 31, 1947,
- August 14- 30, 1947,
- January 27, 1948,
- November 4, 1948-January 8, 1949,
- May 16- June 16, 1949,
- July 30-September 18, 1949,
- October 6-17, 1949,
- November 4-26, 1949,
- January 24, 1950.
For the British, August 15, 1947 was not just any other day. Marking the second anniversary of the Japanese Navy’s surrender, the British announced August 15 for India’s complete independence. As historian and author Ramachandra Guha said in his book ‘India After Gandhi: The history of the world’s largest democracy, “So freedom finally came on a day that resonated with imperial pride rather than nationalist sentiment.”
The date January 26 (initially declared as a day of Independence) was however, not forgotten. It would later herald another important event that would change the history of India. Indian constitution – the history behind its making At the end of the 19th century, the country demanded to be involved in government, and put an end to torture and oppression. Thanks to the role played by India in supporting Britain in World War I, the Supreme legislative body of United Kingdom, the British Parliament introduced the Government of India Act, 1919 which received a royal approval on December 23 the same year. The act lead to diarchy – a dual form of governance in some large provinces. A few areas of governance like health, education, agriculture and supervision of local government were handed over to a set of Indian ministers who reported to the provincial council. However, military, defence, foreign affairs, and communications were under the direct control of the Viceroy.
The basic five lines of principles the committee confined itself to were – the country being a Republican State, a Parliamentary form of government, a Federal structure, Fundamental Rights, an independent judicial branch. Assembly sessions took place 166 days, for a period of two years, that were also open to the public. After a plethora of discussions, amendments and hard work, on January 24, 1950, 616 signatures were made by 308 members of the Assembly on the two hand-written copies (Hindi and English) of the final draft of Constitution of India. After two days, on January 26, 1950, the longest written Constitution of the world that incorporated 448 Articles in 22 Parts, 12 Schedules, and 97 Amendments, was validated and found effect across every corner of the country. The then President of Indonesia, Sukarno was the first Guest of Honour in India for the Republic Day celebration in 1950.
Ambedkar to the rescue Dr BR Ambedkar was appointed the head of the drafting committee on August 28, 1947, with one objective – draft a permanent and organised constitution for India. The committee went back to its roots and referred to the Government of India Act, 1935. 141 days into working on it, a first draft of the constitution was submitted to the Assembly on November 4, 1947.
The celebrations till today, last for three days, ending with ‘Beating the Retreat’, a military ceremony held on January 29 every year. It was first started in the 1950s by Major Roberts of the Indian Army. The evening ends with the hymn Abide with Me, which was Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite.