- The constitution of India was framed by a Constituent Assembly, set up under the Cabinet Mission Plan, 1946, under the President ship of Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
Fig: Rajendra Prasad
- To the Assembly, Provinces elected 292 members while the Indian States were allotted a maximum of 93 seats and 4 seats were given to chief commissioner provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg and British Baluchistan.
- The seats in each province were distributed among the three main communities—Muslim, Sikh and General, in proportion to their respective populations. However, on the directives of Congress party the Anglo-Indians, Christians, Parsees, backward classes also found representation in the Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly, which had been elected for undivided India, held its first sitting on the 14 August 1947.
- As a result of the partition under the Plan of 3 June 1947, a separate Constituent Assembly was set up for Pakistan.
Fig: Seal of the constituent assembly
- When the Constituent Assembly reassembled on 31 October, 1947, the membership of the House was reduced to 299. Of these 284 were actually present on the 26 November 1949, and appended their signatures to the Constitution as finally passed.
On 29 August 1947 the Constituent Assembly appointed a Drafting Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Ambedkar.
- The members of this Committee were N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, K.M. Munshi, Mohd. Saadullah, B.L. Mitter (later replaced by N. Madhava Rao). Dr. D.P. Khaitan (replaced on death by T.T. Krishnamachari).
- This committee came out with a draft Constitution of India in February 1948. On 26 November 1949, when the Constitution received the signature of the President of the Assembly, it was declared as passed.
- While certain provision of the Constitution—those relating to citizenship, elections, provisional Parliament, etc.—were given immediate effect, the rest of the Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950.
- The constitution is preceded by a Preamble which outlines its aims and objectives. Words “Socialist”, “Secular” and “the unity and integrity of the nation” were not present in original Preamble and were incorporated by the 42nd Amendment.
- The Preamble states that “In our constituent Assembly this Twenty-sixth day of November, 1949 we do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this constitution”.
- The Preamble declares India a Sovereign, Socialist,Secular, Democratic and Republican State which draws its authority from people, and intends to provide to its citizens social, economic and political justice, assures them liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and equality of status and opportunity. It aims at securing fraternity based on the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.
- The Preamble has been described as the “Key to the Constitution”. It has helped courts resolve various ambiguous points of the Constitution and interpret it in the true spirit in which it was enacted by the framers.
- In the Berubari case, the Supreme Court held that the Preamble was not part of the Constitution, but later, in the Keshavanand Bharati case, it declared that it was a part of the Constitution.
Facts to be Remembered
- 14 November in India is celebrated as Children's Day
- Which day in the country is observed as the Armed Forces Flag Day? 7 December
- What is India's national animal? Tiger
- When was the Chipko movement started in the country? 1973
- The Antyodaya programme aims at the upliftment of Poorest of the poor
- The system of Panchayati Raj, generally a three-tier structure of local self-government, was introduced in 1959
- When is the National integration Day observed in the country? 19th November
- Estimate the number of Refugees who came to India from across the borders after partition as given in the 1951 census. 73 lakhs
- Which is India's first surface-to-surface missile? Prithvi
- Which day is observed as the Army Day in the country? 15 January
- Which day is observed as Navy Day in the country? 4 December
- How many Commands are there in the Indian Army? Seven
- The Territorial Army is a citizen's volunteer force. In which year was it's Act was passed? 1948
- When was the Community Development Programme launched in the country? 1952
- When was Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) established to spread the message of Life Insurance and mobilise people's savings for nation building activities? 1956
- The security Printing Press prints postal stationery and other security forms in the country. Where is it located? Hyderabad
- When was the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, amended to make the provisions of the Act more stringent and effective? 1986
- India's first woman Supreme Court Judge - Fathima Beevi
- Neerja Bhanot, who died in the Pan Am hijacking to Karachi in January 1987, became the first woman to win Ashok Chakra.
FEDERAL AND UNITARY FEATURES OF THE CONSTITUTION
- A written constitution which defines the structure,organisation and powers of the Centre and State governments.
- Constitution is the supreme. An independent judiciary which acts as the guardian of the Constitution.
- A clear division of powers between the Centre and the States through three lists—Union, State & Concurrent lists.
- A rigid Constitution which can be amended, in certain cases, only with the consent of the states.
- The creation of the upper house (Rajya Sabha)which gives representation to the States, etc.
- Single citizenship for all.
- Very Strong Centre.
- No separate Constitution for states.
- Parliament can amend major portions of the Constitution by itself.
- Parliament can change the name, territory or boundary of states without their consent.
- Single judiciary with the Supreme Court of India at the apex.
- The proclamation of national emergency turn the federal system of India into a unitary one.
- Presence of all-India services for the Centre as well as states.
- Parliament can legislate on State subjects on the recommendation of the Rajya Sabha (Art. 249).
- The establishment of Zonal Councils to secure cooperation among the States.
- The creation of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General to look after the accounts of the Centre as well as states.
- The same election machinery to conduct elections in States as well as the Centre
Fig: Comparison between Unitary and Federal Features
Facts to be Remembered
- Which two states rank after Uttar Pradesh as having the maximum representation in the Lok Sabha — Maharashtra and West Bengal
- The members of the Constituent Assembly of India were elected by the provincial assemblies.
- The 44th amendment (renumbered as the 32rd amendment) restored to the high courts and Supreme Court their jurisdiction to consider the validity of any central or state law.
- Agriculture is contained in the Concurrent List.
- In a parliamentary system, the executive is responsible to the legislature.
- The Vice-President of India is elected by the members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
- The President of the Union of India has the same constitutional authority as the British monarch.
- To be eligible for membership of the Lok Sabha a candidate should not be below 25 years.
- Who is authorised to decide disputes regarding qualification of a member of Parliament?— Election Commissioner.
- Name one state which has no Legislative Council — West Bengal
- The most controversial provision in the 42nd amendment pertains to the supremacy of Parliament.
- A case of dispute in the presidential election is referred to the Supreme Court of India.
- Panchayati Raj administration is primarily aimed at arousing in the people of each area intensive and continuous interest in the community development programme
- Panchayati Raj, as introduced in 1959, operated at village, block and district levels.
- Who acted as Vice President of the Executive Council of First Interim Cabinet of India just before independence? — Jawaharlal Nehru.
- The council of ministers is collectively responsible to the LokSabha.
- The Finance Commission is constituted every five years.
- The second President of India was S. Radhakrishnan.
- Who conducts elections to the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies of states? — Chief Election Commissioner.